4th Sunday After Epiphany C 2016

Soren Kierkegard once wrote “People have an idea that the preacher is an actor on a stage and they are the critics, blaming or praising him (or her). What they don’t know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines.”

Well it seems the people of Jesus time were no different to those of the 19th century, or today.

The people of Jeremiahs time did not want to listen to him… he was only a youth and he didn’t believe he would be heard. But his warnings proved to be true. The people of Jesus time didn’t like what Jesus had to say, they felt threatened by his teaching so “They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff.” (Luke 4:27)

And, lets face it, the message from the pulpit is accepted and applauded if it coincides with our own beliefs but woe betide the preacher who prompt, teaches or leads in a direction we don’t wish to go.

The words of St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians are applauded by we Christians… 4 Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends.” These words encapsulate the law of love and measure the depth of our own desire to be Christ to others.

They are such comforting and wise words – unless they are held up as a mirror to ourselves and we discover that we fall short – or someone else suggests that we fall short and questions our adherence to the two great commandments.

In the secular world you have probably heard that it is easier to “apologise than to ask permission”. It is not so within the Body of Christ.

We are the Body of Christ. Our Christian witness should first be to our own family and then within our church family. Gossip, whispering complaints, speaking behind someone’s back (rather than voicing concerns directly to a person), and lack of consultation or concern for the welfare and needs of others – these are not acts of love. Such words and actions cause pain and dissension within the body – and, worse, turn others away from Christ.

As we begin this new year of Christian effort, I pray that we might put aside such negativity and face the year with love; joy and the resolve to become more Christ like as we share the Good News with others.

Blessings

Rev Shan

3rd Sunday After Epiphany C 2016

All of today’s readings are significant if we are to understand who we are called to be as Christ’s people. It is interesting that Jesus himself, when addressing the members of the synagogue, focuses entirely on serving others and bringing justice and compassion to the world around them. He proclaims release, recovery, and liberation.

I wonder, is that the way the people around us see our church? Is it truly the main focus of what we do? If you asked young people in the community why they are not members of the church, what would they say?

In asking them such a question recently, some of us found that most of them see the church as an institution which is focused on judgement of others and insistent on set forms of belief. Personal sins and hell and little concern for the community were often mentioned. Why is this so? Well one only has to read about the latest disagreements within the Anglican Communion.

Honestly, sometimes it is difficult to know the right way forward in our particular area given the problems faced within the community

But this week’s scripture passages affirm that God will help us understand and practice God’s good ways.

Imagine Jesus addressing our congregation’s annual meeting, next Sunday, about God’s reign of justice and peace. What would he be calling us to let go of or pick up in order to carry on His mission in this area?

I wonder, would Jesus’ words be heard as a call to have a new vision or as a disruption of business as usual?

Please consider your response to our invitation to join us at our AGM. We would love to see you there.

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan

2nd Sunday After Epiphany C

As I sit to write this reflection I have been laid low with a tummy bug so I am drawing on the writings of 2 resources at my disposal, to openup discussion on two themes which are raised in the readings for today.

The first is the theme of “Gifts” –

Jesus is asked, by his mother, to act in accordance with his gifts. After initially refusing on the grounds that his “time has not ye come” he helps out at the Wedding by turning gallons of water into wine.

It may be assumed that, given the Word, which the church has received in Christ, the Church would be one place where everyone’s gifts are received and celebrated. Sometimes, that is so, but often the church can look like any other group of people, when some take power from others and many have gifts, which are never recognised.

Sometimes it is about some people serving others and creating dependencies – failing to see that this takes life from people. Of course, we do need to help each other, but to do this too often does not invite in the other a sense that they have something to give, too. It may be just a small thing but it matters. A church where people honestly look to find what gifts each person has is far more fully alive. An important thought as we approach our AGM.

The second theme is Belief.

Belief is a crucial theme in this passage and in the entire gospel of John. The Greek word translated “believe” occurs three times more often in John than in all the other gospels combined. This story of the wedding at Cana is preceded by Jesus’ calling of the disciples. The Cana story ends with the disciples believing. Jesus’ sign has borne fruit. It could also be said that Mary’s trust precedes the belief of the disciples. As Mary Magdalene is the first witness to the Resurrection at the end of John’s gospel, so now Mary the mother of Jesus is the first to trust in the works of Jesus.

With Jesus’ mother, these passages invite us to trust in the God revealed by Jesus, who provides abundantly for life’s needs. When and where have you experienced the extravagance of God’s love for you and all creation? How might the worship and serving of your church delight in the abundance of God’s love that never runs out?

Blessings

Reverend Shan