Christ the King – 26th November 2017

I arrived at the hairdressers a bit early for an appointment just recently and had time for  a coffee and a read of some magazines and I came across an article, the likes of which appear every so often, speculating on a successor for queen Elizabeth 11. Should it be Charles, by right of his birth, or should it be the, seemingly more popular, 2nd in line William? Time will tell and in Australia, possibly the only difference the decision will make in Australia is that there may be more or less of a push towards Australia becoming a republic. Still it seems speculation (in some circles) is rife. Which one (together with wife and family) has the more appeal? Which one is able to connect with the everyday man or woman on the street?

And this brings me to the readings and celebrations in our worship this week.

This is the last week of the Christian Year, as next week we move into Advent. This is also Reign of Christ or Christ the King Sunday. The image of Christ on the throne of his glory and coming with all his angels and all nations gathered before him is a powerful image. But our gospel reading is about seeing and serving Christ in the ordinary, needy people around us.

It is a good time to look back on the past year and think of all the times Christ was present among us – in the face of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick person or the one in prison. Just as the disciples wondered, “What will  it be like when Christ returns again and the Reign of Christ on earth is a reality?” so we too wonder what it will be like.

Have you seen Christ in friend and stranger?
How does your community show God’s love to the friend and the stranger?

Perhaps our Prayer for this week might be “God, in those we meet, and those we teach, may we feel your presence and greet them as we would you. Amen.”

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost – 19th November 2017

It is Thursday morning and the news headlines are focused on two particular events of interest to Australians.

Last night, in Sydney, the Socceroos’ earned the right to compete in the world cup after a win of 3/1 against Honduras. Now I do not profess to being a soccer fan but I acknowledge the effort put in by the team and coach – and I’m proud of this Australian team. I’m proud to be Australian.

I am proud to be Australian also because in the recent plebiscite the majority of Australians chose to complete the non-compulsory survey – and make their voices heard.

On a personal note I am also glad that there was a decisive vote. Australians have made their sentiments heard and the majority said, “YES,” to marriage equality. This may not be the way you wanted the vote to go but I have a number of gay couples that are close friends, who have poured out their pain over the years. For me this was not about my faith so much as what is good and just and fair.

I was deeply saddened by the cruel attacks from people on both sides of the argument – but these were from vocal minorities. The majority of those people I have spoken with have been loving and respectful – giving their point of view without judgment.

For those who feel that this is not the way forward for the church let me reassure you that, at present our canon law will not allow even the Christian blessing of a Same Sex marriage, let alone an actual wedding. It is my understanding that, regardless of changes to Australian law, the various Synods within the Anglican Church will need to vote on the matter before Same Sex marriages will ever take place in our churches. Sadly this means that we face what may be years of vicious arguments and judgments between various stakeholders.

The “Gay” couples I know (some in other countries – are already married) are Christian. In fact two are Anglican Clergy. All are gentle and generous members of their churches and/or communities. I have wonderful Christian friends who oppose same Sex marriage. I love them all! My prayer is simply that discussion and decision-making  within the church can be undertaken without judgment or vilification and perhaps we might agree to disagree while respecting different viewpoints and the right for all to act according to their own conscience – after all, God is the final judge and knows the hearts of all.

23rd Sunday after Pentecost – 12th November 2017

Two weeks ago in the Old Testament reading we stood with Moses at the border of the new land to which the people of Israel have been travelling since fleeing their enslaved lives in Egypt. The writers of Deuteronomy celebrate Moses for his 40 years of God-inspired leadership.

Moses made it to the border but could only look to the future of his people knowing that he would not be part of it. How must that have felt for Moses? Does Moses worry about passing over leadership? Is he reluctant to do so? Does he question the ability of others to take up leadership? Does he find it hard to realize that he will not be able to finish what he started?

These are questions in my own mind as I prepare to retire from full time ministry

But what is it like, as a follower (lay or ordained) of Christ, to take on a leadership role? How does it feel to stop being the leader and offer space for others to take on leadership? Think of times you have had a leadership role or think of leaders you  have known in your life. What made that leadership worthwhile? As each leadership  came to an end what were your feelings?

We remember that there are two great imperatives in the gospel – the first is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Christian leadership is, therefore, a leadership of love.

Pray that all members of our congregation will feel the movement of God’s unfolding story pulsing through hearts, souls, minds, and bodies; embodying their stories into Spirit-centred fulfilment… whatever their role within the community.

All Saints Day – 5th November 2017

In the Gospel reading this week Jesus is telling his followers not to look at what their religious leaders are doing (as a guide) as they do not practice what they preach. Their motive is to be seen and given the place of honour and respect, not to follow the
teachings of Moses.

Jesus says we are all equal – all children of God “for we have one Father – the one in heaven” (v.9) and “The greatest among you will be your servant” (v. 11). This passage and the others for this week show aspects of leadership and demonstrate what good leadership might look like. We are all called to be faithful to God, and to use our God given gifts to serve God and our community.

This All Saints Day we remember all who have gone before us, laying the foundations of faith and community on which we build.

How might we honour everyone’s contribution in assisting the community to grow in faith and humble service?

Do we remember we are all equal in God’s sight? Or do we compare our own
contribution to those of our brothers and sisters within the community feeling more or
less worthy.

Remember – each one is a unique child of God, here with a purpose according to our
gifts and God’s call on our life.

May God, help us to not look to others for validation, but to Jesus for teaching and
guidance.