Fourth Sunday after Epiphany 28th January 2018

People experience a difference in the way Jesus taught. He did not speak down to them. He did not lay burdens on them, he practiced what he preached. It is easy to imagine the people thinking:

“Yes, this man knows our situation.
He speaks as one of us.”

Jesus knew what it was like to be poor and merciful, knew the struggle to be a peacemaker and to be pure in heart and to keep on trusting God when times were tough. His teaching was different also in that it encouraged people to believe in themselves. This is a feature of good authority.

Reflections for Sundays
God is With Us
Michael Morwood MSC

Third Sunday after Epiphany – 21st January 2018

How blessed we are to have been given such a wonderful farewell! Thank you for the beautiful farewell gift, already hung in our living room, for the cards and messages and the very kind words spoken to Maurie and to me as we concluded our time at St Paul’s. We were deeply moved by your expressions of affirmation, and thanks, for our ministry amongst you and with you.

Now on to the next chapter for us all!

As I said when I returned to work after Long Service Leave in October, you all managed more than adequately in my absence – however I confess to concerns over the stress/burdens falling on the shoulders of wardens, nominators, parish councillors and Elizabeth, who are already working long hours and trying to keep themselves and their families afloat. Please be gentle with one another – and remember that everyone is working hard and doing their best to follow God’s word and move forward in Mission.

I know that you will be well cared for, during this interregnum, by a “locum team”. Please make all involved welcome. And when you have your own Parish Priest again make him/her and family feel supported and welcome. It is hard to break into a ready-made community and find your own place and way of being. Please remember also St Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3

“What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

Second Sunday after Epiphany – 14th January 2018

At our Parish Council Meeting on Tuesday evening the subject of Evangelism was raised. Now, according to the Etymology Dictionary, “Evangelism is the practice of trying
to persuade people to become Christians or revive their commitments to
Christianity. The word stems from the 12th century, with the term “evangelists” used
to describe the Bible’s New Testament apostles spreading the “good word” about
Christianity.” My own understanding is that it is more about sharing the good news
about Jesus Christ.

Anyway – one councillor (who shall remain nameless but who spoke as many were probably thinking) said something like “Evangelism is a great idea, as long as someone else does it!” Which begs the question, “Why do so many of us hesitate to share our faith with other people?”

If we believe the gospel is good news why don’t we share it with others? Or, if we believe Jesus is the greatest treasure the heart and soul can possess, why don’t we share our faith with others.

Our bible readings for this week are all about people sharing faith – sharing what they understand of God. And what is their motive? It is not about getting people into church to help raise funds – their motive is their desire to share something of what makes life meaningful, with others. Each has caught a glimpse of God and is so changed or moved by the experience that they want to share with others… “Come and see!” invites Phillip …

And we can do the same! Come and see the hungry and poor who receive help from Nils. Come and see the Rosie’s van distributing love, hope and hot food and drinks to the homeless. Come and see the welcome and fun offered by SAILS to refugees, youth at risk and so many others who may never enter into a church. Come and see the warm welcome and inclusion of all through baptism and in our various services at St Paul’s. And for each of us there is something intrinsically good, and wonderfully life giving, that keeps us coming back – not to a building but – to God in Christ

If you are asked why you bother with church and God is it so very hard to simply respond with an invitation to “Come and See?” There is love and hope and good news to share – so come and see!

The Baptism of Our Lord – 7th January 2018

I found this gem on Elizabeth Dolan’s face book post – It reminded me that words are simply symbols and sometimes they seem ridiculous if we don’t understand the background. Sometimes words are used as codes as Liz found out this week. Think about some of the nursery rhymes you grew up with – many, if not all, were coded references to events of the times. It would have been far too dangerous to speak openly of some of these events so codes were used.

Liz wrote
“There is one Christmas Carol that has always baffled me. What in the world do leaping lords, French hens, swimming swans, and especially the partridge who won’t come out of the pear tree have to do with Christmas? This week, I found out. From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

  • The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
  • Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
  • Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
  • The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
  • The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  • The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
  • Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit –Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
  • The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
  • Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit — Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
  • The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
  • The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
  • The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles’ Creed.

So there is your history for today. This knowledge was shared with me and I found it interesting and enlightening and now I know how that strange song became a Christmas Carol.”