The Feast of St Peter and St Paul, Apostles and Martyrs – 24th June 2018

His teaching made a deep impression on them because, unlike the scribes, he taught them with authority

Gospel

People experienced 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. That is a feature of good authority

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost – 17th June 2018

A message of thanks from all at St Paul’s, Manly.

As we come to the end of Fr David’s tenure as Associate Priest at St Paul’s we would like to offer a few words of thanks to David and Rhonda for their spiritual guidance, love, support and good humour during their time with us.

They have both fitted in to our church family, despite our occasionally somewhat peculiar ways with barely a raise of the eyebrows! We like to think of ourselves as a warm, welcoming and friendly congregation and trust David and Rhonda have found us so.

We often hear the term, ”We live in uncertain times”. These words are certainly true for us today as we journey through this interegnum. With David’s steadying hand on the tiller we have sailed through this part of the journey and been given the strength to carry on. What lies ahead only will God know. We just pray that in this small corner of his vineyard all will be well.

So as David and Rhonda approach their last Sunday with us as our Priest ‘team’, I would like to offer on behalf of the Wardens, Parish Council and congregation a hearty and heartfelt farewell. May God bless you both as you begin a new chapter in your lives bringing you joy, contentment and good health. We will hold you in our hearts and remember you with fondness.

With every blessing,

The Wardens, Parish Council and Congregation of St Paul’s, Manly.

Third Sunday after Pentecost – 10th June 2018

Repent and believe the Good News

It is interesting that Jesus links repentance with believing the Good News. We may question whether Christianity has been consistent in linking the two, and whether we have done so in our own thought and practice.

If the two are not linked there are dangers of two extremes. On the one hand, there can be stress on fear, fire, and brimstone, and seeing religion as some sort of grim struggle
to get to God. On the other hand, there is the danger of making it all too cosy and easy if we only focus on the Good News.

Jesus urges us to a balanced approach. Repent: turn away from pride, selfishness, closed minds that have everything boxed up, attitudes that close us off from people. And the purpose of this repentance? That we might believe and proclaim the Good News of God’s love, God’s presence, and God’s forgiveness.

None of us can say we have no need of repentance. None of us can say that our present belief in God’s presence with us is sufficient.

Reflections for Sundays
God Is With Us
Michael Morwood MSC

Second Sunday after Pentecost – 3rd June 2018

Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you since you received him from God.       Second Reading

In today’s first reading we have the call of Samuel, with the well-known ‘Here I am Lord.’ Response. The Gospel gives us the call of Andrew and Peter with their response. There is a mentality, common among Christians, that is fearful of getting too close to God. The fear is that God might ask something extraordinarily difficult of them, as if God were some kind of hard taskmaster.

The words from the second reading should give us hope and new heart, and put that fear to rest. God is not to be thought of as an absent, stern deity wanting to put burdens on us. Our God is a God of presence, the Spirit of love in our midst. The call this God makes to most of us is not a call to do extraordinary feats. It is a call to believe and to witness that God is present in our Families and in our world through our loving and in our living. It is a call to believe that since the spirit of God truly is with us. Then there is sacredness about us, and we should act accordingly.

Reflections for Sundays
God Is With Us
Michael Morwood MSC

Trinity Sunday – 27th May 2018

There are three distinct ways we can understand ‘God’ and appreciate the activity of God in our world.

We understand and appreciate God as Creator, the source of all that exists, the Almighty. We use the symbol of ‘Father’ to express God’s concern, care and compassion, and to evoke trust and reverence from us. We could just as well use ‘Mother’ for God is neither ‘He’ or ‘She’, and the word we use of God can never be used to define what God is. God is ultimately beyond our words and our images.

God reveals God’s self to us. We believe in a God who is loving and who has created us in love and so has formed an eternal bond with us. We are created in God’s image.

Jesus is the Revealer. He reveals God to us in his human life, in what he believed and the way he loved. Through Jesus who is risen Lord for us we know we can ‘walk without fear in God’s presence’. Jesus is the ‘Son’ and we are ‘brothers and sisters’, ‘children’ of God.

God is universal Spirit, recognised as bringing beauty from chaos, peace from turmoil, hope from despair, and union from fragmentation. Through the Spirit we know the power of love and forgiveness and eh sure presence of God deep in our own hearts. We are, as St Paul says, ‘temples of God’s Holy Spirit’. (cf Second reading for Second Sunday of the year) God is Love. We who bless ourselves in the name of this God are truly blessed.

Reflections for Sundays
God Is With Us
Michael Morwood MSC

Day of Pentecost – 20th May 2018

The Pentecost Sequence, found in the Missal before the Gospel, is a beautiful prayer. Try praying it with the firm convictions that the Spirit of God is in you, that you are, as St Paul says of all Christians, ‘a Temple of God’s Holy Spirit.’ (1 Cot. 3:16) As the Sequence says, we are praying to and with:

of all consolers best,
thou, the soul’s delightful guest.

Ponder these words, and be with the truth that God’s Spirit is a power at work in you. Make the prayer gentle and personal with this ‘guest’ of yours.

Heal my wounds, my strength renew,
On my dryness pour they dew,
Wash the stains of guilt away.
Acknowledge the need for conversion of mind and heart, and pray wholeheartedly,

Bend my stubborn heart and will,
Melt the frozen, warm, the chill,
Guide the steps that go astray.

In all this, pray with the Spirit within you.

Reflections for Sundays
God Is With Us
Michael Morwood MSC

Seventh Sunday of Easter – 13th May 2018

Happy Mother’s Day
to
all our mothers
and
those who have a mothering role

The Ascension highlights some of the challenges facing us in our understanding of Scripture. Are we to understand the ‘ascension’ literally? Did Jesus stand there on a hill and then start going up, up and away into the clouds? The difficulty some people have is that if you allow the ascension to be understood in a symbolic way, where do you draw the line with other stories in the New Testaments, e.g. did Jesus actually walk on water during his lifetime? What miracles can we accept as actual events, which are to be understood in a symbolic way? There is a huge gap in our Church between the learning of scripture scholars and that of most people at church on Sundays. People who try to bridge the gap often find themselves under attack from others whose faith is being disturbed.

There is an enormous challenge facing us here if we are to bridge that gap, and the challenge is requiring most of us to be open to new ways of understanding and appreciating Scripture. These new ways are not to be dismissed as suspicious, trendy, liberal or dangerous. We are deadline here with truth, with new learning and understanding and scholarship in the name of the Church. Resisting the challenge facing us with ignorance and a refusal to be open to new insight and learning is doing our Church a lot of damage.

Reflections for Sundays
God Is With Us
Michael Morwood MSC

Sixth Sunday of Easter – 6th May 2018

This is my commandment:

Love one another as I have loved you. Gospel

The community we call ‘Church’ exists to carry on and to give witness to the mind and heart of Jesus in our world. We who are the ‘community of believers’ are to be people who will love as Jesus loved. This would include also the need to be as compassionate as he was, to think as broadly as he thought, to act as generously as he acted. This is the heart of the matter. All the ceremony, all the ritual all he organization, all the laws, all that exists as Church’s has this one aim: that we be people who will love as Jesus loved. There is only one commandment he gives us.

The Church needs constantly to return to his truth in order to review itself, to prioritise its works and to renew itself.

On the parish level we could ask the question: Does what we do and celebrate
make obvious that we ae people who love others the way Jesus loved?

Reflections for Sundays
God Is With Us
Michael Morwood MSC

Fifth Sunday of Easter – 29th April 2018

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.

Gospel

To be ‘at home’ with another person conveys the sense of feeling accepted, understood and welcomed. ‘We really like one another’, could be another way of expressing the reality.

An interesting aspect of the scripture quote is that Jesus takes the initiative. ‘I’ve made my home with you,’ he says. ‘I’m at home with you.’ Now it is up to us to make it a mutual feeling.

Jesus clearly seemed to be ‘at home’ with sinners in his lifetime. Why should it be any different for us? Why not, at least, try taking him at his word and try relating with him as someone close to us, accepting, understanding and caring about us.

The challenge is that if there is some aspect of our behaviour Jesus is not comfortable with, like a good friend he will, in his own way, point it out to us.

Reflections for Sundays
God Is With Us
Michael Morwood MSC