Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trying to see Jesus

  • I read recently of a Bishop's visit to a parish; the priest said that the Bishop told the people that what we need is "More Jesus!"
  • In this "Kingdom time" it is an exhortation we do well to hear
  • Reading for this Sunday, 31 October 2010 the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost come from Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 and Psalm 119:137-144 • (
  • Isaiah 1:10-18 and Psalm 32:1-7 ) •
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12
  • Luke 19:1-10

  • The story in the Gospel this morning is pretty straight forward. Jesus is in the town of Jericho, and a crowd throngs around. A tax collector called Zacchaeus (who we are told is short!) climbs a tree.
    If we take this as a guide today we could see the challenge
    in our own life
    to climb the tree and get a better look at Jesus.
    In the last couple of weeks
    we have been reminded to snap out of our apathy
    and get back to the task.
    As we think about the saints
    we see men and women who inspire us
    because they have seen Jesus and responded.
    Sometimes we become a bit lacklustre
    and take it all a bit for granted.
    Far from being excited about Jesus
    we just ignore him.
    So we are being reminded today to climb the tree
    and get a better look at Jesus.
    What we note is that Jesus speaks to Zacchaeus
    Directly to his condition.
    What, I might ask,
    is Jesus saying to me today?
    Mary McKillop heard a call to serve the poor and teach the young,
    Francis heard Jesus' call to rebuild the church
    and to attend to the creation
    to love the unlovely
    and be there, first and foremost,
    for the poor.
    If Jesus was speaking to you today
    what is he saying

    From the readings
    there is still a vision for the appointed time....... the righteous live by their faith.(Habbakuk 2:3-4
    What enlivens us is "faith"
    we might think, it's organisation, or wealth
    but we are reminded that it is faith ...the assurance of God's promise ...
    that is the dynamic that transforms the life of God's people.
    What promise of God do you hear from Jesus
    and how can you act on that.
    Is it about forgiveness, healing, prayer, love and mercy
    service, action and care
    In your tree as you look at Jesus
    what is he telling you to get down and do!

    We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
    We are reminded that we can look at others (we have been calling them 'saints'...Mary MacKillop, Francis and many others) who take this call of Jesus on their life seriously and see how it is transforming
    Zacchaeus at least alludes to the possibility that his encounter with Jesus will make a difference.
    An I suppose that a gauntlet is thrown down
    to be more than just 'fair weather' Christians

    Where is God looking at us and speaking into our lives?
    Where are we being invited to come down out of the tree and welcome Jesus?
    What can I resolve to do today to put this encounter into practice?

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Two different approaches

    Readings for Sunday 24th october 2010 Proper 24 of Year C the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost. Joel 2:23-32 and Psalm 65 [or[Sirach 35:12-17 or Jeremiah 14:7-10, 19-22] ]and Psalm 84:1-7
    2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 Luke 18:9-14

    One of the great delights of being an Anglican is the permission we have to be different!

    This may seem strange to those who are not of this stock, but is probably fairly familiar to the modern person. We treasure the right to be different and to have our say.

    The gospel story this week tells of two men who are worshipping and praying at the same time.

    Though they are engaged in the same activity, the story highlights that they are coming at it from radically different standpoints.

    One is well-schooled in the language and practice of prayer and stands boldly and, I suspect, thankfully, in the presence of God giving thanks for all that he has been able to receive at God's hand.

    This is not usually the way that we view this man..who we generically and almost always disparagingly refer to as The Pharisee.....we are inclined to say that this man is pompous, and a poor representative of what true faith is supposed to be. And he is. Well we all are.

    But he is, unfortunately, a typical product of the faith machine...he is rather like you and me

    He has, no doubt, struggled for many years to make his faith work and to get it right. he then is able to stand up and say....I know something about what it means to be a person of faith and he slides into

    'God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.'

    He may indeed have understood something of what it means. But we all see that he has actually missed the essence. He has not understood about: humility, about not being judgmental, about recognising the need for dependence on God, even about being cautious in self-assessment, and even more cautious in ascribing motives to other people. He has not understood about learning gently from others

    We get this because it is contrasted with the desperation of a man in real trouble. And we see in the heartfelt prayer something authentic, that is lacking in the prayer of the Pharisee. His fault is not so much that he is harsh, but that he is blind.

    This is what is called in literature a cautionary tale designed to warn us about what might happen to us if we are not careful.
    We can become well-pleased with our own efforts.
    In our affluence and ease, We can be blind to the pain in others life caused by poverty and abuse.
    In our comfortability we mistake an easy life for God's blessing and sink into apathy and mediocrity.

    How do we heed this in our life today?
    How do we heed this as church?

    • Try to identify a situation where we are tempted to be judgmental, and ask how it also invites us to view things differently
    • Where have we sunk into apathy and self righteousness, and miustaken this for faithfulness and blessing?
    • Where is God inviting us to change and to be more compassionate?

    Disturb us gracious God when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore.

    Disturb us, gracious God, when with the abundance of things we possess we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new heaven to dim.

    Disturb us, gracious God, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love. Attributed to Sir Francis Drake, 1577


    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Here's praying at you!

    Readings for this Sunday (Proper 29...21st Sunday after Pentecost) - 17th October 2010. Jeremiah 31:27-34 and Psalm 119:97-104 or[Genesis 32:22-31 and Psalm 121]; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5 ;Luke 18:1-8(-15)

    This week many of Australia's Roman Catholics will be focussing on Rome
    as Mother Mary MacKillop is 'canonised'
    or added to the list of official saints.
    One of the good things about being an Anglican has been that we have been freed from the bizarre process which seems almost impossible to endure.
    Instead Anglicans have in, say, the last 50 years promoted local calendars
    helping us to focus on individuals
    who have led good Christian lives
    without the need to be scrupulous about declaring them perfect
    or, more controversially, without seeing the need to locate their sainthood
    in a couple of impossible 'miracles'.
    One RC sister commented on TV last week that she thought the process had gone a bit overboard
    in focussing on miracles
    surely a saintly life was more than just this.

    What then do we imagine saints do?
    Clearly a lot of popular focus and discussion
    has gone into getting the saints to "answer" prayers.
    Let's be clear that no church teaches that anyone other than God
    answers prayer.
    The idea that is being proposed
    is that we invite the Saint to pray with us
    to God for a particular cause.
    So many people are asking Mary MacKillop just at this time
    to pray to God for them.
    This is a thoroughly Christian idea!
    we say in the Apostles' Creed
    I believe in the communion of saints (see another homily here)
    To be blunt, the word 'saint'
    is not an extraordinary word at all.
    It is the word the New Testament uses
    to refer to the members of the church
    that is, all those who are baptised into Christ;
    God's holy people (saint means a 'holy person')
    It's you and it is really close in meaning
    to the Anglican idea of the local saint
    rather than the almost supernatural figure .
    Now saints, you and I, pray for each other
    and for the world, and for the church.
    It is our job, our duty, our core business!
    Some of us are possibly quite good at this
    I guess we notice some of these and they become larger than life!

    When I want help I ask people to pray for me.
    I am pleased when you do!
    Some of us who are part of the communion of saints
    have died, it doesn't mean that we have stopped living in Christ.
    My mother, for example, and dear Alder Hall who we buried only last week
    and certainly Mary Mackillop continue to live in Christ.
    Our prayer is that their prayer joins ours!
    Don't starve yourself of prayer support.
    We join our prayers with the saints, and they with us.

    In special times we are drawn to particular saints,
    this is our human way
    It is also the way of the Holy Spirit
    encouraging us to pray and to be prayed for.

    I don't care, just as long as we pray
    and then pray
    and then pray a little bit more.

    Thursday, October 07, 2010

    Living out of thankfulness

    Readings for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 23 Sunday 10th October. 2010

    Leprosy has a sort of romantic attraction for many Christians
    but in reality that romanticism is ill-placed.
    It is as romantic as AIDS in the modern context
    and as socially stigmatising as skin cancer
    or any disease which has disfigurement associated with it.
    The story (Luke 17:11-19) has not only some interesting reflections to make about seeking healing from God
    ...Do we for example live out of the thankfulness of answered prayer?
    Or do we quickly forget that God desires healing for us all?
    This story reflects that 9 out of 10 people
    forget to give thanks to God.
    and my estimation would be that that is about right!
    But the story also tells us that God's healing is not confined by religion,
    it isn't just confined
    to who we think
    God should be disposed towards.
    God's concern is towards humanity and not just to Jews or Christians,
    white or black.
    It is not just to be nice to children
    or those who say their prayers
    God's concern is for the whole of humanity.
    God's grace, the free gift of eternal life,
    is without bounds
    and is offered to all.

    It is a reminder to us that we should be no less open.
    That our compassion needs to be challenged beyond the bounds of niceness.
    We are to be open to be compasssionate
    beyond the bounds of our own social caste or religion.
    The world is not like this.
    9 out of 10 people get this wrong.

    We witness prejudice in all manner of ways.
    I sat with someone this week in hospital and listened while his wife told me
    that the staff were fabulous
    except for the Indians
    who you just couldn't understand.
    I found myself thinking of the many many Indian doctors and nurses
    who have served us well in this country
    and just shuddered.

    This week
    Can you reflect on where you make judgments
    based on prejudice rather than compassion and mercy?
    Invite the Holy Spirit to let you do better than this and to show you how?
    God who is truth and love
    grant to us your people
    the wisdom and compassion
    to act justly and with mercy
    in the name of the guiltless Jesus
    who died that all people might know the love of God.