Readings each Sunday
Vanderbilt lectionary library

Christ the King 25th November 2012

2 Samuel 23:1-7, Psalm 132: 1-12, Revelation 1: 4-8, John 18:33-37

Peter Humphris

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Pilate didn’t have the reference points of past popes, and nor was he confined by the traditions and practices of the church. And so he invites us to break out of the confines of what we already know and to enter a dialogue. His, "Are you the King of the Jews?” invites us to ask and seek answers for ourselves, who is Jesus and who is the Christ?

What is clearly stated in the gospel is the purpose and position that Christ speaks for himself:
I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." And that statement gives us a very different appreciation of leadership to that which we experience ‘in the world’. Christ offers us a leadership, a direction that is birthed in “truth”, not power, oppression, fortune, or political expediency. And it is a leadership for “everyone”, not for Christians, Australians, Anglicans, but for everyone. Another invitation for us to see ourselves as part of, and integral to, the whole of humanity.

The Book of Revelation speaks in an ever-present language, and invites us to life that is not confined and consumed in time. In verse 5 Christ is given three titles; “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.The faithful witness is the ever-present seer, the Divine presence that is aware of us. The firstborn of the dead enables us to contemplate life and being beyond the confines of our mortality. The ruler of the kings of the earth suggests that we consider again the reference point that we choose for our guidance and direction.

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost 18 Nov 2012

1 Samuel 1:4-20, Song of Hannah, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13: 1-8

Peter Humphris

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Hannah's movement into fullness of life is iconic of our movement into fullness of life:
She gave of herself.
She gave that which she most desired.
She gave that which she most loved, and that which she most wanted to have and to hang on to.
She gave, in promise, her only son.

"God so loved the world that he gave his only Son" . [John 3:16]

Hannah makes real the activity of God; and that change in orientation was so illuminating of life that even Eli recognised the reality.

Hannah is iconic for all of us who seek life's fullness, and for all of us who know the emptiness of longing that clouds our everyday.
The activity of giving, is the opening of wombs; for it is the very activity of God.

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost 30 September 2012

Richard Pengelly

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Jesus makes the comment; whoever is not against us is for us (NRSV), or, if he's not an enemy, he's an ally (Message). Do you remember what George W Bush said in one of his aggressive speeches in response to the attacks of 9/11? "Anyone who is not for us is against us." Can you see the subtle but quantum difference?

The inclusive, compassionate and dangerously loving Christ-centered response to a possible charlatan giving him and his whole mission a bad name is to see the positive potential. A much more typical human or worldly response it seems to me, time and time again, is to assume the worst, put up barriers and try to protect our things and our pride.

my 1st question – what are you trying to protect in your life at the moment, that in your heart of hearts you know needs release, a new freedom, a more generous Christ-centered approach?

...I draw even more comfort from the idea of a saviour whose passions run high, who often speaks in hyperbole to try and get it through my thick skull, and who is not afraid to remind me that life is full of choices for which there are consequences and part of becoming an adult and mature believer is to move beyond ‘comfort religion’ to the much more satisfying and real world of contradiction, paradox, mystery and deep faith.

2nd question is simply – what might you or this community of faith need cut away right now, in the spiritual sense? What life-giving amputations might be helpful?

I think we often forget Jesus’ parables about the power of little things. You know, everyone in the Bible fails, in a sense, with regard to their earthly mission. Adam gets kicked out of the garden, Moses never gets to the promised land, David never gets to build the temple, Jonah runs away and then when he does fulfill his mission doesn’t get to see Ninevah zapped, Judas betrays, Peter denies, Thomas doubts and Jesus gets nailed to a cross. But the one common denominator for which they all receive their promised reward is faithfulness, or perhaps in this case saltiness.

my 3rd Q; how salty are you feeling this morning and what seasoning are you going to do this week in God’s name and for the bringing in of God’s kingdom?

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost 2nd September 2012

Song of Solomon 2: 8 – 13, Psalm 45, James 1: 17-27, Mark 7:1-8,14-23

Peter Humphris

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When we engage in the “generous act of giving” we echo the Divine voice, the voice of our beloved. In the activity of ‘giving’ and ‘receiving’ we encounter and we participate in the activity of God (the Divine).

Our birth, the genesis of our very being is God’s giving “birth by the word of truth”. The “voice of my beloved” is the very gift that is our birth and our creation. Made in the image of God, we are birthed in, and with, the voice of God – the gift from where all giving originates

And it is the last of these reference points, “be doers of the word, and not merely hearers”, that James dwells on for the next five verses. And perhaps that’s where we might dwell, and consider our own part in giving voice to the Divine that is implanted in us, each and all, individually and together, as church community.

James calls us into an integrity of being that is birthed in the Divine Word, “the voice of my beloved”; and that speaks of a movement away from the worldly gravity that pulls us into a smaller reality. it is a movement that is creative of movement:
            from Competition toward Cooperation
            from Accumulating toward Giving
            from Hostility toward Hospitality
            from Rejection to Embracing
            from Exclusion to Inclusion
            from Discriminating to Honouring
            and from Self-sufficiency to Sharing.

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost 29th July 2012

2 Kings 4: 42-44; Ps 145: 10-18; Eph 3:14-21; John 6: 1-21

John Dunnill

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Today four gestures help us to answer the question which keeps coming before us this last month: who then is this? – this Jesus who stills storms, heals the sick and calls people into new ways of living and thinking.

Jesus saw a large crowd following him and we're told 'he went up a mountain and sat down. ... 'In the ancient world sitting was the position for making authoritative statements and for teaching

What he does is to hold a feast. So here's the second gesture: 'Make the people lie down'. it means to 'recline', as you would at a banquet Jesus fed five thousand people (actually 500 men, with women and children too, evidently) with five loaves and two fish.

So here is the third gesture: the Old Testament echo tells us that the boy with the barley loaves and two fish (like the farmer in the old story) is offering them to God, through Jesus. When you do that you lift them upwards, to God, figuratively or actually, and then hand them over to God's representative. Jesus confirms that by making the same gesture: taking them, giving thanks to God, and handing over to the disciples to distribute. Because of this gesture, both stories point through Elisha, through Jesus, to God as the giver of all bread and all life

But there is one final gesture, this time from the apostle Paul: 'I bow my knees before the Father'. Again not literally: he was writing a letter and it's difficult to write kneeling down. He is bowing the knees of his heart. Have you got knees in your heart? – perhaps we should. It is a sign of submission, thanks, orientation of his whole life.

 

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, 22nd July 2012

Jer 23: 1-8; Ps 23; Eph 2: 11-22; Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56

John Dunnill

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Humans have many sheep-like qualities. Left to themselves, on the mountains of Israel, or New South Wales, they will wander and get lost, as humans too often wander in life without aim or direction.

What makes a fulfilled human being? Is it power, success, intelligence, a speedboat in the harbour? As a Jew, but even more as a Christian, this writer sees there are two kinds of human being: there are those who know God, the source of their life, and those who do not.

We are made to live in relationship with the God of our life, and to form communities in which we live together under God’s guidance. To live that way is life and peace; but for those who live only for themselves, or who attach themselves to gods that are not God, their condition is sad: ‘aliens, strangers, having no hope and without God in the world’.

Who then is this? It’s all about recognition. Do we recognize Christ as the one who shows us that left to ourselves we are ‘like sheep without a shepherd’?
Do we recognize Christ as the one who (whoever we are, wherever we come from, however we get there) holds for us the secret of true human being and presents it to us on the cross of love?
Do we recognize Christ, as we meet him in the eucharist and in living, as the one through whom, with whom, in whom there is life abounding?

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost 15th July 2012

Amos 7: 7-15; Ps 24; Eph 1: 1-14; Mark 6: 14-29

John Dunnill

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There is a challenge for us is to imitate such public figures and their public boldness, in their concrete situations; to finding the courage to stand up for God when necessary in our own lowly sphere, and in our own concrete situations.
But the more important question is about truth. Do we as Christians have access to a knowledge of what is right, in a society where there is less and less agreement about morality, or even awareness of what morality is?  Without that grasp on truth, how do we first find a place of balance in ourselves which enables us to speak and act with integrity?

But we can’t fool ourselves that other people are always self-serving, while we are always righteous.  We know that is not true: the division runs right through each one of us.
We are the wealthy of ancient Israel who ignore the poor and please ourselves, AND we are the prophet who denounces them in the name of justice and the mercy of God. We are the Herods, enmeshed in power and pleasure, AND we are a John the Baptist who speaks to their conscience. Like Herod we vacillate, listening to the voice of conscience with fascination and horror, blowing in the wind.        

What if God has a counter plan for the history of the world, and we find it in Christ, in whom all the contradictory things of earth will finally be gathered up and made one? Is that is a rock on which we can stand amid the swirling currents of life?       

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost 8th July 2012

Ezekiel 2: 1-8; 3: 1-3, 14-15;  Ps 123; 2 Corinthians 12: 2-10; Mark 6: 1-13

John Dunnill

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The people of Nazareth of course are our representatives, ordinary folk who want to live quiet lives and don’t want them upset by God. Of course let’s talk about God, go to Synagogue on the Sabbath, tick the Anglican box on census day, but do we want God in our lives?  Do we want to face that reality about who we are?
TS Eliot said ‘Human kind cannot bear very much reality’, and he put the words, in a play, on the lips of Archbishop Thomas Becket, only days before he was murdered, at the king’s orders, for challenging people in the name of God.

What about us? I don’t know that any of us have an individual call to be a prophet or apostle, though many of us have calls to serve God in different ways. But we do have a collective call to be a prophetic institution in our place, and to speak God’s word in words and in actions. Do we do that?
I guess we all have a hope that God will bless us through our strengths, and God has. But sometimes God blesses us also by reminding us of our weakness.  It’s our weakness we’re conscious of today, with the loss of our dear friend Alan who has been part of this parish for long, and a core part of our little experiment in community living. Where does that leave us?
Can we in our weakness, like Jesus, convey the love of God in a way which brings people true and deep comfort, when they need to be comforted? AND can we in our weakness convey the love of God in a way brings to them a challenge, when they need to be challenged to grow into the bigness of God’s vision for their lives?
Who then is this?’ They asked that about Jesus: do they ask that about us?
How do we feel if people don’t recognise the love of God working through us? How do we feel if they do?

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, 1st July 2012

Lam 3: 19-33; Ps 30; 2 Cor 8: (1-6) 7-15; Mark 5: 21-43

John Dunnill

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It is the sound of women wailing for the loss of a loved one or friend, and deeper than that, somehow wailing for all the sadness in the world.  It’s a grief which touches the depth of our sadness, and I find it very beautiful. In the Christian world it has often been thought to deny the gospel of resurrection, and especially in Ireland the Church has sometimes done its best to stamp it out. In truth it is about honestly emptying out our sadness to make space for consolation.
It expresses something of the place women have often played, having to wait passively while action is done by men. 

So the lament becomes a song of assurance and hope ..‘Good’ because what you find if you wait (rather than jumping to easy and comforting solutions) is the overflowing compassion of God. God may cause us grief for a while and for a purpose; he may seem to be angry, but the anger does not come from God’s own will, or from the heart, it is to call us to himself if we can trust.

And so in the middle of this fearless and boundless lament for the nation’s loss there is a statement of trust, that despite the pain, represented by the wailing of the women, and deeper than that pain, is the love and compassion of God,

Can we learn these things?
What practices will open us over time to an awareness like that, of what is really going on, beneath appearances, in our community, in our world? 
What contemplation of scripture and experience will give us a trust like that so that instead of doubt and vagueness we know the rock-solid compassion and steadfast love of God for us? 
Armed with such awareness, such trust, when are we going to start living boldly?
Who then is this? What we see in Jesus is who God is, and who God wants us to become.

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost 24th June 2012

1 Samuel 17: 1, 32-49, Psalm 9, 2 Corinthians 6: 1-13, Mark 4:35-41

Peter Humphris

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Our daily life gives us another lectionary, for life itself is a collection of scripture readings, divine stories that are appointed or ordered for worship. And when we now approach today’s readings without the blinkers of our initial reading we see that 1 Samuel, the Gita and the gospel all invite us to become aware of where we stand. They invite us to look into the impending chaos that is the tension between competing forces; and they invite us to look into the chaotic storms that can erupt in our lives as we move from shore to shore.

But the gospel narrative is of a different order. In the gospel we should put ourselves in the picture as the boat, and then look within ourselves to see the activity taking place. For Christ reveals the Divine incarnate, and so too the Divine within. Alongside the fear that confronts us in the chaos of the storm is the power to still the very same, most likely to be found asleep in the stern.

Trinity Sunday 3rd June 2012

Isaiah 6: 1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8: 12-17; John 3: 1-17

John Dunnill

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I want to say that the doctrine of the Trinity is not at all some fancy theory or added extra – it is the distinctive Christian teaching about GOD.  Misunderstandings arise because the Church has not always kept the threefold character of GOD at the centre of its preaching.  In fact, many would say it is the Church’s failure to preach GOD as Trinity that leads directly to atheism in the modern world. 

The Christian faith is about the offer and acceptance of a lived relationship with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a friendship leading us from death to life, and to still richer life.

The God who can’t be known – because GOD is always beyond our imagining – is always seeking to be known, always initiating relationships of trust – with Israel, with the Church, with you and me.  As the Cloud of Unknowing says, “By love he can be caught and held, but by thinking never.”  What the mind cannot grasp can be known in the heart. 

But if we begin with Christ and what Christ has done, and ask what kind of GOD do we see in Jesus Christ? – then we see God in the human life of Jesus, giving himself wholly to take away our sadness and our sin; and we see the loving Father of our Lord, who wholly desires our good; and we see the Spirit of grace poured into our hearts: the Trinity of love

Sixth Sunday of Easter 13th May 2012 

Acts 10: 44-48; Psalm 98, 1 John 5:1-12; John 15: 9-17

Peter Humphris

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If we are to hear the scriptures when they are read we have to be open, and that means we have to let down our defences.

If we are open to the new song that is being sung in that first reading, what we might hear is that there is no gatekeeper… the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. We will sing a new song and become a new church as we understand that all have received the gift.  Each of us, and every other, is an embodiment of the Divine Spirit.
Baptism, rather than being a “mark of difference”, is an affirmation of oneness with that gift that is the quality we hold in common with each and every other and with Christ.

Today’s readings are a delightful call to a new awakening, a realization that the song we sing is the song of creation, it is the divine song and is the very voice and verse of creation.
It is not the song that is held onto by the institutions that have the power and the authority over our day-to-day lives. It is not the song of governments or oppositions, and nor is it the heave-ho shanty of any AFL club. It is a song of creation, it is a song of your birth.

And in the second reading we hear that “whatever is born of God conquers the world.”It is a song of Divine victory that is sung at the dawn of every new day. We are called to sing tomorrow into being. Already the Spirit has been gifted and poured out, for by our very being we make real that truth, now it is up to us.

It is up to us to sing a new song: And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.  When we look at all the problems of the world, and they appear to be mounting up, conquering those problems is gifted to us, it is our song that brings about change and that brings tomorrow into being.

Fifth Sunday of Easter 6th May 2012

John Dunnill

Acts 8: 26-40; 1 John 4: 7-21; John 15: 1-8

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But it’s a feature of any pilgrimage that when we arrive at our destination, even if it is everything we hoped for, we are pulled up short. We’ve been so focussed on this one place, getting there, that actually arriving is a bit of a shock. We think, ‘Is that it, then? What next? – What day is it?’ We have to find our way back into our life.

It’s when we get down to our real humanity that God can meet us and work in us. Isn’t that what a pilgrimage is about? (or a retreat or quiet day) – putting off the masks and pretences we use everyday, and letting our real life open up in us. That’s why it’s important to walk a pilgrim way, if we can, rather than be whisked to our destination by bus. Whatever grounds us in our humanity sets us free from pride and pretence, opens up in us a well of compassion for ourselves and for others, and with that compassion comes peace. It’s in that inner place of compassion that we meet the holy one, the power of mercy and compassion whom we call God. He goes with us on the wa

Fourth Sunday of Easter 29th April 2012

Acts 4: 5-12; 1 John 3: 16-24; John 10: 11-18

John Dunnill

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Jesus in his action of total self-giving represents the NAME and nature of GOD, and we are called not just to see that but to follow it. So ‘this is God’s commandment, that we should believe in the NAME of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us’.  

We know that believing in the NAME of Jesus is not about signing up to a programme, or entering into competition about who’s right and who’s wrong; and it does not happen in our head it happens in our hearts and bodies, when we make his way of life our way of life, when we love one another not only in intention but in action. 

That’s challenging enough but it isn’t about judging other people, it’s about letting ourselves be challenged and empowered to live by the love shown in the crucifixion and by the life-for-others revealed in the resurrection.

Does the NAME of God (the presence and power of God revealed in Jesus Christ) dwell here in this Christian community? Is God’s NAME hallowed and honoured among us by what we think and say and do, and the way we think and say and do it? Whether or not we feel we can affirm that, we do need to affirm that for us the risen Christ, bearer of God’s NAME, is not a distant figure in history: he is a life dwelling in us, that we are given to live.

 

Third Sunday of Easter 22 April 2012

Acts 3: 12-20; 1 John 2: 15-17 and 3: 1-6; Luke 24: 36b – 48

John Dunnill

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And now Jesus, as he inaugurates a new humanity and a new community, uses these words to invite his friends to the same recognition, the kinship that he has with them as bone of their bones and flesh of their flesh. In death as in life, Jesus shares with them their fundamental humanity, which is not set aside in the new order but transformed.

Easter begins as an event of recognition of this truth in this person.  Like it or not, the event of Easter is not to be passed by, if resurrection is to be more than a dream or a hope or an ideal. 

The Good news of the resurrection is that God who became one with us, shared our bone and our flesh, has raised up our bone and flesh into the radiance of new life, and invited us to go on sharing with Jesus in his transformed state. 
St Paul says, astonishingly, that we are risen too. He tells the Colossians, ‘You were buried with him in baptism and you were raised with him also, through the faithful empowering of God who raised him from the dead’ (Col 2: 12). 

Scripture, community, prayer: three paths to walk in union with Jesus, the one who uniquely was dead and is alive, the stranger who speaks to us in our heart’s core, the one who calls us to recognise him as our Peace, and to walk with him into new and richer life.

 

Third Sunday in Lent 11th March 2012

Exodus 20:1-17 , Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2: 13-22

Peter Humphris

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This is why Lent, and the experience of Lent, can be so important for us; Lent offers us a different direction to life itself.
It is a life movement:

  • That goes beyond what we see, and opens our eyes to the unseen.
  • That goes beyond what we taste to that which we hunger and thirst for.
  • That goes beyond what we smell to the perfume of Love and the incense of prayer.
  • That goes beyond what we hear to the Word of silence
  • And beyond what we touch to that which we can only believe.

In response to their seeking for signs, Jesus reveals that all that the temple represents is now made flesh, and embodied in humanity. Temples and churches are still signs; however, they point beyond themselves and they point to a living dwelling place, revealed in the resurrection, they point toward an embodiment of God and to the fullness of humanity at one with divinity.

Here we can find refreshment and a remembering as we seek a movement beyond a life lived outside of the enlightenment of Lent, and here we can find both promise and companions as we engage the foolishness that Easter holds for all of humanity.

Easter Day - the Resurrection of the Lord 8th April 2012

Acts 10: 34-43, Psalm 118: 1 - 2, 14 – 24, Colossians 3: 1-4, Matthew28:1-10

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The things that are above are no longer geographically located; rather it is within that we need to look and so we are called to set our minds on things that are above, the orientation of life that is set toward higher things. And John Lennon has summed this up so well with the title of his song “Imagine”

And that’s what we might do this Easter. Imagine the depth of truth that this story seeks to reveal, without the encumbrance of our world view; we must look beyond what we see and open ourselves to that which can be imagined. Some of the early church fathers saw beyond the story, and glimpsed the truth of being fully human and fully divine, but others, without imagination could only see the star of the story and so contained or limited the insight to that which was within their own field of vision.

... Both these songs sing of the revelation of Easter as a reality for all. This is not a Christian event, unless we seek to restrict it to Christ and claim ownership over him. If we see Easter or can imagine Easter as a revelation of Love, and an illustration of love’s dynamic process, a passion that involves dying and rising, then we too will see it as a revelation for all.

The Easter story points us toward new life and to a new way of living, a passion for life and for giving life to all. May we each this Easter, carry the promise that is entrusted to us and give it as a gift of life to others.

Palm Sunday 1st April 2012

Isaiah 50: 4-9a; Psalm 31: 9-18; Philippians 2: 5-11; Mark 14: 1 – 15: 39

John Dunnill

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As St Paul says, writing to the Philippians, it is not in these things that we find God, but in the mind of Christ: in his willingness to empty himself of whatever he had, take the form of a slave and humble himself in obedience to God – to the point of death, death (he says with a shudder) on a cross.
And it was he, this holy fool, ground into the dust like a rebellious slave – he was the one to whom God has given everything, everything in heaven and on earth and under the earth.
And so this is the one we celebrate, this holy fool, God’s Son. Here is where God is to be found. In a life in which we see the infinite possibility of goodness, peace and love made actual even in the depth of evil. Do we dare to go with him, this holy fool, clutching our flimsy palm-crosses? Can we allow the cross to become in us a sign of life for other people?

Fourth Sunday of Lent 18th April 2012

Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 3:14-21

Peter Humphris

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There is so much to be understood here, so much that has been glimpsed by the writers of these narratives and at the same time so much that has been ignored, distorted or rejected. If we turn away from the poisonous serpents of this world, toward that which is raised up in death, we will be healed, made whole and find life.

If we can turn from following the course of this world we can find that we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works. And if we can see the truth of the Easter passion then we might realise that those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.

And now imagine if what you do can be seen as having been done in God - God is made real by your life and your living, the light coming into the darkness through you. This is what is hard for the Bees to understand. We have an opportunity: Lent is the pathway that is leading us into that opportunity and into another reality.

Stay with it, Refreshment Sunday could equally be called opt-out Sunday. Let today’s readings encourage you to stay with it. Seek Easter, make a friend of Death, in fact raise it upon a pole and look toward it, for there lies resurrection.

 

Second Sunday of Lent  4th March 2012   

Genesis 17: 1-7, 15-16; Rom 4: 13-25; Mark 8: 31-8

John Dunnill

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Someone once commented that Abraham’s story is ‘fraught with background’, meaning that his life or his consciousness has nothing in the foreground, no superficial clutter, nothing much that we can see, but it seems to open inwards, or backwards, on to a depth, or a density, out of which he hears the divine voice. 

From that moment [he wrote] I have known what it means ‘not to look back’, and ‘to take no thought for the morrow’ [Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings, p. 169].”

We surely hear in these words an echo of the Lenten journey. Jesus taught us by his life that the way of the Cross, however dark it may look, is in fact the way of Life, the way to lay hold of the Life, the freedom of God.  He waits for each of us to say (like Abraham, like Dag Hammarskjöld) our Yes to that promise.

..if you thought this story was about Jesus, then you will not have heard that voice speaking to you. Mark is telling us and everyone, YOU are a child of the Divine, YOU are beloved, and with YOU God is well pleased.

We move into the wilderness of Lent and one of the reasons that we have groups is that it is a place of struggling and the easiest way to struggle is to struggle with someone alongside you. It’s a place of wrestling – now you can beat yourself up or you can wrestle with someone else. So as we journey through Lent let’s be gentle with each other but let’s also encourage each other to push further into testing the truth that is who we are

First Sunday of Lent 26th February 2012

Peter Humphris

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Why do we have the Gospel reading of Jesus being baptized in the Jordan for the first Sunday of Lent? Whole raft of answers but there are two that are stunningly obvious. One is that this is the beginning of Lent – and also a new beginning for us, each of us and all of us, and baptism is the ritual of beginning - in the Body of Christ, in the eyes of the church, in the acceptance of the promise that our faith holds, baptism is the beginning. It also signifies in the reading today the beginning of the Jesus’ ministry; before that he did nothing, after that he did everything. I

 

Transfiguration Sunday 19th February 2012

2 Kings 2: 1-12 Psalm 50:1-6 2 Corinthians 4: 3-12 Mark 9:2-9

Peter Humphris

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This journey illuminates the process of following in the fullest sense of the word. It is not a journey of listening, it is a journey of being and of becoming, a movement into the inheritance that reflects an indwelling God, or as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians: it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light

Each and every journey, each and every Lent and each and every life has a starting point, an orientation and a movement. We in our modern world are more often only aware of a destination as the point of a journey. What the two journeys we’ve read of today tell us is that there is more to be discovered in attending to the journey than there is in looking for the destination..

As we approach Lent, we might take these stories with us as our google maps, and use them to reference our own becoming as we embark on our journey into the mystery of what lies within and beyond Lent.

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany  12 February 2012    

2 Kings 5: 1-14; Ps 30; 1 Cor 9: 24-27; Mark 1: 40-45

Rev. John Dunnill

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So we build walls around us, and put the oddities outside, to make ourselves feel safe. Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall subtly pokes fun at our need for walls and borders. 

Jesus shows where he stands on the question of boundaries.  When a leper came to him he was moved with pity (the text says his bowels were churned up), and he did what you don’t do to a leper, he touched him: ‘and the leper was made clean’. 

The power of God desires to bridge that gap, to bring the outsider in.  The touch is a moment of connection between divided bodies and divided hearts.  A moment of healing.  Is that what Frost is hinting at? – ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down’.

When Jesus stretches out his hand and touches the leper he reunites the universe.  He shows there is no separation of heaven and earth as if they were two places divided by a firmament.  There is only one world transfigured by the creative loving energy of God who constantly seeks to break down walls, borders and barriers to draw all things to himself – through healing, through the silence of prayer, through deep listening, through the word which liberates people from fear.

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany 5th February 2012   

Isaiah 40: 21-31, Psalm 147, 1 Corinthians 9: 16-23, Mark 1: 29-39

Peter Humphris

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The energy in today’s readings suggest that ‘searching’ is what gives shape and direction to our journey and to our encounter with God. That’s not necessarily reflected in the common experience of ‘church’. Many see that ‘faith’ is all about knowing and/or accepting what the church ‘knows’. Throughout much of its history the church has taken on the role of Gatekeeper of ‘Divine knowing’. Baptism and confirmation have been the orthodox entry points, the turnstiles of admission into the collective creed of the Church; and so often they are seen as points of arrival rather than as places at which our journey actually begins.

To empty or open ourselves to such a journey we must allow the eyes of our ‘unknowing’ to read the scriptures, rather than the trained and blinkered eyes of our ‘knowing’. When Isaiah asks: “Have you not known? Have you not heard” it is important for us to answer, no! And from that place, we can then engage the whole of life anew with an open searching.

The gospel setting is the Church setting. Here we go out, and we return.  In between we are sustained in our life of prayer. We are renewed and refreshed in God’s presence and in our journey together

It is in Giving, to the gospel, that we receive, and find ourselves soaring with eagles wings

Let’s be open now, and as we approach our Lenten journey, open to share in all God’s Blessings.

 

Second Sunday of Epiphany 15th January 2012


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John Dunnill

This trust which he shows first as a child when he opens himself to hear God's word, and to reveal what he hears whether he likes it or not, sets a pattern for his adult ministry as a prophet. Because of it, he plays a crucial role in rescuing Israel from its calamity.

But the story of Samuel emphasises a third way. It tells us that as well as these ways of seeing God, as a constant presence in the universe or in the depths of my heart, God is also a Holy One who may encounter us, from time to time, in specific and non-repeatable ways, who may enter into the world's history, or my life-story, in ways that can have a dramatic effect.

If the finger of God should point to us, for a moment, would we recognise it?

Such moments do not come all that often, but they tell us a lot about who we are. Everything depends on whether we can recognise the moment and respond. I suppose it might be worth giving some thought to what such a moment might look like, and what it might reveal about who we are, and who is the is the God who calls us.

 

Christmas Day 2011

Is 9: 2-7; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2: 1-14
John Dunnill

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The Greek word doxa which we translate as 'glory' means appearance, reputation, impressiveness. So a king has doxa, glory, majesty, because he's powerful and important, and everybody does what he says

But in the Old Testament, in the Book of Exodus and elsewhere, there's a completely different kind of glory, especially found in the phrase 'the glory of the LORD'. The Hebrew word kabod which we translate 'glory' really means weight, substance, so 'the glory of the LORD' is not about God's reputation or impressiveness, or what people think about God, it's about what God is, the substance, intensity or depth of God – and that substance revealed among humans bringing good.

We must be aware that in the Bible the glory of God always comes as a surprising response to human need – bread in the wilderness, life out of death – and we rightly sense at this season that God's heart is open to those who are sad or lonely or distressed – those who often find the glitzy side of Christmas (the superficial glory) only makes them feel worse.
It's to the sad and the needy that God's heart is especially open at this time, and I hope ours are too, as we remember that the real glory of God is the infinite compassion through which God's son comes into this hurting world, and a hint of that glory is seen in the compassion which arises in our hearts in the face of real human needs.
May we enjoy Christmas as those who know its real meaning and its real joy.

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