Readings each Sunday Vanderbilt lectionary library and Textweek

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost 16 July 2017

Melanie Simms

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Genesis 25: 19-34, Ps 119: 105-112, Romans 8:1-11 and Matthew 13: 1-9 & 18-23 Vanderbilt Lectionary

Proper 10A/Ordinary 15A/Pentecost +6 July 16, 2017 Textweek

...my stance of “non-waiting” doesn’t take into account God’s timing.
As I said, once I’ve decided upon a course of action, I work to make it happen. The difficulty is that my timing isn’t always in line with God’s timing.

But I’m in good company. There are lots of people in the Bible who had to wait for what they wanted. And some of these people had express promises from God about what they were waiting for, but still they had to wait for it.

The easy answer for Rachel, Sarah, Rebecca and Elizabeth and their husbands, which no doubt was not evident at the time, but only obvious once they had their babies, was that God made them infertile so that when their babies came along it was very clearly a miracle, and very clear who was ultimately responsible, and just how special those babies were.

So where does this leave us today? Well, our Gospel reading reminds us that we might never see what we are waiting for – nice cheerful thought that that is, because a seed must die to itself before it accomplishes what it has been spending it’s whole life waiting for – the chance to be fruitful. This thought in turn leads me to our reading from Romans, and the lesson there of living in the power of the Holy Spirit.

But remember, that God is in the details. It is in how we live our everyday lives while we are waiting for those big things to come along, that we’ve been working towards, that we’ve been planning and saving and researching and so impatient for, that counts. God is with us in the waiting. God wants us to spend time with him. And if we pray in our frustration as Isaac and Rebecca did, then we are in good hands. We are living in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are waiting on God’s timing and all will be as God accomplishes his will.

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost 9 July 2017

Richard Whereat


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Genesis 24: 34-38,42-49,58-67; Ps 45: 10-17; Romans 7: 14-25; Matthew 11: 15-19, 25-30 Vanderbilt

Proper 9A/Ordinary 14A/Pentecost +5 July 9, 2017 Textweek

Considering this I thought, I considered maybe this was meant it was just for me, maybe God was saying to me, it’s about time You started listening to God!
I like most don’t always listen when God speaks to us.

How well do we listen to the voice of God, God’s spirit, the comforter.

I am comforted by the concept that as we live and enjoy life we gain spiritual peace and hope while our body goes through this ageing process. We our spirit, continues up or continues to grow, while our physical body seems to head down. While it’s a bit on the scary side, our experience of God our saviour will give us strength.

The transition as a human with a sinful nature is a life long one but one which should be made easier with the wisdom and spirit of God.

Matthew’s gospel should cause us to ask, … have we listen to the wisdom of God.
Or do we ignore God when God speaks to us.

Life can be difficult and God is there waiting to reach out to us.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest!” Remember God’s peace is beyond compare

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost 2 July 2017

Fr Matthew Madul

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Genesis 22: 1-14; Psalm 13; Romans 6: 12-23; Matthew 10: 40-42 Vanderbilt

Proper 8A/Ordinary 13A/Pentecost +4 July 2, 2017 Textweek

Emmanuel, God is with us and He is always with us in all our circumstances. We are here thankful and grateful for every moment of God’s attention. The divine word of God is prevailing over the law of human nature.

a true worshiper of God holds nothing back from God but obediently gives what God asks, trusting that he will provide. What is the great reward for the good and faithful workers of God? This is what many Christians hope and aspire for.

The Bible says, even a cup of cold water given to the worker of Jesus would be much appreciated and rewarded by God. The reward is in keeping with the act of faithfulness.

How best does this story describes many of us and our relationship with our relatives, children, partners, and above all with our Father God? God is faithful and we ought to be faithful as well as He is faithful to us.

God is good, all the time.
All the time, God is good

Third Sunday after Pentecost 25 June 2017

John Shepherd

Third Sunday after Pentecost 25 June 2017 mp3

Genesis 21: 8-21; Psalm 86: 1-10, 16-17; Romans 6: 1-11; Matthew 10: 24-29 Vanderbilt

Proper 7A/Ordinary 12A/Pentecost +3 June 25, 2017 Textweek

Second Sunday after Pentecost 18 June 2017

John Shepherd

Second Sunday after Pentecost 18 June 2017 mp3

Genesis 18:1-15; Psalm 116: 1-2, 11-18; Romans 5: 1-11; Matthew 9:35-10.8 Vanderbilt

Proper 6A/Ordinary 11A/Pentecost +3 June 18, 2017 Textweek

Trinity Sunday 11 June 2017

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Exodus 34:1-8; Psalm – Song of the Three; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20 Vanderbilt

Trinity A June 11, 2017 Textweek

If we were to sit down and pick readings to mark this auspicious day, we could not do better than the readings that are set down for us; and that serves as a reminder for us all that there is wisdom to be found if we only spend time bringing these ancient texts to life in our lives.

Today we will engage in a "Rite of Sending Forth" a handing over of authority; and if we contemplate the text from Exodus we will discover the same process; a giving of the Divine Word and a receiving of the Divine Word, the ultimate authority, and the very real author of life.

Likewise receive from me all that has been given; not as tablets of stone delivered on a mountain, but rather as the word of this community that I have sought to hold; and a gift that I can now give back for I know that the 'Word' of this community is a Divine Word

"abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation".

In the second reading; again rather than reading history, we see that Paul has given me the final words of blessing to voice for us here today.

And that is auspiciously important, they are not my words, rather they are Words of Scripture, Divine words that we bring into life and into reality here today; a reminder and a remembering that this is our very calling in being Church.

The reality we might seek in the doctrine of 'The Trinty' today is that it serves as a model to illustrate the eternal dynamics of the Divine life; it is not about people or persons but rather illustrates a dynamic of life as an all embracing eternal relationship

Today we see in the Scriptures and in the Doctrines of the Church that we, here today at St Paul's actually write the very texts that we read, we are the story that is being told and if we truly give ourselves to the Divine story then we shall be one "to the end of the age"

Pentecost 4 June 2017

Peter Humphris

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Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:26-36; 1 Corinthians 12:1-13; John 20:19-23 Vanderbilt

Pentecost Day A June 4, 2017 Textweek

And surely we've all seen others 'on fire' and experienced the very same for ourselves when we have been at our best.

And that experiential knowing of our Spirit filled selves is what we see in the first reading; and its context is significant; for it was an experience that was made manifest when

"they were all together in one place".

The reality of the early church, its very passion, is told by the writer in only four verses; it is not a theological degree, not a complicated process requiring much description, rather it is an attitude, and orientation and an engagement with passion. And the following eight verses, that's twice the length of the actual story narrative, is an underlining that this orientation has universal implications, it 'bewildered'
"every nation under heaven".

The poet Rumi;

"Set your life on fire, seek those who fan your flames."

Mahatma Gandhi;

"A burning passion coupled with absolute detachment is the key to all success."

And from Ferdinand Foch a French general and the Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War;

"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

The passion of Pentecost, the very fire of life is to found not in going to Church, but rather in being Church; if we stand to one side and admire the flame that burns in others then we should at the very least fan those flames, for then we too are part of the Divine burning.

The first reading, the narrative of Pentecost is very particular,

"they were all together in one place".

Seventh Sunday after Easter 28 May 2017

Peter Humphris

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Acts 1: 6 - 14 ; Psalm 68: 1-10, 32-35; 1 Peter 5:1 - 14 ; John 17:1-11 Vanderbilt

Easter 7 A May 28 2017 Textweek

Every one of us has experienced 'departures'; those who have left us, those we have left, death, divorce, moving house, changing jobs, retirement, children leaving home; and with every ending we've probably all experienced the gravitational emotion of grief; a force that seems to overpower us with a reality of emptiness and loss.

However, if we stay with the readings, and also as we more fully engage our grief we might be awakened to a deeper reality; and discover that underneath the powerful force of grief there lies the truth of life's eternal ebb and flow; and the unfolding of one Divine story that we are all a part of.

Much as we all might wish to hold on to our delusion of a pretend status quo, the reality of life is to be more fully encountered when we acknowledge and attune ourselves to the evolutionary change of life's eternal longing for itself. And when we truly embrace change, we can more truly realise our higher selves, there is a popular new age gospel that simplifies and summarises the reality of the Ascension; "for things to change, first I must change."

When we 'know' the reality of life's Divine equation there is also a knowing of life's eternal movement, the giving of oneself into unfolding of life for all; and once again that not only cheats the power of grief, it cheats death itself as we ascend beyond of life's mortal destination.

Sixth Sunday after Easter 21 May 2017

Peter Humphris

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Acts 17: 22-31; Psalm 66: 8-20; 1 Peter 3: 8-22 ; John 14:15-21 Vanderbilt

Easter 6 A May 21 2017 Textweek

Today I stand with Paul, in the very place that Paul stands as recounted in the gospel; for he stands before a community of believers, a faithful community and speaks of change and of a new tomorrow.

And I stand here today in the shadow of a new tomorrow, for this time next month I will not be here; rather I, and we, shall be encountering a new and different world; we shall be engaging a whole new possibility.

And it is in that 'searching' and 'groping' that we uncover a very different life process, one that engages us in movement toward discovering God, and so discovering life's eternal quality, that which goes beyond the

"allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live".

Life, lived in the resurrection, is of a different paradigm to that we experience through our senses; it is a way of living that does not hold the grave as a destination; rather it is a life lived 'in the Spirit'. And from Paul today we hear that finding that life involves 'searching' and 'groping' for God.

Paul identifies a new understanding of God, that is still waiting to be found; a living moving being that is manifested in creation; and this is our claim, our deepest desire as 'the Body of Christ', it is the deepest calling of all who seek the Divine when we look beyond the idols of religion, and the worldly gravity that turns us into statues of the culture.

Fifth Sunday after Easter 14 May 2017

Peter Humphris

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Acts 7: 55-60; Ps 31:1-5, 17-18; 1 Peter 2: 11-25; John 14: 1-14 Vanderbilt

Easter 4 A May 14 2017 Textweek

Today's readings can very much highlight the formation of life patterns and might perhaps ask us to more fully embrace some of the changes that are also being illuminated.

Within the text there is also the essence of Christ's teaching; and in the middle of the reading we find the shortest sentence that speaks clearly before being misshaped to fit in with the norms of the day;
"Honour everyone."

The reality of the text is that no one comes to God, no one realises the reality of the Divine, except through following a different way of way of life as illustrated through and by Christ; and if we scan the world for those of any and every faith that seem to lead a holy life, we see that they regardless of faith are imitating that which Jesus illustrated for all.

"the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these";

Christ-likeness is our true reality, and is the true reality of all humanity.

Today we rightly honour our mother's, and more than that we honour all who bear life and bring life to birth. Humanity, men and women alike, are called beyond the literal generational confines of honouring; and we are all called to realise the Christ-like potential we have to bring to birth new life, and to be God-bearers in a world that so easily forgets or distorts its true understanding of life and the Divine nature of all life.

Fourth Sunday after Easter 7 May 2017

Melanie Simms

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Acts 2:42-47; Psalm 23; 1 Peter 2: 1-10; John 10: 1-101 Vanderbilt

Easter 4 A May 7 2017 Textweek

The message of living our lives how God wants them to be lived, or trying to keep to God's ideal plan for each of our lives is wonderful. It is. But what happens if our lives, through very little fault of our own, veer off this path and all of a sudden we find ourselves somewhere we never dreamed we would find ourselves, and never wanted to be in the first place? What then? It's all well and good to continue to try and live our lives the way God wants us to, but what happens if we suddenly find ourselves in the middle of a metaphorical car crash? Something has happened and we don't want this "thing" in our lives, but we have to live with it anyway.

Our readings also give us the answer to this. From Acts we know that we are to go to our fellow Christians and receive help from them. I don't know about you, but I'm very happy to give help to others, but I'm really not great at receiving help from others. But this is part of what the Christian life is all about.

All of these things take time, but you know what? So does the creation of anything good. What each of us needs to do is to decide for ourselves that yes, this is the kind of life you want to lead: one where you help others and aren't afraid to ask for help when you need it. This will then spiral out from each of our communities and encourage and attract others, and this, in turn, will encourage and attract even more others. This is truly living out the Good News of Jesus Christ. And this is what the world so desperately needs.

So. Go out and live abundantly. Life your life like you know, deep in your heart, that God loves you. Take those risks, try those new things, ask for that help and be vulnerable with others. Then you will know God's presence beside you as you walk your journey and as you live your abundant life.

Third Sunday after Easter 30 April

Peter Humphris

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Acts 2: 14a, 36-41; Psalm 116: 1-4,12-19; 1 Peter 1: 13-25; Luke 24:13-351 Vanderbilt

Easter 3 A April 30 2017 Textweek

... we see that Jesus actually reveals a leap forward into a much fuller appreciation of life for the whole of humanity.

"There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." [Galatians 3:28]

That same process is being illustrated again in the second reading

"do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. 15 Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct".

Perhaps we should think again, and more fully contemplate the reality of Christ's revelation that "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

In her book, Models of God: Theology for an Ecological, Nuclear Age, Sallie McFague asks the question:

"What if we were to understand the resurrection and ascension not as the bodily translation of some individuals to another world -- a mythology no longer credible to us -- but as the promise of God to be permanently present, 'bodily 'present to us, in all places and times of our world?"

The heretical utterance of Sally's question "a mythology no longer credible to us" is one we might also seek the courage to confront.

If we can glimpse that Resurrection is a present time reality, and that Christ reveals both God with us, and God alive in us then we will have to let go of the One who previously resided in Heaven and looked after us.

And as we decide on the Emmaus road that we will now take; we can either walk the path we have always walked, and if so we should not complain at the unfolding of the world as it is.

And that action will take us by another road, perhaps into the reality of resurrection.

Second Sunday after Easter 23 April 2017

Peter Humphris

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Acts 2: 14a, 22-32; Psalm 16; 1 Peter 1: 3-9; John 20: 19-31 Vanderbilt

Easter 2 A April 23 2017 Textweek

In the season of Easter, the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost, we have an opportunity to try and understand our encounter with Easter; to ask for ourselves what does it mean and what is the reality of resurrection?

When we are looking to the Scriptures for reference points we are always looking for a universal and eternal voice, not seeking to hear only for ourselves, and so we need to be mindful and discern if what Peter is saying belongs to its time and place or is a deeper and more universal wisdom being revealed.

The resurrection so central to the Easter mystery is not about bodies coming out of graves
rather it is a 'reaching out with our hands, overcoming life's doubts and believing in the reality of blessing; as we heard in the second reading it is about

"a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ".

The Easter Mystery invites us into a new paradigm, we leave behind the Old Testament, we leave behind the pseudo-historical narration of a chosen few, and we leave behind the cultural norm of a life that is bounded by death, and rather than living with an arrow pointing to the grave, we live into a new reality that extends beyond the confines of time.

So will we continue the journey on the road we have already travelled, or will we contemplate driving a formula-one on a track we have never driven on before?

Easter Day 16 April 2017

Peter Humphris

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Acts 10: 34-43; Ps 118: 1-2,14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; Matthew 28: 1-10 Vanderbilt

Easter A April 16 2017 Textweek

Already some questions have emerged, what is it, what does it mean; some are a little disturbed wondering what has happened to the cross; and what is that all supposed to mean?

And it is those questions and that not knowing that takes us to the place of the first Easter Morning; in fact such questions can do more than that they can give us an appreciation of a 'first Easter Morning'.

The first Easter morning created quite a disturbance and the disciples and the early church sought to make sense of what they found, the sought to explain and appreciate the whole disturbing scene within the context of all they knew and with the words of their beloved teacher still echoing in their hearts.

I see a sign to move forward to be at the front and to get on with race; even my DNA reminded me of the baptismal charge, "to fight the good fight and finish the race".

The 91st verse of John's Gospel [John 3;15]

15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

And the final word from the book of Revelation; the 91st verse in the Book of Revelation [Revelation 5:9]

9 They sing a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God
    saints from every tribe and language and people and nation;

This is our Easter morning and we are those saints from every tribe and language and people and nation.

Palm Sunday 9 April 2017

Peter Humphris
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Isaiah 50: 4-9; Psalm 31: 9-16; Philippians 2: 5-11; The Reading Of The Passion Of Our Lord According To St Matthew Liturgy of the Passion from Vanderbilt

Liturgy of the Passion A April 9 2017 Textweek

... we stand today in two very different worlds, the place of worldly celebration, and at the same time in the dimension of the Divine, in the very real presence of the Divine.

We stand today at the beginning of a week in which we shall prepare for and encounter Easter, and that gives us an opportunity in the week ahead to seek ourselves in both dimensions, the ordinary reality of the world around us and at the same time in the extra-ordinary reality which finds us in God's presence.

From the second reading we might see the signpost that says "Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus"; and the writer clearly encourages us on the path toward 'exultation'; the path into Easter is described as a path that takes us toward a dimension of higher delight.

It is helpful to see these as signposts on the path of our own life and our own journey, both as individuals and together as humanity moving toward a higher evolution of enlightenment.

The week ahead is filled with the signposts of Christ, we are not reading his journey, rather we are being pointed toward 'Resurrection'; and that will take each and all of us beyond where we are now.

"The Lord GOD has opened my ear"
"I did not turn backward"
"therefore I have set my face like flint"
"Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus"

May we each and look forward toward Easter with an anticipation that we will be open to the crucifixion of all that needs to die within ourselves so that we might come forth from the Tomb and know the reality of our Divine birth.

Fouth Sunday in Lent 26th March 2017

Peter Humphris
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1 Samuel 16: 1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9:1-41 from Vanderbilt

Lent 4 A March 26 2017 Textweek Textweek

One line from each of the three readings we have heard today:
From 1 Samuel:

"the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."

From Ephesians:

"once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light."

And from John's gospel:

"Then I went and washed and received my sight."

The seven signs are seen by some scholars and theologians as evidence of new creation theology in the Gospel of John, the resurrection of Jesus being the implied eighth sign, indicating a week of creation and then a new creation beginning with the resurrection.

That very same line of thought we find in Ephesians; it begins with

"For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light";

notice we were not 'in the' darkness, we were the darkness, and we did not find ourselves 'in the' light, rather we become the light.

The way out of the wilderness of Lent is the way into resurrection.

Third Sunday in Lent 19th March 2017

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Exodus 17: 1-7; Psalm 95; Romans 5: 1-11 ; John 4:5-42 from Vanderbilt

Lent 3 A March 19 2017 Textweek Textweek

The Old Testament story unfolds in seven verses, and yet in the gospel we have
thirty-seven and so again we're drawn to contemplate its significance and in looking
more closely we might see that the gospel has some real parallels with us at St
Paul's; and its length is due to the writer's desire to frame so much teaching within
the one narrative.

Right in the middle of the gospel narrative there is a classic 'us and them' being
addressed and it is in contemplating that same dynamic that we might pause and look
at the similarities with ourselves today.

Jesus sees beyond both Mount Gerizim and Jerusalem, beyond Samaritan and Jew, he
sees beyond Labor and Liberal and beyond Christian and Muslim; and he is not
looking into some future possibility for he says

"the hour…. is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in
spirit and truth".

And the interest in the story, is the same interest we have discovered in today's
gospel; there is a new paradigm, a new worldview unfolding that is revealed in Christ,
and goes beyond the old dynamic of 'us and them'.

In the first reading we hear that "the whole congregation of" St Paul's as they came through the wilderness of Lent discovered, experienced or realised their thirst.
Like we all do, they quarrelled and complained and they asked Moses for water to
drink; and of course Moses did not have all that was asked of him; but he did ask an
important question and one that is perhaps the key to quenching our thirst; he asked
"What shall I do with this people?"

Second Sunday in Lent 12th March 2017

Peter Humphris

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Deut 10: 12-22; Psalm 119: 1-9; 1 Cor 3: 1-9; Matthew 5:21-27 from Vanderbilt

Lent 2 A March 12 2017 Textweek Textweek

The sevenfold blessing is not so much about the individual components of the
blessing, but like the seven days of creation and the seven chakras of Eastern
traditions it speaks of wholeness; Abram receives the fullness, and the whole of God's
blessing.

And as we hear in the final part of that blessing;

"in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed",

What we might see in the gospel is an encouragement for us to contemplate these
stories in the depth of our prayers and without the familiar reference points of our
knowing.

The unfolding story is of course very geographical, but really we are looking at a
movement that is beyond 'place', we are looking at a new order of living that is
beyond the confines of all that is familiar.

Whose voice is it, it is the voice that blessed Abram, and the voice we seek to hear in
the wilderness of Lent, for it is the voice that blesses each and all of us and when
heard, it can lead us into the landscape of faith: a place that gives
"life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist."

First Sunday in Lent 5th March 2017

Peter Humphris

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Genesis 2: 15-17, 3: 1-7; Psalm 32; Romans 5: 12-19; Matthew 4:1-11 from Vanderbilt

Lent 1 A March 5 2017 Textweek Textweek

The journey into the wilderness of Lent takes us into that place of questioning that is illustrated in today’s gospel and is an opportunity for us to attend to what we believe.

If the creation story is seen as a literal documentary account then it will stay confined by its pre-enlightenment worldview and will raise few, if any, questions.

However, when we read it afresh, carrying only what we carry by ourselves into the wilderness then questions so easily arise.

So perhaps we can read the Genesis account with Adam and Eve as two sides of our common humanity and therefore as two sides of ourselves; likewise we have Divinity represented by two different voices, the one voice being God who walks in the Garden in the cool of the evening [Genesis 3:8] and the other being the serpent always pictured hanging in a tree.

Once again we might allow the question to arise as to why the Church sought to emphasise the Adam-ness of humanity and not the Christ-likeness; the orthodox theology of ‘fallen humanity’ is again born out of the duality of difference rather than an appreciation of our movement into oneness.

Likewise the wilderness of Lent is not a place to wrestle with sin and a place in which to try and give up naughty things, it is a going into the garden, into the emptiness of abundance so that we might encounter the wholeness of God within ourselves.

Lent is a time to take off the fig leaves of faith and stand, once again, naked in the presence of God.

Feast of the Transfiguration 26 February 2017

Peter Humphris

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Exodus 24: 12-18; Psalm 99; 2 Peter 1: 16 -21 ; Matthew 17:1-9 from Vanderbilt

Transfiguration - Last Epiphany A February 26, 2017 Textweek

Origen, one of the early Church fathers, commenting on the instruction to the apostles to keep silent about what they had seen until the Resurrection, suggested a link between the ‘glorified’ states of the Transfiguration and the Resurrection, and suggests these two events are related in some way.

In both the Exodus reading and the gospel reading the mountain top is the meeting place of Divinity and humanity, an encounter between the temporal and the eternal.

And in both cases the stories mark evolutionary movements in the journey of Humanity.

Rather than a biblical event, this is a writing that sheds light on the very movement of humanity from its early formation toward a more enlightened community, and so also a movement toward the Divine nature that is our fullest realisation.

We are being shown a new reality, one that leaves behind the law and the prophets and that moves into a place of fulfilment.

Human and Divine, Temporal and eternal, Jesus invites us to listen to a new reality, if we look toward death then that will be our reality, or we can leave behind that understanding and seek life.

The second reading from Peter speaks of our transfiguration: So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed.

“You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

Seventh Sunday after Epiphany 19 Feb 2017

Peter Humphris

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Leviticus 19: 1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119: 33-40; 1 Corinthians 3: 10-17; Matthew 5:38-48 from Vanderbilt

Epiphany 7A February 19, 2017 Textweek

Paul now likens the growth of the church to constructing a building. He founded the community properly, he laid the foundations and now others must construct the building above the foundation.

He makes another, maybe unconscious, revelation at the end of today’s text:

“For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple”;

Paul ... locates that same God in us, in each and all of us.

When we look a the first reading .... the writers are spelling out the 613 commandments, ... we discover something quite out of place;

“Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”

Almost a giveaway line that says:

“You shall be….[as] I am”; “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy”;

we clearly find Jesus building on these foundations in verse 44:

“I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”

And then, just as in the reading from Paul we have another insight that goes way beyond the foundations that have been laid:

“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

A very clear and concise new layer of bricks that goes beyond worshipping God; it builds beyond a God who is far away and distant and almighty for it speaks of a God that we can “be”.

The past is only a foundation; tomorrow is a realisation.

Tomorrow

You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.
God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany 12 Feb 2017

Peter Humphris

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Deut 10: 12-22; Psalm 119: 1-9; 1 Cor 3: 1-9; Matthew 5:21-27 from Vanderbilt

Epiphany 6A February 12, 2017 Textweek

Within the first reading today there is however a very different reference to this practice;

“16 Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer.”

So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

What is clear is that he was not suggesting a different ritual that involves open heart surgery, in fact he is seeking to evolve beyond ritual and to more fully answer the question he posed:

“what does the Lord your God require of you?”

Are we being asked, or invited to look at the whole meaning of ‘love’ and ‘life’, and of our understanding of God in relation to both?

"Clearly we are drawn out of ourselves all the time, but this impulse towards self-transcendence is only fulfilled when we are drawn back to our source, when we give ourselves back totally to the origin from which we come. That is the ultimate meaning of the impulse of love." [A New Vision of Reality – Bede Griffiths]

“Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart”;

asks us to take off this self-centred notion of love, and to open ourselves to a love that seeks to give ourselves back totally to the origin from which we come.

In the stillness of your presence, you can feel your own formless and timeless reality as the unmanifested life that animates your physical form. You can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature. You look beyond the veil of form and separation. This is the realization of oneness. This is love.
Eckhart Tolle

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany 5 Feb 2017

Peter Humphris

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Isaiah 58:1-12 ;Psalm 112; 1 Corinthians 2: 1-16; Matthew 5:13-20 from Vanderbilt

Epiphany 5A February 5, 2017 Textweek

The selection of readings that we heard before the gospel is very much aligned with the vision that Jesus puts forward;

You are the salt of the earth
You are the light of the world.

Isaiah then provides another vision of fasting, another vision of religious practice:

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”

This new vision that Isaiah puts before the practice of temple (or Church) worship, as we see in the very next line, is what brings us into integrity with the metaphors that Jesus used; Isaiah identifies this as a life orientation in which

“your light shall break forth like the dawn”.

We see also in the psalm a very similar connection with what we do and the experience of “Blessed”, and once again the image of “light” is employed to make the point:

“4 Light arises in darkness for the upright: gracious and merciful are the righteous.
5 It goes well with those who act generously and lend: who guide their affairs with justice.”

The two images that are used in the gospel are being used to illuminate who we are as members of the Body of Christ, and they do very much illuminate a very different paradigm to that which was being taught by the religious leaders of the time.

You are the salt of the earth
You are the light of the world.

These two metaphors would have been a real threat to the order of the faith community; they took the power out of the hands of the priest and placed it fully into the hands of each of us and all of us.

Paul explains:

“For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.”

And at the end of the reading today, he reiterates his explanation in a very simple summary:

“we have the mind of Christ.”

And here today in making Eucharist that is what we give thanks for, that is what we come together to more fully realise.

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany 29 January 2017

Peter Humphris

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Micah 6: 1-8; Psalm 15; 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31; Matthew 5:1-12 from Vanderbilt

Epiphany 4A January 29 2017 Textweek

It’s quite amazing that the immensity of this courtroom drama has such a simple ending, and a very Micah ending; for although he is passionate in reproaching unjust leaders, defending the rights of the poor against the rich and powerful; his simple word is one that all can follow:

“O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”.

The Psalm is a different genre and is seemingly much more simple and lyrical; and perhaps it will appeal to those who appreciate a good musical. The lead singer, baritone, asks a deep and pertinent question; and the whole chorus then respond with the answer.

And then we have the contrast of Paul’s letter, and his letters are more like a long running TV serial; we know all the characters and the overall plot direction, but each episode has a cryptic subtext that we sometimes get and that we sometimes miss until someone else points it out to us.

A quote that might be helpful to shed light on this process of seeking that which interest us:

Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.
[José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish liberal philosopher]

Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be.
[José Ortega y Gasset was a Spanish liberal philosopher]

Today’s readings might help and enable us to discover our yearning.

Third Sunday after Epiphany 22 January 2017

Peter Humphris

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Isaiah 9: 1-4; Psalm 27: 1-10; 1 Cor 1: 10-18; Matthew 4:12-25 from Vanderbilt

Epiphany 3A January 22 2017 Textweek

We could also look forwards into the year ahead and become aware of the path we are walking and then acknowledge the potential for light; we might ask what we ourselves would be seeking in order to live a more enlightened life.

The first reading gives us an opportunity to engage for ourselves the promise that comes with each New Year, and with each new day; a promise that is made real when we are enlightened.

Although on a different tack to the first reading, for us we can link Paul’s letter to the inauguration of a new chapter in the life of St Paul’s and so be reminded that it is together that we seek a new ‘light’, a new illumination of the path we walk together.

For us, at this time, the reading offers wisdom: be in agreement, be united and of the same mind and purpose; but at the same time be aware of what the promise of new light holds; and we should not ask anything more than we are willing to give.

And then, after bringing the words of Isaiah into the frame, we hear

“17 From that time Jesus began to proclaim, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near"”;

we hear that Jesus proclaims the very same message as John was proclaiming before his arrest.

Jesus continues the work of enlightenment, without fear.

This is not an actual account of events, again it is illustrative, and we are not being told that Jesus is someone to be followed by young brothers, rather we see that those who look forward, those who stand side-by-side with another are the ones that can follow, and that will follow the Great light that will change the path we walk.

May 2017 be our year of looking forward, and may we also appreciate that it is an orientation for old and young alike.

Second Sunday after Epiphany 15 January 2017

Peter Humphris

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Isaiah 49:1-7; Psalm 40:1-11; 1 Corinthians 1:1-9; John 1:29-42 from Vanderbilt

Epiphany 2A, January 15 2017 Textweek

... as we ‘listen’ and ‘pay attention’ we are drawn to that part of ourselves that is beyond the everyday; Isaiah awakens our primordial and eternal nature; he evokes our very souls.

We are being drawn into opening our minds to an appreciation of ourselves ‘before we were born’; opening ourselves to our Divine nature; and so seeing ourselves as “a polished arrow”. And then we hear ourselves being spoken to,

And perhaps we begin to entertain the thought that it is us, we, me, who are being addressed with the very same words that Christ was addressed with.

It is too light a thing that we build up the Anglican Church in Beaconsfield.
It is too light a thing that we attend church every Sunday
It is too light a thing that we carry on doing what we are doing

Like John we can imagine ourselves letting go of our own self-righteousness and our own well practised rituals, so that we too can see the “Son of God”; the Divine made manifest in us, the reality of being one of the prologue’s Saints!

will some be launched from the wilderness of today to discover themselves as Saints and to find, like John found, a higher self as seen in Christ?

We are each one polished arrows

Baptism of Jesus 8 January 2017

Gerry Costigan

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Isaiah 42: 1-9; Psalm 9; Acts 10: 34-43; Matthew 3:13-17 from Vanderbilt

Baptism of Jesus 8 January 2017 Textweek

Deutero Isaiah uses the word about Israel or about a pious remnant group, a people. He also uses it about great individuals like Moses or Job.

Christians have typically applied it to Jesus.

We should apply it to us. As a group and as individuals we are the suffering servant described in today's reading. We are to bring forth justice, to not break bruised reeds.

The point is that Peter shows how Christian openness to Gentiles is accelerating and the way for a mission to the Gentiles is more likely.

Epiphany 1 January 2017

Peter Humphris

Epiphany 1 Jan 2017 webpage
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Isaiah 60: 1-6; Psalm 72: 1-7, 10-14 ; Ephesians 3: 1-12; Matthew 2:1-12 from Vanderbilt

Epiphany 1 January 2017 Textweek

So we can see in the reading from Isaiah and ancient telling of the same process of enlightenment that we find in the much later nativity narratives of the gospels; Isaiah proclaims a new worldview, and a new movement ;

“Arise, shine; for your light has come”.

... it is recognising these stories as timeless icons of enlightenment, rather than actual documentary events that we can begin to see that these are stories of a mystical nature that illuminate for us the very movement of life and humanity’s unfolding and evolution.

Here a totally new understanding of God is being expressed; a God who is ‘earthed’ and not heaven-bound’, a God soaked into creation like rain upon the new-mown fields and not one who is ‘above’ and distant; and a universal God who is undivided by the possessiveness of simplistic religions.

What is most challenging perhaps for us is that, in verse 10, Paul expected that the vehicle for change, and the force for closing the gap, would be the Church:

“so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

the action of the wise ones is to leave the security of their homeland, to travel, to move beyond and to bring themselves and all that have as an offering; and giving into the New Creation.

Christmas Day 2016

Peter Humphris

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Isaiah 62: 6-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3: 4-8a; Luke 2: (1-7) 8-20 from Vanderbilt

Christmas Day, 2016 from Textweek

I came across a ‘meme’ on the internet....had this quote:

I walked on the road less travelled on and now I’m (f***ing) lost

The nativity narrative, the story and its symbols provide us with a poetic, or mystical illustration of Christ’s revelation, it gives us a path forward that still remains a road less travelled on .

Jesus is not the ‘birthday boy’….. He is the gift!

What the nativity reveals and what Christ teaches is that this is my birthday, your birthday, and our Birthday; the word became flesh and dwelt among us.

To realise this as your birthday; and more than that to see beyond the Church and see that this is also a birthday for Omran Daqneesh, Alan Kurdi and every child that seeks life.

Jesus is not the ‘birthday boy’….. He is the gift!

The nativity is a birthday, our birthday and we’re the special ones, each and every one.

Fourth Sunday in Advent 18 Dec 2016

Peter Humphris

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Isaiah 7: 10-16;Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19; Romans 1: 1-7; Matthew 1:18-25 from Vanderbilt

Advent 4A December 18, 2016 from Textweek

Both the readings from Isaiah and from Matthew speak of Emmanuel; and Matthew actually points out the meaning of the name in verse 23 as “God with us”; in that same verse so too Matthew reveals the full meaning of his nativity narrative:

23 "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us."

It is not immediately obvious, but Matthew is making a revelation that goes beyond his own tradition, a revelation that still has not been fully realised, accepted or understood

... when we today we explore the whole nativity narrative as a mystical icon, then we can perhaps discover, or ponder, meanings and revelations that go way beyond even the writer’s initial intent.

The Advent star invites us to lift our eyes and to look from a new perspective.

Advent asks us to lift ourselves and our attention to a higher order of understanding; we are being asked to ponder a perspective that leaves the old God, and that realises "God is with us."

Such a new perspective changes our prayer life, it will eventually change our liturgy, and more importantly it changes us, for no longer do we wait for another, no longer do we call on another, no longer do we hope, wish and bargain with another.

We discover "God is with us" and that changes who we are.

Third Sunday in Advent 11 Dec 2016

Peter Humphris

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Isaiah 35: 1-10; Song of Mary – Magnificat; James 5: 7-10 ; Matthew 11: 2-11 from Vanderbilt

Advent 3A December 11, 2016 from Textweek

Rather than pointing toward the hoped for Messiah; Isaiah sees a reality, a vision of life that is beyond the mundane pattern of the everyday.

Isaiah’s Advent voice is a voice, an insight, that goes even further; for he sees a new way of living, a new way of being who we are; a new path that perhaps requires us to bring to birth a higher and more Divine nature within ourselves.

Mary, like Isaiah, is an Advent icon that points us toward our true Nativity.

Her affirmative “Yes” to the annunciation from the angel, is a turning toward new birth: a realisation that God is brought to birth from within ourselves; and by our very active participation in the process of creation.

Although John is a contemporary of Jesus, he is still an Advent voice; a voice that that precedes the birth; however in this instance it is the Easter Tomb rather than the manger that provide the place of birth and that very much adds depth to the whole Christmas ‘event’; for the Nativity itself is an icon of a new reality, a new and enlightened way of being.

Is this my reality, or do I need to take another path forward in order to make this the reflection when I look into the mirror of my life.

“Where past and future are gathered. Neither movement from nor towards,
Neither ascent nor decline. Except for the point, the still point,
There would be no dance, and there is only the dance.”

Eliot’s words, like Mary can be words that affirm and encourage, for from here, in the still point of Advent, even filled with John’s doubt, or hope, we stand at the place where there is only the dance.. And so we stand in a movement toward our nativity.

Second Sunday in Advent 4 Dec 2016

Peter Humphris

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Isaiah 11: 1-10 ; Psalm 72: 1 - 7, 18 – 21; Romans 15: 4-13; Matthew 3:1-12 from Vanderbilt

Advent 2A December 4, 2016 from Textweek

And when we question such traditions, we do feel some trepidation, for what we are actually acknowledging is that the gospels are not necessarily ‘gospel’.

The trepidation of questioning our faith and our tradition might be more clearly understood when we see it as a fear of questioning ourselves, and our own reference points for belief, purpose and life itself; and rightly we might be afraid to engage such questions.

However, we should at least have the strength to acknowledge our fear, and accept that we have therefore chosen a future of deception, delusion and one that leaves the enlightenment of Christ in the shadows of a more primitive tradition, the very tradition that Jesus himself saw beyond.

Isaiah encourages us to look for the instruction of ‘hope’ in the Scriptures, and also tell us that Christ sought to confirm a truth that went beyond the circumcised, the old tradition, into the fullness of a new universal understanding that would also embrace the gentiles, and so a new tradition.

As we engage the Advent journey we are being challenged toward our nativity… we are being invited into a new vision for the future.

First Sunday in Advent 27 Nov 2016

Peter Humphris

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Isaiah 2: 1-5; Psalm 122; Romans 13: 9-14; Matthew 24: 36-44 from Vanderbilt

Advent 1A November 27, 2016 from Textweek

We can choose to be more aware and more attentive to the readings and symbols, but not only with the lens of tradition, let’s not look for a repeat and a replay of ‘last year’; but rather look for something new, let’s seek to look behind the scenes and beyond the usual.

This Advent, let’s start in the dark and know that last year, and all that is past, has been moved off the stage; and then each of us can create a new scene for ourselves as we approach our nativity.

Perhaps we’ve been singing the song upside down; what if this song is really an echo; actually us echoing a God-song that is sung to us?

What if it is you and me that are being invited to “come”?

God is with us, already; that is the primary revelation of Christ; God is not coming at Christmas, that was Santa in another story altogether.

And if God is with us, then the Advent anthem might be for us a mantra inviting ourselves into the wholeness of Emmanuel; God with us, an invitation for us to awaken the Divine within.

Advent is a time for being refugees; Mary and Joseph left Nazareth for Bethlehem, and they will be exiled to Egypt after the nativity the birth has been realised.

Every day we see the pregnant potential held symbolically by Mary and Joseph; and every day we don’t see.

And as we walk into Advent, the season of Refugees, we like Mary and Joseph should be expectant with the birth of something new, creative and divine within ourselves.