Christmas Day

Isaiah 62: 6-12; Titus 3: 4-8a; Luke 2: 1-20

John Dunnill

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The great joy of Christmas is that it stirs again into life that heart-seed planted by God, the seed of the knowledge and wisdom of God; stirs it up from whatever dark hole we’ve buried it in, whatever stage of delayed development we may have arrested it in; calls it up into the light. As

St John tells us:
‘In the beginning was the Word …. In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. …. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.’ (John 1: 1, 4-5, 14).

Last Sunday after Pentecost Christ the King 21 Nov 2010

Isaiah 2: 1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13: 11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

Full sermon

As we explore the time and place between Christ the King and Advent 1, as we prepare for the next leg of our journey, as we select our destination and check-in for wherever we are going, we might consider the differences and the sameness offered by our travel guides of Jeremiah and Colossians. Jeremiah’s hope is for the establishment of a worldly life that is centred on God’s Word, a community of “justice and righteousness in the land”. Most of us can glimpse that, most of us desire it, and yet we live in place that denies it. There is a new journey for that to be realised, a new journey. Think of it as that’s where you might travel in your next liturgical year.

 

12 September Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 4:11-12; 22-28; Psalm 14; 1 Timothy 1:12-19a;

Luke 15:1-10

Proper 19 (24) Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Proper 19C / Ordinary 24C / Pentecost 16 Textweek

Full sermon

But love speaks – it is a love that is deeper and truer than that which we know. A love that sheds light on the desolation of the world. A love that reaches out to those that are desirous of being found, reaching out beyond the wilderness of the human condition. Here we encounter a gospel of radical pastoral care. For divine love acknowledges that some will be left where they are, huddled in the wilderness of life, whilst Love reaches into the darkness beyond to find those who know the light and seek to be found in the light.

The God of Jeremiah’s prophesy is not a harsh judge; rather Jeremiah speaks of the desolation we create when we lose sight of that which is light within ourselves, and of the never ending source of light that is love. Love seeks to bring back into relationship that which is separated from the oneness of love.

The gospel speaks of that same movement; it is not about maintaining the integrity of the flock, rather it is rejoicing when the lost is found in Love. And love rejoicing in our being found, is echoed in our rejoicing in finding Love. A quote from Thomas Traherne:

 

5 September Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jeremiah 18:1-11; Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; Philemon 1-25; Luke 14:25-35

Proper 18 (23) Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Proper 18C / Ordinary 23C / Pentecost 15 Textweek

Full sermon

The power of the potter to shape our lives is forever present; however, to be shaped by the Divine we must first put ourselves into Divine hands.

We are in each and every moment, potters who form the vessels that will hold tomorrow.

We hold many futures in our hand, and tomorrow cries out for our loving touch. We have the capacity to shape, and form and rework tomorrow. Delightful quote from Maria Robinson:

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.’

We are, in each moment, potters reshaping and reworking tomorrow. We hold many futures in our hand; tomorrow cries out for our loving touch. We have the capacity to shape, to form, to rework tomorrow. The only vessel we do not shape is ourselves, for we are

Just like the clay in the potter's hand.

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost 29th August 2010

Jeremiah 2: 4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16, Luke 14: 1-6 7-14

Full sermon Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost 29th August 2010

And in today’s gospel we see a parable of orientation, of finding our place in relation to the place of others. The parable is easily understood, and yet amazingly difficult to imitate. It begins with a shared meal, not a dinner party of invited friends, rather a meal ‘at the house of a leader of the Pharisees.’ And it ends with a call to give, to give without any expectation of reward. This beginning and ending frame today’s gospel, and might well frame our lives if we seek a reorientation that will heal the divisions of our world. The same beginning and ending framed the extract from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews:‘Let mutual love continue.16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.’

22 August Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Jeremiah 1: 4-10; Psalm 71: 1-6; Hebrews 12: 18-29; Luke 13:10-17

Proper 16 (21) Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost 22 August, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Proper 16C / Ordinary 21C / Pentecost 13 22 August, 2010 Textweek

 

Our faith journey is a looking beyond what we know (or think we know), into the eyes of the Divine.

Our life journey is lived in the shadow of mortality; no matter how confident we are, that confidence is only skin deep, for we mostly live in the shadow of death. We are aware of our fragility and our vulnerability, and such fears shape our belief in ourselves and so too our belief in God.

‘Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD." This is the gospel in one line, these words to Jeremiah. The Word of God is what is revealed in the life and person of the Christ.

Perhaps in the light of today’s reading we should contemplate ourselves as being on the ballot paper. We might look beyond our smallness, look beyond our knowing ourselves as fragile and vulnerable, look beyond our inabilities and incompetence, and look to ourselves seen in the eyes of the Divine.

In every moment of creation, and so too in the fullness of eternity we make choices, and our choices shape our world and our world shapes the world.

We, each and together, can bring healing and freedom to those who ‘are bent over and quite unable to stand up straight’. We each and together have more power and more opportunity than our senses tell us we have – ‘for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.’

Today’s readings give us a delightful opportunity to see ourselves in the process of creation and of the same process, a creation in which the old is refined in order for the new to grow and flourish, ‘for indeed our God is a consuming fire’.

‘Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Can we contemplate ourselves as we are before our birth? It might sound like some pointless navel gazing exercise; however, how else do we come to know ourselves as eternal beings? Sure we can look beyond our death, to the afterlife, but that is a loaded perspective, with all the baggage of heaven and hell. If we seek our true selves and our nature as known by God, then as the title of a book on Zen spirituality suggests, we should, “seek our original face – the face we had before we were born”.


"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.’ As we contemplate these words, we are looking beyond the ‘selves’ that we are familiar with, and our faith journey is exactly that - a looking beyond what we know (or think we know), into the eyes of the Divine. The creature contemplates a place of being in the eyes of the Divine creator. We are, each and every one, formed, consecrated and appointed in the Divine Word.

 

 

15 August Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost

Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19; Hebrews 11:29-12:2; Luke 12:49-56

Proper 15 (20) Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
15 August, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Proper 15C / Ordinary 20C / Pentecost 12
15 August, 2010
Textweek

Full sermon

Isaiah speaks of “what is” and seeks to illuminate the reality of the present in relation to the reality of God. And so he speaks in terms of a love song, for a love song is the reality of the Divine Word.

This passionate love song illuminates the relational dynamic between Creator, Creation and Creature – between Divinity, the world and Humanity. It is a dynamic that mirrors the movement of Love, the making of love, a dynamic that seeks to create an honouring response, and a dynamic that expects to yield good fruits.

To appreciate such a movement of life toward perfection, we have to understand ‘faith’ as a determined, committed and intentional movement – like a race - conscious, focused, active and directed. A race to complete the Divine love song that was first sung at our baptism. The gospel, quite bluntly brings this love song, the Divine passion of life, into reality.

We are called to stand alongside all, to reject the heresy of “Family First” and in faith, to put God first. The race that is set before us is the human race, so let us run it with perseverance, side by side with each and every other, before a great cloud of witnesses who can only finish that same race when we come together as one.

 

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost 25th July 2010

Hosea 1:2-10 Psalm 85 Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19) Luke 11:1-13

Proper 12 (17) Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
25 July, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Proper 12C / Ordinary 17C / Pentecost 9
July 25, 2010

Full sermon

Today’s gospel opens us, or invites us to look again at prayer. We also might ask that question. ‘teach us to pray’. However, to ask it again we must let go of that which we have held onto for a long time. So we begin with our image of God, or maybe begin with a less formed image of God – go back to the sheer silence or the burning bush, and then direct our question in that direction: ‘teach us how to pray’. Ask it of the silence, ask it of the fire.

 

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost 18th July 2010

Amos 8:1-12; Psalm 52; Colossians 1:15-29; Luke 10:38-42

Proper 11 (16) Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
18 July, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Proper 11C / Ordinary 16C / Pentecost 8
July 18, 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

If we pause in these discussions, we actually know that neither Julia nor Tony is really going to run the country. They are representative of a whole process of governance - they are subject to the party line of their respective parties, and their position in terms of being ‘Prime Minister’ is totally dependent on the positions achieved by every other candidate involved in the process. Only if a majority of Labor candidates get in is Julia’s position is realised; if a majority of Liberal/Coalition candidates get in, then Tony’s position is realised.

The ‘church’ is also a political movement. It is engaged in a process that seeks to identify and realise a governance for all that is generative of positive future. It too has a candidate for ‘Prime Minister’ in Jesus Christ. It is no wonder then that we fall into the same trap of putting the whole responsibility for the process onto him – as if it is by his own being, person and efforts that all will be achieved. Just as Julia and Tony are made icons of their respective positions in the process of Australian governance, just as both Julia and Tony are not independently operative in terms of realising that governance, so too with Jesus. Jesus is an icon, a revelation of the process of life-governance for all. And the manifesto or potential outcomes of his political position (as seen in the Scriptures) are fully, totally and unconditionally in the hands of those who chose to make him their elect. I think it’s a really important distinction to realise. It is so easy to think that Julia or Tony can do it and we fall into the same trap of ‘Jesus can do it’. And so what we do is we look outside all the time.

It is at times quite sobering to appreciate these ancient words, words from long ago speak to and resonate with present moment. The time is surely coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. It is also empowering to appreciate that these ancient words, what is revealed in the Scriptures, has relevance for ourselves and our own life in Christ.

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost 11th July 2010

Amos 7:7-17; Psalm 82; Colossians 1:1-14; Luke 10:25-37

Proper 10 (15) Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
11 July, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library

Proper 10C / Ordinary 15C / Pentecost 7
July 11, 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

Eternal Life is not about the ‘hereafter’, it is about the ‘eternal’ – the ever and all present. The moment - each and every moment of creation is in the eternal. When the lawyer stood up to test Jesus with the question; “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” he is seeking a real reference point to align life with God’s law. When Jesus asks him “what is written in the law?”, he knows the answer, he knows the law – where is my life reference in relation to it? And Jesus, in confirming the law says “do this, and you will live.”

When Israel is tested like a “wall” with a “plumb line”, she doesn’t measure up. And when we look at ourselves in relation to camp I-12 outside Islamabad, we do not measure up, not by any stretch of the plumb line.

 

 

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost 4th July 2010

2 Kings 5:1-14; Psalm 30; Galatians 6:1-18; Luke 10: 1-24

Proper 9 (14) Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
4 July, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Proper 9C / Ordinary 14C / Pentecost +6
July 4, 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

When someone enters our house, our space, our comfort zone, do we receive their peace? And do we offer our peace and give of our hospitality? Do we seek to share of our abundance with those who come to us? Or are we like the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum? The current political posturing in relation to refugees and ‘boat people’ is nothing other than woeful! Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! And Woe to you Australia!

Paul gets it: whether one of the seventy or whether one of the others, we have a part to play. “All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbour’s work, will become a cause for pride. For all must carry their own loads.” It’d be stunning if that was the new pastoral care motto –‘ all must carry their own loads’. It wouldn’t leave people by the roadside, it would actually lift them up and empower them to find the power within themselves.

As we sit here in our place of Chorazin and our place of Bethsaida, we should more than ever be open to the voice of those who come to bring their peace to us. Much as we have a gospel to proclaim so too we have a gospel to hear.

27 June, 2010 Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20, Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62

Proper 8 (13) Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
June 27, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Proper 8C / Ordinary 13C / Pentecost +5 June 27, 2010
Textweek

Full sermon

... we can read it as an illustration of Divine activity and Divine movement in relation to humanity. The relationship between Elijah and Elisha is a relationship of teacher and student, master and apprentice – a mentoring and a learning relationship with a future orientation. Elijah and Elisha are illustrative of continuity; following in another’s footsteps so that one may walk beyond the scope of another. Learning from one so that so that another can build on the foundation that one has laid. Creating a future for the world by giving all we have to those who follow.

In the words of Nelson Mandela – “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” So if you place yourself in Elisha’s shoes – who is Elijah for you? And, if you place yourself in Elijah’s shoes – who is Elisha for you? Where is that mentoring, that learning, that giving and receiving taking place for you in the now.

And there is more, another reference point for our reflections. What was given and what was received in this process? Verse 9 “a double share of your [Elijah’s] spirit.” How do you do that? How do you give a double share of what you have?

Life revealed in Christ is our plough. As Christians, Christ is the teacher where we have put our hand. And our orientation - the furrow that we plough - is an orientation toward life in Christ.

If we look forward, with a hand on the plough we should look to inherit a double measure of Christ’s spirit. And like Elisha, we should continue to reveal the eternal fullness and abundance of life in the soil that we till. This is the work of our hands. Even more, like Elijah we should look to be lifted up, lifted in life to those higher realms that are the promise of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost 20th June 2010

1 Kings 19:1-15a; Psalm 42; Galatians 3:10-14,23-29’ Luke 8:26-39

Proper 7 (12) Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 20, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Proper 7C / Ordinary 12C / Pentecost +4 June 20, 2010
Textweek

Full sermon

What voice do I seek to “kill with the sword”? This is a convenient anagram of ‘kills with the word’, so maybe it is easier for those of us without swords, to consider what voice do we seek to overcome with our voice. What voice do I seek to overcome with my voice?

When we wonder what our place in life is about – usually over a cup of coffee somewhere, when we sit with newspapers half-opened and debate the direction of the world, or when we dumb our very minds just watching some teams kicking a ball around a field, we can often feel that we are so insignificant in the whole scheme of things. These stories, these icons for contemplation are Divine gifts that say something quite different. We are not spectators in life’s unfolding, we are participants in it – and our words and actions DO change the direction of creation’s unfolding. Tomorrow is of our making. It might look like it’s someone else’s; it isn’t – our words our actions participate in the unfolding of creation. What a delightful icon to have this morning as we prepare for our AGM and look to a future orientation of St Paul’s.

Third Sunday after Pentecost 13th June 2010

1 Kings 21:1-10, (11-14), 15-21a; Psalm 5: 1-7; Galatians 2:15-21; Luke 7:36-8:

Proper 6 (11) Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 13, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Proper 6C / Ordinary 11C / Pentecost +3 June 13, 2010
Textweek

The Divine voice [is] there in the drama, [but] it has no activity associated with itself and is only given life through the person of Elijah.  God does not intervene.  God does not fix things nor make things right, for the righteousness is the very essence of God, eternally evident in the unfolding of creation.

God cannot step into creation and bring righteousness, for righteousness is here.  Only in hearing the Divine Word and enfleshing the Divine Word - taking on that voice for ourselves - can the unfolding of creation continue in righteousness.

Second Sunday after Pentecost 6th June 2010

1 Kings 1:8-24; Psalm 146; Galatians 1:11-24; Luke 7:11-17

Proper 8 (13) Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 6, 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Proper 5C / Ordinary 10C / Pentecost +2 June 6, 2010 Textweek

Elijah hears the Divine Word and believes and that belief means setting out on a journey – moving from one place to another, going into the unknown with nothing but belief. This is not a call to us to leave home, nor is it an evangelical call to mission. But if we follow the movement in the narrative, it does have something very important for us to appreciate.

What are the movements - what drives my very being? What is my orientation, what is the movement that will take us beyond where we are, not only beyond the church but beyond where we are stuck? What’s called forth from us? What’s the movement that will take us into raising the dead; what’s the movement that will take us into bringing life? What’s the movement that will enable us, no one else, to feed the hungry?

The movement is from within - the Divine is gifted, it’s here, we hold it. The prophet will rise among us, not come through the roof, it’s with us. We are the Body of Christ, if, if we are ready to participate in moving beyond where we are.

God has looked favourably on all people.

Trinity Sunday 30th May 2010

Proverb s 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-16

30 May 2010 Trinity Sunday Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Trinity Sunday 30 May 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

Trinity Sunday is perhaps placed where it is to give us a bumper sticker for the journey ahead:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
It serves as a reminder of where we have been: the gift of the Father – Christmas, the gift of the Son – Easter and the gift of the Spirit – Pentecost. And the doctrine of the Trinity also serves to introduce us to some of the more abstract associations that can be formative in our understanding of God and of ourselves – the relational dynamics of the Trinity, the integration of three in one, the Diversity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - held in unity.

If we sit quietly with God the Father then we sit as unquestioning children, denying life, denying growth, denying that we are a little lower than God. As we go into the green season - and we’ve got between now and Advent, so we’ve got time – and in that time we should seek to realise, through questioning, all that we have encountered in Christmas, in Easter, in Pentecost. There is a movement from being children of the Father, a realisation to be found that we are a little lower than God. ‘Greater things than these you will do.’ As we grow through the season of the Sundays after Pentecost, let us seek in ourselves and each other that crown of glory that makes each and all of us a little lower than God

 

Feast of Pentecost Sunday 23rd May, 2010

Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:26-36; Romans 8:14-17; John 14:8-27

23 May 2010 Day of Pentecost Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Pentecost 23 May 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

Pentecost is a wonderful, wonderful process. Some use the Feast of Pentecost to speak of the birth of the church and it is, for it is when the church, the Body of Christ, those who believed, it is when they took hold of the power that had been given. Pentecost is also Easter, moving unfolding into reality - the dying of the ascension, the loss of the presence of the Son of God in the midst of humanity, is replaced with the resurrection of the same in us. Pentecost is also Christmas: it is the birth of a new creation. Pentecost is also consecration; it is reflected in our consecration of the chapel, just as it can be and will be reflected in our consecration of ourselves and each other.

Follow the other readings because they have something to say about each and every one of you, you’re all mentioned. You’ll find your names writ large – ‘All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God’. You’re there in the reading - children of God. If you’re not sure what that’s about, go on to the next reading, for there it tells us what it means to be children of God. ‘Very truly, I tell you,’ – this is Christ, the word made flesh – ‘the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.’ Do not look back to what Christ did: rather look forward to doing even greater works than those.

Seventh Sunday after Easter 16th May 2010

Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 97; Revelation 22:12-21; John 17:20-26

Seventh Sunday of Easter 16th May Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Easter 7C 16th May 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

In John’s gospel it is in the words of Jesus’ prayer that that same realisation is made manifest: “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." The morning star, which shines so bright, is not to be seen in the dawning of a new day; the Rising sun sheds light on all and all reflect a light that outshines the morning star.

After all that movement and action, where do Paul and Silas find themselves? ‘About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God’. Arguably they have arrived at where they set out to go, they have arrived at a place of prayer - albeit they reached a different and unexpected destination, they have arrived where they set out to go. And as if to underline the ‘space’ they were in: ‘Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened.’

In narrative terms this illustrates the Divine initiative. Paul and Silas set out to encounter the Divine - on their way to a place of prayer they heard the call to come, and then we see the Divine (in the shape of an earthquake) comes to encounter them, as if the Divine has heard their call. The reality that is revealed in these texts is astounding. It moves us beyond the Narrative of the Scriptures for we are the narrative. That is why no more needs be written, for we are living in the very same space as those words. As we stand “in-between”, as we inhabit the place between birth and death, we realise we are not called to move from one to the other, but rather we are called to realise ourselves in the place where Christ is, to know ourselves as the dynamic that shapes creation, and to rejoice in the truth that the Divine seeks us in the very same process that we seek the Divine.

We are between Easter and Pentecost, between completion and consecration.... and we are empowered to create life, in each other and in all.

9 May 2010 Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 16:9-15; Psalm 67; John 14:23-29; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-22:5

Sixth Sunday of Easter 9 May 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Easter 6C 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

What motivates us in terms of our “Divine Mission”? Why have we engaged in the Christian enterprise? What is it that makes us the church? And what do we seek to make of the church?

The place of vision is not a boardroom planning exercise, rather it is another way of seeing, one that does not use the eyes to engage the world and look for tomorrow, but rather looks within to see with Divine sight into a realm of new possibilities.

f we consider the “dream”, the vision of ourselves as a Church community, if we ponder the orientation that our faith gives to our life, if we ponder the voice of prayer that was birthed and still disturbs us because the mystery of Easter will not go away, if we pause and bring the Easter narrative into the present moment of our lives, do we glimpse an immediacy of direction towards another tomorrow? Can you just feel it, nagging, murmuring, itching scratching? Or are we just left with tomorrow as a continuation of yesterday that happened to become today and will soon become tomorrow? Somewhere there’s a dream that disturbs that joining the dots of time.

Where is our movement into fullness of life to be made real? When we look at the place of this community in the world – St Paul’s in the world, when we look at the place of this community in our world, in my world, each and every tomorrow, we discover, is held in the hands of the common. We are, all of us, each and every one, mothers bringing tomorrow to birth. As we look towards tomorrow, think of it as a precious child that has been gifted into our hands, to nurture, to hold, to teach, to bring to life

2 May 2010 Fifth Sunday of Easter

Acts 11:1-18, Psalm 148, Revelation 21:1-6, John 13:31-35

Fifth Sunday of Easter 2 May 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Easter 5C 2May 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

These are not questions of rightness versus wrongness; these are the believers criticising a movement that is partially evident but not yet clear. And the delight is they signify a wanting to know; they signify a wanting, and they call into question our community wanting. More than that they cry out, “What is wanted of us?” What is the shape I am called to be in this movement to a new Jerusalem?

Nelson Gardiner to the church of St Paul’s: “If you’re not riding the wave of change you find yourself beneath it.’

God is Love, and this commandment therefore speaks of much more than our casual understanding of love. This is not a commandment that says we should love one another, in other words we should do more than liking one another. It is a commandment that we should love - the activity of God - should be that which passes between us. It is a commandment about our Divine activity toward all people, our Christ-likeness that is birthed as we realise the promise of Easter.

25 April Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30

Fourth Sunday of Easter 25 April 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Easter 4C 25 April 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

Today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday, and perhaps Good Shepherd Sunday should carry a health warning: ‘Beware - Good Shepherd Sunday can damage your understanding and experience of Easter and turn you into sheep.’

Jesus however is differentiating between sheep and sheep, between the traditional Jews who called him into question, the church that follows blindly, and ‘My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me’ (27). That difference identifies some very un-sheep-like sheep:
‘My sheep HEAR my voice’, an important emphasis in John’s Gospel which opens with,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God”
These, “my sheep”, hear the Word that gives voice to the whole of creation: ‘My sheep hear my voice. I KNOW them’ - a knowing that speaks of intimacy, understanding and oneness. ‘My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they FOLLOW me.’ They do as I do.

Nowhere in the Easter narrative are we called to a life confined by super-six fences and lived in accord with the TV program guide. We are called beyond the existence of time between Birth and Death, beyond the fear of ‘desperately needing a good shepherd’, beyond a church that looks to Jesus. We are called into a becoming that is life giving to all, a sense of being that is not determined by the fear of death, but that rather is driven by a vision of eternity, a vision of Life that has unending value, a life that gives life as we give of ourselves.

We are the sheep AND we are the shepherd.

18th April 2010 Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 9:1-6, (7-20) Psalm 30 Revelation 5:11-14 John 21:1-19

Third Sunday of Easter 18 March 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Easter 3C 18 March 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

Do we know the actuality of these words.... do we sing in all truth of the movement we have experienced through Easter.......... or do we with some sadness find ourselves slowly seeping back into the tomb of the past........

If Easter has not yet finished with you......... If you have not found a new name...... then hold fast to prayer in each and every moment...........

For when we pray – we join a choir.......

11th April 2010 Second Sunday of Easter

Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 118:14-29; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31

Second Sunday of Easter 11 March 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Easter 2C 11 March 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

Heaven is not the destination after death.... for the kingdom of heaven is near ( just as a spherical world was near to those who lived on a flat earth)....... The kingdom of heaven is to be lived into reality and the stone has been rolled away so that we might emerge into the light has been revealed......

Like Thomas we should seek signs of living in the resurrection, looking for that which lies beyond and that calls us into a new and living way – through the curtain into the Body of Christ. As in the Acts of the Apostles – don’t look to the Church, don’t look for an established authority, don’t rely on the practices of the past – But look to each other – breathe in the Spirit of Creation – seek a newness of life that tangibly moves us into the light of life beyond the tomb

 

Fifth Sunday in Lent 21st March 2010

Isaiah 43:16-21;Psalm 126 Philippians 3:4b-14; John 12:1-8

Fifth Sunday in Lent 21st March Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Fifth Sunday in Lent 21st March Textweek

Full sermon

Mary – Mary lets her hair down. She creates a new direction and so she initiates a new unfolding of history. As a community we, at Lent 5, are on the last lap before Easter. We can visibly see and rejoice in Isaiah’s prophetic hope: ‘I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth’. Everyone who visits St Paul’s sees a new thing about to spring forth. The completion of the East End moves us beyond the church. The former things remain, but our eyes are turned toward that which is unfolding and that which speaks of making all things new. Church communities can so easily fall into places where history repeats itself - unchanging, going round and round, turning over the prayer book year after year, round and round until they run out of petrol.

I think in this community at this time, we feel, we can actually feel that shift of gear in ourselves. We can see that St Paul’s is moving from a repetition of history, from a ‘we’ve been standing for over a hundred years’ to a breaking into something new. A going beyond. We anticipate a movement into a new direction, a becoming, a new being. All of us are now on that last lap; all of us are involved in the shift of gears. And as Easter approaches we might realise it is not Easter approaching us, it is we who approach Easter.

 

Third Sunday of Lent 7 Mar 2010

Isaiah 55:1-9 Psalm 63:1-9 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 Luke 13:31-35

Just forget the meaning of the words and think of the process – what is the energy, the place where Isaiah is speaking from? This is a place of abundance, it’s a place of excitement and it also is the place where we find a positive orientation of desire. Thirst – thirst is seen as a negative, dehydrating, shrivelling experience; thirst can also take us to places. It has a great positive energy as well. And so as we look at Isaiah doing Lent, we might also look into this pool and see ourselves doing Lent. What is our energy of Lent?

The second reading, I think then gives us a wonderful opportunity to find momentum for Lent. Verse 13 says, ‘No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone.’ There’s an ask here that we bring our lives into perspective with the common, with the community. There are some people that will not believe this at all - ‘No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone.’- you can almost hear them crying out now, ‘No one has had that experience that I’ve had; no one can begin to know the pain that I’ve known’. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. I think it’s a stunningly interesting observation of life – we hold in common the testing that each and every individual encounters.

There’s another knowing that’s given in the same verse and that knowing is that you’re not tested beyond your strength. So those who fold up into a clod of agony – you know that moment where the whole world turns to jelly and you just can’t move, hear that again: you will not be tested beyond your strength. You might think you’re being tested beyond your strength. Maybe it’s because we do not look into the pool of the sacred texts to become aware, to see our strength reflected. At the end of the day, when you look into that pool, the face that looks back is the image of God. That’s what we seek.

So as we prepare for Easter, as we prepare for death and resurrection, we are actually preparing for a different perspective on life. Who we are and what we do are part of calling the Divine into reality. If we stop, the world disappears: God doesn’t come in and wind us up again like clockwork, so that it’s all fixed. Our activity appears generative of the divine activity; our movement brings into reality the movement of the Divine.

The Temptations of Christ

Deut. 26, 1-11: Psalm 91: Rom. 10, 4-13: Luke 4, 1-15.

Full sermon

Jesus did not have a crystal ball. He did not know what form this service would take or how his future would evolve!

Yes, he was ‘full of the Spirit’ : the thought I am the Son of God kept going round and around in his head and he could not concentrate on ordinary things, he couldn’t even talk with his companions. He had to get away, to be alone. Jesus did not go into the wilderness, ‘to fulfil the scriptures’, or to give us a good example. No, he went there because he had to. Like Lorna he had to work out, what this new insight, this revelation, this new reality, meant for him, for his work, for his life. He had to refocus on what was important for him and his ministry.

We are all in a different place. You may very well have other questions, other temptations to deal with. Take time to face them but do so in a quiet, relaxed manner by first recalling that God loves you. Try to see why you are asking these questions; why, here and now, they are a problem for you and then ask the Spirit, who has brought you into the wilderness in the first place, to help you answer them. Some members of our congregation, who shall remain nameless, have been looking forward to this time of Lent with eager expectation. I believe we would all do well to follow their example and then, like Lorna we might learn to refocus our priorities and to dance again to the music of God’s love.

Kieran O’Cuneen.

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany 31st January 2010

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany 31th January 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Epiphany 4C January 31, 2010 Textweek

Full sermon

The force of love transcends the known landscape; the force of love leads us to seek always higher things. In the space of not knowing, love is the creative power that drives a sense of adventure. Love enables us to risk, opening up new territories in ourselves and in others. Be aware of how tentative we are in our conversations with one another. We know when we talk with someone there is part of their landscape we cannot walk in - no trust, too much fear, an unwillingness to risk. Love opens us again to an orientation that is fed by awe and wonder, by appreciation that sees ‘all things new’ and that sees a newness in all things. Love is the womb of creation; it is the arrow that seeks the eternal movement. Love is not the drama that softens every Hollywood movie; it is not the knife that carves the heart on every tree; it is not the niceness of pretence that encounters the stranger; it is not the satisfied smile of some self-delighting goodness. It is the longing that draws life into the fullness of being; it is the very desire that opens up each and every soul to see the wonder of every life.

Love is the womb of creation - It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

 

Third Sunday after the Epiphany 24th January 2010

Third Sunday after the Epiphany 24th January 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Epiphany 3C 24th January 2010 Textweek

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a; Luke 4:14-21

What Luke reveals about the identity of Christ, he reveals about us, who claim to be ‘the Body of Christ’. He’s not trying to tell us that the Old Testament scriptures were fulfilled in Christ – it’s not a history lesson. He’s actually trying to open our eyes to what is being revealed. When Christ says, ‘Today this scriptures has been fulfilled in your hearing’, we are called to that same place of revelation and I think we know that; it’s just that the church has given us an unthinking part to play in the scheme of things. Claim it back. We are the Body of Christ, and there is no head that controls it. Read the sermon from Paul: it’s us - the eyes, the hands, the feet, the all. What Luke reveals is that we are called to find that same place, “To fulfil the scriptures in the hearing of others”. Each of us is called ‘to fulfil the scriptures in the hearing of others’. Not to walk round the streets like religious loonies saying that Jesus saves everybody, but rather to embody a fulfilment of scriptures that others may see and hear.

One of the delightful things is that that process is now unfolding. And I have a sense that it may overtake us, delightfully so. Two weddings here yesterday, and I seemed to spend all my time providing an exclamation of what is going on, because people can see something is being revealed here, and it stands out. They want to know; they have a feel that it is speaking something delightful; it says something about the body, the community that meets here. A number of them want to come back – they are drawn by what is slowly unfolding and being revealed. This is a reflection of us; it is of our creation and of our making. It is our building, our unfolding that is beginning to be seen in new ways.

We too as members of one body and as the Body of Christ, might reveal ourselves and be seen as the fulfilment of the scriptures.

 

Second Sunday after the Epiphany 17th January 2010

Second Sunday after the Epiphany 17th January 2010 Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Epiphany 2C 17th January 2010 Textweek


Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11

Our naming is to be found in our baptism, our Christian name, our true being. Whilst our place on earth is recorded in our birth records, our truth is to be found in our baptism. It was the same for Jesus, hence the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, and the same is illuminated in the story of faith from the very beginning. In Genesis when a new beginning is sought in the person of Abraham, God makes a promise to a man called Abram, a promise that he will become the creator of a multitude of nations [Genesis 17:5], a promise that he will be a creator of life, and in that promise he is given a new name, he is called by a new name, Abraham.

The liturgy of the Church is an ancient form of enabling us to see ourselves within the Divine story, within a divine context, and the psalmist, one of the earliest writers of liturgy, and in today’s psalm it’s as if the whole of Isaiah’s prophetic teaching is picked up in a delightful summary
with the Divine[you] is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.[v9]
And again we hear an echo of the rite of Baptism, an echo of the Baptismal candle, acknowledging that we will find the light of Life in the Divine light which is so freely given to us and handed to all.

Our birth and our baptism, our very being has a common orientation, an orientation that we share with the whole of creation. We share it in the same way that green plants reach for the sun – they reflect also our orientation. As the body of Christ we are called, and promised into a future in which
All people may take refuge in the shadow of our wings. And... feast on the abundance of our house, and.... drink from the river of our delights: the promise of our birth, the promise of our baptism.

 

Baptism of our Lord 10 January 2010

Baptism of our Lord Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary 10 January 2010

Baptism of Jesus 10 January 2010 Textweek

Isaiah 43:1-7; Psalm 29; Acts 8:14-17; Luke 3:15-17, 21-2

Full sermon

If we move away from the old paradigm of baptism, we might realise that baptism is not a changing of the state or status of an individual from unsaved to saved. Those that were watching very very carefully would not have seen us turn Agatha from something into something, that wasn’t the movement, that wasn’t the movement at all. If we look closely we will see beginnings in the font, we will see becomings in the font. Baptism births an intentional process; it opens a becoming; it orientates toward a possibility.

If we follow the flow of the gospels, it is doubtful that we will know where we are going but if follow the flow we will go with purpose, we will go with direction, we will walk in faith, with hope, in joy, with love, and those things will take us on a journey. A journey that may open our ears to hear the word, the Divine word that is addressed to each and every one of us:
"You are my Child, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Second Sunday after Christmas 3 January 2010

Second Sunday after Chistmas Day Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary 10 January 2010

Christmas 2C 10 January 2010 Textweek

In Advent we waited for the Christ Child. At Christmas the waiting came to an end; revealed in the manger, in the lowliness of the everyday, we saw Emmanuel, God with us. Led by one light, the star in the east, we see the true light. Now, in each and every moment that follows we must seek that light in each and every other. We must reveal that same light in ourselves, recognizing that we are the gift of Christmas.

Full sermon

First Sunday after Christmas 27 December 2009

First Sunday after Chistmas Day Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary 27 December 2009

Christmas 1C 27 December 2009 Textweek

This year Christmas somehow feels different; a number of people have commented on it. Every year, every day feels different, but there seems to be something that we are experiencing that is different, and perhaps that’s because we have visibly given birth to a new shape within the temple that is this community. We are building beyond the church; we are opening up the temple to the face of the rising sun/Son; we are creating a new space that looks towards the dawn of every morning. What will this child become?

When the St Paul’s community a hundred years ago put a temporary wall here, they intended to return. We have returned - stone upon stone we are changing the shape of the temple. And so too we might see that we too are changing, growing.

Full sermon

Christmas 25 December 2009

Christmas Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary 25 December 2009

Christmas Eve/Day Textweek

Full sermon

How do we decide how to celebrate? What signs will we show, what teaching will we draw together? What songs will we sing? We’re caught between two worlds – the world of the past that says ‘this is how it has always been done, do it this way’, and the world of the future that says, ‘change, be different; be birthed and be born’. It really is quite evident that we stumble towards Christmas in a wonderful way.

Touch on the abundance, but reflect on everything. Take the opportunity to see what brings a smile to your face, what makes your heart sing. Enjoy the choir, but know that that voice is within you as well. Wonder at the beautiful story of birth, and know that that birth is within you. It’s a wonderful sign – it’s not there in our little plastic stable. It is within: you are being sought out, for you are a holy people.

Let us rejoice in the abundance of this day; let us rejoice in the abundance of this season. Look then to the world with the story still in your mind and your heart. See how the world may be changed by what can be birthed in you.

Happy Christmas, Holy People. Happy Christmas.

Fourth Sunday in Advent 20 December 2009

Fourth Sunday in Advent Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary 20 December 2009

Advent 4C 20 December 2009 Textweek

Third Sunday in Advent 13 December 2009

Third Sunday in Advent Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary 13 December 2009

Advent 3C 13 December 2009 Textweek

Second Sunday in Advent 6 December 2009

Second Sunday in Advent Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary 6 December 2009

Advent 2C 6 December 2009 Textweek

First Sunday in Advent 29 November 2009

First Sunday in Advent Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Advent 1C 29 November 2009 Textweek