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Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost 30 Oct 2011

Micah 3:5-12, Psalm 43, 1 Thessalonians 3:5-13, Matthew 23:1-12, 37-39

pdf version doc version html version John Dunnill

We're all aware how dangerous power is - and we all have some in our own sphere and we all know by experience how easily it seduces us into misusing it – to dominate others, or exploit them, to boost our position and our ego. I guess that's why, in Australia, we're wary of the signs of power; we're suspicious of robes and titles and even of suits: we like everything to look laid-back and egalitarian.

But the trouble is that power is still there – and hidden power many be more dangerous that the upfront kind.

Shared, distributed power always seems too slow to people who are quite sure they know what's right and what's wrong. But the result seems to be safer and better in the long run, and for the rest of us. I think that resistance to absolute power is a good thing, now, when nations seem quite sure they have the right to interfere in other peoples' affairs.

So power is dangerous stuff – and not only for the victims. It's also dangerous for those who wield it, in all sorts of psychological and spiritual ways. The pride which makes people want power is what makes it dangerous for them to have it. But we collude with that: humility, broad vision and sensitivity to others are seldom qualities we reward at the ballot box.

Yes, power is dangerous and the human heart is infinitely devious. None of us should be given power really. No wonder the Spirit and the Wisdom of God laments through Jesus: "How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings – and you were not willing".

That longing, that yearning, that wounded love of the Creator for us his wayward children, that's the true voice of authority. That, and not proclamations or policies or press statements.

Can we hear the voice of God, and God's longing for us? Can we name the things in our hearts that keep us from turning to God, keep us from letting God mend us and love us into wholeness? That voice of love is the true voice of authority, in heaven and on earth.

19th Sunday after Pentecost 23rd October 2011

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John Dunnill

But if we start with God, and the command and the aspiration to love God, we can hardly fail to find ourselves also bound to love our neighbour who is made by God. After all, loving God with all our heart, soul and mind doesn't mean having intense feelings of love towards God (though again, they don't go amiss), it means obeying God in all we think and feel and say and do, orienting ourselves on the Holy One, the divine source of all life, allowing our lives to be bound up with that divine life. So loving God is ultimately about my actions and therefore about living at peace with others according to the laws and guidelines God gives us.

The fact is, we shouldn't need that second command, we shouldn't need to be reminded to give practical love to our neighbour. It should flow naturally from a heart grounded in the love of God. And that's what Jesus invites us to do.

 

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost 16th October 2011

html version pdf version doc version John Dunnill

Isaiah 45: 1-7; Psalm 99; 1 Thess 1: 1-10; Matthew 22: 15-33

That's why, though it may not break the letter of the Biblical law, Christians have to remember the wisdom of Jesus and St Paul:

'You cannot serve God and Mammon'
'The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil'.

It turns out that the law against usury is not just a quaint relic of a vanished age, it expresses something permanently true: that a society which places the desires of the rich above the needs of the poor will always be putting itself in opposition to the GOD who is infinite compassion.

And Jesus said: 'Show me a coin'. So they held up a $2 coin, and he said: 'What do you see on it?'

And they said: 'We see the Queen's head on one side; and on the other we see an Aboriginal elder, and the Southern Cross, and grass trees growing out of dry ground.'

Jesus said: 'What do these things mean?' and they said: 'They are the symbols of our nation, and our heritage, and our land".

And Jesus said: 'Can you make yourself rich without making these poorer?'

The world is still waiting to hear their answer.

17th Sunday after Pentecost 9th October 2011

Exodus 32: 1-14; Ps 106: 1-6, 20-24; Phil 4: 1-9; Matthew 22: 1-14

pdf version doc version html version John Dunnill

So that, or something like it, is Jesus' original story and its message: God is not afraid to lose face; and we may not be worthy to receive God's invitation to eternal life, but God invites us anyway. The secret of life is hearing God's invitation and saying Yes.

... if accepting God's invitation brings life, refusing God's invitation brings – less than life. There is a cost to refusing God's offer, not because God is piqued and wants us to suffer, but because we need the life God longs to give us, if we are to discover fully our own humanity. If we don't, we lose out. We can answer the call the call to let ourselves be drawn through prayer and loving action deeper into the Divine, or we can refuse it. It is our choice.

We read in John chapter 6 that Jesus asked the Twelve: 'Do you also wish to go away?' and Simon Peter replied for them all: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life'. Let's listen to those words.

12th Sunday after Pentecost 4th September 2011

Exodus 12: 1-14 ; Romans 13:1-10; Matthew 1:10-20

John Dunnill

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Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost 11th September 2011

html version pdf version doc version Peter Humphris

Exodus 14: 19-31, Psalm 114, Romans 14: 1-14, Matthew 18: 21-35

And if we now replace "the People of Israel" with "that which God chooses to be", if we remove the literal nationalism of the text and see this as a narrative for all and for us, we see it reveals to all a process for those who seek the path to Divine freedom. In such a universal appreciation the text even goes beyond interpersonal freedom. (that is freedom from outside oppression). to intrapersonal freedom, a movement that promotes integration from conflicts within ourselves.

To drown those forces that enslave and/or oppress us is very much a part of the process that will lead us all to freedom – and when the pathway is made clear then the process that will most enable our progress is that of forgiveness. As we leave the first reading and discover our own exodus journey, we will feel the greeting that opens the second reading – 'Welcome..... those who are weak in faith'.

Consider this week, the movement of your Exodus, because your exodus is our exodus, it is journeying together; it's got nothing to do with people of Israel, but rather everything to do with God calling the whole of creation into what I AM will be.

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost 28th August 2011

html version pdf version doc version Peter Humphris

What we really need to hear is in verse 12: "I will be with you". It's a fantastic sentence to really get, to actually hear and find a knowing, where God says, "I will be with you". Don't look for me elsewhere, I will be with you, the Divine investing the whole of God's self in you. And this will be an epiphany for Moses, for here God is spoken of in a new way. No longer the remote God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, rather a divine presence that is with us.

Here we could leave the story with our shoes off, standing on Holy Ground and face to face with God's divine revelation of God's being. But there is more that comes with that knowing 'I AM has sent me to you.'" Moses receives assurance that the presence of the Divine will be with him in his own revealing of the Divine activity. There is no passing the buck; there is a knowing, an assurance that 'I will be with you', an assurance that in being sent to complete the activity of God, the activity of creation 'I will be with you'.

The reality of knowing God is in the putting our shoes back on, having turned aside from our past pathways, and now going forth aligned toward the creation of a new future in the certainty that God is with us. The reality of knowing God is the giving of ourselves into the future of all. Truly, we must turn aside and look.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost 21st August 2011

Exodus 1:8-2:10, Psalm 124, Romans 12: 1-8, Matthew 16:13-20

html version pdf version doc version Peter Humphris

A good starting point for reading and engaging the Scriptures is to ask questions of the text as we read it. What is being revealed? Don't look for a story about a past era but ask what is being revealed.

Here we see that it is not the 'hand of God' giving shape to the world, rather it is the activity of these two women; unafraid of the king, their actions mirror the activity of God, and they find themselves participating in the activity of the unfolding of creation. It's a stunning story – it's good to get that it's not God that is going to sort it out. That gift has been given.

Paul calls us into a divine integrity, and in following that call we take a different path to that dictated by the world; we move beyond our cultural norms, and that movement is occasioned by the activity of transformation and renewal; that is, it requires our active participation.

All three readings today speak of Nativity: not the Nativity of Moses, nor of the Messiah, not of Peter and his new name; they speak of renewal, of new birth and of participation in the Divine activity, and they identify some special things about some special people, because they speak of us and of what we are called to be. For the Church, the Body of Christ, the midwives of creation and the key holders of Kingdom of Heaven are no less and none other than you and me.

9th Sunday after Pentecost 14th August 2011

Genesis 45:1-15; Romans 11:13-32; Matthew 15: 10-28

14th August 2011 html version 14th August 2011 doc version 14th August 2011 pdf version 14th August 2011 pages version John Dunnill

The Catholic spiritual writer Henri Nouwen says: "To pray for others means to offer others an hospitable place where I can really listen to their needs and concerns". Living the gospel means creating such an hospitable place in prayer and care for others, wherever they are – not because we're nice people, or we'd like to be, but because we align ourselves with God, who desires to call everyone into his embrace beyond all barriers.

If that is not the god we believe in and find in Jesus, if we believe God passionately desires to draw all into his loving embrace (even us, for heaven's sake) how will we show this, in what we say and do, and how we deal with others? How will it alter our politics and our prayer life? How will we, as a community, be that bridge, that hospitable place where others can know the unconditional and overflowing love of God?

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost 31st July 2011

Genesis 32: 22-31, Psalm 17: 1-7, 16, Romans 9: 1-16, Matthew 14: 13-21

pdf version html version Peter Humphris

One of the simple ways we build awareness of the Divine presence is to be attentive to the auspicious moments that provide divine reference points in the every day. We all experience them; sometimes we let them go too easily, other times we write them off as coincidence

Jacob's fear, in the narrative we are reading, is in regard to reconciliation with his brother Esau. It is the same fear we all have, and it is the fear that limits our fullness and our wholeness, the fear of giving of ourselves, and of sharing ourselves with another, and with each and every other. We let ourselves off the hook when we do it to a partner, or to our children – be aware, that is still giving to oneself. The fear we have is the giving of ourselves that will bring about reconciliation for the all.

One of the questions that came up for me in reading the readings for today was, are we, as the Church, complicit in holding each other back? Do we actually conspire to ensure that we never take that step that will make real what Christ has revealed? Is that what the church has become? We ensure that we will never take that step and walk into the light of day exposed, touched by God, and ready to give fully of who we are.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost 24th July 2011

Isaiah 45: 1-7; Psalm 99; 1 Thess 1: 1-10; Matthew 22: 15-33

pdf version doc version html version John Dunnill

In all these parables, human beings are afflicted with the illusion that they have to fix things, sort out their lives, when really God is doing the work and we just have to jump on God's bandwagon, go with God's flow, share in God's work of healing, freedom, new creation.

His parables of grace have traversed a long arc, from guilt and struggle, through hesitantly choosing God, through coming to see the big picture of God's purposes, through making space for God in our lives, letting God open up in us our new nature as sons and daughters, able to stand upright before God.

Wherever you find yourself along that arc, be assured the grace of God is the same at every stage, the grace revealed in Christ. And it all points forward to that extraordinary ending, when Paul declares, beyond all parables [vv. 38-9]:
'I am convinced that neither death nor life,
nor angels, nor rulers
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation
will be able to separate us from the love in Christ Jesus our Lord.'

Reflections for 3 July 2011

Gen 24 Rom 7:14-25 Matt 11:15-19

Reflections html Reflections doc  Reflections pdf  Reflections pages  Alan Albany

We all make choices every day.. some trivial...Some have a bit more significance ... Other choices are life changing.

Rebekah seems to have got the message that this is her destiny – so in spite of the fact she will probably never see her parents and family again she replies “I will go"

The New Testament reading from the last part of Romans Ch 7 seems to me to be Paul’s recounting of the losing struggle he had in his own strength to make the right choice between sin and righteousness by trying to obey the law.

He (Jesus) is saying that rather than ‘getting with the message’ the generation of his day have made the choice to avoid responding by criticizing the messengers - a tactic that modern politicians have turned into an art form.

The choice to accept this invitation of Jesus’ to ‘walk and keep company with him’ is open to each of us. I think it is like all of Jesus’s invitations – it needs to be taken in the ‘God of the Now’ tense – the present continuous – as in ‘Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking’. So I think the message from today is ‘choose and keep on choosing.’

Trinity Sunday 19th June 2011

Exodus 34: 1-8, Song of the Three, 2 Corinthians 12:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20

pdf version web version Peter Humphris

The movements that are describable within the punctuation of the Trinity were not enacted in time and place; rather they are identifiable movements in a life that's lived in the wholeness of eternity. The Trinity is an icon of life unbounded by death, an icon of life that is alive in the spirit of resurrection. As we rewrite the sentence to which the Trinity provides a full stop, we discover some heretical insights:
Jesus is not the Son of God – get over it
God does not reside in heaven and never did
Hell is not the place where the fallen will go
And humanity is not that smallness of existence to be found under the clouds of heaven.
Rather we discover an intimate dynamic that echoes the very fire of Pentecost - a dynamic of birth, of death, of re-creation. The Trinity is an invitation to more truly dance with the stars.

I just want to share a prayer from St Anselm (1033-1109):


Lord Jesus Christ; let me seek you by desiring you,
and let me desire you by seeking you;
let me find you by loving you,
and love you in finding you.
I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving,
that you have made me in your image,
so that I can remember you, think of you, and love you.
But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults,
and darkened by the smoke of sin,
that it cannot do that for which it was made,
unless you renew and refashion it.
Lord, I am not trying to make my way to your height,
for my understanding is in no way equal to that,
but I do desire to understand a little of your truth
which my heart already believes and loves.
I do not seek to understand so that I can believe,
but I believe so that I may understand;
and what is more,
I believe that unless I do believe, I shall not understand.

26th June 2011 2nd Sunday after Pentecost

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

26th June 2011 html version 26th June 2011 doc version 26th June 2011 pdf version 26th June 2011 pages version John Dunnill

The story of the sacrifice – or better said the binding of Isaac is an Old Testament passage people generally prefer to avoid. It is a difficult passage – not because it's complicated, but because it's terrifying.

To understand this story today we need to see that sacrifice is about thanksgiving and love and not about any intentional suffering, and your child, especially your firstborn son, is your most precious possession – the one through whom your nam

It's important if we are to read the story rightly, that we see this triumph as the outcome God not only intended but foresaw. God knew that Abraham would prove faithful. But Abraham, being human, could only find that out by going through it step by step, by facing his doubts and fears, and overcoming them. Being human too, we share his agony as we read. But if we share his faith, too, we need to claim the story's truth: that God is faithful and deserves us to know that living faithfully is possible for humankind. God gave us Abraham and this event as a reminder and assurance of that truth.e will live after you

It seems that God needed to know and to show that for this man, Abraham, father of the nation, archetype of faith – that his faith really would be proof against anything, the worst that the forces of life or death could throw at him – and it was.

 

Day of Pentecost 12th June 2011

Acts 2: 1-21, Psalm 104:24-34, 35b, 1 Corinthians 12:3b-13, John 20:19-23

pdf version html version Peter Humphris

they spoke such that they could be heard by those from every nation under heaven [v5]. They spoke from a place within themselves where they were together in one place. They spoke from a place within that has an orientation toward the common, toward the all. They made manifest the Word in the world: they encountered and engaged in the activity of God: the Christmas narrative itself comes to life. They made manifest the Word in and to the world. The inclusive repetitions from the start of the narrative are here brought out again and are made real for every nation under heaven.

7th Sunday after Easter 5th June 2011

Acts 1: 6 – 14; 1 Peter 5; John 17: 1 - 11

5th June 2011 html version 5th June 2011 doc version 5th June 2011 pdf version 5th June 2011 pages version John Dunnill

So the Ascension reveals a truth about Christ which is also a truth about us. It calls us to look at the world and our own lives from the point of view of Christ the universal lord – to see that "the way things are" is not "how things have to be". That war, famine and deceit are not God's will for us any more than fear, slander or contempt. He calls us to shake off our slumbers, our indifferences, our casual ways of harming or ignoring others and to look up, to see the possibilities that God is drawing us into. The Ascension which we remember as an event in the past, to do with Christ, is a permanent possibility into which we are invited to enter, through Christ.

This is a truth celebrated wonderfully by my old schoolmate, Thomas Traherne. He says this in Centuries of Meditation, Second Century, chapter 18:

"You shall be glorified, you shall live in communion with Him, you shall ascend into the Throne of the highest Heavens; you shall be satisfied, you shall be made greater than the Heavens, you shall be like Him, when you enjoy the world as He doth; you shall converse with His wisdom, goodness, and power above all worlds, and therefore shall know Him. To know Whom is a sublime thing; for it is Life Eternal."

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter 29th May 2011

pdf version doc version html version Peter Humphris

These different understandings, different models of God, reveal a wrestling with an understanding of being, and so too a desire and a seeking for life's Divine fullness. As we seek God we seek our own truth – we're not looking for that which is far away, we're looking for who we are and who we are called to be. This is the place we inhabit post-Easter – when the revelation has been made its clearest; this is the place we inhabit in the light of the revelation of resurrection. Who are we in the light of resurrection? What is revealed in that newness of life's divine fullness?

The paradigms of the past, the view through the telescope, are enforced by our culture and by all who hang on to the past. Catch yourself out looking through the telescope, be aware of how much of your life energy is looking and orientated towards the past. If we read the scriptures with an historical location, then we will be looking into a primitive appreciation of the Divine, and most likely we will remain culturally enslaved by that fallacy that sees life as birthed in the innocence of youth and decaying towards death.

If we roll this stone away, if we seek the Spirit of truth, if we open our tomb to the one who abides with you, then in our turning, in the movement of "repent" we discover ourselves within the bounds of that moment which scattered the stars into space. And we know we too are [his] Divine offspring.

 

 

Fifth Sunday after Easter 22nd May 2011

Acts 7: 5 5-60, Psalm 31, 1 Peter 2: 11-25, John 14: 1-10

pdf version html version Peter Humphris

Stephen offers us an icon through which to see the journey that is before us. The movement of martyrdom is the path to resurrection, a seeking fullness of life by seeking to move beyond the existence of everyday, a seeking to live beyond all that is contained by the fear of death, and a seeking to find integrity through the deepest knowing - that it is in our giving that we receive.

It is our journey that is contained in today's text, and there is delightful encouragement for those who are still not yet ready for that journey. Those who were intent on destruction, intent on keeping life in its contained status quo, they "laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul". A young man named Saul was not yet ready to roll the stone away, not yet ready to look beyond to seek the Divine. And yet in another revelation of life lived in the light of resurrection, we will hear that Saul becomes Paul. The one who today minded the coats of those stoning Stephen, will find and follow his calling into fullness of life. We're there in that narrative; we may not be stone-throwers, but we may be minding the coats of those who throw. We might, like Stephen, be just about ready to look beyond death, to see the heavens open.

 

Fourth Sunday of Easter 15th May

Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, I Peter 2: 1-10, John 10:1-10

html version pdf version John Dunnill

So when in 1604 King James, who had just come from Scotland onto the English throne and he wanted peace in his new kingdom and he commissioned forty seven scholars to produce a whole new translation, he wanted to draw all that century of dispute to an end, produce the best possible version, beyond controversy, with no one-sided notes to guide people's interpretations; he wanted a Bible everyone could agree on. It seemed like a faint hope.

Why did it succeed? Well partly I think because it took forty seven scholars seven years to produce and they did their work very thoroughly, sifting and shaping. And also because they chose to be archaic. If you think it sounds old fashioned now you should know that it sounded a bit old fashioned when it was published.

So my conclusion is that any translation is only a means to an end and the question is, does it take us to where we need to go? Does it allow the power of the call of God to shine through it into our lives? So let me end by reading again those verses that I started with and I invite you to listen to them, not as examples of Elizabethan prose –
don't let that get in the way – but for the sense that something special, something life-changing is happening here in these texts, something we need to take hold of

'And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul'.

 

Third Sunday of Easter 8th May 2011

Acts 2: 14a, 36-41, Psalm 116: 1-4,12-19, 1 Peter 1: 17-23, Matthew 28:8-15

html version pdf version Peter Humphris

In that first reading from Acts we hear that when such a reality was seen by the "Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem" they were gob-smacked, they were cut to the heart. That's actually gob-smacked moved up a division. And as we realise that same space that we inhabit in toady's world, we too shall be cut to the heart.

We next come to the crucial point and it is opened up for us with the response of those who were cut to the heart, because they then asked the question, "what should we do?" It is a crucial question in the realisation of resurrection, for it indicates that they knew that something needed to be done; they've got an insight that the world does not yet have; they've seen the promise of resurrection: "what should we do?" They also knew that resurrection requires participation.

Here at St Paul's we can delight in a post-Easter community of tomb-less mothers. Peter, the unsaintly, sees the promise of resurrection, and knows the truth of repentance. He (me) and all of us need to ask one question: "what should we do?"

 

Easter, the Resurrection of the Lord 24th April 2011

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

Peter Humphris

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It is amazing what happens when we roll the stone away. The light gets into the tomb of darkness. In the garden of Easter morning the stone of Mary’s grief was rolled away: she witnessed life. The rolling away of the stone echoes the apple in the Garden of Eden – it is a taste of death that brings into being a new fullness of life. It is witnessed too by Abraham and Sarah, when three angels roll away the stone of Sarah’s barrenness and fulfill the promise that captured Abraham’s faith. The same stone Moses saw rolled from the homes of the Jewish people in Egypt, their doorways marked with blood so that death would Passover them. It is the same stone that Jacob rested his head on and found the stairway to heaven in his dreams. And it is the stone that formed the altar of the church on which the sacred sacraments are birthed through the thanksgiving prayers of the people.

Here at St Paul’s the stone has also been rolled away. The stone here carries the symbol of the window, which invites us to look beyond the church. The stone forms the altar in the chapel floor, centering our prayers and earthing our deepest desires, giving light to the newness of life that is revealed when we walk through the doorways of the sanctuary, which is how we shall walk today when we leave the church. We have moved beyond the wooden altar, the material of the cross, to the round stone that gives us an entry into the garden of life.

Passion Sunday 17th April 2011


Liturgy of the Palms:  Luke 19: 28-44, Isaiah 50: 4-9a, Ps 31: 9-18,
Philippians 2: 5-11, Matthew 26: 14 - 27: 66 or 27: 11-54

Peter Humphris

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This week we will make choices, we will choose to either watch the game or we will choose to participate in the game. Today, with the preparation of Lent behind us and the promise of Easter before us we are like chocolate bunnies on a shelf in Coles. Looking good, but going nowhere – Yet! This week will determine our tomorrow. We will either be consumed by Easter, as Christ was, or we will be left on the shelf to be paraded again next year, if our use-by-date does not expire in the meantime.

The narrative of Easter, the encounter of Easter, the revelation of Easter are made real when the eggs are consumed. Resurrection speaks of a new paradigm: it is not a simple raising of the dead that Lazarus already encountered, it is much, much more. Easter points us toward a life that is not bounded by fear, a life that is not contained by the small self of life’s experience. Easter calls us from this tomb of darkness into a vision of life that is embraced in and by the Divine, a life lived in eternity and experienced within the wholeness of all creation.

May we each, each and every one of us, be consumed by the encounter of Easter.

Fifth Sunday in Lent 10th April 2011

Deuteronomy 7: 7-11, Ps 45: 1-2, 6-9, Hebrews 4: 8-16, Luke 7: 36-50

John Dunnill

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Who am I? – the one who hears God, and loves God. But it also answers another key question: ‘What day is it?’ – to which the answer is always ‘Today’.

What that says is that although the faith is immensely old, going back 3000 years to Moses, Abraham, Noah, it is new and fresh every day, because the world springs forth from the Divine every day, and every day we can choose afresh to hear God, to love God, live in that relationship. It says, we can’t rely on our parents’ faith, or the faith of our community: today is the day to meet God.

And what day is it? The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that it’s Today: ‘Give us today our daily bread’. Today is the day we stand before God, like hungry children perhaps, with open hands, ready to receive from God whatever God gives us, which will be for us the bread of life. And we hear the psalmist say ‘O that today you would listen to God’s voice: harden not your hearts….’

 

Fourth Sunday in Lent 3 April 2011

Deuteronomy 10: 12-21, Ps 32: 1-7, Hebrews 5: 1-10, Luke 15: 11-32

Peter Humphris

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It looks like an answer of ‘doing’, but it is actually referring to our ‘being’. The context of the question in verses 11 and 12 makes this clear: ‘What does the Lord your God require of you…. for your own well being?’ So we are invited to bring the question and the answers as given into ourselves:
fear the Lord - be aware, be conscious of the mystery of the Divine
walk in all his ways - be alive always to the Divine presence
love him - engage in the intimacy of relationship
serve the Lord your God - points us to an orientation of giving
keep the commandments - hold a reference point, a reference point for our attentiveness.

In the light of this parable, when we ask the question, What does the Lord your God require of you?
The answer has a mystical simplicity – Nothing! Nothing ! The two brothers today clearly illustrate that nothing is ‘required’. The abundance and the inheritance of God is a given, it’s there. The presence of the Divine, is a given.

So maybe we should contemplate what we might do that will induce the Divine to run toward us, to embrace us and to kiss us. Contemplate that our movement and our non-movement is that activity of creation, and it is the activity that will, or will not make manifest the activity of God.

Third Sunday in Lent 27th March 2011

Deuteronomy 7: 7-11, Ps 45: 1-2, 6-9, Hebrews 4: 8-16, Luke 7: 36-50

John Dunnill

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So we see in her poured-out tears and her kisses the relief of being able to let that go, all the effort of keeping up appearances, self-justification, staving off self-hatred, all that running away from God, from herself, from reality. Now she is accepted and can accept herself, and Jesus says to this crowd of men, ‘I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; that’s why she has shown such great love.’

But then he looks sharply at the Simon, ‘But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.’ There’s Simon trapped in his boundaries of righteousness and self image, trapped as we all so easily are by these things, trying to keep up appearances, like shiny bottles on a chemist’s shelf, no matter what’s inside. Jesus’ words can’t reach Simon through that shiny packaging, but the woman has become transparent. She has nothing to hide and hides nothing. And to her Jesus can say, and he says it to us too, ‘You are a loved, forgiven, graced child of God, go in peace’.

Second Sunday in Lent 20th March 2011

Deuteronomy 6: 20-25, Psalm 77: 11-20, Hebrews 3: 12 - 4: 2, Luke 5: 1-11

Peter Humphris

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The Old Testament reading begins with a good question: ‘When your children ask you in time to come, “What is the meaning of God’s Word in your life, what will you answer?”

Lent is a time for enlightening ourselves; it’s a time to reflect and to seek reflection within the context of the Divine Word. If we stay within the parameters of proscribed answers it is unlikely that we will ever experience any such enlightenment. Lent invites us to question and to look again, to look beyond the surface – it is a time in which we prepare ourselves for the movement of Easter. It’s worth remembering, Jesus went into the tomb – it was an orthodox burial. He walked from the tomb, making manifest a new way of being, and a new paradigm for life.

And if we embrace the movement illustrated in the gospel; if we can see ourselves in the naming of the disciples, then the child who sits with you in the wilderness, homeless, HIV+, hungry and cold, no longer asks, “Why does not your God bring me out of slavery into the Land of promise?”, for now the child will see, and be a part and partner in the abundance of our catch.

First Sunday in Lent 13 March 2011

Deuteronomy 8 1-10, Psalm 91, Hebrews 2 10-18, Luke 4: 1-13

John Dunnill

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[Jesus] points us to is the middle way, the way of trust, in which we need to grow into the fullness of human being, through self-knowledge and openness to one another, and the love of God. If learning to walk this way of trust that we do once again in Lent, perhaps it’s good to know we can do this together and that Jesus has been this way before us. For us, as for him, life is lived not by instant certainty but by faith, and it’s in the darkness of the Cross with its testing, that the light of Resurrection dawns.

As we enter the silence within us we are entering a void in which we
are unmade. We cannot remain the person we were or thought we were. But we are in fact not being destroyed but awakened to the eternally fresh source of our being. John Main

Seventh Sunday after Epiphany 20th February 2011

Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18, Psalm 119:33-40, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23, Matthew 5:38-48

Full sermon pdf html Peter Humphris

If we read today’s readings once more, looking for ourselves reflected in the text, we find an amazingly affirming reflection of who we are: You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. No one else that’s spoken to, we need to hear that for ourselves – you shall be holy for I the LORD your God am holy.

Today I invite you to leave the church through the sanctuary doors, to leave the church through the chapel of prayer, to acknowledge that we choose to go out in a different way to how we came in. To go beyond the altar, to go beyond the place of communion and walk in the direction of the rising sun[son].... Become aware of the newness we have created, of the newness that we do create; become aware that we have built on a foundation, and the foundation stands, it remains unchanged, and yet there is a new wholeness that says more, that speaks more. Let us walk into the newness that we have created that is built on the foundation of the Church, built on the community of St Paul’s, at Corinth and here.

Sixth Sunday after Epiphany 13th February 2011

Deuteronomy 10:12-22, Psalm 119:1-8, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37

Full sermon pdf html John Dunnill

To read the scriptures is to look deeply at ourselves, and to look for a reflection of ourselves that enables us to see the ‘image of God’. The bible is an eternal pool that holds our reflection, together with the reflection of each and every life.

We are called to look again and again into the pool of eternal truth and give voice to ‘the grace of God given to us’, to speak into being and go beyond what we have previously heard, to give voice to a new life direction that, like Christ, has as a foundation the fullness of life for the whole of humanity.
If we read today’s readings once more, looking for ourselves in the very text, we find an amazingly affirming reflection.

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany 6th February 2011

Isaiah 58:1-12, Psalm 112, 1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Matthew 5:13-20

Full sermon html pdf Peter Humphris

The gospel echoes the insight of Isaiah, and the ‘scribes and Pharisees’ are the same today as they were yesterday. The religious leaders, the gatekeepers of orthodoxy, the cultural teachers and those who shape our political paths, these are the very institutions that we must rightfully exceed. We are called into a new paradigm, we’re called into a place of unseen truth, we’re called to go beyond what is seen, what is visible ‘in the world’ and to bring light, to embody an enlightenment that will [v12] “raise up the foundations of many generations”, and repair. We are called to participate in the energy of, in the Spirit of, “I AM making all things new”. And I think we are in the process of that very movement; we are sharing today in the insight of Isaiah, and we are flavouring the world with our saltiness.

It is evidenced not in any one of us, but in our communion. The shape of St Paul’s has changed; the very stonework of St Paul’s has come out from its 100 year old bushel and has gone beyond what it was. Those who come to St Paul’s find a new flavour that often exceeds the expectations of their previous taste of church. And in this Spirit, on these very foundations, we continue to build. Each and all giving flavour, adding saltiness, enlightening our very being, and so changing the shape of the world.

We are the salt of the earth
You are the salt of the earth

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany 31st January 2011

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

Full sermon pdf html John Dunnill

To be poor in spirit [means] to know our need of God, to stand before God with open hands, letting God’s goodness flow out to us without measure.

Jesus in the Beatitudes is challenging us to see things in reverse. It isn’t the rich, he says, who are fortunate, it’s the poor because they know they need God’s gifts. It isn’t the comfortable, but the mourners, and the hungry and the meek, those who are longing for something more – the something more they know they can’t create and only God can give. And if we as a Christian community are in tune with Jesus’ mind, then this paradoxical, back-to-front teaching has got to be our stock in trade.

Third Sunday after Epiphany 23rd January 2011

Isaiah 9:1-4; Psalm 27:1, 4-9 ; 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 ; Matthew 4:12-25

Full sermon html pdf Peter Humphris

We hear in today’s gospel that Jesus withdrew to Galilee – another movement. He moves away from the authorities that imprisoned John the Baptist, away from the powers of this world that confine, contain and control any movement into a new tomorrow. And following that movement, v17 begins “from that time....” Those three words identify a new beginning. Here we might find the divine possibility awakened in each of us; we might begin to grasp the call to ‘repent’ – ‘repent’, which in its original Greek combines both time and change, a verb that speaks of a change in direction and a movement from former to latter times. In its context today, we read of the movement that Jesus himself makes, and as he makes that movement himself, we have his call, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." It is a call, an invitation into the same movement. And as he walked, so others followed, leaving behind the ‘latter’ and stepping into a newness of life, a life that walked in the same movement that Christ reveals, and so stepping into a knowing of themselves as a child born for all.

Second Sunday after the Epiphany 16th January 2011

Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40: 1-11,1 Corinthians 1:1-9, John 1:29-42

Full sermon html    pdf Peter Humphris

The movement of dying and rising is the very tide of life itself, the ebb and flow that illuminates the power of love. Birth and death are not the Alpha and Omega. Rather, they bookend our experience, our normal, everyday sensate experience; they contain the obvious nature of life, but do not contain nor constrain the eternal nature of love, which is illuminated in the symbolism and ritual of baptism, in the movement of dying and rising.

As we move forward in life’s ebb and flow, so our world is shaped by our actions and our actions are shaped by our being and our orientation. It is important to ourselves and to each other, to revisit our calling, the being we are called to be from before our birth till after our death.

Today we celebrate that same movement in naming Sam and Jack, and in encountering again, in looking again into our own baptism. It is a baptism of movement, for ministry. Somehow it is a mystical ritual that gives us a glimpse of life beyond the obvious..

In a few minutes we will find in the symbolism of the Eucharistic elements what John found; “Here’ in this place, ‘is the Lamb of God”.

May we also find what Simon found: a newness of life that enables us to know ourselves as saints.

Baptism of our Lord 9th January 2011

Isaiah 42: 1-9, Psalm 29, Acts 10: 34-43, Matthew 3: 13-17

Full sermon html    pdf Peter Humphris

When we look back to the Christmas story do we realize that what was revealed was much more than the birth of a child? Again, as we revisit the narrative of Christmas, we find that the fullness of revelation is made manifest in the responses to the child. Angels, Mary, Joseph, shepherds and the three wise travellers all bring to life what Christmas reveals. And in their response we can begin to appreciate something about who we are and how we might see ourselves called to live out the fullness of our birth.

The readings and our baptism ask us and ask of us life-giving questions. Who is God’s servant, who is God’s chosen; who are those in whom God delights? Who is God’s child – God’s daughter and God’s son? Who is Jesus? They’re not questions for theological research; they draw us into asking ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Who are you?’ Who am I and who are those around me? Who am I in my birth, and who are you in your birth? Who am I in my baptism, and who are you in your baptism? Who are you and who are we in our fullness of life?

First Sunday after Christmas 26th December 2010

Isaiah 63: 7-9, Psalm 148, Hebrews 2: 10-18, Matthew, 2:13-23

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We must start reading the signs, the signs around us and the signs within us. And this is the season where we’re given such a richness of signs, all pointing toward our new creation: the opportunity for us to realise that deepest desire within, to find a fullness of life that is held in and forever holds Love. Everyone is on the move. The wise men are coming to the scene of the Nativity, they haven’t arrived yet, and they represent probably that part of us that hasn’t arrived yet at the scene of the Nativity. There is movement. Today we read another story of movement – Mary and Joseph. The new birth cannot stay, but must move on. Love never ends.

So the two of them[Beryl and Stuart], like all of us, are always held in one place when we are held in Love. So I trotted down to have this little service with the Hogan family, and mentioned that being ale to come into their family is actually a gift, and what I bring into their family is the gift of this community, the bread and the wine, the fact that we are the Body of Christ.

By being here you are a sign that acknowledges that, no, Christmas hasn’t finished. ‘Thank God it’s all over’ is a complete misreading of the whole. We’re here and we’re gathered here because we know - we’ve seen the signs - it is Christmas, it is, we are in that season of Christmas. We actually want to hold what it represents, perhaps so that we can read it a little more closely and see ourselves and our unfolding in those stories. So thank you for being here. , like all of us, are always held in one place when we are held in Love.

Fourth Sunday of Advent 19th December 2010

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

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One initial observation on the readings: Advent is leading us into the coming of the light, leading us into the coming of Christmas. It heralds the dawning of a new day, as does the Easter story. Christmas signifies a change in tomorrow, such that it will be unlike any yesterdays. That’s what we are being pointed towards. We would therefore expect that the arrow of the text, the direction of the readings would be forward. Certainly Isaiah has that prophetic arrow, and yet Paul and Matthew have a much stronger emphasis on the past.

What if we stay with the original prophecy, stay with the voice that speaks of God with us? Then look again at Christmas being an evolution, an enlightenment, rather than an event about one man in one place at one time. Actually look at as an always-and-ever-present doorway into a new paradigm, a new way of seeing everything, a new way of being, a new way of becoming, a new promise as to who I am, who we are.

If we hold onto the faith of the past then our hands will be full and we’re not going to be able to grasp the enlightenment that is revealed, the coming of light, the realisation of God-with-us. Christmas is not about Jesus. It is a movement for and of the whole of humanity. When we sing in our carols that ‘he came down to earth from heaven’, we should not be echoing happy birthday to Jesus. Rather we should be seeking to realise what Christ revealed - God-with-us. It’s not Jesus, it’s us. The naming of Immanuel speaks to each and every being.

Third Sunday of Advent 12th December 2010

Isaiah 35:1-10, Psalm - Song of Mary, James 5: 7-10, Matthew 11:2-11

So as part of our Advent preparations we should invest in making Christmas a reality, invest our time, invest ourself, invest our gifts and invest in the commitment to the realisation of Isaiah’s words. Invest in metanoia, in looking again at the familiar and looking beyond the familiar to the abundance that is found in Isaiah’s prophetic vision. Invest ourselves in the dialogue of Jesus and John: they are not two people located in history; they are icons of eternity. You are John, for only you can prepare the way for tomorrow. You are Jesus, for only you can bring into reality, tomorrow. We together are the least in the kingdom of heaven so read the last line of the gospel, for there we are called to be greater than these, to be greater than John and Jesus.

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Second Sunday in Advent 5 Dec 2010

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

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If we read today’s readings, if we realign our faith, our theology, our view of the world, if we reread and rethink every familiar Bible story in the light of that old man’s understanding, then we will find a new and different orientation and a completely different birthing process. The king is dead. We, we are now the king.

Advent is a time for pregnancy testing. Reread the readings as if they are talking about what we can participate in and bring to birth. And then ask of ourselves, are we pregnant? Are we pregnant or are we barren? Is there nothing in us seeking to be birthed? The whole movement of creation is our gestation, is what we will bring about. We choose our creation of tomorrow. We choose all that we participate in bringing to birth. Now is the time for us to test that for ourselves. And it’s a delightful thing to realise: all those old familiar stories don’t talk about Jesus at all, they talk about us.