Readings each Sunday
Vanderbilt lectionary library

Christ the King 24 Nov 2013

Jeremiah 23: 1-6; Benedictus or Song of Zechariah; 1 Colossians 1: 11-20; Luke 23:33-43

Christ the King 24 Nov 2013 webpage Christ the King 24 Nov 2013 pdf

We have an opportunity to put our mind into contemplating the gap between the year that has just ended and the year that is about to begin.

Are you able to identify the movement, the inner movement, that you encountered and experienced last year?
Did your journey last year, as Paul says, make you “strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power”?

In the coming week of ‘mind the gap’ it is a good time for us to look back and seek the signs of our becoming.

What is our orientation?
What signs illuminate our direction?
Are we closer to the realisation of the reign of ‘Christ the King’?

It is also a week for us to contemplate the new year that we will begin next Sunday.
With what resolutions will we begin our new year? What desires will drive us into tomorrow and what fears will hold us back.

Today as we celebrate the kingship of Christ we should also acknowledge the place of the skull. We should acknowledge the dying of Christ that is our very enabling.

What is revealed in (and through) Christ the King, is that which we are empowered to make manifest.
The feast of Christ the King is our feast, for it is we who are the Body of Christ.

And we, who are both shepherd and sheep, bear witness to the Divine birth.

It is we, together, who will begin a new year so full of promise and potential

Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost 10 November 2013

Isaiah 65 : 17-25; A Song of Isaiah; 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-13; Luke 21:5-19

Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

There is however a place in which Isaiah’s vision is held;

Deep within the Body of Christ
Echoed in the murmur of silent prayer
Glimpsed in the incantations that accompany the waving of lights in the temple
Honoured in the washing of feet at the entrance to the mosque
Sought for in the scrolls of the Torah as they are paraded in the synagogue.

By adding bit-by-bit to one side of the scales we never really know when, or what piece will actually cause the scales to tip.
If we add a piece and then take away a piece, nothing happens. If we fail to add anything, again nothing happens. However, if we do add something, that one piece might be the one that causes the scales to tip.

We might consider; what is the example we set for others to imitate?

What is it that we are adding to the scales that will bring about “new heavens and a new earth”?
And equally helpful, who gives us the example that we seek to imitate?

The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created - created first in the mind and will, created next in activity.
The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating.
The paths are not to be found, but made,
and the activity of making them,
changes both the maker and the destination.
(Deborah James)

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost 10 November 2013

Haggai 1:15b-2:9 ; Psalm 145: 1-5, 17-21 ; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17 ; Luke 20:27-40

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

This shaking up, is the prophetic opening up of our eyes to a new worldview, an opportunity to see through a new lens that is quite different and that will therefore change our seeing and our understanding of the world.

... through the prophet’s lens, looking beyond the short-sightedness of the every-day, there is great hope and much opportunity; “I will fill this house with splendour, says the LORD of hosts…. The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former.”

Haggai’s photo exhibition is one that will shake us from the slumber of our blinkered worldview into a new world that “shall be greater than the former.”

To change the world, we need only contemplate: “My spirit abides among you; do not fear.”

It is an affirmation and a call to active participation in bringing about “A New Creation”, a new world view and so too a new experience of life.

Before time we were one; and in the ‘big bang’, the coming of light, our oneness was diversified into the beauty of all that is and all that is to come.

Our oneness however is and always will be; and that is revealed again for us in Christ, humanity and Divinity are one, creator and creature are one..

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost 3 November 2013

Habakkuk 1:1-4,2:1-4; Psalm 119: 137-144; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4,11,12; Luke 19:1-10

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

Today Habakkuk gives us one of the corner pieces in life’s jig-saw; “the righteous live by their faith.” This gives us an opportunity to contemplate our placement of the many pieces that make up our own life jig-saw.

Is Australia a community of which we can boast that: “faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing.”?

You, each of us, when living in alignment with the vision of our faith, living a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called, you are the very glory of God as made manifest in Christ.

As we appreciate the enormity of this encounter, we might be excited enough to explore what is it that brought Zacchaeus, and so too ourselves, into such a place.

Firstly we discover something quite simple, in verse 3, “He was trying to see who Jesus was”; now although that is quite simple, we might ask ourselves what do we do, what have we done, in terms of “trying to see who Jesus was”?

The activity that leads to our encounter with Christ, is forward, ahead, it does not lie in the past, and it will take effort, a striving, a running ahead in order to get there.

The tree of Genesis, that will eventually lead us out of the garden, or the tree of Golgotha, that will eventually lead us into the garden?

As you construct your life jig-saw, know that climbing parallels in many respects the process of resurrection.

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost 27 October 2013

Joel 2: 23-32; Psalm 65; 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18; Luke 18:15-3

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost webpage Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

Then comes the bombshell; “When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "There is still one thing lacking. Sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."”

And here we get stuck, for how can this be?

Perhaps, what is being illuminated in this narrative is an orientation, a process rather than an event. For Christ makes manifest the activity of God; and the activity of God, the divine activity is one of ‘giving’.

Each of us asks the question: “"Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"”

And the answer we receive is to open ourselves to a new orientation, a new way of life.

When we ask the question: “"Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"”; we learn from the second reading that it will require of us active participation, striving and effort; it will require us to fight the good fight and finish the race, it ask us to make real the blessing of our baptism.

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost 20 October 2013

Jeremiah 31: 27-34; Psalm 119: 97-104; 2 Timothy 3; 10-4:5; Luke 18:1-14

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost webpage Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

There is a good case that can be made for understanding that the arrow of God is directed toward the unfolding of tomorrow; and that gives us some grounds for experiential conflict.

... to contemplate the arrow of our life experience now. And as we explore the orientation of our own lives, we might be able to identify the ‘how when and where’ our arrows changed direction, for each and every life surely begins with an arrow pointed toward tomorrow.

The arrow of God points toward the future, the unfolding of creation, that is the direction of the divine activity, and so too is the divine direction for each and every life.

The arrow of God points toward a future that is not measured by time, but by wholeness; the arrow of God points toward oneness, the future of God and the unfolding of creation is the giving of all into the oneness of all.

The arrow of God points to our future, for our future is the future; and it is we who carry the divine direction within, written on our hearts.

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

Faith is where our divine dreams are framed… and once framed all we have to do is
“carry out our ministry fully.

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost 6 October Pentecost 2013

Jeremiah 29: 1, 4-7; Psalm 66: 1-11; 2 Timothy 2: 1-15; Luke 17:11-19

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost webpage Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

The writings of Jeremiah are usually understood as prophetic, and so are understood as a foretelling of what to do in accord with the Word of God.
However, they are more fully appreciated when seen as a writing into history of the Divine activity in order to make sense of history’s unfolding and to identify opportunities for course correction.

That in itself is an important insight for all of us in the present day, for it identifies for us a process of reflection that will not only enable us to see and appreciate our own ‘divine journey’ and the unfolding of wholeness that is our life’s unfolding; it also gives us opportunities and encouragement for creativity and for course correction.

One of the delightful ripple effects, the upside of the whole climate change debate is an appreciation that self-preservation is only attained when we attend to the preservation of the whole; it is not a goal for, or of, personal fulfilment.

When we live, and unfold our tomorrow with an orientation that does “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead” then we can course correct and seek to live our lives in that same light, in the enlightenment of that insight.
Jesus didn’t self-invest.
Jesus does not demonstrate self-preservation.
And nor was his goal self-funded retirement; rather, he offers us another orientation that leads us toward wholeness; and orientation of life invested in the welfare and wholeness of all.

Paul uses the examples (in today’s reading) of Soldier, Athlete and Farmer, none of these has a “saved” point. If you don’t continue to soldier, you are no longer a soldier, if you don’t continue to train, you will no longer be athletic and if you don’t continue to farm, you would end up with no farm…. “Being saved” is not a place, event or achievement, it is a lifelong ‘remembering of Christ raised from the dead’.

Presumably all are cleaned of leprosy in the movement toward the priests.
But one then choses another ‘un directed path’.
Nine find healing in the God who resides in the temple. One finds God enfleshed, alive in humanity, and that one is both healed and made well.

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost 6 October Pentecost 2013

Lamentations 1: 1-6 ; Psalm 137; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:1-10

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

Our worldview, in the light of Easter is not bounded by death, our life perspective is from the viewpoint of eternity. We have glimpsed that truth through the process of Easter, and so for each and for all, there is still a long way to go.

Tell me to what you attend and I will tell you who you are. [José Ortega y Gasset]

One of the greatest obstacles to our faith is a childlike need to be accepted, Jesus, as our teacher, invites us to look beyond our childlike needs.

We gather today, to rekindle, and in receiving the sacraments, we ritualise, we attend to accepting again the body of Christ. We attend to consuming the Body of Christ, so that we know the gift of God within us…
Tell me to what you attend and I will tell you who you are.
And who you are…. Is the one who holds the unfolding of creation.

That’s why the last line of the reading from 2 Timothy is so important, for we encouraged to:

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost 15 September 2013

Jeremiah 4:11-28; Psalm 14; 1 Timothy 1: 1-2,12-19; Luke 15:1-10

Seventeenth Sunday Sunday after Pentecost webpage Seventeenth Sunday Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

For Jeremiah’s audience “the heavens” is the place, and presence, of God and the light in the heavens is the illumination of God, or God revealed.
And again, Jeremiah is describing the landscape of humanity; “I looked… to the heavens, and they had no light”; most of us know this very landscape within ourselves;
John of the Cross called it the dark night of the soul
Valium salespeople call it depression
Refugees call it an Australian election
And for us, we give it all sorts of names, tiredness, fear, loneliness etc etc.

Jeremiah’s description is not of some future time of desolation, he is not heralding Armageddon; he is describing the landscape of humanity, and the reality of our world, our culture and our civilisation.

In light of the landscape of humanity we have explored with Jeremiah, what is it that we need to seek and find?
What do we need to find within ourselves so that we can call others to come “'Rejoice with me”?
What do we need to find as church and as community so that we can call others to come “'Rejoice with me”?
The two parables, the lost sheep, and the lost coin, are not about finding a little in the midst of a lot. They are about finding that which was lost.

They are about finding the place of abundance, the place from where we can rejoice, when we are lost in an environment of scarcity.

We are the Church and our faith is a faith of abundance, we are a people called into the place of rejoicing…
In the landscape of humanity and in the world around us it is easy to see in so many ways how we have lost sight of a light that shines in the heavens.

Here we seek to find our calling to Shine as a light in the world.

Thirteenth Sunday in Pentecost 18 August 2013 .‘Not Peace, but Division'

Richard Pengelly

Thirteenth Sunday in Pentecost pdf Thirteenth Sunday in Pentecost pdf

If part of your Christian faith is to read your Bible, pray and come to worship to maintain something of the status quo, to feel affirmed in doing things the way we’ve always done them, to curl up in a cocoon of comfort…well sorry folks, Jesus doesn’t allow that to be the only way of expressing our faith.

He is a change agent, the harbinger of the Kingdom of a God – a mission plan so radical that it will tear families apart. Have you ever paused to wonder what happened to the disciple’s families when they made the dangerous choice to lay down their nets and other professions and follow him?

I’m pretty sure that radical discipleship calls us to challenge the structures of our society at every level, and to find ways to bring God into them.

We all know the journey is hard at times and the call to be a disciple is radical. Let’s celebrate all the good things about our families this morning while not walking away from the challenges Jesus sets today and every day.

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost 11 August 2013

Isaiah 1.1, 10-20; Psalm 50:1-8, 23-24; Hebrews 11: 1-3, 8-28; Luke 12:32-40

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

However, Isaiah asks us to look at ourselves and consider the worth and the value of our practices in relation to the Divine vision of life.

Are we really alive in “the image of God” or do we also know Isaiah’s words identify that our “hands are full of blood”?

Here in our worship, we ritualise that reality of life that is lived ‘in the Divine’; we generate a Sunday icon and we are each and all a part of the picture.

Our being here, our words, actions, songs and prayers create the icon of life that is a unified sacrament. We give and we receive, mirroring the activity of God, the divine activity of love.

And we have a choice to forward into life or backwards: “If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one."

The gospel begins with “Do not be Afraid”.. and that is where we also should begin.

Paul had a vision in Corinth….. and he too was encouraged by God’s word, as we should be encouraged:
"Do not be afraid ... for I am with you"
[Acts 18.9]

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost 4 August 2013

Hosea 11.1-11; Psalm 107:1-9,43; Colossians 3: 1-11; Luke 12:13-21

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost webpage Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

In verse 1; “if you have been raised with Christ” assumes that those in the church have encountered and engaged in the movement of resurrection for themselves. So now let’s ‘un-know’ resurrection as being something special done by someone special at the first Easter event; and let’s know the transformation of resurrection for ourselves, the movement from the tomb of humanity into the garden of Divine creation.

Today’s reading from Colossians has no contradiction and nor confusion, for it does not create any separation between Christ and the members of the Church; “Christ is all and in all!”[v.11]
We’ve heard that before: “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us”[John1:14]
And today we’re asked to know it anew: and know it as a reality of ourselves; “When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”

Perhaps, as we sit with that story, we might also appreciate that we are not asked to be followers of Christ, nor apostles of Christ; but rather we are called to seek an embodiment, a life and being that is “in Christ’ and so too is at one with all.

Can we embrace an “un-knowing” and begin to contemplate ourselves as “clothed… with the new self”; can we contemplate our Christ-likeness?

Now it is left to us, to determine our orientation, and to imagine ourselves “clothed… with the new self”, with our “new self” that is clothed ‘in Christ’.

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost 28 Jul 2013

Hosea 1:2-10; Psalm 85; Colossians 2: 6-19; Luke 11:1-13

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Tenth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

“Lord, teach us to pray” indicates the initiation of a process for us in the present; it invites us to go beyond the practices we learnt as children and discover again the engagement and encounter that we have with God.

If, like the disciples, we seek to know for ourselves what Christ revealed then we also must be open to leaving behind past teachings and discovering the reality of prayer, in the light of Christ’s self-revelation.

The disciples were drawn into a new understanding of God, and Christ revealed that new understanding, and so a new appreciation of prayer needed to be understood as well.

If we see revealed ‘in Christ’ the fullness of Divinity in humanity, and if we appreciate Christ as the fullness of God’s ‘giving’, nothing withheld; then we might agree with Meister Eckhart, who said: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

“I and the Father are one." [John 10:30]
“He abides in us” [1 John 3:24]
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” [John 1:14]
“God is love Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” [1 John 4:16]

“Prayer does not change God, but it changes the one[him] who prays.”

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost 21 Jul 2013

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

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Ninth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

However, if we generalise ourselves, rather than engage our defensive hearing, we might find ourselves as part of that one body that does indeed “trample on the needy”. Who is responsible for sweatshops in Bangladesh that make our cheap designer clothes? Who is turning away refugees and sending them to the region’s most violent country? Who allows university administration staff to be paid over $700,000 a year while students cannot afford to complete a degree?
When we look at some of our own cultural norms, we can find ourselves complicit in actions that “trample on the needy”.

The first reading starts with a revelation of Divine abundance and then moves into the reality of the world, a place driven by greed, which is itself born out of fear and a blindness to the Divine abundance.

In Mary and Martha we see a picture of ourselves unintegrated; they provide a contrast with our true Christ-likeness.

Paul on the other hand shows these two aspects integrated; “steadfast in the faith”, Mary; and “a servant of the gospel”, Martha.

Our role of Mary is given light and life in and through our prayer life and our church life; and it serves to complement our role of Martha that is given light and life in our serving others.

We all have a capacity to toil and struggle, and we all have an energy that God [he] powerfully inspires within
How we align these two ‘forces’ within ourselves determines our capacity to participate in the Divine creation.
We might find ourselves, like Mary and Martha in a place of conflict, where the toil and struggle works against the energy that God [he] powerfully inspires within

However as we become mature in Christ so we see these two sisters as one in ourselves.
And so too we see ourselves as One Body… in relation with all

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost 14 Jul 2013

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

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Eighth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

Do we today even aspire to being addressed as ‘saints; visibly making evident our holiness, or do we keep all that well hidden?

So how do we understand, and how do we engage our faithfulness to each other and to this community?

Is that how we see this community?
Is this our place in which to “bear fruit in every good work and as we[you] grow in the knowledge of God.”?

The prophet and the priest are in conflict, so when we look at rebuilding in alignment with the Divine, we are changing both the world and the church.

Priests and Levites are faithful, they are in many respects brothers (and in the present age brothers and sisters), we might well see ourselves in their reflection, but we also see and know that it is the Samaritan, and the Amos that builds using the plumb line of Divine justice, the Samaritan interprets the law in the light and life of God’s love.

Before we consider the question asked in the gospel; , "And who is my neighbour " we might first seek to discover who we really are.

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost 7 Jul 2013

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

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost webpage Seventh Sunday after Pentecost pdf

As the ‘Body of Christ’ it is WE who see that "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few”; and our ability to ‘see’ is quite probably related to how engaged and attentive we are to our being part of the ‘body’.

So, WE, as community see ourselves in the narrative of the gospel text, it is WE, not the priest that recognises the potential. As we follow that narrative we see that we are to send out labourers into the harvest, we are to send “them on ahead” to realise where we intend to go.

.. it it is not the seemingly powerful, but the servant who can restore, heal and give life to others. In the servant's orientation of ‘giving’ the life and revelation of Christ is made real; and the very activity of God to create, redeem, restore and heal is made real as life’s truest power and is in the hands of those who give and serve.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost 30 Jun 2013

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

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost webpage Sixth Sunday after Pentecost doc Sixth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

Elijah and Elisha are both on a journey, their lives have direction and movement.

So our first contemplation, our reflection of the Divine narrative is to consider the movement and direction in our own lives, and in the life of this community.

... we can understand the gospel as underlining an urgency – the process is not so much about following, but rather about living into the inheritance of God sooner than later. The gospel locates the insights of these stories in the now, not in the past nor in the future.
Paul, having contemplated these narratives, explains the same movement to the early Church.

“For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

Freedom is then summed up in the Divine orientation, "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." Freedom is an orientation to ‘other’ before self, and Paul then encourages us to become aware of all that consumes us and of all that we consume; and he warns us “take care that you are not consumed by one another”. Each day 40,000 children are consumed by hunger, or is it greed that consumes them?

The fruit of the spirit is spelled out by Paul, and those still enslaved will find such fruit does not ripen within themselves into a true harvest.
Those who are free, now see there is more perhaps than we initially imagined, for those who are free are enabled to pick up the Divine mantle and continue the activity that has be revealed in Christ.

Most church goers never get beyond the first movement in the Elijah, Elisha story…. They start out as followers and when told to stay, they do! Tombstones and brass plaques bear witness to that.

Those who pick up the mantle of Christ, and set their face to Jerusalem, they have nowhere to lay their head For they are on a journey into lif

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost 23rd June 2013

1 Kings 19: 1-15, Psalm 42 &43, Galatians 3:10-29, Luke 8:26-39

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost webpage
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Fifth Sunday after Pentecost pdf Peter Humphris

However, as we explore the whole idea of resurrection we will discover the reality of these simple truths. Resurrection is very much linked to our identity and so to the reference points that we use to define or determine who we are. Is our sense of being grounded in the world or is it realised in eternity?

Resurrection is our encounter and engagement with the process of bringing into reality “A New Creation”. However, the world is fearful of change and threatened by change. Most people want things to stay the same, probably a perspective driven by their fear of mortality. Resurrection IS the very activity of leaving that fear and coming out of the tomb of mortality’s enslavement into new life that is clothed “in Christ”. Resurrection is not for the dead, nor for those seeking more after death; it is a realised orientation to life - a new creation that births us out of our fears, into a life that is lived in the silence of eternity, and that silence is waiting to be heard over the winds and earthquakes that disturb our sleeping in life’s tomb.

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost 16th June 2013

1 Kings 21: 1-15, Psalm 5: 1-7, Galatians 2:15-21, Luke 7:36-8:3

Peter Humphris

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost webpage
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That common misrepresentation, misunderstanding is corrected when we more fully appreciate that salvation and karma, the very activity of God in creation, is never in relation to me (alone), but always in relation to me-as-part-of-the-whole. And that shift in understanding changes our appreciation of the bible and enables us to find a deeper truth that echoes and has integrity with our actual life experience. Another insight that corrects so much misunderstanding is to fully appreciate that God is gift, and giver, of Life. God ‘gives’ God-self into the creation of life, withholding nothing. And that includes judgement and forgiveness, these are also fully given into the life of creation.

We are not judged by God
We are not saved by God
We are not punished by God
We are not forgiven by God
For God has given, Love the gift of life is fully given, God has not withheld anything.

The destination of life is ours to be chosen and realised. We can move toward death, or we can move toward life. We can have an orientation toward self or an orientation toward all (and our part in that all). We can feed our desire for getting or giving.

Third Sunday after Pentecost 9th June 2013

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

Peter Humphris

Third Sunday after Pentecost webpage
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In the place of the widow we find that the Lord has compassion on us all, and speaks to each and every one of us, “Do not weep”. Life is an ever-present reality, even when we close our eyes to it. And the gift of life is an ever-present gift; “The dead man sat up and began to speak.”

In this short gospel story we might appreciate that the gospel is not to be proclaimed or preached; it is to be lived. First we might find ourselves in the place of the Widow; we must find ourselves in the place of the Widow. For only in that place can we hear the gift of life speaking to us; “Do not weep”. Only when we know the emptiness of ourselves will we be able to open ourselves to the gift of Divine fullness. And, when we come through the fear; “Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God”, when we come through the fear, then life arises. When we know, "God has looked favourably on his people!"; then we might go back into the text, back into the same story, seeing ourselves with our friends in community, entering a town called Nain.

We are not only widows, and we are not only given life; we are givers of life. The reality of resurrection is in our hands, and awaits our bringing that reality into the present:

Second Sunday after Pentecost 2nd June 2013

1 Kings 18: 20-21, 30-39, Psalm 96, Galatians 1: 1-12, Luke 7:1

Peter Humphris

Second Sunday after Pentecost webpage
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Second Sunday after Pentecost pdf

The first reading asks us all a very direct question: “How long will you go limping with two different opinions?” And that is immediately followed with a call to be more intentional: “If the LORD is God, follow him”. In our world, our living, most of us are “limping [around] with two different opinions.” We have the opinion of our culture telling us to hold on to all that we have and get even more for ourselves. And within the Church most of us have glimpsed another, a different opinion that conflicts with, and contradicts the former opinion, we have glimpsed that “it is in giving that we receive”.

On 9th May we encountered the feast of the Ascension of our Lord, and ten days later the new life that is symbolised in the Day of Pentecost. Both these milestones take us, and contextualise us in higher places than the confines of worldly gravity.

In looking back through the festivals and feasts of our journey post-Easter what is clear is that we share a common journey. Our movement toward “A New Creation” is not an individual movement; it is of the common and realised in our giving ourselves to the common, and with a common purpose.

Fourth Sunday of Easter 21 April 2013

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

Peter Humphris

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In the narrative of the Early Church, the Acts of the Apostles, we hear today of Peter (the icon of the church) bringing Tabitha back to life. It is hard to understand why the early church did not determine to make the Fourth Sunday of Easter ‘get up Sunday’, for in today’s reading we see Peter ‘following Jesus’; what Christ revealed in the raising of Lazarus, and what was revealed when the stone was rolled away on Easter morning, is now made real in the early church.

So do we remain as sheep or do we guide humanity, ourselves included, to the springs of water of life?

When a bomber places bombs on the finish line of a community marathon and kills and maims and creates fear , we readily see that life, the whole of life is diminished. Something is being destroyed and fear is generated, a fear that diminishes love, trust and life. But, so too all and everything, every word that we bring to birth in love, we are creative of life; and that light, freely given, is where darkness is dispelled.

Each of us are both sheep and shepherd, and we must break free from seeing ourselves as one or the other. How many leaders in the world are sheep being led by the shepherd of greed and power? How many in the church are sheep as priests and church leaders seek to prove themselves as shepherds? We are each, and all sheep and shepherds. As sheep we give thanks for those who guide and give to us. And as shepherds, we follow Christ and give of ourselves.

So, we might well be asked, are you the body of Christ? Tell us plainly! And our reply, like that found in the gospel today is very much made real by our actions: “The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me”; The works that we do in my Father's name testify to me.

If we leave today as “Good Shepherd Sunday”, then let’s make sure it is ourselves that we celebrate. And If we seek to rename it “Get Up” Sunday, then again let it be us (each and all) that go forth from here and raise the dead

Second Sunday of Easter 7 April 2013

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

Peter Humphris

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The “Acts of the Apostles” give us an insight into the post-Easter world of the disciples, and so too the birth of the early Church. This is also our world here today as we contemplate the reality of St Paul’s after our encounter with Easter. How will we make visible the reality of resurrection? It is a question for each of us and also a question of and for the community. And it is a question that only makes sense if we appreciate the reality of resurrection as a present moment possibility.

‘Doubting Thomas’ is so readily befriended because he echoes our doubts; and if an apostle can doubt then it’s also OK for us to doubt. However, Thomas becomes even more significant when we appreciate doubt as the cutting edge of faith, and when we remember that Thomas had previously witnessed the raising of Lazarus, so for Thomas resurrection is already a ‘no-doubt’ reality. Perhaps Thomas voices our truth; when others, and when the church tells us “We have seen the Lord”, do we really believe them?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us." Marianne Williamson

Easter Day 31 March 2013

Acts 10: 34-43, Psalm 118: 1 - 2, 14 – 24, 1 Cor 15:19-26, John 20:1-18

Peter Humphris

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Contrary to popular misuse, the gospels are not there to tell us about Jesus; they serve a much richer purpose. They serve to illuminate what Christ reveals about us, and our place in the wholeness of creation. "They found the stone rolled away from the tomb", to reveal a new order, to illuminate a deeper appreciation of being and so too ‘A New Creation’.

"The most detailed map ever made of the oldest light to shine through the universe has been released by scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA)." Plank reveals an almost Perfect Universe

Our faith, our hope and our belief, our deepest desires and our becoming are somehow validated in this image. Likewise the empty tomb and the whole process of Easter are brought into a contemporary focus, enabling us to read the scriptures with a maturity that goes beyond the infancy of Sunday-school

The "observable universe" is only 4.9% of the universe – all that we see and understand and know is but 4.9% of what there actually is! The empty tomb invites us to contemplate the unknown and the unseen. It invites us beyond what we know, and beyond who we are into a much fuller abundance, and so into "A New Creation"

Christ died on the cross. He offered himself into the wholeness of life, he gave himself and opened himself to "A New Creation". He realised, and so reveals to us, that our small "s" self is not the most important thing in the world. But in giving away, in giving all of ourselves, we are open to discover a bigger ["S"] that is a part of something divine, a universe that is permeated by "the oldest light to shine through the universe"

How will we make real “A New Creation” and how will we be made new by the experience?

Fifth Sunday of Lent 17th March 2013

Isaiah 43: 16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:3-14, John 12:1-8/p>

Peter Humphris

Fifth Sunday of Lent webpage Fifth Sunday of Lent doc Fifrth Sunday of Lent pdf

Perhaps we all have a Judas attitude. We can look at the Vatican or at Peppermint Grove or somewhere and see that “they” could give more to the poor. Then comes the sobering reminder that the poor can look at us, and look at me, with exactly the same question.

The response to the question takes us beyond a simplistic evaluation of economics and speaks of Mary’s orientation. She is looking ahead, she is giving richly to the future and she is giving not to herself, but is placing her wealth at the very feet of Christ. Mary illustrates for us an orientation that has an orientation of service to the body of Christ.

When we acknowledge where we are, then we also open ourselves to seeking where to from here. And we are in the wilderness of Lent, which is very similar in many respects to the wilderness of life. Unsure, uncertain, afraid of death only slightly more than we are afraid of life. The wilderness of Lent is the place of “flesh”, as Paul would call it; a place for confronting the self-interest and self-centeredness that keeps us from giving ourselves as Christ gave himself. And the readings are like a sort of compass for us to find our way out of Lent and into the mystery of Easter.

Perhaps the resurrection of Jesus is not the big-event we’ve been led to believe, because today we are reminded that Lazarus was raised from the dead (before Easter). Paul is seeking the “power of resurrection” in his life orientation; he perceives a reality that was revealed through Christ. So in the coming weeks we could join the “Church” in celebrating the resurrection of Jesus at Easter, or we can prepare, with an expectation that resurrection is not a limited experience and seek to celebrate the “new thing” that is yet to be realised in ourselves

Fourth Sunday of Lent 10th March 2013

Joshua 5:2-12, Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:11-32

Peter Humphris

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The second reading begins with; “From now on”; it is like an arrow pointing towards tomorrow and it invites us, whilst we are still in the wilderness, to contemplate the possibility of Easter. Can we even begin to imagine what reality we might make manifest if we can engage the whole process of dying and rising for ourselves?

Paul is encouraging us to see that the process of Easter invites us to roll away the stone from our worldly tombs and step out into the garden of the Divine. Easter is a reconciliation of Genesis: [17] “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” Reconciliation is found and realised in dying and rising; everything old has passed away that is the dying, and everything has become new is the rising. This is not literally descriptive of life and death, rather it describes the movement from life into life’s fullness. Dying and rising is the very same process of reconciliation that we find in our “Giving” and “Receiving”.

It is both movements that are creative of reconciliation, the father’s and the prodigal son’s movements together bring about the oneness of their desires.

There is a delightful insight here when we apply the parable metaphorically; the Divine moves, runs, toward us as we move into the place of knowing abundance, as we move out of the place of scarcity, with empty hands that are open to receiving the Divine embrace.

Third Sunday of Lent 3 Mar 2013

Isaiah 55:1-9, Psalm 63: 1-8, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Luke 13:131-35

Peter Humphris

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Today’s readings give us an opportunity to throw off the religious teaching we have been clothed with, to take off all that disguises our deepest desire and the longing thirst of our souls; and to find ourselves in Eden’s wilderness, that place in which we can encounter again the one who is near.

In the wilderness of Lent we might encounter a Christ “who is, and who was and who is to come”, rather than an historical figure that brought about a change in the divine/human relationship. Like Paul we might encounter a Christ that illuminates the Divine in the everyday. If we do, then we depart from the Orthodox Christian perspective, which identifies Christ as the superhero figure that saved humanity from destruction and damnation.

"Thou didst call and cry to me to break open my deafness; and Thou didst send forth Thy beams and shine upon me and chase away my blindness; Thou didst breathe fragrance upon me, and I drew in my breath, and do now pant for Thee. I tasted Thee and now I hunger and thirst for Thee. Thou didst touch me and I have burned for Thy peace.”

Second Sunday of Lent 24th February 2013

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Psalm 27, Philippians 3:17-4:1, Luke 13:1-9

Peter Humphris

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... the Divine utters an affirmation and opens up for Abram a new vision: "Do not be afraid, [Abram], I am your shield; your reward shall be very great." Abram is assured of life’s abundance, descendants like the stars of the heavens; and is also assured of the abundance of where he is, a land so vast that it stretches beyond the horizon of his imagination.

In Luke’s gospel today, we have Jesus answering questions about sin, which was clearly misunderstood by those asking the questions. He takes the opportunity to give an insight into life’s abundance, life lived beyond the sin of scarcity, and lived in bearing the fruits of abundance. The parable of the tree puts the future into the hands of the gardener, the one who tills the soil, the one who lives beyond Eden. That’s us! And the gardener’s response is to give - give time and effort into bringing about fruitfulness.

With an eye on Easter, I propose that following our Easter celebration we ask that no one comes to Church. It will take the rest of Lent to more fully craft such an ask. The ask needs to be made with absolute clarity, and it is the ask of Easter itself: do not come to church, rather become church. We are the gardeners of tomorrow bearing fruit.

First Sunday of Lent 17th February 2013

Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16, Romans 10:4b-13, Luke 4: 1-15

Peter Humphris

First Sunday of Lent webpage First Sunday of Lent doc First Sunday of Lent pdf

Lent is a time for us to discover the keys to the mystery of Easter. Is the dynamic of giving and receiving one of the keys? If I let go of everything I hold on to, then my hands are empty and free to receive. Will this same dynamic be made manifest in the Dying and Rising of the Easter narrative?

The second reading from Romans offers another orientation that can encourage us toward a Lenten journey that will take us beyond the Church and beyond our cultural norms. We are invited to contemplate the “end of the law” and to think more deeply about “righteousness”. That is to go beyond the doctrines, dogmas, rules and expectations of religious practice and see the Divine Word, the very breath of creation “on your lips and in your heart”

What is being played out the gospel narrative is a placing of reference points for us to discern an orientation for the journey of Lent. Jesus responds to one side of the dialogue with the Word of scripture, finding himself in relation to the two different voices that call to him. His desires - hunger, power, position, possession and even life itself - are placed in relation to the two voices. And neither voice, not Satan, nor God wins the day; rather the path forward is realised and made manifest by Jesus himself, and the same will be evidenced at Easter.

Today’s road map for Lent is challenging, Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Rather, test yourself!

The Baptism of our Lord 13th January 2013

Isaiah 43: 1-7, Psalm 29, Acts 8: 14-17, Luke 3:15-22

Peter Humphris

The Baptism of our Lord webpage The Baptism of our Lord doc The Baptism of our Lord pdf

Isaiah is not talking about baptism, but the essence of baptism is very much alive in his understanding. There is, in his voice, an appreciation of the Divine mystery that is spoken of in terms that are unbounded by the confines of orthodoxy. Therefore, Isaiah provides us with a delightful starting point as we come to contemplate the baptism of the gospel narrative and consider our own baptism.

He speaks of a Divine redemption that is a given and not consequential to the Easter event of Jesus. And when Isaiah knows of a God who “will be with you”, he speaks of Emmanuel (God with us) before the Christmas nativity of Jesus. And in complete accord with our Epiphany understanding, Isaiah also declares the divine activity in verses 3 and 4 as the activity of giving.

Baptism offers a simple and ancient ritual that symbolically brings to life the unseen truth of our truest being, and so recalls us into an integrity of being with that truth: “you are precious in my sight, and honoured, and I love you”. “You are my child[Son], my[the] Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” These “Divine words” utter us into life truth, and we are spoken into that truth alongside every other. For they are uttered; “when all the people were baptised, and when Jesus also had been baptised”

 

Feast of the Epiphany 6th January 2013

Isaiah 60:1-6, Psalm 72: 1-17. 10-14, Ephesians 3:1-12, Matthew 2:1-12

Peter Humphris

Feast of the Epiphany webpage Feast of the Epiphany doc   Feast of the Epiphany pdf

First Sunday after Christmas 30 December 2012

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26, Psalm 148, Colossians 3:12-17, Luke 2:41-52

Peter Humphris

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However ‘birth’ and the Nativity and the iconic child of Bethlehem are not so much about ‘doing’ as they are about ‘being’. What “being’ was conceived in the Christmas nativity? Although told as a story of the birth of Christ, it is really an icon, an illustration of what is revealed in and through Christ. In the manger we see the holiness of humanity and we see our own holiness given form, manifested as a reality to be realised. Do we really see ourselves brought to light in the manger of holiness? Or do we wait till twelfth night and abandon the baby?

Christmas gives birth to our fullness of life and now on the First Sunday of Christmas we are invited to the next scene in the Divine life; we are invited to grow and to become the holiness that we have been created to embody and reflect.

It is easy to feel the sadness when we read of Aakash Balak, Shaily, Nirman, Manish Thapa, Prayas and others being abandoned. But what of the loss when we abandon even ourselves and each other? As we move toward Epiphany, and the making manifest all that is birthed, and as we move into 2013, please don’t abandon the baby, commit to growing and being fully alive to the Glory of God.

Christmas Day 25 December 2012

Isaiah 52: 7-10; Ps 98; Heb 1: 1-4; John 1: 1-14

John Dunnill

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... the reading was the Prologue of St John’s Gospel which we have just heard proclaimed:
            “In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God and the Word was God ….
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  [John 1: 1, 14]

.. it is a text of great wonder, which tells the story of the Incarnation, not through the imagery of angels and stars, but by tracing it back to its origin in something which happened before the world’s creation, when God spoke a Word, the Word, the Word which expressed God’s very Being.  And so that Word was God (as your words are you) and yet was also now with God. This Word expressed who God is – loving, creating energy – and so it was in and through this energy of love that all things came to be, and it’s with this life that the universe is alive.  Even we are alive with the life of this living Word, the one who the Letter to the Hebrews calls “the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very Being” [Heb 1: 3].  It is the glory stitched into our flesh and our bones.

And yet we don’t know it.  There is something winterish about the human heart.  History as well as the Bible tells how humanity in particular turns from God, leaving God (as in the story of Eden) to wander in the garden saying, “Where are you?” while humanity hides itself in fear.

And so it was, until God chose to make himself – in his Word, his Son – present in human form, becoming flesh of our flesh.  In that extraordinary paradox, the eternal and indestructible Word became for our sake fragile and transient flesh, revealing the glory of God in human form, AND revealing the glory which is always embedded in the human form by the divine Word who shapes us and gives us life.  In Jesus, child and adult, we see who God is, and who we might be.

To know what happens next in this story you’ll have to search your own heart.

... so they could see the world as Jesus saw it, filled with beauty and goodness.  They even looked at themselves and saw how good and beautiful they were in Jesus’ eyes.  And they saw that everything evil and ugly can be overcome and will pass away, as the beauty of God fills the whole world.

May the wonder and beauty of God fill your vision and your heart at this Christmas time.

Fourth Sunday of Advent 23rd December 2012

Micah 5: 2-5, Song of Mary, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-55

Peter Humphris

Fourth Sunday of Advent webpage Fourth Sunday of Advent doc Fourth Sunday of Advent pdf

The fourth Sunday of Advent, and just days before the celebration of Christmas, gives us an opportunity to join the dots of our Advent journey, to seek and discover where the star is leading us. And then to identify the arrow of Christmas, the direction or orientation that Christmas illuminates for us. When the star finally comes to rest in the nativity narrative it does not seek to illuminate a geographical location, rather it gives illumination to the place of enlightenment, and that in turn gives us a life orientation.

Prophets should not be reduced to predictors of the future; that is a simplistic understanding of hindsight, another backward-looking orientation. Prophets are ‘Advent stars’, they lead us and give us an orientation that is beyond where we are. Like the Advent star they offer enlightenment and seek to lift our eyes to an orientation that is higher than both the actuality of our everyday vision and the nostalgic yearnings of our sub-conscious past. Micah’s prophetic voice fits well with the Christmas narrative, not because it predicts Christmas; rather, it parallels the star-light that leads us toward our nativity, our Divine birth.

The gospel reading now invites us into the actual nativity narrative; Mary and Elizabeth are icons for all of us and for all people everywhere. They, like each of us, carry within them (in the present moment) a life and potential which will become great (in the future). And as any mother will affirm, their orientation has been firmly turned toward tomorrow, to the place and activity of birth and to the ongoing commitment for realising the potential of that birth

If we can approach Christmas with an eye toward the future, and with an expectation that we will bring about the shaping of that future, we might find ourselves, and realise ourselves, centre stage in the manger of humanity.

And of course that’s why we have the baby in the nativity. Any parent knows that birth is but the beginning. That nativity asks of us to realise the fullness of God, for in that realisation we find the very fullness and fullfilment of ourselves.

 

Third Sunday of Advent 16th December 2012

Zephaniah 3:14-20, Psalm - The song of Isaiah [Isaiah 12:2-6], Philippians 4: 4-7, Luke 3:7-18

John Dunnill

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By the third Sunday of Advent we feel as if the whole world is moving toward a celebration of Christmas. The “whole world”, however, is really our own version, and our perception, of the world, and certainly for most of us here, and for those around us, there is a clear movement toward Christmas.

Perhaps they are the few who notice the subtle starlight; perhaps they seek to more fully apprehend that truth that the world now only faintly echoes. Perhaps they know what Galileo only found by looking through a telescope; another truth that is so easily forgotten in the everyday. The star that shines its subtle light is in truth a sun; and so too the sun that scorches deserts here is a star. And having seen, having looked up from the busyness of their everyday, they pause to engage those other forgotten truths that everyone is busy trying to celebrate. Instead of listening to the echo of Mary in a child’s longing Christmas expectations, they seek to hear the very Word that gave birth to every life.

Zephaniah and Paul both saw the truth of Christmas as a worldview, and both chose to live in the light of that reality; not as spectators but rather living life in a new way, a way that was formed and shaped by the reality of Christmas.

Advent is a time in which we affirm the tension between the “already” and the “not yet” in our life and in the reality of our faith. God is already present with us; and God is also still to come to us. John the Baptist is our orientation to our future, and also a reminder that we prepare the way for every other future.

Second Sunday of Advent 9th December 2012

Malachi 3: 1-4; Song of Zechariah (Lk 1: 68-79); Phil 1: 1-11; Luke 3: 1-6

Second Sunday of Advent doc Second Sunday of Advent 9th December 2012 pdf Second Sunday of Advent webpage

John Dunnill

God is the infinite compassion out of whose womb the whole universe is born.

And so God come to us wherever we are, and however we are causing misery to ourselves and others. Can we learn from God that we are loved, forgiven, whatever we have done?  God waits for us to live without fear, to know that we are holy and righteous in his sight, all the days of our life. 

God waits for us to forgive ourselves and forgive others.  Can we learn from God’s compassion to forgive ourselves, have compassion on ourselves and others?  Can we learn from God’s compassion to see those who are different from us – the stranger, the weirdo, the difficult person who irritates us to death – to see them as loved by God with the same tender compassion God has for us?  Can we catch and share that compassion?

Can we by these means find peace in ourselves so that we can be makers of peace with others?  Without the inner peace which comes from compassion there can be no outward peace.  Can we find an interior silence, free from those fear-begotten enemies – anxiety, self-doubt, self-hatred?  Can we find a quiet heart where we can receive in peace God’s gift of peace?

First Sunday of Advent 2nd December 2012

Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25: 1-10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-38

Peter Humphris

First Sunday of Advent webpage First Sunday of Advent doc First Sunday of Advent pdf

Being Advent 1, the start of a new Church year, we have an opportunity to contemplate what such a new beginning might hold for us, what is the promise that is held today? Advent is also our preparation for Christmas, we are being drawn toward the reality of Christmas. Whichever way we look at Advent it seems to be addressing the process of change, through endings, beginnings, and imminent arrivals. Advent has a sense of movement and calls us to attend to our own life movement. It is a time to know again that things do not remain as they are, to realise that we change and the world changes. If tomorrow is the same as today we should seriously question our reality; and if tomorrow is devoid of promise then we should also question our faith.

... to see Jesus as one who lived intentionally with an orientation to the prophetic certainty. Jesus is not the realisation of Jeremiah’s prediction, rather, he intentionally lives in the light of the same certainty, the same faith, the same worldview that Jeremiah voiced.

... it is a truth/promise for us to live into reality. The Advent quest, and the Advent question is can we, each and together, live into reality our becoming; “a righteous Branch to…. execute justice and righteousness in the land.”

Our Advent invitation is to realise life’s fullest calling in the moment; it is not a future event, it is an ever-present possibility.