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

Second Sunday after Pentecost doc Second Sunday after Pentecost pdf

After a few weeks away, we’ll spend some time catching up and reflecting on the journey we share, and some of its recent milestones. Today’s readings provide us with a context, and so a starting point for our reflection. Some of my own travelling over the past five Sundays has provided experiences that shape the journey; and that is also a common reality for each of us. As we look at the movement so we discern the significance of orientation and direction as we continue toward “A new Creation”.

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”.

We have an understanding that God gave Godself into the whole of creation. God gave his only Son that we might find life. Christ gave himself fully, even unto death on a cross; and in that giving found life in resurrection. Last week Bill Gates came to Australia. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires List, Gates is the world's richest person in 2013 and he came with a message, a mission, to ask the Australian government to give more in aid programs. Perhaps he is one we can identify as no longer “limping [around] with two different opinions.” The first reading ends with a classic Old Testament image: the miraculous consummation of sacrificial offerings, an icon of the Divine delight in all that is offered in giving.

The second reading gives us some insight into the challenges faced by Paul, who is another one who is no longer “limping [around] with two different opinions.” And Paul speaks of his life orientation as something he found “through a revelation of Jesus Christ”, it echoes Elijah’s call “If the LORD is God, follow him”. And so as we seek, if we seek, to discern the path that will no longer leave us “limping [around] with two different opinions”, perhaps we should reflect on what has been revealed to us “through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The third reading from Luke’s gospel, might well echo Paul’s sense of astonishment, for it identifies a faith that is found beyond Israel, beyond the very tradition of faith itself. The centurion speaks - the Roman soldier is an icon of ‘beyond faith’, and “when Jesus heard this he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, he said, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

Today’s readings give us a context of ‘challenge’ and very much invite us into the place of reflective questioning. And that is the place of the post-Easter community and the process of discerning “A New Creation”. Holding the context provided by the readings let’s now look at the journey we have travelled since Easter.

I left for Nepal on 23rd April right in the middle of the Easter season. I left still seeking “A New Creation” and the discussions before I left were in the context of what orientation would enable us to realise resurrection. On the 30th April we began our K2K Adventure, we set out to ride from Kathmandu to Kashmir. In the Orthodox calendar 30th April is the feast day for St James; St James Day in our calendar (in my calendar) is the day of Ordination to the priesthood, and for many here it is the context of pilgrimage, the journey to Santiago. It is also the day I crashed my bike, and was left helpless, unconscious in a ditch, bleeding heavily and the bike on top of me. My resurrection was brought about by my friend Raja. Raja is an ancient Sanskrit name; it is an Indian term for a monarch, or princely ruler; Raja is a Muslim, and so a Muslim King, a centurion from beyond our own faith tradition, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

A little more insight into the work of Raja, a definition of the Raja dharma from Wikipedia: Rajadharma is the dharma which applies to the king, or the Raja. Dharma is that which upholds, supports, or maintains the order of the universe and is based on truth. It is of central importance in achieving order and balance within the world and does this by demanding certain necessary behaviors from people. The king served two main functions as the Raja: Secular and Religious. The religious functions involved certain acts for propitiating gods, removing dangers, and guarding dharma, among other things. The secular functions involved helping prosperity (such as during times of famine), dealing out even-handed justice, and protecting people and their property.

In the days and weeks that followed, I certainly found myself ‘limping around’ and yet my recovery somehow exceeded expectations. Was it, I wonder, aligned with our common journey?

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.

Our return to Perth was to coincide with Trinity Sunday on 26th May and I was more and more sure that I would be ok by then. We left Kuala Lumpur for Perth as they celebrated the Buddhist “Vesak Festival”, a major festival that commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirv?na), and death (Parinirv?na) of Gautama Buddha. Birth, enlightenment and death, a trinity celebrated in one festival, perhaps echoing the process of resurrection.

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.

As a warden, Chris Jameison represents our common here at St Paul’s, and I do the same as the priest of St Paul’s. Chris is limping around with an infected leg and I am limping around with a broken wrist. We might therefore all look at ourselves as “limping [around] with two different opinions.”

In the week that I’ve been back I have learnt more about the orthopedic history of the parish than ever before. As I’ve shared my journey so I have heard of so many broken bones from so many people. That contrasts quite dramatically with the stories others have shared in Nepal; the primary sharing there is centered on giving and bringing about change.

Last Thursday, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday is the feast of Corpus Christi; the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. It is an opportunity for us to more fully consider “The Body of Christ” and our part in that reality. An opportunity to respond to Elijah: “If the LORD is God, follow him”. And to consider, to question for ourselves: “How long will you go limping with two different opinions?”

As I was healing, every morning I walked in the garden of the Kathmandu Guest House, and read an inscription that was there in the garden; I brought it back for us as it offers us another look at the future we seek as we bring into being “A New Creation”

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)

Amen

Peter Humphris