These two sermons I used the Ephesians readings as the springboard for what I wanted to say.
My approach to Ephesians has long been linked to an hypothesis that Mark’s gospel is also addressed to the same community. Mark is encouraging a discipleship along the lines of following the example of the women disciples. The writer to the Ephesians (not Paul) is concerned to rein in such a leadership group so that the community can co-exist peacefully with the surrounding community. Yet that does not make me throw out the whole of the letter.
The first draws on the imagery of the creation of the universe and the place of Christ. Seeing the Ephesian community alongside the mystery cults and their search for salvation parallels where we are in contemporary society. Anywhere will do, any morality will suffice.
I prepared this and then ended up with a reaction to antibiotics that laid me low. I passed it on to Dennis, the Parish Clerk, and he read it to the congregation. I’ve had a number of responses , from the Men’s Breakfast – “That was the best one you never preached!” – to a parishioner who wrote in a card, “There is a wonderfully positive challenge to each of us to live our lives as you describe” That response is one of the most humbling I have received.
I’ve been caught up with grief and ill-health so haven’t kept up the flow of posting sermons.
For the 28 June, I picked up on this idea of purity and how we today cover up our attitudes, except… they get revealed in other ways.
The PCANZ seems to have a thing about purity=holiness and here is a story which crosses all those strictures.
The following week I explore that along with the ideal of purity is also the ideal of worthiness. It is held up to us as ministers. I think it relates also to an unrecognised Platonic dualism. By holding an ideal in our collective mind we get a picture of an ideal church with an ideal minister who does everything just right. Are our leaders/ministers worthy leaders?
June 14 & 21
One of my teachers, John J Vincent developed a whole years interactive programme using Mark’s gospel as the basis for getting involved in the local community. Chapter 4 which both these sermons are developed from he viewed as describing the Jesus Movement’s inner dynamic through both the parables which dash conventional expectations about how “successful” the Kingdom will be, and, in the storm on the lake story, how the fledgling disciple group experiences the pressures that are already building – “Have you still no faith?”
There is a neat little Youtube clip for the reading of the storm https://youtu.be/VgNL7mrtJ3c
This is about inclusion, sin, forgiveness and judgement. What is unforgivable?
Judgement in my book doesn’t have a lot to commend it.
In the beginning was the Word – and the word was – aardvark!
St Stephen’s is exploring its future. In some of the discourse the language of “church as family” creeps in which makes it difficult to discern what to do next because we clearly haven’t got all the generations needed for such a group to exist.
My reflections were triggered by taking the funeral of a well-loved member of the community, whose children had grown to faith and life in the church and the suburb.
I wanted to find a way beyond that and think that Rublev’s icon, the print of which is of a replica of the original, and the narrative behind it helps us reclaim the place of community in our thinking.
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The first of these was an attempt to make sense of the place of prayer in our corporate life together.
The Pentecost reflections were interwoven with songs and activities that matched each part. Too often we get caught with one image of the Spirit – one size fits all sort of thing. Of course there’s many more besides, but for me these are what came out of the readings, this time!
I was surprised (but not once I thought about it) to find some of my colleagues taking a similar theme in response to the reading form John. It means I’m not the only one who thinks like this, and I think it also points to the way our western society is diminishing and trivialising the concept of “love.” In a risk averse culture we want our relationships risk free and guaranteed to work. That comes nowhere near a loving relationship in my book.