Friday, July 13, 2007

MDSAC Resource site

Its finally up and running.

The new resurce site for people within the MDSAC is on the WWW.

The links is here for copying and pasting and there is a direct link in the side panel.

http://mdsac.blogspot.com

There is a Poll on the site for your feedback and comments.

Cheers, Kevin.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Back to the task@hand

I admire Bishop Michael's ability to make a Blog entry as frequently as he does: I told him so recently. Apart from professional journalists and hi-tech Bishops, it seems very difficult for the average blogger to 'blog' on a regular basis, whilst remaining relevant and interesting. I know that there are those who use their blog space as a daily 'public' journal, but that is not for me.

As some of you are aware, the last two months have been fully occupied, including another trip to London; this time to help celebrate my parent's Golden Wedding. I am hoping that this weekend marks a return to a more settled period - yesterday was the first 'free' Saturday I have had for over two months - and a chance to catch up on correspondence and writing something other than homilies and official letters.

I will work on my main site and hope to create a site as a reference and resource site. I am often asked for copies of things I quote or refer to in homilies and will paste links on this new site. I will also try to make it accessible form this site.

A thank you to those who have understood the recent pressures and responsibilities that have precluded any postings here.

Kevin.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Following the Shepherd

Easter 4 Year C John 10:22-30, Acts 13:14.43-52


You may recall that in my homilies since Easter I have been talking about the ‘penny slowing dropping’ for the disciples. Each time they encounter the Risen Lord they understand a little more of what he had been trying to say to them before he went to the cross.

Over the next few Sundays our lectionary readings take us back to some of that teaching that the risen Lord refers to in his post resurrection appearances. In last weeks gospel Jesus tells Peter to “feed my lambs…look after my sheep” and today we have Jesus walking in the portico of Solomon during a very important Jewish feast, the Feast of Dedication.

Jerusalem, and especially the temple, would have been bustling with the faithful from all around the country. A group gathers around Jesus and asks him directly “how long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah tell us plainly.” And Jesus gives the response we have just read – “I told you and you don’t believe; I have done works in the Father’s name that testify to me and you still don’t believe…my sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.”

This controversy with the Jews is the same debate that Paul and Barnabas are having in Acts 13 and it reflects the tensions between the synagogue authorities and the Christian community for whom John’s gospel was originally written.

For the Jews could not believe that they were no longer God’s chosen people, they wanted a Messiah who would put down their oppressors and liberate them once and for all. The liberation and the Kingdom that Jesus offers (not of this world) is not what they had hoped for, it wasn’t their reading of the prophets. As the church grows rapidly after the Day of Pentecost, as gentiles are added equally to the number being baptised, those of the old dispensation are not happy.


They are especially not happy that the synagogue is still the meeting place for these ‘Christian mission events’.

So where might I be all be going with all this?

Today has traditionally been known as ‘Good Shepherd Sunday”; whilst it provides us with an opportunity to refect on one of Jesus’ great “I am” statements – “I am the Good Shepherd” – it also reminds us that we have been entrusted to a shepherd and that we are to listen to that shepherd’s voice.

The instruction given to Peter and to all bishops of the church down the ages still stands today. ‘Feed my lambs, tend and feed my sheep’.

I often ponder what Peter would have made of all this shepherd and sheep imagery; Peter was a fisherman, that’s what he knew, that’s what he done all his life till Jesus came along and told him to fish for men, his life had been about gathering - not protecting. Now he had to do both.

It’s very easy, especially in rural parishes, to think that we can exist without too much interference from the wider church. But we are sheep under a shepherd and in our context that shepherd is the bishop with the parish priest “representing” the bishop when he is not physically present.

We can be like the Jews in John and Acts and not want our ‘synagogues’ used in any way other than the way we’ve always known.

We can cling on to all the ‘old’ ways of being church and stir people up to turn against and drive out the new. Note that in Acts 13 it is the ‘devout women, upper classes and leading men of he city’ who are incited to this behaviour!




Bishop Michael is shepherding us and calling us to mission. Some of this will involve finding fresh expressions of being church – our Gordon Pub mass is one such way that we are responding to this call.

For some this is uncomfortable, some don’t want the ‘newly called’ coming and changing their comfortable situations, its Acts 13 all over again.

Here is what the Bishop said on his website last Friday:

“......One of the great pictures of the Church that we have is to be found in the Acts of the Apostles, which we are reading in our worship at the present time. In particular I love the stories where the apostles are standing on the steps of the Temple in Jerusalem, preaching the Gospel to anyone who would listen. What courage! What faith! But that is what is asked of all who follow Jesus Christ. 

All too often we Christians keep our heads down, disguising our faith and religious behaviour because of what our friends or others might think or say. We risk turning religion into something private. Nothing could be further from what is expected of us by God. 

Jesus sent Christians out to be a leaven in the world, light to the world, and not to lock ourselves away in buildings or interest groups. We need to make sure that the Gospel is heard and there will be a price to pay if we do that faithfully, but it is a price we all have to pay at one time or another.” (end quote)

The message is clear, both from scripture and our bishop, we are called to authentic discipleship, and the church cannot be a club that exists for its members, it very existence is to carry on the missionary work of Jesus. We are called and sent to share what God has given us.

Let us pray that we will each hear that voice, that we will know who is calling and that we may be given all that we need to follow Him.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fish when the Chips are Down

Easter 3 Year C John 21:1-19.


The first part of today’s gospel will be familiar, we encountered Luke’s version of the story earlier this year. Luke has the story as part of the call of the disciples; the similarity is that they had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus tells them to throw out their nets, they protest they have fished all night but they’ll give it a go – a nothing ventured, nothing gained response. They get the catch Jesus predicts and they are told to leave their nets and come fishing for men.

When we get to the story today in John’s gospel its after the resurrection and the disciples hadn’t learnt very much in between. They had learnt one thing, they had learnt to trust Jesus. There are no questions asked, they throw out the nets as Jesus tells them to do and they haul up a full catch. The number of fish (153) is thought by some scholars to represent all the known languages at that time, a reference to the disciple’s new mission to ‘all the world’.

So with the catch landed they come up the beech to where Jesus is cooking breakfast for them.

After breakfast Jesus takes Peter aside, they sit round the fire. As Jesus starts to speak I think Peter is probably thinking back to another fire he was sitting around just a few weeks earlier, a fire in the outer courtyard of the High Priest’s house. There, not long after telling Jesus that he would be with him all the way, even to death, he had three times serially denied even knowing Jesus.

Peter’s heart was probably thumping; Jesus had entrusted Peter with the responsibility of building the Church, Peter had pledged his service and allegiance and then ‘lost his bottle’ at the first sign of trouble.

So here in the half-light, in the warmth of the fire, after a cooked breakfast and having landed a large catch of fish following a frustrating night where they had caught nothing, Jesus gently asks Peter if he loves him.

Jesus asks Peter three times 'Do you love me?' and Peter gets pretty irritated by the way he has to be questioned three times. For the first two questions, Jesus asks 'Do you love me?' using ‘agape’ or 'selfless' love.
Peter responds, 'Of course I love you', but he uses 'philein', brotherly, or friendly love, in Australia we might say ‘mateship’ love.

Jesus repeats his question, 'Do you love me?’ Again, Jesus uses agape to which Peter responds 'Of course I love you’, philein-mateship love .

When Jesus asks Peter for the third time, Jesus himself uses 'philein' – mateship love as he asks Peter 'Do you love me?' Jesus is conceding that Peter is not capable of selfless high-love. When Peter responds “Lord you know everything, you know that I love you” there is frustration and acceptance in Peter’s voice. Peter knows that Jesus can see Peter’s own limitations and Peter accepts that he doesn’t need to promise to be anything other than the person he can be.

Yes, Peter is told to feed the lambs, tend and feed the sheep and to ‘follow Me’. But the empowerment will come from an outpouring of the Holy Spirit – Peter will change, he wont catch fish anymore, he too will find his death in martyrdom but God will have done great things through him.

So if God seems hidden from us, if our work seems to be fruitless, if we have un-repented past failures, if we cant quite love God the way he asks us to, today’s gospel speaks to us.

And Jesus says to each of us, ‘feed my lambs, tend my sheep and follow me’.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Poor Thomas

Gospel Reading: John 20: 19-31

Poor Thomas – if you want a clinical opinion, I think he is demonstrating all the signs of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). It’s a bit like PMT, but curable!

After the Crucifixion Thomas has run away, too scared to come back to the secret rendezvous; then, somehow, he hears a rumour that Jesus is alive again. It can’t be, Thomas refuses to believe it until he has physical proof; he wants to see and feel the wounds, put his fingers in the holes. I wonder what the other disciples made of this behaviour?

You see the others had seen the Risen Lord. Suddenly Jesus is back and all is well again. But not for Thomas – he wasn’t there! Thomas is still in mourning and his world has collapsed. Peter and some of the others had started fishing again, the penny was still dropping. But Thomas – you know he was called “the twin” – was in hiding.

This is not the time or place to explore any more about this ‘twin business’ but it is important to note that for the writer of John’s gospel it was significant; on almost every occasion when Thomas’ name is mentioned there is a reference to him being ‘the twin’ – Didymous in the Greek.

There are no canonical gospel references to the other-half of the Thomas twin-set.

It is likely from what we know today of the relationships between twins that if Thomas had been separated from his ‘twin’, then this second trauma of the separation- and in a most dramatic way- from his Master, would have had a profound effect upon him.

In this light, Thomas’ need for physical proof makes sense.

In our attempt to be authentic disciples, we bring the complexities of our individual backgrounds and experiences to the common expression of what is it to be ‘the church’ today. Thomas’ doubt imploded when he encountered the risen Lord. But it had to be his ‘personal’ experience of the resurrected Jesus that convinced him.

We can try with all the gifts God has given us to convince others that Jesus lives, but for some, within there own situations it will not be enough.

Jesus will have to break through the locked doors, into the place of refuge, and offer to the doubter the invitation to be touched.

When we encounter these situations, we are to provide the place of safety into which Our Lord will enter, we are to share the joy of the one who sees and believes. We are not to dwell on the old wounds but to be transformed by the new life and the receipt of the Holy Spirit.

Then we too can respond with Thomas “My Lord and My God”.

Christ is Risen: He is Risen indeed. Alleluia

A Prayer in this time of Drought --- Written for the People at Morrison

Tomorrow I go to St James’ Morrison to lead the faithful there in worship and give them the sacrament. They are without doubt the people in this Mission District who have been affected the most by the current drought. Before I could begin to plan a homily for them I had to write this prayer:


Father God,

You gave us this world that we might enjoy its beauty and share the use of its resources for the good of all.

We confess that your gift has been neglected and misused.

We pray for those who are most affected by this drought, for those whose see their life’s work and achievements literally turning into dust.

As we wait for rain, we claim your promise that ‘while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, summer and winter, shall not cease’.

Keep us faithful in the face of this adversity; help us not to be afraid of our dependence on each other. May we never be too proud to ask for help or too selfish to share what we have.

We ask this prayer through him who invites us to call you Our Father and to ask you for our daily bread; the very one who turns water into wine and who feeds the hungry,
Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Athletic Disciples

Easter Day Homily – St John’s Bungaree
John 20:1-9


In today’s gospel there’s a sense of excitement in Jesus’ followers that we haven’t seen before. Christian art, from the Renaissance onwards, has a habit of depicting the disciples as heavy, ponderous individuals, encumbered by voluminous flowing robes and cheap footwear. This image is furthered promoted by the gospels generally speaking of the disciples as being ‘slow on the uptake’ as they fail to understand Jesus’ teaching and rarely take any initiative themselves. Slow plodders, constantly having to be lead.

But today there is a change. Mary, finding the tomb empty, comes ‘running’ to Simon Peter. Then Simon Peter and the ‘Beloved” disciple (John) run back to the tomb. Not just a jog, it’s a race to see who can get there first, who can be first to verify Mary’s news.

Suddenly, ‘at this moment’ the gospel tells us, they understand the teaching of the scripture, and then all that Jesus had been saying to them about his death and rising made sense. Today there is speed and action replacing the fear and inertia of the past; today they are excited and today they believe.

Runners in the ancient world were the equivalent of today’s e-mail, SMS or mobile phones. We have always had a need to communicate news quickly; wether it was news of a victory in battle, the birth or death of a Sovereign or news of an immanent threat or danger. Today, Mary may have sent a Videotext message showing the empty tomb, but in first century Palestine she had to run to share her news and the others had to see for themselves.

We need to catch some of that excitement.

During Lent, and especially during Holy Week, we have taken time to reflect on our discipleship and to deepen our relationship with Our Lord. We have suppressed the Alleluias and omitted the Gloria from our liturgies.

Like Our Lord’s first followers, we have been deeply affected by the remembrance of His Passion, from the betrayal in the garden to the final cry of anguish form the cross; after all the ugliness of our own lives has been spilt out at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday we need the day ‘in the tomb’ to get over the effect of that purging.

So today, Easter Day, the Day of Resurrection, we too can run with excitement and share the news that Jesus is risen.

David Hick’s trial and the news of his immanent return to Australia would have robbed many preachers of their Good Friday sermon analogies. At least they still had the Gulf War and Global Warming to provide them with material for their media intended ‘sound bites’. If you watched the news on Friday evening or read Saturday’s papers you will know what I am talking about.

In attempts to make the Eater Message ‘relevant’ to a growing number of people who have never heard the ‘full message of the gospel’, all too often preachers focus on the warm and fuzzy (“Easter is a good time for familles to get together”) or, as I said earlier the issues of Iraq and Global warming.

But the focus today must be unashamedly on the empty tomb and the transformation that took place in the lives of the followers of Jesus who witnessed these events.

For this is a news story far more important that any other. It is news that will transform lives not just in one place and at one time but in all time, beyond time and in all places. It is the resurrection of Jesus that transformed the lives of his followers. They were accustomed to the atrocities of living under Roman rule; for them the brutal horror of crucifixion was a regular sight. The fact that Jesus defeated all this and rose brought them the hope they needed, cemented their faith, changing not only their lives but also the world.

It is this message that we have to run to tell the world, to run with all the excitement of Mary, Peter and John, for the unbelievable is believable. Jesus lives and continues to transform lives, to bring hope and to conquer death in all its forms.


As Bishop Michael calls the diocese to Mission, how will we respond? We will run with joy to share the good news of our risen Lord or sit in fear and wait?

If we are not running to share this good news then it may be that our eyes are still fixed on the Cross and that we haven’t looked into the empty tomb and seen and believed.

Over the next few weeks of the Eater Season we will journey with Our Lord and the disciples, watching as the penny finally drops and they, along with us receive the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples”.

This news is too good to keep to ourselves; we are to run to share it.

Christ is risen: He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Palm Sunday at the Gordon Pub

This Sunday at 5 pm Bishop Michael will join us and lead our Palm Sunday celebratons at the Gordon Pub.

We will start at the former Anglican Church (now the gordon Hat Shop) and process with our palms to the pub.

The chant for the procession is availbale as a podcast or for listening to on your computer at:

http://web.mac.com/st.dunstan/iWeb/Site/Podcast/23D3D9C3-8290-435C-BDAD-E56F47307F62.html

You can copy this into your broswer or click the side-link on this blog.

See you there!

Monday, March 12, 2007

GO and Make disciples (again!)

This morning I was emailed a link to a blog which is discussing our 'mass at the Gordon Pub' based soley on a local press article written 'before' the first mass had taken place.

The link to the blog is here http://jen-reed-candid.blogspot.com/2007/02/licence-for-prayer.html

and my response follows:

We are so much like Jesus’ first disciples. – Our Lord leads us into gospel opportunities and our response is to stand back and question him.

“contextualisation…what the music will be…how it is set up” (earlier blogs on this subject).

Did Zacchaeus wonder what he had left playing on the Sound System when Jesus said he was going home with him?
Did Jairus wonder how the furniture was arranged or if the house was tidy when Jesus went in to heal his daughter?

Jesus’ rebuke to his disciples (Mark 9:19) might well apply to us: “You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you?”

Jesus’ command to every disciple is to ‘GO’ and make other disciples. This command in Mathew 28:19 (Go therefore and make disciples of all ‘nations’ ) has the Greek word ‘ethne’ which we translate as ‘nations’ but could also mean ‘gentiles’ – it is clearly a command to go to those on the ‘outside’ . And we all know how Matthew ends; “and remember I am with you always” – at the Gordon pub as much as at High Mass at the cathedral.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.


There's a long story to this as it relates to me this past week - at one point the 'cup of tea' option seemed the best altough the 'tea' had various outward forms including Champange, chocolates and whiskey!

To those of you who understand, a big thank you.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Re-thinking our worship space

I have been revising a booklet I wrote back in 2005 on the use and development of Liturgical space. I have put the first part of this up on my website as a podcast. I am convinced that we need to use the recorded spoken word as much as we use the printed to comunicate today.

The url

http://web.mac.com/st.dunstan/iWeb/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html

I will also post a link in the side bar here.