Monday 30 June 2014

Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles and Martyrs, 3rd Sunday after Pentecost -Br Andrew

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached by Br Andrew, at Winmalee on Sunday 29th June: 
Sts. Peter and Paul Apostles and Martyrs, Third Sunday after Pentecost

Gospel John 21:15-22

Men of Faith,

Abraham, Peter and Paul

Our forefathers and mothers in the faith bear witness to the grace of a Faith filled life, faith  trusts and goes where God leads, unquestioningly despite the idiocy and insanity of the request:- because 11 Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1 NIVR)

In today’s readings we have three men separated by some 3,000 + years who in exercising phenomenal faith made it possible for the world to be blessed through salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

You noticed that I said faith is trusting despite the idiocy and insanity of the request. It surely must have appeared insane to Abraham to be told by God to sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering when he was to be the only ancestor of the Congregation of Judaism; nevertheless he took his son to the foothills of Mount Moriah, piled the wood on the altar and laid his much beloved son upon it. In his faith Abraham reasoned that God could raise Isaac from the dead and with the sacrifice of the substituted Ram, so he did. Unspoken echoes of that perfect Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world?

At the other end of the line there are Sts. Peter and Paul who are considered to be the Fathers of the Church, men of great faith, truly human, both sacrificed for their Faith in Christ. 

Peter was born in Bethsaida in Galilee into a family of fishermen, about the same age as Jesus, called by Jesus to the cryptic vocation of fishing for men, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law at Capernaum  and later Ordained him in the rock of the church dialogue in Matt.16:18, he was one of the witnesses to the Transfiguration, denied Christ three times, was forgiven three times, his most famous sermon given at Pentecost, Peter was sacrificed for Christ in the year 67 AD in Rome during the  reign of Nero, he was crucified upside down considering himself not worthy of being crucified in the same manner as Jesus.

As we read in our Gospel today Jesus tells Peter cryptically of the manner of his death saying “when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you, and carry you where you don’t want to go.”[Matt 10:42]

Prior to our Gospel Peter has denied knowing Christ three times and after the third time “when the Lord turned, and looked at him. He remembered his Lord’s word, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice you will deny me three times.” 62 Peter went out, and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:61, 62).

That was the turning point in his life; much earlier Peter had asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus had replied, “you cannot follow now, but you will follow later." (John 13:36). Peter had not been in a fit state to follow Christ, because he had not reached the bottom of his barrel. He did not know his own depths, and therefore could not follow Christ. But when he went out and wept bitterly, then came the great change. Christ had already said to him: "When you are converted, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32). 
Here is the point Where Peter was converted from self to Christ – finally he knew himself for what he was, one whose Ego made grandiose claims his unsupported spirit could not achieve. He yet belonged to himself.

Now Christ reigned supreme and he no longer relied upon himself to achieve anything save in Christ alone.

Throughout his ministry Peter stressed the importance of dying to self and living for Christ, he had learned that many of us share the bottom of his barrel and for the same reasons, inordinate love of self.

He always referred to himself as Elder or servant and kept his promise to tend the Lambs and to feed and tend the sheep; he fed them with the Word of God and urged them to seek it out. In the last paragraph of his second Epistle he mentions the letters Paul had written to them saying 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him;[2 Peter 3:15]

St Paul was a Roman Turk by nationality and a Hellenistic Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, anywhere between 6BC and 10CE, and first known to us as Saul.  He referred to himself as “a Pharisee, and the son of Pharisees” [Acts 23:6], he was brought up in Jerusalem and studied under Gamaliel, [Acts 22:3] – we first come across him at the stoning of Stephen the proto-martyr [Acts 8:1]. 

Saul was a zealot for Judaism and the Torah and confesses to the Galatians“13 you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how forcefully I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was progressing in Judaism ahead of many of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my forefathers. [Gal. 1:13-14 paraphrased] (NIV) 

Paul's conversion can be dated to 31–36 by his reference to it in his letter to the Galatians. Luke provides three versions of this in the Acts of the Apostles: Acts 9:1-31, 22:1-22, and 26:9-24. 

This took place on the road to Damascus, while on his way to arrest more followers of the way and take them captive to Jerusalem. He reported having experienced a vision of the resurrected Jesus which occurred as he neared Damascus when, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”5“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”[Acts 9:4-6 paraphrased] In the kJV the end of verse 5 reads “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

Paul spent three days with Ananias during which he spent time in mystical union with Christ himself. As he later told the Galatians “15[…] God, set me apart from my mother’s womb has called me by his grace, (and) was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, [Galatians 1:15,16 paraphrased]

According to the wording in the kJV it rather seems that Paul’s zeal may partially have stemmed from self-doubt, and notice- to persecute a Christian is to persecute Christ, for whatever  you do to the least of these, my little ones you do unto me [matt.25:40]

When St. Paul became a little one he preferred to be known as the Apostle to the Gentiles and preached to them that Faith is a free gift given by the Grace of God, salvation came through Faith in Christ and his death and resurrection which dispensed with the Torah – (which Christ had fulfilled through his life death and resurrection Matt.5:17) Thinking, perhaps of the manner of his coming to Christ he taught that Faith had primacy over works.

Christian tradition holds that Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero around the mid-60s at Tre Fontane Abbey (English: Three Fountains Abbey) In 2009 pope Benedict XVI announced excavation results of the probing of a sarcophagus at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls – the remains were carbon dated to the mid first to second century and declared to be those of St Paul.

When we through the Grace of God accept the free gift of Faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus for the remission of our sins we then can die to ourselves and live in Christ. Until we do this we are like Peter full of ourselves and a danger to ourselves in spiritual matters. Like Paul we may knowingly or unknowingly feel the jabs and the pricks of the calling of the risen Christ until the pain brings us to our knees and we are emptied of ourselves and free to believe in him who first loved us.

And never forget that Faith in Christ is illogical and if we expect it to be we are in the wrong religion.

Monday 23 June 2014

Second Sunday after Pentecost - Br. Simeon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached at Winmalee by Br. Simeon

Sunday 22nd June 2014: 


Gospel:  Matthew 10:24-39

“Do Not be Afraid”

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight O Lord my strength and my redeemer. Amen

I recently read the story of a Priest who arrived in his new Parish and, on the first Sunday preached a wonderful sermon. On the second Sunday, he again preached a wonderful sermon, but it was the same as the week before. On the third Sunday, there was another repeat of the same sermon. One kind person quietly said to the Priest after the service, ‘It was a good sermon, but that’s the third time you’ve preached it.’ ‘I know,’ replied the new minister, ‘When I see some evidence that you actually heard it, I’ll change it!’

I wonder if you know what the most repeated command given in the Bible is? It’s actually repeated three times in today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 10.24-39) and is the command, ‘Do not be afraid.’ I'm told that this command is actually found 365 times in the Bible, one for every day of the year. I haven’t checked that out for myself but you can find quite a bit of debate on the internet about whether or not it is the case. Whether that is correct or not, the fact remains that that “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid” is the most frequently repeated command in the Bible.

This seems strange in a passage where Jesus gives lots of reasons why we should be afraid:
   the effect of his message he says will be division within families (vs 34-36);
   there are powers abroad in the world which can destroy both body and soul (v 28); and
   everything that we do, including those things done in absolute secrecy, at some point in the future, will be revealed and no longer be secret.
The world is split- Jesus seems to be saying between those who takes God as master and teacher and those who take Beelzebub or the powers of evil as master. No pupil is greater than his teacher, no servant greater than his master, so who we follow and who we serve defines who we are. Those who take up their cross, follow in Jesus’ footsteps and lose their lives for his sake are his disciples; those who do not take up their cross, do not follow in his footsteps and try to gain their own life are not. The divisions will run even through families with sons and fathers, daughters and mothers, daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law all making different choices and being on different sides of this divide.

It all sounds pretty scary to me but Jesus was preparing his disciples for the kind of world they would live in following his resurrection and ascension. A world in which those living in Jerusalem would experience the Roman army destroying the Temple and Jerusalem itself and a world in which those in other parts of the Roman Empire would experience persecution for sharing the good news of Jesus.

Transpose these words and that setting into Zimbabwe or Iraq at present and you can glimpse the force and realism with which Jesus is speaking. We are not in those kinds of situations currently, although a combination of recession, peak oil and climate change, could make our experience of life here in the West much more conflicted in future. But, even though we are not in that situation now, the new way that Jesus established of being God’s people still divides opinion and actions. If people genuinely follow his way, the somewhere down the track division is bound to be experienced.

In that kind of a world what reasons are there for us not to fear? The first reason Jesus gives initially seems strange.

“… the first reason  (verses 26-27) is that a time will come when everything will be uncovered. Everything that is presently secret will be made known.

Why should that mean they don’t need to be afraid? Lots of people would regard the imminent disclosure of their most private thoughts and words as a further reason to be afraid, not as a reason to throw fear to the winds. Jesus seems to be assuming that what will come to light on that day is the disciples’ loyalty and faith; they will be seen to have followed Israel’s true Messiah, the world’s true Lord. Their patience and perseverance will emerge into the light. What may have looked like obstinacy or even arrogance will at last be seen as what it is, a resolute determination to follow the Lord of life wherever he leads. In other words, truth will out, justice will prevail, and those who have lived with integrity and innocence, despite what the world says about them, will be vindicated. That, rather than a quick God-will-look-after-you message, is what Jesus is ultimately offering.”

Then Jesus goes on to give us what are some of his “most striking promises about the detailed love and care of God, not only for every one of his creatures, but for every hair of their heads.” God is actually “the one that we do not have to fear. Indeed, he is the one we can trust with our lives, our souls, our bodies, everything.”

We often pick up on an important misunderstanding in the way that we often translate and understand Jesus’ words here. In verse 28, the Good News translation of the Bible says that we should be afraid of God “who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” For me personally, I would say  that is a mistranslation of Jesus’ words. It is the powers of evil that can destroy both body and soul in hell.

The whole force of Jesus’ argument is actually that God cares for each one of his creatures from the sparrows to human beings knowing us intimately and does not want any of us to perish.

 “God is the one that we do not have to fear. Indeed, he is the one we can trust with our lives, our souls, our bodies, everything.”

Precisely because God can be trusted with everything, our allegiance to him matters: allegiance to Jesus must come top of every priority list. Comfort comes with challenge but the challenge of Jesus’ sayings, is “matched by the remarkable promises he makes to those who accept them and live by them:”

“He will ‘own’ us before his father in heaven. Those who lose their lives will find them.” “You are worth more than a great many sparrows; so rest assured that God knows and cares about the details of your life, even as you face the temptations and dangers which so easily surround you.”

As followers of Jesus, we are bound to expect attacks at all levels. But we also need to learn and trust that the one we are serving is stronger than the strongest opponent we will ever meet.


Sunday 15 June 2014

1st Sunday After Pentecost - Trinity Sunday - Br Andrew

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached at Winmalee by Br Andrewvon  Sunday 15th June 2014:
Trinity Sunday. Year A.

Many Persons in Ones God

Gospel Matthew 28:16-20

Today is Trinity Sunday and, in the words of Jesus in today’s gospel we find the Trinity inferred for the first time after Pentecost.  (Matt.28:19) Considering that we are Monotheists believing God is One then who are these three?
We know of the Father since He is our Creator, we know that Jesus is the one referred to as the “Son” and as for the Holy Spirit, he or she has been here since the world was created:-The Ruach Elohim, Breath of God; who first brooded over the waters (Gen. 1:2), the Ruach Hakkodesh the Holy Breath of God (Ps.51:11) to whom David prayed  “do not take your Holy Spirit from me” Yet how is it that these three are One?

In Exodus 34: 5 the One refers to its self as “Yahweh” so we do know that the One has a name. In ancient times to know someone’s name was to know the source of their secret strengths or life, to reveal your name to another was a huge step towards being in relationship with that person. The first time Moses met with Yahweh was at the burning bush,(Ex.3:14) at the beginning of his ministry where we learnt from the Scriptures that “Yahweh is translated I Am that I Am” – Yahweh, Y’hw’h without its now unknown vowels leaving the  Hebrew consonant’s which when spoken together Yoh- hey, vah, hey—almost sounds like we are  breathing. The Name is the very breath we take to sustain life. I Am forever fully present I AM the One who makes all others things be.

This Yoh-hey,vah,hey  is the Ruach Hakkodesh because the Jews have always believed that they are the same. Yet the Ruach hakkodesh is also uniquely itself with its own areas of operation.
“From the time of creation constant reference is made in Holy Writ to Messiah and the Messianic hope of Israel. ‘The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”; the spirit of God means Messiah.”
(Midrash Genesis Rabbah 2; Leviticus Rabbah 14)
In Judaism, the Midrash (Hebrew: מדרש‎; plural midrashim) is the body of homiletic stories told by Jewish rabbinic sages to explain passages in the Tanakh. Midrash is a method of interpreting biblical stories that goes beyond simple distillation of religious, legal, or moral teachings. It fills in gaps left in the biblical narrative regarding events and personalities that are only hinted at.purose of midrash was to resolve problems in the interpretation of difficult passages of the text of the Hebrew Bible, using Rabbinic principles of hermeneutics and philology to align them with the religious and ethical values of religious teachers.
As time passes Yahweh reveals only enough about the One who Is as we can understand and have the wisdom and courage to believe.
The Jews of old knew Yahweh as a Father (Ex.4:22), a Shepherd (Psalm 22/23:1), a Husband, (Is.54:5-8), Potter (Jer.18:6), and Vineyard owner, (Ps.80:8-13) they did not as yet know him as a brother; nor would they believe, in a hurry that their Father, through mystic means would beget a human son.

Yahweh in choosing to enter into a relationship with us became vulnerable because the One, with His Spirit entered into Covenant with us to keep us safe and in His anthropomorphic form as his own son knew he would be required to enter creation to suffer and to die to save it from sin and death.

And so it is that another comes to us from Yahweh, One who has always existed, whom we yet do not know: He comes into our world as one of us, a defenceless child, he is the Messiah prophesied in the previous Covenant.
”For to us a child is born. To us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.(Is. 9:6 WEB )
 His conception is miraculous, his birth unremarkable, he grows up in Nazareth in a province known as Galilee of the Gentiles.

While Jesus the Christ was with us he taught us more about Yahweh than was ever yet revealed because He is Yahweh, standing in the flesh beside the people of his time and yet seated in heaven taking care of the world. (John 3:13)

Before Jesus ascended into heaven he said to his Apostles ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.' (Matt 28: 17b-20 NJB)

Jesus also promised that his Father would send another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth and this is the one we have already met, this Spirit, is the Ruach-Hakkodesh of old, given to the 72 Elders to Prophets and Kings, sometimes not permanently, as in the case of King Saul, who went mad when the spirit left him.

The Holy Spirit is not just given selectively to the chosen but on the day of Pentecost roughly 33 AD was sent, into the world  as a Person, in his or her own right – just as the prophet Joel prophesied “ In the last days -- the Lord declares -- I shall pour out my Spirit on all humanity. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young people shall see visions, your old people dream dreams.” (Acts 2:16,17:cf Joel 3 NJB)
We live because we breathe the Spirit of Yahweh
When the Holy Spirit comes upon us it melds with our own Spirit to testify that we are now sons and daughters of Yahweh, inheritors of all good things, brothers and sisters of Christ, one with Yahweh.

 Now, with two out of three of the members of the One having been manifest in the world, and Jesus the Word made flesh having ascended back to heaven as a human being the Church gradually began asking how does the puzzle actually work. How are these three One? Since Jesus was once human how is he divine? Is he a different Person/part of God than he was when he was the Word?

We are spatial, linear beings and so Yahweh’s wonderful gift of his only selves causes us to get out our metaphorical screwdrivers to try to take God apart, rather than to simply say aha, how wonderful.

From Jewish Midrash we learned that Yahweh and his Spirit are the same,from the earlier Covenant we know that Yahweh was called Father by the Israelites therefore from Jesus, who says that he and the Father are One we know that Jesus and Yahweh are the same.
Therefore we know that God is Yahweh,Yeshuah, and Ruach Hakkodesh, (Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit) that each are fully Yahweh ( God) and at the same time uniquely themselves. Sometimes we relate to a Father or to Jesus or to the Spirit. Sometimes to all three as One
Let us close with the part of the prayer Jesus prayed for all believers

20 My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 

2 1 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 
22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 
23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23 NIV)

There are as many Persons of God as there are his Children, all one with God all uniquely ourselves. 

Br Andrew

Tuesday 10 June 2014

6th Sunday of Easter preached by Br. Simeon.

Andre-Rublev's Saviour

Homily preached at Winmalee on  Sunday 25th May 2014: 

Gospel:  John 14: 15-21

“ If you love Me”.

Almighty God, by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed. Guide and strengthen us for Your service, that we may live this day in love for You and one another; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Language is a funny thing.  When you look at words, how they're formed, what they mean, it is interesting to see how they came to be.  There are words that are long and words that are short.  We have words that are easy to pronounce and words that are not easy to pronounce.  One word in the English language is 28 letters long, antidisestablishmentarianism.  It's a word that you won't hear a lot.  There's even a 45
letter word, but I won't go there to begin to try to pronounce that word.  But there is one word that is not a long word; rather it is only 2 letters long. The word is “if”.  It is conditional.  It indicates that should you do this, then you will receive that.  It requires action, usually on our part, to receive the intended results that we desire.

That is how Jesus begins His discourse here.  He says, “ If you love me, you will keep my commandments”.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we don't love Jesus.  Because of our sinful nature, we want absolutely nothing to do with God.  We utterly despise Him and everything that He stands for.  We can't love Jesus on our merits or work, and we surely can't keep His commandments.  That should be the end of it all.  We don't want God, we hate God, and we despise God.  So in turn, God should not want us.  God should hate us.  God should despise us.

Bur that is not the way it is.  God chose to love us when we were unlovable in our sin.  Through His great love and mercy, He gave to us His only-begotten Son.  By the work of Jesus Christ, we have been given the gift of Jesus and His forgiveness, won for us on the cross.

Jesus knows that we cannot love Him.  God knows that we cannot love Him, yet that doesn't stop them loving us. God love us when we were unlovable and promised Jesus.  Jesus loved us when we were unlovable and gave Himself to us and promised the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We have been promised , “ I will never leave you nor forsake you”.  Here, Jesus tells us, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you”.

Really?  God would promise us a Saviour for breaking His one command of not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?  Jesus would give to us Himself even when we are incapable of doing what He says, “ You therefore must be perfect,

as your heavenly Father is perfect”.  Speaking for myself, I know that I’m not perfect.  And speaking for all of you, I know that you're not perfect either.  None of us are perfect, nor has there been anyone who is perfect, except for Jesus Christ.  He is the on and only who has ever been or ever will be perfect.  You and I are far from perfect.

In fact, we are so far beyond perfect that the only thing you and I should receive is death and damnation.  Yet, despite all of that, God still loves us.  Despite our grievous sins, God still loves us enough to send us a Saviour.   Despite our grievous sins, Jesus still loves us to send us the gift of the Holy Spirit for the building up of our faith.

Through the gifts of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, Jesus continues to come to us, just as He says He would.  Through these simple and ordinary means of water, bread and wine, Jesus gives to us that which we need most – His forgiveness, His life, His salvation.  He gives to us freely and gives out of His great and abundant mercy.

Test We are His disciples, and because we are His disciples, He promises to keep us in His care and does so through the gift of the Holy Spirit.  However, there is one problem with that as well.  On account of our sin, we fall short of keeping God's gifts as we should.  We neglect to be in God's Word, both privately and corporately.  We do not hunger and thirst for the Sacrament which Christ gives of His own body and blood.
We do not love our neighbour as we should.

There is a reason for this: “ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
From the greatest to the least, we all have sinned; we all have missed the mark.  But the Lord knows that the only way we can even begin to keep His gifts holy and sacred is if we receive help, so He sends another Helper, another Advocate.  The Holy Spirit is our second advocate.  He helps us in our weakness.  He especially helps us by taking what is Jesus' and showing it to us.  He helps us by giving us the truth, the true knowledge of God, and by actually remaining not only alongside us, but in us, for “ He dwells with you and will be in you.”

It is through this Helper, through the Holy Spirit, that you and I are given the miraculous gift of faith, faith not in ourselves, but in God who is the One who makes promises and keeps them.

Christ promises to keep His disciples  in His care by coming to them directly.  How does He come to us?  He comes in the ways that He has promised – through His Word and through His Sacraments.  The writer to the Hebrews says, “ In many and various ways, God spoke to His people of old through the prophets.  But now, in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.”  He comes to us through His body and His blood, in a meal that we feast upon for the strengthening and nourishing of our faith.

To have Christ means that we have the victory over sin, death and the power of the devil. Having Christ, then, is to live in faith.  And when we have Christ, we also have the Father.

Jesus didn't just say that He loved us; He showed His love to us.  He kept us. He kept us from being destroyed by sin when He died for you and for me.  He kept us from being destroyed by death when He rose for us, and He keeps us today in His Word and in His Spirit.

By Christ and His actions for you and  me, He has shown the love of God to us, and because God has loved us, now we are able to love Jesus, because He has removed from us all of our sins and made us holy by His blood.


Br. Luke EFO

Friday 6 June 2014

Day of Pentecost- Br Simeon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour 

Homily preached at Winmalee on Sunday 8th June 2014:  Day of Pentecost.

Gospel:    John 20: 19-23

“ Jesus breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.”.

Gracious God - bless now the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts.  Breath your Spirit into us and grant that we may hear and in hearing be led in the way you want us to go.  Amen.

Have you ever noticed the spiritual energy that emerges, the peace that arises, when you simply stop what you're doing and take a few deep breaths?

"Jesus breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"
Jesus breathed, sending his life energy to his disciples and to us. The Holy Spirit can come to us in dramatic ways, as Acts 2 portrays, but it can also come in the simplest, most overlooked manner, in the very act of breathing. Could it be that as you read this, you are breathing some of the molecules that Jesus sent forth into the universe from the room where the disciples met? Could it be that the Holy Spirit is as near as your next breath? Could it be that insight and wisdom, courage and vitality, are as near as your next breath?
Breathing is underrated as a Christian spiritual discipline. But this passage shows us that we can breathe with Jesus. Each breath can be a prayer and an opening to God's Spirit. In locked doors where fear abounds, breath abides. Jesus greets the disciples with the words, "Peace be with you," and then he breathes on and in them. Jesus is breathing peace, and invites us to do likewise.
Have you ever noticed the spiritual energy that emerges, the peace that arises, when you simply stop what you're doing and take a few deep breaths? During my  seminary formation for ordination, Fr.Stephen used to say to me; when preparing to go to the pulpit to begin preaching  your  sermon,be still for a few seconds and when you breathe, you gain composure and confidence that will be reflected in your delivery and presentation."
It is not accidental that the word "inspiration" has to do with drawing air into the lungs. Each breath can be inspiring, taking in the Holy Breath of God and then breathing it forth into the universe. Inspiration embodies omnipresence.
Resurrection breath is everywhere—in locked rooms and closed hearts—waiting to liberate us from all that brings anxiety and alienation.
Peace is only a breath away. Today, why not practice breathing the resurrection? Take time to read these words, making them your own,

 “Jesus breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.” Better yet, why not personalise these words:

Jesus is breathing in our lives  and we are receiving the Holy Spirit. Every breath we take opens us to inspiration.  Every breath is a prayer.

The Lord Jesus offers each one of us the gift and power of his Holy Spirit. He wants to make our faith strong, give us hope that endures, and a love that never grows cold. He never refuses to give his Spirit to those who ask with expectant faith. Jesus instructed his disciples to ask confidently for the gift of the Spirit: "If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" (Luke 11:13).

Resurrection means that Jesus is everywhere, inspiring all who breathe, giving life to deadened spirits and inspiring healthy embodiment. Breathe with Jesus' resurrection breath and receive God's ever-living Spirit.

Do you thirst for God and for the abundant life he offers through the gift of his Spirit?


Tuesday 3 June 2014

7th Sunday of Easter - Br Simeon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour 

Homily preached at Winmalee on Sunday 1st June  2014

By Br Simeon EFO

John 17:1-11

For some these words may be truly alarming, if not shocking: “I pray for them. I don’t pray for the world, but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.”

Is Jesus really saying that there are people in the world he doesn’t pray for?  Really?  If we take the passage out of its context, then yes, it does seem to say exactly that.  And there are many in the world today who gleefully do this.  They take a passage out of its context and then use it as proof, justification, or as a weapon against others they don’t like, or want to marginalise. To those people I would say stop for a moment and ask.  Do your actions indicate that Jesus would be including you among those he’s praying for here?

But if we put the passage back into its context, then we understand that Jesus was talking about his disciples.  Those who had diligently followed him around Judea for three or so years. Who had been with him from the beginning and who now were going to be left alone and suffer the cruelty of the pagan world.  Jesus was asking God to remember them and not abandon them.  This is powerful and lasting prayer. It speaks eloquently of fidelity and service, about love and sanctity.  But one would not see this at first glance, especially if one takes the verse out of its important context as I did at the beginning of the homily.

Jesus goes on to say this:
 10 All things that are mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them through your name which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are.

What does he mean when he says: “I am no more in the world?” Well quite simply that he will no longer be physically present in our world.  He will be ascending to return to God.  Earlier in the week, in the churches calendar, we celebrated ascension, when Jesus passed from the sight of his disciples.

For them it must have been a traumatic moment.  They were alone and bereft.  They only just got used to him being back, and then he goes away again.  It is a testament to their faith that they continued spreading the good news, and that some 2000 years later we still celebrate the faith and recall their devotion and discipleship.

Yet in his prayer, we see Jesus’s love and concern for the disciples.  He prays that they will be one with the Father, he is saying that they to will be glorified by God and enter into the joy and love that is the Holy Trinity.  A special and unique prayer, for a very unique band of people. But people who, today, we believe we are part of.  Through our discipleship, our following Jesus and his teaching, then we also lay claim to be part of the prayer he prayed all those years ago.

And how do we know this? Because Jesus said it: listen: “They were yours, and you have given them to me. They have kept your word. 7 Now they have known that all things whatever you have given me are from you, 8 for the words which you have given me I have given to them, and they received them, and knew for sure that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.”

If we say, as we do, that we believe the words Jesus spoke, gave us, then we are part of the group of people he is praying for.  But we have to receive the words and in that reception we have to do.  We have to live as he taught.  That as I often say, is a very hard road to walk along.  We need to rely and draw on the prayer and promise that Jesus says and makes here. This is hard, but then the journey of a Christian sometimes is hard.

Jesus, the disciples and history have all shown us just how hard the life of the faith can be.  But we are sure, we believe, that the words we hear and are given, are truth, the way and the life.  We hold fast to the knowledge that we will be united with God, and that makes the journey worth it. This is what drove the disciples to continue when he was no longer physically present, and if we are honest with ourselves, it is what drives us on today. Amen.

29th May Ascension Day - Br. Simeon

Andre-Rublev's Saviour 

Sermon for Ascension Day By Br Simeon efo.


"I am with you always - to the close of the age"
There is an ancient legend about Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
He is met by the angel Gabriel who asks him, "Now that your work is finished, what plans have you made to ensure that the truth that you brought to earth will spread throughout the world?"

Jesus answered, "I have called some fishermen and tax-collectors to walk along with me as I did my Father’s will."

"Yes, I know about them," said Gabriel, "but what other plans have you made? "
Jesus replied, "I taught Peter, James and John about the kingdom of God; I taught Thomas about faith; and all of them were with me as I healed and preached to the multitudes."
Gabriel replied, "But you know how unreliable that lot was. Surely you must have other plans to make sure your work was not in vain."

Jesus quietly replied to Gabriel, "I have no other plans. I am depending on them!! "

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer. Amen

The Gospel lectionary reading for today, Ascension Day and the celebration of the ascension of the Lord, offers us the opportunity to break open a most familiar text within the church.

Why did Jesus leave his disciples forty days after his resurrection? Forty is a significant number in the scriptures. Moses went to the mountain to seek the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting. The people of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in preparation for their entry into the promised land. Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of God. For forty days after his resurrection Jesus appeared numerous times to his disciples to assure them that he had risen indeed and to prepare them for the task of carrying on the work which he began during his earthy ministry.

Jesus' departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus' physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus' presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time.

He assured them of his power - a power which overcame sin and death. Now as the glorified and risen Lord and Saviour, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus promised to give them the power of his Holy Spirit, which we see fulfilled ten days later on the Feast of Pentecost (Luke 24:49 and Acts 2:1-4).

When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left alone or powerless. Jesus assured them of his presence and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus' last words to his apostles point to his saving mission and to their mission to be witnesses of his saving death and his glorious resurrection and to proclaim the good news of salvation to all the world.

Their task is to proclaim the gospel - the good news of salvation - not only to the people of Israel, but to all the nations as well. God's love and gift of salvation is not reserved for a few or for one nation alone, but it is for the whole world - for all who will accept it. The gospel is the power of God, the power to release people from their burden of guilt, sin, and oppression, and the power to heal, restore, and make us whole.

This is the great commission which the risen Christ gives to the whole church. All believers have been given a share in this task - to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Jesus Christ, the only saviour of the world. We have not been left alone in this task, for the risen Lord works in and through us by the power of his Holy Spirit. 

Today we witness a new Pentecost as the Lord pours out his Holy Spirit upon his people to renew and strengthen the body of Christ and to equip it for effective ministry and mission world-wide. Do you witness to others the joy of the gospel and the hope of the resurrection?


Sermon Extra 6 - 6th Sunday of Easter

John Chrysostom
6th  Sunday of Easter Sermon Extra


1. Homilies of Chrysostom   John Chapter 14

2. The Rev. Dr. Janet H. Hunt

"I Will Not Leave You Orphaned..."

I took my car in to get the oil changed a couple of days ago.  Things were a little slow at 8 a.m. on a Friday morning and Alex, the man who checked me in, was full of stories which he was eager to share. It was clear that this one in particular is one he is particularly proud of and it took neither prodding nor invitation to get him to tell it to the handful of us waiting for our cars to be serviced.
Read on….....

Better late than never

Sermon for 6th Sunday of Easter written by Br. Luke EFO, Preached by Br. Simeon