Weekly Sermon

10 October Pentecost XX

2021 Advent Sunday

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Gospel Luke 21. 25-36 Advent One

 

"Screw your courage to the sticking-place," says Lady Macbeth to her doomed husband in Shakespeare's tragedy, "and we'll not fail."

However, fail they do and no amount of courage in the world can save them or turn them into heroes.
Courage is a bit like happiness: the more you seek it, the more you demand it, the more you try to call it up, the less you know it, the less it feels you have of it.

Words can stir us to courage when they are grounded in confident expectation and unshakable values or realities. Who would not rally around the
"I have a dream…" speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr., in which he paints the colours of freedom? Who would not feel stronger listening to the dogged determination of Winston Churchill in the dark days of 1940:

"Let us... brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that, if the British
Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour!' "
Courage, as faith's activator, is the call in the words of Jesus to us today. He sits with his shell-shocked disciples in the temple grounds, sensing the profound disturbance at his words that this marvelous place of holiness and beauty will soon lie in rubble,
while pointing them to a larger catastrophe that will shake the whole earth as eternity arrives into time.

The claim of Jesus’ future appearing is a central and mainstream Christian claim. In 23 of the New Testament 27 books it is mentioned. We confess Jesus coming again in our creeds. We have an entire season in the church year dedicated to it,
this season of Advent. Jesus himself promises to return.

And in each and every circumstance the instructions of Jesus are the same Hold firm. Be on guard. Be awake. Don’t lose your nerve. Don’t get caught up in the concerns of the time. Remember who the true Messiah is, and what he calls you to,
and you are saved.

In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus say:

  • Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation [do not be weighed down by useless or profitless activity; using or expending or
    consuming thoughtlessly or carelessly]
  • be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with
    drunkedness [don’t drown in your own self]
  • be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with the worries
    of this life.

Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength. This is how we are to wait.

And how long must we wait as such? Jesus tells us “…, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place.”

We know that the generation Jesus was sitting amongst has passed away however …. the word ‘generation’ can be used to refer to the category of people through all time who are resistant to the purposes of God. Hence in saying that ‘this generation will not pass away ‘ before the Son of Man comes, Jesus may be saying that as the moment of the first end and judgement was preceded by violence and opposition to God so also, the time leading up to the final end will be characterised by resistance to God, his Messiah, his people, and his gospel. And when has that not been so?

Much time may have passed since the first Christians looked to the heavens expecting to see Jesus returning, however the call of Paul is still addressed to us
It is now the moment to wake from sleep. 
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers. Let me almost end with a story about the how to’s of waiting ….

Robby Robins was an Air Force pilot during the first Iraq war. After his 300th mission, he was surprised to be given permission to immediately pull his crew together and fly his plane home. These young military men flew across the ocean to Massachusetts and then had a long drive to western Pennsylvania. They drove all night. When his buddies dropped Robbins off at his driveway just after sunrise, there was a big banner across the garage ”Welcome Home Dad!” No one had called, and the crew themselves hadn’t expected to leave so quickly. How could they know?
Robins relates that when he walked into the house, the kids, half dressed for school, screamed, “Daddy!”

His wife Susan came running down the hall. “How did you know?” he asked. “I didn’t,” she answered through tears of joy. “We knew you’d try
to surprise us, so we were ready every day.” That is to be our attitude toward Advent. This is a season for waiting on tiptoe.
The kingdom is drawing near. Christ’s words will never pass away. You can trust his
promises forever.

Like a child waiting for Santa Claus, be on watch.
Like a couple awaiting the birth of their first child, be on watch.
Like a family waiting for the return of their soldier, be on watch.

God does indeed come down, move amongst us and within. God did in times gone and does in times to come. As God did in the times of Moses
and the Pharaoh. However, this time God chose the suckling babe rather than the plague blasts as the
means of arrival and encounter.

We who rationalise our forces for good or for evil are suddenly caught up short –
the one who could "rend the heavens" and "set twigs ablaze" and "cause water to
boil" and "cause the nations to quake" and "make the mountains tremble" slipped in
as a helpless child, and the world knelt to kiss him on a starry night in Bethlehem.

And we continue to do so.

Wendy

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21/11/2021 - 70th Anniversary + St Georges Day

APPLECROSS PARISH ANNIVERSARY

We gather this morning to celebrate the anniversary of 70 years of the Applecross parish. The Parish was formally established in 1951, having previously been included in the Parish of South Perth. It was in 1951 the first Rector was appointed. 

For some this parish has always been existence in your life.  For others it came into being during our life.

We celebrate our 70 years on the same day we celebrate the patronal festival of St George. Hence, we gather here at St George’s. St David’s being built 6 years later in 1957.
There has been no patronal festival for St George’s due to either a Rector leaving or a Priest in Charge arriving with of course the Covid pandemic. Even with the come and go of clergy and Formation students and the impact of Covid on many aspects of life here and abroad there remains much to celebrate.

There is always much to celebrate. Perhaps more here than in most places.

Today is a time to reflect on the years of people gathering for worship, for baptisms, confirmations, gathering for weddings and for funerals. Here in St George’s and over there in St David’s.
We know the church is not the building, it is much more than that, however, the building, buildings, remain the constant of this parish.
The outward sign of us of Applecross parish. The sign to our neighbours we are here.
The building, buildings, being a symbol that grounds the memory of God.
Phillip Larkin states in his poem, Church Going,
a church ‘… is a serious house on serious earth.’
Yet it is what we do, and say, and are which makes any difference to our neighbours which can make all the difference to our neighbours. That the church has been here, that we are here. With no plans not to be.
As a parish we are surrounded by the prayers of the faithful. Scripture has been read, hymns sung, sermons preached, and morning teas had. All that and more. Much more. Although the wording of mission and ministry may have changed in definition and in action over the years, the mission and ministry of 70 years has brought glory to God’s name, and hope and love.
Our mission, as our Archbishop states,
is God’s gift for everyone …
those within the church and those beyond.
Something about our lives together needs to be challenging enough and attractive enough for people to see that God is the possible answer to the questions they are living. Are we challenging and attractive enough? For us let alone for anyone else.

Our Archbishop has also stated earlier this year
Like so many human communities, the church in Perth is taking its own temperature,
So, what’s our temperature? 


Are we hot? Lukewarm? Cold? Or a number somewhere in between?
One way to gauge our temperature over the years in our church is by the stories of our parish. We are known by the stories told about us by us, and by the Diocese and by our neighbours. With some stories which can make us proud, and some which may bring us shame. Stories ranging in temperature.
Our Gospel for this morning gives us a story of how disciples are to be with each other, and with others. Perhaps a gauge of our temperature.
We heard some of the Lucan version of the Sermon on the Mount. Referred to as the Sermon on the Plain.

We know how this story goes.

  • Be merciful.
  • Do not judge.
  • Do not condemn.
  • Forgive and
  • Give.

We also know how this spirit-empowered life reads in the Gospel. Do we know how such an empowered life reads in this parish? A story ranging in temperature? Or a story of a constant temperature?

St George has a story of ranging temperature.  Apart from stories involving dragons, which came back with the Crusaders, there is little known of the story of George. He was probably born in Lydda around 280 to a Greek Christian family. His father was a soldier and George stepped into his father’s footsteps. And like his father, he did well in his chosen career until in February 303 when the army was ordered to sacrifice to the Roman God. All Christian soldiers were arrested, and George refused to comply and was decapitated on 23 April 303.

It is now time for our story to be lived by us as main characters in the hope we bring glory to God with a good, healthy temperature which promotes lives and enables all to flourish to be all whom God calls us to be. There is not much we can do about how the stories of the past and how they read
however, there is much we can do about our story and how we read.

Our Archbishop states We are all about being a healthy, inclusive, outward-looking, faith community enriching neighbourhoods in loving service to friends and strangers, loving with no strings attached.

Yet what is a healthy temperature for a healthy flourishing parish? The most reliable way to check our temperature as a parish is to take your own temperature. So, are you hot for God? Lukewarm in what you choose to do and choose to be? Cold for anything other than yourself? Afterall, if some of us are hot for God, it only takes a few ice cubes to result in a church lukewarm in mission. In the story of our parish, and our mission, what character do you play?

What character do you want to play in the next chapter of our story? here is no set script – apart from the one written on your heart.
The author being, of course, God. Be confident, courageous, and compassionate forever ensuring there is room for the Spirit to accompany and guide us as we set out into the time we share, checking our temperature, as we write our story. A story moving us into the character God calls you, and me to be for this body of Christ. 

The Lord is with us.
And also with you.

Wendy

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