Sermon: The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost (A) – 27th July 2014

St Alban’s Anglican Church Epping 7am, 8am and 10am

Readings: Genesis 29:15-28   Psalm 105:1-11   Romans 8:26-39  Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52

The Kingdom of God was always on the mind of Jesus. There are almost one-hundred and fifty references to God’s Kingdom in the New Testament, fifty-two of them in St. Matthew’s gospel alone. The more Jesus spoke about the Kingdom the more unreal it seemed to his listeners. Perhaps that’s because in a world gone insane, sane things seem to be unreal. How do we cope with gross inhumanity: in shooting down a civilian plane, the madness of Middle Eastern wars, the kidnapping of hundreds of young girls.

In today’s gospel account Jesus referred to the Kingdom as a hidden treasure buried somewhere in a field. Likewise He spoke of the Kingdom as a precious pearl found by a businessman who astutely sold everything he owned in order to buy it. He spoke, too, of the Kingdom as a fishing net filled that contained fish both good and bad. Later he referred to the Kingdom as a mustard seed and as yeast. In other places he uses other metaphors for the kingdom.

We wonder what the Kingdom is for us, in everyday terms, as we live out life here in our modern Western environment this week, next month, throughout the rest of this year, and beyond. How do we identify and describe God’s Kingdom here on earth? Where is God in all this madness? Some people think of the Kingdom as a remote and distant heaven in another world at the end of life. Others think it’s an ideal political and economic order. Some people think that the Kingdom is exclusively God’s business, not ours and we have only to wait and receive it from God’s hands. Some identify the Kingdom as the Church; what’s inside the Church is the Kingdom, what’s outside of the Church is not a part of God’s Kingdom.

What is the Kingdom of God? When did it start? Where did it begin? How did it come into being? For the answer one must go back to the beginning. In the beginning God divided light from the dark. Then God divided the land from the water. Then God made the earth fertile so that living things would grow in it. Then the oceans, lakes and rivers were made to crawl with reptiles and be filled with swimming fish. The lands God filled with climbers and creepers, bushes and great trees. The air and the sky God filled with insects and birds and on the ground wondrous animals and creatures of all sorts and varieties.

Then God made the likes of you and me. God blew the breath of life into our forebears, saying: “Live you woman! Live you man!” “ Live as I live. I place you over the world as my agents, my ministers, my stewards … my sons and daughters. I give you all the earth that you may return it back to me with all that you have done to make it fruitful, productive, wondrous and beautiful, filled with people for me to love and who love me in return. Have life! Be joyful! Give life! Give happiness and joy, give your love and your life to each other and to all. Give my life that I have placed within you to your children and your children’s children forever and ever. Live together in my love.”

Where is the Kingdom of God? On earth, here as it is in heaven, in us … as it is in God. It is our human life, that sacred space in which lives the Spirit of God. If that’s not true then the Incarnation is meaningless. The Kingdom is found where God wants to establish it, in our human relationships with each other. That is when it started; that is where it began; that is how it came into being. Jesus is tireless in pointing that out to us.

God’s Kingdom is where God’s will reigns. It is God’s desire for humans to live quality lives. God’s Kingdom is the expression of God’s will that your life, and those who live in your life, might be filled with God’s joy, God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s justice, God’s truth, and God’s peace.

Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer we pray to God: “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth…” God’s desire and will is nothing else but that we be filled with the fullness of well-being, happy living, total life. Nothing else is God’s will. The Kingdom of God here on earth is human life, high quality human life, filled with His glory.

The reason Jesus was recognized as the Son of God was because those around him discovered in him the same exclusive divine purpose. That was to work for the well-being of all people. So we read in the verse before this portion in which we read last week it is recorded Jesus as saying: “Let any one with ears listen!”

“Stop being blind! That’s no good. Receive your sight, see!”

“Stop being crippled. That’s no good. Throw away your crutches and move!”

“Stop being mute. That’s no good. Speak and make a joyful noise!”

When he met the bleeding woman he said: “Stop bleeding. That’s no good, may your body be restored to normal!”

When he met the widow of Nain holding her only child, dead in her arms … and the dead daughter of Jairus, and he wept at the tomb of his dead friend Lazarus, he cried out: “Come forth! Live!”

It was God’s Word, the same Word that God shouted into the black chaos of the cosmos back in the beginning of creation, went forth from Jesus’ mouth and came back bringing life, life in its fullness, life fully healed and complete in his glory.

Jesus gave life; he restored life; he repaired life; he affirmed life. He lived life among the broken, prostitutes, adulterers, widows, and the aged … among orphans, street people, crooks, vagrants and the outcast. He unbound Zacchaeus, a greedy, grasping, mean man who sat on piles of ill-gotten money. Who when he was freed, became prodigally generous, unreasonably and unbelievably generous. Zacchaeus became just as unbelievably and irrationally generous.

Jesus detested injustice; he hated unfairness, he was distressed by sickness, deformity and disease; Jesus was disgusted with violence; he set His face against oppressors. When the prince of darkness and father of lies tried to conquer him, he stood on the ground of his Father’s kingdom. Even death itself could not do away with him because he lived for the well-being of all humans, having in his heart the same will of his Father for all human life.

Are we living for the Kingdom? Do we sacrifice our own personal comfort and convenience for the well-being of those around us? Does our work give value added to the lives of those around us? Does it add to the sum total of the happiness in their lives? Do our choices, our attitudes and decisions, contribute to the well-being of others? Do we give them life, or do we drain life from them? Do we give them joy or take the joy of living away from them? Are we like Zacchaeus before he met Jesus, or are we like Zacchaeus after he started to really live following his encounter with Jesus?

For if we are a wise businesspersons we will invest only in that which will last and in that which will allow others to value us. After all, God’s total personal investment was in the humanity of Jesus. Jesus risen in glory as the Christ who was given by God to enable us to live in his kingdom. In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God invested God’s own Spirit; God’s own life, God’s Holy Spirit in your humanity and mine. In the Spirit-filled humanity of the risen Christ, God gives us the opportunity to share God’s very own life. That reality is more real than anything this world can ever dream of offering us.[1]

 

 

[1]Based upon a sermon by the Reverend. Fr. Charles E. Irvin, M.B.A., M.Div., J.D., St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Manchester, Michigan

 

Sermon: The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (A) – 20th July 2014

St Aidan’s Anglican Church Epping 8.30am

Readings: Genesis 28:10-19a    Psalm 139:1-11, 23-24   Romans 8:12-25   Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Privacy has become a big issue nowadays. It seems that more and more people know more and more about us. Phone tapping and hacking into computers has become more and more common. Google Earth can show our house and yard to anyone in the world. Not so long ago, I looked up a particular product on an internet website: a few days later I received an email asking me why I hadn’t bought it, and would I like to? And of course so many of us love to read of celebrities whose private flaws and foibles suddenly make it into the media. It seems that real privacy is a thing of the past. Big Brother seems to be more and more of a reality.

Well, whether or not Big Brother is a reality, the Lord God our Creator is a reality, and he knows absolutely everything about us. In relation to God, we have no privacy at all. And this is an important theme in our readings today.

In our first reading, from Genesis 28, we read part of the story of Jacob. Jacob was the younger of twins born to Isaac, with Esau his older brother. Jacob had talked his brother into handing him his rights as the oldest son, in exchange for a bowl of stew. He had then tricked his father into confirming those rights with his blessing. Esau was of course not happy, and Jacob knew it was time to leave home for a while. He would spend time with relations far to the east of the promised land. While he was there he would also try to find a wife – but that’s another story!

Before Jacob had left the land he rested overnight. In his dreams he saw a ladder reaching to heaven with angels going up and down. God spoke to him and assured him that he would be with him even when he left the land. He would bless him, bring him back safely to his home, and fulfil the great promises made to his grandfather Abraham: that his offspring would become a great nation, and bring blessing to all nations. When Jacob woke, he exclaimed “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Of course, Jacob’s understanding of God was limited. But it is true of so many people today. God is in fact always with us where we are, and so many do not know it!

The Psalmist in today’s Psalm 139 knew it however. He realized that God knows us inside out. He knows what we are doing. He knows our thoughts: our ideas and schemes, our fears and our confusion, our understanding and our misunderstanding, our past and our future, our intentions and our plans – not to mention which of them will fall flat!

How does the Psalmist react to this realization? I get the impression that his reaction is mixed. God’s all-encompassing knowledge of us is daunting, threatening. Life feels easier if no one is watching! How can we escape somewhere away from God’s view? And the Psalmist realizes that there is nowhere. North and south, east and west, up and down, the tops of the mountains or the bottom of the sea, even the world of the dead: there is nowhere I am away from God’s sight and knowledge. He is always there with us. There is no point in denying it, and it is foolish to ignore it. The question is whether we resent it or rejoice in it.

We live in God’s presence. There is no point in pretending with God. He knows the best about us and the worst about us; he knows our good points and also our bad points; he knows our achievements and our mistakes; he sees our deeds of kindness and generosity, and our unkind and unjust words and actions; he knows all our sins and failings. When we confess our sins, we are not telling him anything he didn’t know already!

He knows it all, and he understands it all. He knows far better than we do why we are the way we are. He is not happy with the wrongs we do, but he continues to love us. That’s why he came amongst us to share our life in the person of Jesus, and to die for our sin to open the way to forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation.

Over three weeks we are reading the wonderful 8th Chapter of Paul’s Letter to the Romans. In the previous chapters Paul has clearly set out the reality of human sin, but also the assurance of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ. In the opening verses which we heard last week, Paul assured us that there is no condemnation for those who are Christ’s people: in Christ we have been set free from a way of life dominated by sin and death.

Today we are reminded that there is a new life for us to live. But more than that: we have God’s presence through the Holy Spirit to guide us and strengthen us as we live our lives following Christ. We have God’s personal presence and help as we seek to live the life that Christ calls us to. And as we follow Jesus, we find a growing confidence in God’s wonderful promises and his eternal purposes for us. We are not on our own, and our destiny is the glorious fullness of his perfect and joyous kingdom. God is not just our great Creator who sees us from a distance, but our loving Father who invites us into his eternal loving presence.

And so when we hear Jesus’ serious words in today’s Gospel, we can take them seriously without relapsing into fear. The story of the weeds sown among the good grain is explained by Jesus. We live in a mixed-up world, where there are God’s people and there are also those who determinedly reject God and his ways. There are people who seek to know and honour and serve God, and those who live deliberately as God’s enemies. We see the evidence of the evil done by people in our news every day, especially in the dreadful acts of violence and murder we have recently been hearing about. How do we sort out those who are God’s enemies from those who are God’s friends?

Perhaps some acts which we recognize as evil are done because of ignorance and misunderstanding, rather than human malice. I do not know. I can judge the act, but how can I judge the perpetrator? I myself am not the person I should be. I am vulnerable to temptation, even if my temptations are far less dramatic than those that reach the media. Which of us can really say how we would act in very different circumstances?

We must never go soft when it comes to recognizing the evil that people do. But let us also keep those well-known words in mind: “There but for the grace of God go I.” Of course we must recognize the evil acts of people for what they are. Some will be given the task of handing down judgement on the crimes that people commit. But it is not for us to be judges of human sinners. Perhaps some of those we believe to be weeds in Jesus’ story will turn out to be good seed after all. Only God really knows, and he is the real judge. We may want evildoers to be judged now, but judgement will happen rightly, in God’s time.

Yes, God will establish his kingdom in its fullness, and in doing so he will put down all that is evil, and deal appropriately with those who align themselves with evil. It is not for us to do the sorting out. We struggle to understand ourselves: God alone will get it right.

So as we reflect on our readings today, let us be real about the presence and knowledge of God. He does know us inside out: let us never try to pretend with him, let us seek to live as his people in his presence, and let us rest our confidence in his understanding and his love for us all.

And let us be wary of the temptation to judge others: judgement is God’s business. We know so little, but God alone will get it right. Our task is not to judge our neighbour, but to love our neighbour. Amen.

Paul Weaver

 

 

 

 

Sermon: The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (A) – 20th July 2014

St Alban’s Anglican Church Epping 7am, 8am and 10am

Readings: Genesis 28:10-19a    Psalm 139:1-11, 23-24   Romans 8:12-25   Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Tired, weary from travel, Jacob finds a spot where he can lie down for a few hours of sleep. For his “pillow” he uses a stone on which to place his head, and he falls asleep. In a dream he sees a ladder rising to the heavens, and the angels of God climbing up and down on it. Then the Lord speaks to him and offers him the land on which he lies and his “offspring shall spread to the east, north and south and all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” As well, God adds, “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.” Today as we read this story again, let’s think about our daily dramas as they unfold, and in them try to find the grace of God leading us to new hope and renewed faith.

hen did you last have such a dream as Jacob had? You may say never! However, haven’t there been times during your life when God spoke to you at very unusual times? Times that you might not have even realized it was God until events happened later in your life. God speaks to us in many and varied ways.

There is much good news in how God speaks to us. It is more than in this simple story of Jacob showing us the relationship between earth and heaven.

  • God speaks to us in moments of despair when we awaken to the hope that is shared with us from a stranger. Such as the disciples on the road to Emmaus having their eyes opened by the resurrected Jesus.
  • God speaks to us as we are nudged by a hymn that we have sung many times but really only mouthed the words, but then suddenly those words seem to be words written only for us to hear, to soothe us into the presence of Jesus. There is hope.
  • God speaks to us when we find we are unable to pray, but we can just sit and listen for that still small voice that brings volumes of love at a time that we may feel un-loveable. In times of winter in our lives, there is hope!
  • God speaks to us when we find ourselves breaking out of a time of uncertainty into the daylight of holy hope.
  • God speaks to us when we come to God’s table in thanksgiving for God’s blessing.

We can discover, just as Jacob did, that when we awaken from all the questioning that rumbles through our mind and we open our eyes and clear our ears and stretch our being we discover God is with us. We find healing, the blessing of God’s presence, the guidance of God’s spirit to help and to transform.

It is the same with Jesus as he tells one of his many parables. Today, this one about the Kingdom of Heaven and the contrast between good and evil, the good seeds in the field and the weeds among the wheat. The labourers want to go into the field and pull up the weeds, but Jesus says, “No; because in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them”. His disciples did not understand.

Jesus added, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of God. The weeds are the children of the evil one; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels.”

We are talking about the battle of good and evil. None the less, there is hope in this battle, even more hope than we find in the story of Jacob’s Dream. Evil is in the process of being defeated. The end began on the first Easter Day. The great hope in this story is the life-changing experience of knowing Jesus Christ and being a living part of his body in this world the church.

We see the gentleness of Jesus’ wisdom as he talks about the angels culling out the evil of humankind, allowing humankind’s goodness to grow. For us it will take patience; patience on the part of those quick to condemn; patience for the redeeming power of Jesus to touch the lives of those who have lost their way. Consider the patience of God in using as God’s minister, Moses, a murderer; David, murder and manipulator; Paul, a religious parasite and encourager of persecution; Peter, a hypocrite and coward. God walked with each of these men. God loved them, God made them great. God forgave them. God granted them the blessings of God’s Kingdom. There is hope for the hopeless.

God can do that for us all. There is hope for us. God wants us to wait for the harvest. God wants us to be forgiving of those with whom we disagree. To be forgiving of ourselves. To be hopeful for a new tomorrow, to be hopeful that in diversity we can find the righteousness in all peoples and bring all to the same saving grace of Jesus Christ.

When that happens, then indeed we have heard with our ears the call of the Kingdom of God and we have found that surely the Lord is in this place.

The reading tells us that Jacob poured oil on the stone he used as a pillow and he named it Bethel; the House of God. He was inspired by his experience and said, “How awesome is this place! It is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Here as the church worshipping as the body of the risen Lord Jesus we make this world where we fear and long for comfort and think we have none; yet, it is the place in which the lost are found and the blind are given sight. We do not know what is coming next; but we find hope and prepare ourselves for the goodness of God as God reaps the harvest of the faithful, and changes the lives of the lost.

We let God do whatever it is that God does and trust in God’s unbounded goodness! We thank God for God’s infallible wisdom, for God’s infinite love, and for God’s forbearance that goes beyond our understanding. God is a god of surprises. God meets us with hope, compassion, concern, acceptance and guidance, even when we are not even looking for God. God even reaches out and touches the lives of those who do not seek God.

We need to awaken to God’s presence each and every day. It is then that we discover where we are: we are in the House of God, the body of Christ and we find that because of God’s son Jesus, we are at the gate of heaven. We find hope! 
 We need not sit in judgment upon others and for those who judge themselves with a judgment that is not our own. We need to trust in the judgment of God. We need to hear God when God asks us to pray for those who are disheartened by evil and for those who feel oppressed because the life they have known may be changing faster than they are emotionally or spiritually able to comprehend. We pray that God might work a healing in those lives. When this happens we find we are part of God’s plan in doing God’s work and growing the wheat of the harvest that leads us to God.

We do have hope and hope gives way to faith and faith gives us the presence of Christ and Christ forgives us and welcomes us to spend eternity in his presence. The Holy Spirit is working in us even this moment. We have an Easter experience of the resurrection and a Pentecost experience of the movement of the Holy Spirit. Let these experiences guide our next breath and fill us with a refreshing breeze of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Though we are all different as children of God, let us build the gate of Heaven here in this place on the solid rock of Jesus Christ that makes us faithful to him, today, tomorrow and through eternity.

One of the ways we can build the Gate of Heaven here is to be aware God throughout all the seasons both of life and in everyday living, “God can speak to us through the Seasons”.

Each of the seasons is a classroom for the heart. If you sink your roots deep into the soil of a season’s truth, God can use it as a mentor for you. The four seasons are a universal archetype or model for the soul. They are metaphors for the cycles of our spiritual growth.

Winter is a barren time. There is little growth. We too can have barrenness in our lives. We can discover beauty in the midst of our barrenness. Imagine standing out there with the lonely trees, stripped of all our bright knowing. We are empty and we are lonely. Do not be afraid of loneliness. In the heart of that loneliness we will discover our great need for God and for others. Find a deciduous tree. Stand beside it in its winter watch. Keep it company. Discover its beauty. Listen to its wordless sermon. Put your ear to God’s dormant ground and listen to the seeds as they dream.

Snuggle up in your prayers and ponder these winter questions.

  • Where do I find silence in my life?

• When do I feel free from the pressure to produce?

• What are the most challenging aspects of winter for me?

• How is the prayer of contemplation a part of me life?

• What have I discovered during my barren seasons?

• What can I do to provide the creative space that I need for myself?

• If I were to choose a passage from scripture that speaks to me of winter, what would it be?[1]

 

[1] This sermon was prepared using the resources of www.dfms.org/worship-that-works/ (17 July 2005, 9th Sunday after Pentecost) and “God can speak to us through the seasons” from “The Circle of Life: The Heart’s Journey Through the Seasons” by Rupp and Wiederkehr, 2005, Ave Maria Press.

 

Sermon: The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost (A) – 13th July 2014

St Alban’s Anglican Church Epping 7am, 8am and 10am

Readings: Gen 25:19-34; Psalm 119:105-112; Romans 8:1-11; Matthew 13:1-23

A CHAPLAIN’S STORY

It is more than eleven years since I commenced my ministry as Anglicare Chaplain at Concord Hospital. In the previous 22 years I had served as Rector in Botany-Mascot and Woollahra, and as Precentor at St.Andrew’s Cathedral. As I reached my mid-50’s, I felt that it was not right to stay at Woollahra until I reached retirement age, and wondered whether God was calling me to a different kind of ministry.

In due course, I received what I believe was God’s answer to that question, and was appointed by Anglicare as Chaplain at Concord Hospital. Sarah and I had purchased a house at West Ryde a few months before I was offered the position, and its ideal location within 15 minute’s drive of the hospital seemed confirmation that God was indeed leading the way. Certainly I have never felt any doubts that this is the ministry to which I have been called: something for which I am very thankful. And having now reached my 65th birthday, I feel enough energy to keep going a bit longer, rather than retiring just yet.

As I said, I was appointed by Anglicare, who receive a payment from the State Health Department for the provision of Chaplaincy services to the hospital. There are altogether 32 hospital chaplain positions in the state, held by representatives of a number of different denominations and faiths, which are funded this way. It probably won’t surprise you that the real cost of providing and supporting chaplains is a lot more than Anglicare gets from State Health, although it certainly helps.

And that is why I am delighted that July’s Mission of the Month is Anglicare Chaplaincy. I believe that my ministry at Concord Hospital is an extension and an expression of my membership not just of the Anglican community in general, but in particular of this part of the Anglican community in Epping Parish. I know that many parishioners pray for me; a number have provided financial support for the ministry; and three members have been or are currently involved in voluntary ministry with me at the hospital.

I would love to see as many parishioners as possible feeling a certain sense of ownership or connection with this ministry. I am hoping that even more parishioners will pray regularly for this ministry, and I also hope that a number of parishioners will be able to commit themselves to regular financial support of Chaplaincy ministry. The leaflets you have received will tell you more about Anglicare Chaplaincy, and also how to become a regular supporter. It would also be great to have more people from St.Alban’s or St.Aidan’s who might commit themselves to a few hours a week sharing in this special ministry at Concord.

I am one of about 30 Chaplains working with Anglicare not only in hospitals, but also in prisons, mental health centres, Chesalon Aged Care facilities, and the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre for girls who have got into trouble with the law. Under Anglicare I am supported not only financially, but with education, supervision, encouragement and advice, and in a number of very practical ways. My impression is that compared with many other churches, the Anglican church provides a very helpful and supportive framework to undergird the work of Chaplains, and actually to keep us up to the mark!

Many of you will have heard me talk of the work in which I am involved at Concord Hospital. My basic work is to spend time with patients and their loved ones, and support them as they go through tough times.

They may just want company or a listening ear. Many will appreciate the opportunity for prayer together. I may share the scriptures or the sacrament with them. Some will have a strong faith, and possibly a regular connection with their church.

The majority for all sorts of reasons will have little or no connection, though many of them will see themselves as believers. My task is to be with them where they are at, to give them space to express their fears and worries and frustrations, not to mention their hopes and their joys. And I seek to be an understanding and accepting listener, not forcing the Christian message on them, but ready to share God’s love in a helpful and appropriate and gracious way. I also see myself as part of the hospital team, playing my unique part in the care of patients.

There are around 500 beds in Concord Hospital, and it would be impossible for one person to spend worthwhile time with all the patients. I work with a full-time Catholic Chaplain, and also with a team of volunteers, not only Anglican but from a variety of other churches and faith traditions. We have regular visits from Presbyterian and Uniting Church representatives, and from the Buddhist and Moslem traditions. I am delighted that we have recently started regular visitations from the Greek Orthodox Church.

The volunteers not only share the responsibility of meeting and ministering to patients: they also alert me to patients who would like to see me, or whom it might be helpful for me to look in on. I try to spend time with the volunteers when they come, to encourage and support and guide them in their ministries. I wear a pager so that I can be contacted by the hospital 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. No doubt some of you have seen me phoning the hospital before, during or after services when I have been paged!

As well as the usual range of wards including Emergency and Intensive Care, Concord Hospital has a world-class Burns Unit, where patients may spend weeks or months in treatment following serious burns, or skin conditions and injuries.

This month the hospital has opened a new Palliative Care Unit, caring for people as they come to the end of their life: focussing on keeping them comfortable and giving support to them and their loved ones at what can be a very difficult time. I have been asked to spend regular time in this ward, which I am very happy to do, and I would appreciate prayer for God’s help as I seek to provide compassionate, wise and sensitive care, which will provide people with understanding and hope. This is a time-consuming ministry, and I am still working out how to fulfil this responsibility, along with the other calls on my time.

There are some unusual sides of my ministry at Concord Hospital. For many years it has been the pattern there that the Chaplains are also Justices of the Peace. Most days I spend some time certifying copies of documents or witnessing signatures of staff and others, including members of staff taking maternity leave, who require a statutory declaration to access their leave payments. I am sometimes one of the first to know that a slight change in shape is not because of too much cake, but because a staff member is pregnant!

Although my JP-ing is not always convenient, it also enables me to meet a range of people whom I might not otherwise get to know: sometimes these contacts have led to quite significant ministry.

In keeping with the hospital’s background as a Veterans’ hospital, I also prepare and lead a number of public commemorative services each year, including Anzac Day, VP Day, Remembrance Day, and commemorations of the Vietnam and Korean wars. I also get together each week with a group of veterans and War Widows who would not otherwise get out much: they come once a week to the hospital’s Veterans’ Day Centre and enjoy each other’s company and various activities. I spend an hour with them doing some community singing and talking with them. And I serve on the hospital’s Research Ethics Committee.

It is a privilege to spend time with people going through tough times, to give them the opportunity to open up to me about how they are going, and to share something of myself and of Christ’s love with them. As I said, about 30 other Chaplains serve with Anglicare in ministries to people in difficult circumstances. I hope that you may be able to make a special gift through the Mission side of the Parish offertory envelopes, or even use the Anglicare envelopes to link up as a more regular supporter of Anglicare Chaplaincy. And of course your prayer support will be greatly valued.

If you think you might be interested in finding out more about joining the team of volunteer pastoral visitors, please let me know. If you don’t catch me at church, you can ring the hospital, and ask to be put through to me.

Chaplaincy ministry provides opportunities for sowing the seed, the message of God’s love, as Jesus describes it in his parable. Some people are ready for that message: others are not ready to hear of the peace and hope that Jesus brings, and we never push it on people. As Jesus’ parable describes the different responses of people to the message, one might feel that there was such little response that it was hardly worth the effort. But Jesus makes clear that there are those who are indeed ready to open up to God’s love in a new way: sometimes we will be there when it happens – often we are just links in a chain. But whatever the attitude of those we visit, our aim is to demonstrate God’s love and understanding, not only by our words, but by our compassion and understanding which reflects God’s compassion and understanding to us all. And is that not the foundation of all our witness to the Gospel of Christ? Amen.

Paul Weaver