theunfamiliarname

Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Homily for Ordinary Sunday 32C

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2010 at 8:34 pm

“I know that my Redeemer lives”.
Those are wonderful, powerful, much loved words.

They’re taken as words of comfort and faith,
when they’re actually quite different.
These are not the lovely calm words of someone
sailing along in, enjoying their existence,
they’re the words of someone hanging on for dear life
when all around him seems to be chaos and darkness.

They are only seen as Easter words by a people yet to be.
When they are written,
they’re about Good Friday and how to keep on going.

Job, who’s had it all and lost it through death and disaster,
says to God,
“I know you’re there, and I want all this explained to me.”
Job is looking for his day in court
to have the shape of his life justified.

Now that’s not where the story ends.
But it’s through precisely that struggle that Job keeps going.

That’s a long way removed from the Sadducees
and their theoretical repeated widowing,
an attempt to catch Jesus out
on some hypothetical interpretation of the Law.

Jesus obviously rebuts their fickle what-if story,
and concludes with something
we probably don’t hear clearly enough,
because it almost sounds as if
he’s playing the Sadducees’ point-scoring game.
Almost, but not quite.

“The fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed,
in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord
as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, & the God of Jacob.
Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living;
for to him all of them are alive.”

To God, all are alive.

Those words are extraordinary.
They are at the heart of our faith, and not only about
our Easters, but about our Good Fridays.

When we know darkness and death,
God not only proclaims light and life,
but makes it real in himself.
That is the profound truth and metaphor of the Resurrection.
That is our hope and our heaven,
for today and tomorrow.
We celebrated All Souls’ last Sunday evening,
and we gathered with our grief,
some of it smooth & well-worn,  some of it raw & fresh.

But we gathered, and we do so today,
in the faith that to God, all are alive.
If we are faithless, God keeps faith,
if we should stumble, God upholds us.

When we know death,
our own or one dear to us, I believe
the separation and sense of loss we fear
is not the ultimate truth.
God, the one and only truth,
the absolute and eternal life
knows in his eternity
our unique and precious life.

So let us not live fearing death.
Not seeking it, certainly,
but not fearing it.
Rather, this week, and every week we draw breath,
let us live fully,
aware that what we do in Christ’s name
echoes and is alive into eternity.

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Homily for All Saints 2010

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2010 at 8:31 pm

“Blessed are the cheesemakers…”
… Famously overheard words
from the Monty Python film, “Life of Brian”.

But I want to suggest to you this morning
that there is something redemptive about that slip-up,
besides the fact that we might for second take ourselves a little less seriously.

Cheesemakers have every claim to sainthood
that those long-dead heroes of Christian mythology do.
We need to reclaim the image of saintliness
and sainthood from the pages of history
and the hagiographics of stained glass.

You may have followed with interest
the canonisation of Mary Mackillop,
now known as St Mary of the Cross.
A Saint for Australasia.
A very fitting celebration of a saintly life
lived in the service of God and of the underprivileged.

But kind of hard to live up to,
before we’ve even got
to the need for supporting miracles and all.

We, like any community, need our heroes,
our stories, our ikons.
But we need to recapture the vision
of the very first Christians
who called each other “saints”.
We need, I think,
to rescue saintliness from sanctimoniousness.

Saints, all of them, are and were real people
living real lives in the real,
confused and compromised ages they inhabited.
They weren’t perfect.
Some were probably holier-than-thou at times.
Some were difficult.  Some were inconsistent.

All of them were real, flesh and blood Believers.
Ordinary people,
realising that they – and we –
have it in us to be extraordinary …and godly.

And how many of them,
those big names of sainthood,
would have begun the journey at all
if they knew what people would say about them
in hundreds of years time?
Luckily, they just got on with the business
of making sense of who they were in the world as it was,
and of discovering and revealing God in all of that.
And so, what of us?
What will future generations say of us?
I want you to imagine a church.  A church in a country
persecuted and repressed for seventy years.
There were clergy and monks, yes,
but the Russian church was kept alive
through almost three generations
by the staunch and subtle, subversive even, witness
of grandmothers and ordinary, unspectacular people,
cheesemakers, I’m guessing, among them.

We as a church are not so much persecuted
as ignored to death.  A more insulting, ignominious fate.
But I assure you, this church
– this building and the real Church, the community –
will be here long after you and I are gone.
How will the Church of tomorrow look at us?
Not many of us, I suspect, will have been beatified.
Maybe we won’t recognise the Church of that age.
Probably, we won’t recognise the Church of that age.
Maybe there will still be cheesemakers, maybe not.
But the faith we hold will be passed on.  By us.
For we … are … all … saints.