Saturday, April 20, 2024

Labouring under an apprehension

Sermon for the third Sunday after Easter 

There are many great 
mysteries in life.

Some mysteries 
emerge from facts
lost to History
and exist as ghosts
of speculation.

Some mysteries 
lie in the fathomless 
depths of space
barely penetrated 
by the telescopes
and proves
sent out by astronomers.

And some mysteries 
exist within our own species.

One such mystery 
can be found troubling 
the minds of men
when they are confronted 
with something that they
can never truly know 
- the pain of childbirth.


The husband
who joins his wife
In the delivery room
is confronted
with a wall of 
impenetrable ignorance.

He works hard to support 
and understand the needs
of his wife as she struggles 
to bring the baby into the world
but he is at a loss because 
for all his care and attention 
he cannot supply anything
that she needs
based on his experience.

All words he says to comfort
and encourage his wife
cannot be based
on anything other than 
his own imagination 
of what she is going through 
and it usually falls short
of the pain that she is enduring.

All he can do
is faithfully and actively 
extend his love, respect 
and gratitude 
to his wife
and prepare himself 
for fatherhood.

A man cannot know
his wife's pain.

Can she know his?

Can anyone know
another's pain?


This is a mystery indeed!

We can only know
our own pain and suffering.

We can only know 
what it is like for us
to sprain an ankle,
cut a finger,
or even give birth.

No two labours
are the same 
because no two women
are the same 
and no two babies are the same.

This is the deep mystery 
of being human.

We cannot truly 
know the pain of others.

This means
all our Christian attempts
to love each other
fall at the first hurdle
because we do not know
what our neighbour 
wants or needs to be perfect.

This is why human love
fails to unite humanity.

This is why the rule
"do unto others 
as you would have them
do unto you"
cannot work.

this is why the Church appears divided
we are ignorant 
of how to love each other

But because we try so hard 
to love 
we end up doing damage
to the Church
to the world 
and to each other.

Our sin,
even our unintended sin,
causes pain
from the very moment 
Eve grasps that fruit.

From that moment 
we are blind to God
and we are blind 
to what true love is.


And so Love comes among us
to show us Who He is.

We are born, so He is born.
We struggle, so He struggles.
We weep, so He weeps.
We due, so He dies.

And in so doing 
He supplies what is lacking
and corrects what is done amiss,
so that the pain of living
has a purpose
even as bringing a baby into the world 
makes the pain tolerable.

A woman may remember 
the ordeal of labour
but the baby she holds 
means she needs not choose 
to remember the pain.

But then, 
not all labour goes to plan.


There are labours 
that go badly 
that have the worst possible outcomes.

There are countless women 
who after the pain of labour
hold in their arms
one whose life has ended
before it even saw the light of day.

And that pain 
frightens us
causes our hearts to break
and to call up to God,

"Why is my baby dead?"

And we might be tempted 
look at Our Lord's words
about sorrow being turned to joy
and to brand them glib
- even an insult -
ignorant of the mother crying out
over her dead baby,
ignorant of the husband,
dazed and confused as
to why he's not a father 
or even no longer a husband,
ignorant of every human being
who has cried our in despair
at the injustice of life.

Words cannot be enough.
But the explanation 
cannot take the pain away.
Answering the "Why?" 
will not return breath to the little body.

There has to be action.

So God dies
in agony,
surrounded by those who hate Him
who laugh and mock and jeer.

And then He comes back,
not to show off 
but to show that He is faithful,
that He sees our pain 
and the utter devastation
of the human heart 
and to remind us of His promise 
that the pain we feel now
is nothing,
nothing to the joy we feel
with Him in Heaven.

The Cross is not something 
with which we should 
compare our pain:
it is the vehicle 
of the promise we have

It is not a question of
"well, God suffered
so your pain means nothing."
It is more,
"you're in pain
but God is with you
and will bring you through
even though 
you can only know your pain."


We look out
onto a world 
filled with so much pain
and suffering 
and we cannot truly know
what that pain and suffering are.

But we Christians hold fast
to the Cross
while bearing our own crosses,
venerating them 
as much as we venerate 
the Cross of Christ,
knowing that God
is never ignorant of our pain
but will bring to birth in us
Faith, Hope and Love 
and that these will last
much longer than any pain can.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Making saints the Anglican Catholic way


How does a person become a saint in the Anglican Catholic Church?

Sorry, my video got cut off.

I meant to add:

God bless you in your progress to sainthood. May you always bear witness to Almighty God.

And God bless you that you may join all your favourite saints in the glory of God.

And please pray for me

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Ovine Comparisons

Sermon for the second Sunday after Easter

Analogies and metaphors 
can only go so far.

Our Lord describes us
as His sheep.

To our ears,
that makes us sound
like dumb animals.

Perhaps we object to that
as it hurts our dignity
as human beings.

But if we compare ourselves 
with God
we are not even sheep.

What is a pot 
compared with the potter?

Or the stick man
idly doodled onto the page
of an exercise book
compared with the bored
schoolboy trying to cope
with learning 
the politics of World War I?

To be compared as a sheep
with the Divine Master 
is a compliment.

But if we are concerned 
about being compared with sheep
in the first place 
then we're missing the point.


To compare two things
puts them in opposition.

We look at two things
to see which is bigger,
which is worth more money,
which is prettier,
which smells worse.

The moment we try that with God 
then the comparisons 
stop making any sense.

Which is redder:
the post box,
or the colour red?

Which is brighter:
the sun,
or light itself?

Which is more holy 
the saints,
or God Himself?


We are always so ready
to compare ourselves with others
that frequently we miss the point.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd 
we are His sheep,
not of the fold
of the inheritance of Israel
but of the gentile fold 
that Jesus has taken to Himself.

Yes,  the metaphor 
compares us with sheep
but the point is clear:
God is with us.

He isn't against us.

He is not comparing Himself with us.

He is not setting Himself up
in opposition to us.

If Jesus is using 
the metaphor of the sheep 
to make the point
that He is greater than us
then He would have to deny 
the fact that He has a human nature
like us.

To reinforce His difference from us
would be to despise His Incarnation 
and that would defeat the whole object
of why He became flesh for us.

If humans are sheep
then He would be a sheep as well.

In saying that He is the shepherd 
Jesus is not exalting Himself over us.

Quite the reverse.

He is saying that He is with us.

He is on our side.

He has our backs,
won't let us go,
will fight for us
will die for us 
will lead us into the ecstasy
of Heaven itself
all because He loves us
and enjoys 
to be around us.


However we appear
in Our Lord's parables
we can trust 
that He means us
in the best possible way
in order to bring us to our perfection 
and happiness 
which can only happen 
when He is in our midst.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Proceedings from Easter

Sermon for Low Sunday

The Lord breathes
on the Apostles
and then says,
"Receive the Holy Ghost."

But don't they receive
the Holy Ghost
on the day of Pentecost?

What's going on?


The first thing to note
is that the Holy Ghost
is proceeding from the Son.

But the Son is not the source
of the Holy Ghost.

Jesus is the means 
by which the Holy Ghost
proceeds to us.

The scripture here 
is very clear.

The Spirit proceeds
from the Father as the source
of all being and yet
through the Son
and upon the apostles.

Why should this be important
to us?

Does it matter how 
the Persons of the Trinity
relate to one another?

Does it matter how
the Holy Ghost shows Himself to us?


What do we see?

The Lord Jesus breathes
the Holy Ghost
into the Apostles
and He gives them authority
to bind and loose sins.

This authority
is not just some certificate,
not some rubber stamp,
or ID card that says
"Licence to forgive sins."

This authority
is the Holy Ghost Himself.

It shows us
that when the Apostles forgive sins
in the name of
the Father, Son and Holy Ghost,
they really are forgiven
that the relationship
between God and those who repent
is healing and strengthening.

This authority has its source 
in God the Father
because God the Father
is the source of all things good.

This authority proceeds through
God the Son,
because the Incarnation
of Jesus Christ was expressly
for the purpose of redeeming souls
and the forgiveness of sins.

So we see that the Holy Ghost
proceeds from the Father
through the Son
to us 
for the purpose
of freeing us from our sins.


The Apostles clearly receive
the Holy Ghost here
and here He begins His work
of transforming
Disciple to Apostle.

When that transformation is complete
then the Holy Ghost
makes His presence visible
fifty days after Easter.

But that is another story.