The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life


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That we may come to believe

On 3 April, the Second Sunday of Easter, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 150, Acts 5:27-32,  John 20:19-31.

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.” John even says it later at the very end of his Gospel: “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” I read these words and I wonder why John didn’t at least give the task a try. How can he tantalise like this, saying that there’s a whole lot more to the story and then keeping it to himself? I want to read the missing bits, I want to know all the extra things that Jesus did, I want a blow by blow account of every miracle, every piece of teaching, every confrontation, every journey of Jesus. But I am denied that. However, John says that what he has written is there to allow us, his readers, to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and to have life in his name as a result.

Despite my frustrations, which you may share, John obviously thinks he has given enough of the story of Jesus to achieve what he set out to do. John’s gospel seems to be the one that has been the most carefully structured to bring about the desired teaching. It’s John who builds much of what he writes around the seven ‘I am’ statements of Jesus, where he effectively uses the name that God uses for himself and so declares that he is the Son of God. John is a careful and thoughtful editor of the vast amount of material at his disposal. He chose to include this story about the disciples meeting Jesus in a locked house on two occasions. These are among the signs that are written so that we may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Continue reading


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Easter Day 2016

On 27 March, Easter Day, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, Isaiah 65:17-25, Acts 10:34-43,  John 20:1-18.

Well here we are, at the Big Day which we’ve looked forward to for over six weeks! I imagine we have each had a different journey through Holy Week in terms of times of worship and prayer in order to arrive at Easter Day.

Here on Epiphany Island we began with reading through Luke’s account of Jesus’ Passion on Palm Sunday. Then on Good Friday at our Tenebrae service we read through John’s account of the Passion. At our Easter Vigil yesterday we read Matthew’s account. Today we could have had either Luke’s or John’s account of that first Easter morning. In my offline church we also read through the same readings on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. This morning our vicar chose to read from John.

There is an advantage in hearing the retelling of the Easter story several times in quick succession. I think it gives an opportunity to really get into the story again, rather than believing we know it all already. There is a chance that something new might jump out at us and make a real impact. As I listened in church this morning, I was struck by something that Jesus said and I made a connection I’ve not made before which I’d like to share with you. Continue reading

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The Prodigal Father

On 6 March, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32.

Reflections of a prodigal father:

Here’s another neighbour at the door with payment for land to help his old friend out. His eyes have the same look in them as the others – pity, disbelief, concern, puzzlement. He says nothing but I can hear the comments nevertheless. ‘That younger son of yours is making a fool of you. Why accept him asking for you to be dead? Why quietly acquiesce to his demand for half the estate? He’ll waste it all. He needs a good talking to, a bit of discipline. Mark my words. You’re far too generous for your own good.’ Continue reading

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Not fair

On 28 February, the Third Sunday of Lent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 63:1-9, Isaiah 55:1-9, Luke 13:1-9.

Why do bad things happen to good people? That’s a question many people wrestle with.

We see a loving young mum fighting a vicious form of cancer and it seems unfair. A popular local figure is killed in a car accident that was not his fault and we wonder why the driver of the other car got away with only scratches. Why couldn’t the kind man have lived to continue his great work in the community? Incidents like this are enough to leave some people completely turned off God and faith.

We still have a sense that life should be fair. If someone suffers due to their own wrong actions, we can be quick to say that it serves them right. (Or as Charlie is fond of saying, quoting his mum, they got their just desserts.) This is very much what the Jews of Jesus’ day thought. Tragedy or illness or disability came to those who sinned. The greater the sin, the greater the horrible consequences.

Having had two tragedies brought to his notice, presumably to gauge his reaction, Jesus’ rhetorical questions highlighted this view: “Do you think … they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?” In each case he answered his own question in the negative. Just because something bad happens to someone, it does not mean that they are bad. Bad things happen to good and bad people; good things happen to good and bad people. The world is not inherently fair. It is badly broken and doesn’t work in the way that our sense of fair play suggests it should. Continue reading

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Temptations

On 14 February, the First Sunday of Lent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 91:1-11, Romans 10:8b-13, Luke 4:1-13.

I’m sure you’ve come across the saying: ‘Less is more’. The idea is that it’s not necessary to overdo something to make a point. If something is done subtly it is often the best way.

The devil is the master of subtlety. He’s been practising since the first people were around, according to the account in Genesis 3: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” What God had actually said was: “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” As you probably know, this introduction led Eve to be persuaded that God was denying her something good in saying she could not eat from just the one tree. The rest, as they say, is history. Continue reading


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Promises, promises

On 21 February, the Second Sunday of Lent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 27, Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18, Luke 13:31-35.

In how many homes today has this scene been played out:

Mother: Your room is a mess! You said you would tidy it.

Teen: I will but I’ve been busy. I’ll do it tomorrow.

Mother: I’ll believe that when I see it. Promises, promises…

Or how often does a phone conversation like this take place:

Customer: You said a replacement would be in the post but nothing’s arrived.

Customer service: I assure you, Madam, we sent it out last week. I’ll make sure another is sent right away.

Customer: I’ve heard that before. Promises, promises…

Similar situations occur in homes, schools, businesses, churches on a regular basis. We promise something with the best of intentions but sometimes we don’t manage to do as we promised. Sometimes when reminded, the person who made the promise actually does as they said they would do. Other times we really are left wondering if they meant what they said as repeated reminders result in no progress at all. The person who hoped for some action might then be justified in not trusting that anything will happen. They may be right to walk away muttering: ‘Promises, promises’ with no expectation of anything changing. Continue reading

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Transformed from glory to glory

On 7 February, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 99, 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2, Luke 9:28-36.

A few days ago in Morning Prayer, Charlie commented on something from one of the Bible readings. It was something he hadn’t noticed before. This happens fairly regularly; not every day, not even every week, but often enough. We read a passage from the Bible with which we are familiar and something within it seems to jump out at us. It’s as though it was never in there before. Of course, the Bible text is not actually changing, but one or more of us finds our attention captured by a sentence or a phrase that we have read in the past but not given special attention to.

I had a similar experience today when reading Luke’s version of the Transfiguration. The story of the Transfiguration is one that I’m familiar with, and no doubt many of you are also. Eight days after Peter had declared that Jesus was the Messiah, and Jesus had warned the disciples of his impending execution, Jesus took the three disciples Peter, James and John up a mountain. There they saw Jesus with clothing that was dazzling white (or ‘bright as a flash of lightning’ if translated literally) and talking to Moses and Elijah about his ‘departure’. God’s voice was heard affirming that Jesus was his Son and telling the disciples to listen to him. Continue reading

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