The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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Sea Sunday Sermon

Delivered by Helene Milena on Sea Sunday 2020

For several years Anglicans of SL have joined churches around the world in celebrating Sea Sunday. As we live on an island (albeit a virtual one) and have a mermaid as our church warden, it’s a celebration we cannot possibly miss.  It’s a day to remember all who work on the sea and the dangers and challenges they face. We remember how much we depend on these people whom we seldom have cause to meet. This year we may well be celebrating with very few other churches. The lockdown in so many countries means that church services have been affected. Most churches are therefore putting off their Sea Sunday service until later in the year. For us, of course, lockdown has no effect and so we carry on as usual.

On 27th March this year, Pope Francis addressed an empty square from St Peter’s Basilica when he invited the faithful around the world to pray with him. He delivered an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi blessing while praying for an end of the coronavirus. He spoke about what we can learn from the reading we have just had from Mark’s Gospel. He began his reflection in this way:

“ ‘When evening had come’ (Mk 4:35). The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this. For weeks now it has been evening. Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying ‘We are perishing’ (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.”

Obviously, that address was some months ago and many countries are trying to resume some semblance of normal lives. However, all is not normal. Some countries are still facing increasing infection rates as COVID-19 continues its progress around the world. Even in those countries where progress is being made in reducing infection rates, there is constant vigilance in case there are spikes in the number of cases. People who have never worn a face mask now wear one as a matter of course. Nations who do not normally queue, unlike the British who seem to be known for it, now queue outside shops leaving the required distance between themselves and others.

Seafarers could seem to be blissfully isolated from all that is happening in the world on land, but sadly that is not the case. Perhaps the early effect of the virus brought seafarers to our attention more than normal. I imagine many of us followed the fate of the Diamond Princess cruise ship which reported an outbreak of COVID-19 and docked in Yokohama, Japan on 5th February. During the quarantine period there, cases increased, affecting 567 passengers and 145 crew, with 9 people dying. The crew had to carry on serving the passengers as best they could in these strange circumstances, all the time at risk of contracting the disease themselves. This cruise ship and others were effectively incubators for the disease with the crews tasked with finding ways to contain the infection. Many ships found it difficult to gain permission to dock and allow passengers to disembark. Supplies were running out often before a port would relent.

As in normal times, cargo ships continue to operate, moving 90% of the world’s goods to their destinations, including medicines and other medical supplies. Crew members normally spend 6-10 months on a contract, after which they fly home before starting the next. Because of lockdowns and cancelled flights, many seafarers have found themselves in hotels and hostels in a foreign country dependent on charities to supply their basic needs. Others have had their contracts extended, finding themselves working extra months when they need a break from the fatigue and long to see their families again. Shore leave can be nearly impossible, leaving seafarers suffering isolation and stress. Sadly, some have suffered so badly that they have committed suicide.

Inevitably, some seafarers become ill or are injured and need to be treated urgently in hospitals on shore. These transfers have often been delayed until the individual is very seriously ill. For those who have made it home, they face quarantine for a period of time. Once back with their families, seafarers can be viewed with suspicion by their communities as potential carriers of COVID-19.

Many seafarers work for unscrupulous employers. Some of these are avoiding their responsibilities to their workers, not respecting their rights to be paid on time or provided with safe working conditions. As their families depend on the income for the basic necessities such as school fees, utilities and medical care, few seafarers dare to challenge the conditions they work under. Meanwhile, the threat of piracy has increased this year by 24%. Worries about disease don’t seem to have prevented armed robbers from plying their trade at sea.

In normal times, chaplains can go on board to offer support to crew members, or provide facilities on shore for them. Like many forms of work, chaplaincy has gone online. Chaplains keep in touch using social media and continue to offer a listening ear. They do all they can to support seafarers and their families materially and spiritually. They also continue to challenge bad employment practices on behalf of seafarers.  

Catholics around the world are invited to support those who make their living from the sea by their prayers, particularly in the month of August. We can join with our brothers and sisters in the Catholic church by adding our prayers for the huge number of people who sacrifice safety and comfort to supply our needs.

It’s a difficult time for many of us, even if we are not faced with the challenges at sea. Many are distressed and anxious, lonely and afraid. Towards the end of his address, Pope Francis said the following: ‘Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.’


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May schedule is out


*Services and events during May 2020*

* Morning Prayer: Monday to Sunday at midnight in the Meditation Chapel,

*Questions, Queries, Quagmires
Jude’s discussion group meets Saturdays at 1 pm SLT

*Sunday at 10.30 am at the benches outside the Parish House. Joyous and Mimsey lead discussion of the day’s gospel. This usually leads nicely into…

*Sunday at 12 noon in the Cathedral, a short prayer service lead by Finn

***SPECIAL ***

Pentecost, May 31st – at noon, Helene Milena will lead a service to celebrate the birthday of the Church

AND – please keep using our resources and the Bell Circle to pray for the COVID-19 crisis

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We began in the ruin of the bombed church in London 1940, and ended with fireworks on Epiphany. Many thanks to all those people who worked to provide resources, hold services and pray all through Lent and Holy Week. It is more important than ever that Epiphany serves the community of Second Life.

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Our schedule for Holy Week and Easter

All sorts of reasons to come and pray on Epiphany Island at the moment, and you might also want to listen for the bell….

The bell_001

In addition to Morning Prayer at midnight SL time every day:

Palm Sunday – at noon a reading of the Passion, starting outside the Cathedral

Monday 6th-Wednesday 8th at noon in the Chapel – Evening Prayer

Maundy Thursday – at noon in the Cathedral, a Lord’s Supper Service

Good Friday- at noon The Stations of the Cross in the Cathedral

Holy Saturday – at noon the Easter Vigil Service

Easter Sunday – at noon an Easter Prayer Service in the Cathedral
AND – please keep an eye on your group chat and notices for opportunities to pray for the COVID-19 crisis, as well as extra Holy Week services.

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Candlemas 2020

This is the sermon preached in the Cathedral on Epiphany Island by Helene Milena on 2nd February 2020. The readings were Malachi 3:1-5, Psalm 24 and Luke 2:22-40.

There’s an old joke about the Pope. I’d like to remind you of it, but I’ll change it to being about the Archbishop of Canterbury as we’re an Anglican Church.

It rained heavily one spring in Canterbury and flood waters began to rise. The Archbishop of Canterbury was at the cathedral. When he went to leave, the water was up to the top of the steps. As he stood there, one of the cathedral staff came by in a small inflatable dinghy which he normally used on holiday.

“Climb in, Your Grace, and I’ll soon get you to dry land.”

“I am an archbishop. I have faith in God. I shall pray and God will rescue me.” With that, the archbishop refused to get in the dinghy.

Some time later, the water was spreading through the cathedral and the archbishop ended up standing on a pew to keep his feet dry while he prayed.

An inshore lifeboat came into the cathedral and drew close to the archbishop.

A crewman said, “Climb in, Your Grace, and we’ll soon get you to dry land.”

The archbishop refused to get in the lifeboat. “I am an archbishop. I have faith in God. I shall pray and God will rescue me.” Continue reading

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Ash Wednesday

A Meditation on the Beatitudes*

1. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Straight to the heart of it:
these folk get the jackpot.
A reward for what?
I’m slightly resentful.
Poor in spirit – what’s that?
Doesn’t sound very worthy…
Deep breath and think again.
These are the people
Who see Christ on the cross
And hurt with Him. They open
up and take Him on.
They’ve let God in at their lowest
And realise he was there already.

2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

That lady who cried when she saw you,
The man who could not meet your eye,
The tentative, stuttering pat on the shoulder,
The mind that only chant, “Why?”

And you smiled and you hugged and you nodded –
And wished you were sitting alone,
In darkness and silence and nothing, inside
The grey world that shadows our own.

But the people around you, though awkward,
(Annoying, well-meaning, too much!)
Are leading you out of the vacuum of grief,
For they are the voices of Love.

And Love knows the meaning of loss.
And Love knows the tears of despair.
And Love fills the holes left inside a numb heart
With infinite atoms of care.

3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Definition of “meek” from Merriam-Webster:
– enduring injury with patience and without resentment : mild
– deficient in spirit and courage : submissive
– not violent or strong : moderate

A proper definition.
The meek:
– go to parties, particularly weddings
– get their hearts broken
– have lots of friends
– die for their beliefs
– do what their mother says
– throw bankers out of the Temple if necessary
– face every challenge, however scared they are
– are good with children and animals (particularly donkeys)
– believe in Love

Recognise anyone?
4. Blessed are the peacemakers,for they will be called children of God

Grameen Bank, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Liu Xiaobo , Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, United Nations Peace-Keeping Forces, Arthur Henderson, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohamed ElBaradei, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Al Gore, Albert Lutuli, Alfonso García Robles, Alfred Fried, Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, Amnesty International, Alva Myrdal, Aristide Briand, Aung San Suu Kyi, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Auguste Beernaert, Bertha von Suttner, Betty Williams, Willy Brandt, Gustav Stresemann, Albert Schweitzer, Carl von Ossietzky, Carlos Saavedra Lamas, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Charles Albert Gobat, Charles G. Dawes, Christian Lange, William Randal Cremer, Dag Hammarskjöld, Tenzin Gyatso, Louis Renault, Martti Ahtisaari, Menachem Begin, Ludwig Quidde, David Trimble, Union Nations, Denis Mukwege, Desmond Tutu, Élie Ducommun, José Ramos-Horta, Elie Wiesel, Elihu Root, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Ferdinand Buisson, Nansen International Office for Refugees, Frédéric Passy, International Committee of the Red Cross, Frank B. Kellogg, George C. Marshall, Dominique Pire, Henri La Fontaine, Lester Bowles Pearson, Leymah Gbowee, Institute of International Law, Emily Greene Balch, Ernesto Teodoro Moneta, Fridtjof Nansen, Henry Kissinger, Hjalmar Branting, Cordell Hull, League of Red Cross Societies, Jane Addams, Henry Dunant, Jody Williams, The Lord Boyd-Orr, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Juan Manuel Santos, Kailash Satyarthi, Fredrik Bajer, John Hume, Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, United Nations Children’s Fund, Jimmy Carter, Wangari Muta Maathai, Yitzhak Rabin, European Union, René Cassin, Andrei Sakharov, Rigoberta Menchú, The Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, Eisaku Satō, Seán MacBride, Shimon Peres, Shirin Ebadi, Léon Bourgeois, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Médecins Sans Frontières, Nathan Söderblom, Léon Jouhaux, Tawakkul Karman, Tobas Asser, Nadia Murad, International Atomic Energy Agency, Norman E. Borlaug, Barack Obama, Óscar Arias, Paul Henri d’Estournelles de Constant, Linus Pauling, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, International Labour Organization, Frederik Willem de Klerk, John Raleigh Mott, Fredrik Bajer, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Joseph Rotblat, Kim Dae-jung, Permanent International Peace Bureau, Kofi Annan, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Murray Butler, Sir Norman Angell, Philip Noel-Baker, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Muhammad Yunus, The Quakers, Klas Pontus Arnoldson, Lech Wałęsa, Mairead Corrigan, Ralph Bunche, Malala Yousafzai.

5. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they will be filled.

At the heart of us there is a hole
And everyone longs to fill it.
It is easiest to look around
and just take what’s there,
fill the hole up with Stuff.
But that won’t work.
Only The Right will do the job.
The Greeks had a word for it.

6. Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

I gave my love a universe,
Of moons and stars.
I gave my love a life
Without any cares.
I gave my love a planet,
All blue and green.
I gave my love the chance
To start again.

7. Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

When I was a child, I loved Doctor Who
and dreamed I lived in the Tardis.
I roamed the Universe, saving people,
But never destroying, a force for good.

Now I am an adult, I live in the world.
The monsters I fight are in my head.
I struggle to save myself.
I destroy just by existing.

I must return to that hope of good.
The monsters can be converted.
If I look for God in the world around me
I shall see Him face to face.

8. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Today I sat down on the bus
in the “Whites Only” section.
The woman in front of me turned
And gave me an inhuman look.

Today I carried a placard through my town.
The generals called in the army.
The sound of gunshots filled the cafes
That line our town square.

Today we went on a crowded train
and Papa was taken away.
The huts are cold and bare here,
And the soldiers don’t look at us.

Today I was told that I was wrong.
I paid for the world’s mistakes.
I trod a path of taunts and torments
And thought about Love.

***Copyright AoSL 2019
*** Please feel free to copy and use anything on this notecard for an appropriate purpose.

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Thoughts on Creationtide

Well, this is the first time I have been so aware of Creationtide and I have found it a very interesting few weeks. Often, the focus of our environmental thinking is on our failings as a species to care for our environment, and of course we must keep thinking and acting to counteract the damage done. I was aware as I thought of how difficult it is for the Church to involve itself with anything like this without being accused of being “political”. Maybe sometimes we have to be political!

But for me the most thought-provoking moment came when I read a passage from “H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald, a passage which I found on the C of E’s Creationtide website ( The Earth, her plants and her creatures bring us joy and comfort in so many ways. I’m looking forward to next year!