The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life


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On 29th November, Advent Sunday, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 25:1-9, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-36.

Last Monday my husband, Phil, had a hospital appointment fairly close to where our daughter lives. He was invited to have an evening meal at her house before returning home. On the way to our daughter’s home, Phil called at our granddaughter’s day nursery to collect her. As Phil approached from the car park he saw that Emily was with a group of children outside. They were just getting ready to go back inside the building. Emily looked up and exactly in the direction of Phil. She gave a big shout: “It’s Grandpa!” One of the helpers told Phil, “It’s easy to tell whose she is!” All the way home in the car Emily said, “Grandpa” and Phil replied, “Emily.” Continue reading


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Christ the King

On 22nd November, the final Sunday of the Church Year, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 93, Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, Revelation 1:4-8, John 18:33-37.

Today we are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King, on this the last Sunday of the Church Year. This feast only came into being 90 years ago when Pope Pius XI sought to counter the negative effect on faith in Jesus of a change in the governance of countries away from monarchies and towards dictatorships. Change has continued; of the 196 or so countries in the world, only 44 have monarchies. The idea of being ruled by a king, or equivalent, looks outmoded, conjuring up ideas of tyranny, oppression or even of evil. The idea of a privileged dynasty is rejected in favour of greater equality. In its place has come the elected head of state, although there are still dictators ruling about a quarter of all countries. Continue reading


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Remembering the persecuted church

On 15th November, the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 116, 2 Corinthians 4, John 15:18-25.

Some years ago, a British company coined the slogan: “Does exactly as it says on the tin.” They intended to convey that, in a world of over-inflated advertising claims, they were telling the truth about their products. The slogan became so well-known that it has now passed into the language, meaning that something is exactly as it appears to be, or as it claims to be. Meanwhile the company in question has had to abandon the slogan in the cause of honesty as they sell products in tubs and tubes as well as tins! Continue reading


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Remembrance Sunday 2015

On 8th November, Remembrance Sunday, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 62:5-12, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 1:14-20.

It’s odd the things that stick in our minds – snippets of memories from various parts of our lives. Sights, scents, words, people can suddenly pop up in our minds for no apparent reason. In among the jumbled memories of favourite toys, grandparents, pets, camping adventures, marriage, birth of children and so on, I still recall my exams taken at the age of sixteen. I still have the exam papers all these years later. One question particularly sticks with me from my history exam: “Describe the causes and effects of the Boer War.” Our history syllabus covered 1890 to the present day, being at that time 1969. It was a pretty miserable chunk of world history to study, mostly defined by war it seems to me. The Second Boer War ushered in the 20th Century. That faded into insignificance compared to the First World War. The Second World War followed just two decades after the First had finished. Sadly, we didn’t get time to study beyond WWII so we didn’t reach any really good news at all. Continue reading


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All Saints’ Day 2015

On 1st November, All Saints’ Day, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 24:1-6, Revelation 21:1-6, John 11:32-44.

Today we are just about in the middle of Allhallowstide (at least those of us who are far enough east not to have moved into Monday!). All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day form a three-day observance in the life of the church when the focus tends to be on those who have died.

It’s likely that All Saints’ Day began in the seventh century when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome to the Virgin Mary and all martyrs on 13th May. He ordered the day to be observed every year as a celebration for the martyrs, saints and heroes of the faith. This was the final day of Lemuralia, an ancient festival when Romans sought to exorcise ghosts from their homes. Pope Gregory moved the day to 1st November, another day already associated with the dead by the Celts who celebrated Samhain at this time.

31st October is Halloween, enjoyed now by young people who like to dress up and knock on doors to ask for sweets. Its name is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve. In common with other special festivals of the church, it was usual to begin the observance in the evening in line with Jewish practice of beginning a new day at sunset. It became a tradition to have a vigil in the evening before significant festivals such as Christmas, Easter and All Saints’ Day.

All Souls’ Day on 2nd November began in the 11th century at Cluny as a day of intercession for Christians who had died. Its observance spread until the 13th century, by which time it was kept throughout the western church. It is the day when we recall our loved ones who have died, many of whom have had a great influence on our lives even if they are not famous as many saints in the church calendar are.

So today, All Saints’ Day, has a long history in the church and sits in the middle of a mini-season in the Church Year. Like many things in the Church, there is tradition attached to it. However, tradition is surely not a good enough reason in itself to do anything. There has to be some value in what we do as a church, something that helps Christians today in their walk of faith.

I think one place to find the answer is in the words of the hymn “For all the saints” which many Anglican churches use on All Saints’ Day. This was written by William Walsham How who was Bishop of Wakefield, my home city, from 1889 to 1897. He himself was something of a saintly man, being known for his work with the poor and with industrial workers. He has left us a wonderfully uplifting hymn His original version has eleven verses but I’ve never heard them all sung anywhere.

The first verse begins:
“For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed.”

This makes it clear that we are remembering those whom the church would call saints from the past, those who have laboured to spread the word about Jesus around the world. These are people who have lived the Christian life before us and can be examples to us. This is very much in line with Pope Boniface’s intention when this observance began.

Verse 2 says:
“Thou wast their rock, their fortress and their might;
Thou, Lord, their captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.”

Here we remember that being a Christian is not an easy calling. It is a fight against forces that would do their best to eliminate all mention of Jesus, something those who arranged for his death had hoped to achieve. You only have to read about the lives of some saints to understand the reality of this. But all is not doom and gloom. We are reminded that Jesus is there at the head of his faithful band of followers. When all seems dark and difficult he is a shining light, totally to be relied upon, never to be extinguished. As St John affirms at the beginning of his gospel: “the darkness has not overcome it”.

Verse 3 expands the scope of All Saints’ Day:
“O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.”

Here we find the idea of the Communion of Saints, which includes each of us. This is the community of believers, a unity because all belong to the same God. It includes those who have died and those who are still alive. It means those we can see and those who live elsewhere. For those of us who meet together to worship and pray on Epiphany Island, I think a common experience is to become more strongly aware of the fact that we belong to a worldwide body of believers. We pray together, we rejoice together, we weep together, because we belong together. The Communion of Saints embraces all Christians, past, present and future wherever they may be: heaven, earth, Second Life. Once again we see hope within difficulties. Though we may struggle in our lives of faith our struggle is not peculiar to us and we know that there is a glorious future for all believers. There is a challenge here to consider how we can do as those in the past did, and pass on the faith to those members of the Communion of Saints who belong to a future time. Perhaps they are only young now, perhaps not yet born, but we have a responsibility to them.

In the last three verses the hymn turns its attention to the future that faithful Christians will experience. The struggles of life will eventually be over. However, death is not the end. For Lazarus in the gospel, we know that he rose from death at Jesus’ command. Yet he must have died again at some point. However, he died in hope of the resurrection, a hope that Martha shared and that William How portrays:
“But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!”

For Lazarus, for Martha, for saints known and unknown to us, for all who have striven to have a pure heart and clean hands, including ourselves, there is the wonderful hope of joining that countless host as it flows into the heavenly city. God will dwell with his people in the new Jerusalem. Death, sadness and pain will be swept away. Jesus will take up his place on his throne to rule with justice. There will be a feast to surpass all feasts, the heavenly banquet. There we will have a chance to meet with those saints who became famous and those who are only known to a few. I suspect we will get a few surprises when we see who is seated at the table!

All Saints’ Day is not just a tradition for tradition’s sake. It’s a time to remember that we are not alone in our walk of faith. We walk in a path made clear by those who travelled before us. We, together with believers worldwide, help to keep the path well defined for those who will come after us. We are reminded whom we follow and where our final destination lies and so we have hope.


Helene Milena – Lay Pastor

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Goodbye and hello

Nothing stays the same forever. As it says in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

It is with sadness that I have to announce that Heatherly Addens has decided to step down from the Leadership Team and Social Team. She will continue to lead prayers in the chapel occasionally. We have appreciated all that Heatherly has done in her time on the teams. She assures us that she will still be around on the sim, so there should still be opportunities to meet her and chat.

Meanwhile, Klaus Bereznyak has accepted the invitation to join the Leadership Team. He is using his RL experience to help us improve the blog currently. Do keep an eye open for changes. If you have any suggestions for improvements, do let him know.

Helene Milena – Lay Pastor


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Bible Sunday 2015

On 25th October, the Last Sunday after Trinity and Bible Sunday, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 19, 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5, John 5:36-47.

If you were to check the website you would discover that today is Mother-in Law Day, International Artists Day, World Pasta Day, Sourest Day (as in being grumpy) and Punk for a Day Day. (I wonder whose inventory can supply what’s needed for the latter?) What the compilers have failed to note is that it’s also Bible Sunday. Bible Society, which exists around the world, designates this as a day to celebrate the Bible and its importance.

It’s possible to have something of great value in our possession without realising it. The television show ‘Antiques Roadshow’ in the UK and similar programmes in other countries, is based on that truth. People bring items from home for experts to examine and to place an estimated value on. Sometimes the owners are shocked by the value of something that has just been a part of their surroundings without much attention being paid to it. In July a painting by the South African artist Irma Stern was found being used as a kitchen notice board in a London flat. Its estimated value is £1m. In October it was reported that James Bray, the vicar of St Giles’ Church in Wrexham, North Wales, found a First Edition King James Bible when he was clearing out a cupboard. It is probably worth about £50,000.

Few people will ever own a special copy of the Bible such as that found at St Giles’ Church. However, many people (around 75% of those in the UK) own a Bible of some sort. The book itself may be one of thousands very much like it. No one would pay a huge sum to buy it from the owner. Yet it is a treasure beyond price, lying undiscovered by many of the owners. The Bible can completely transform our lives. Continue reading


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