The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life


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God’s disapproval

On 7 August, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Isaiah 1:1, 10-20, Psalm 50:1-8, 23, Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16,  Luke 12:32-40.

Imagine arriving at church, either offline or online, to be greeted with the question: “What are you doing here?” I think you might be quite surprised. What about the warm welcome, the pleasure in seeing you again, the hope that you have a good day, an invitation to stay for coffee afterwards, and so on?

Worshippers in Isaiah’s day were greeted with much worse, as God spoke through his prophet. God makes a list of what he doesn’t like about the people’s worship:

He’s ‘had enough’ of burnt offerings.

He does not ‘delight’ in the blood of the sacrifices animals.

The movement of the feet of worshippers he calls ‘trampling’.

The offerings are ‘futile’.

Incense is ‘an abomination’.

He ‘cannot endure’ the various assemblies.

He ‘hates’ the appointed festivals.

The worshippers are ‘a burden’ to him.

He is ‘weary of bearing them’.

We have to ask if this is the same God who says in Psalm 50: ‘I will not reprove you for your sacrifices, for your burnt offerings are always before me.’ Surely it was God who had instructed Moses in the system of sacrifices, new moon festivals, sin offerings, thank offerings. It was God who decided on the annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Why suddenly decide that all this was to be swept aside? Why the overwhelming dislike for all things religious? Continue reading

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God’s faithfulness

On 31 July, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 107:1-9, 43, Hosea 11:1-11, Colossians 3:1-11,  Luke 12:13-21.

Hosea, who wrote our Old Testament passage for today, was prophet to the Northern Kingdom – Israel – around 722 – 715 BC. The kingdom was ruled by Jeroboam II. The rich were prosperous but the poor were oppressed by them. Morals were declining in the society.

At times God told his prophets to perform some action in order to vividly illustrate what he was trying to say to his people or to prompt them to ask questions. Usually this was a temporary situation but for Hosea it required much more of him; he illustrated God’s message with a lifelong commitment. God told him to marry an unfaithful wife, which he did. Gomer bore many children to Hosea; however, some were fathered by other men as a result of Gomer’s adultery.

As God had predicted, Gomer tired of Hosea and left him to pursue other lovers. Hosea’s name means ‘salvation’ and true to his name instead of divorcing her, Hosea searched for her, and found her. It seems she had become enslaved and needed to be bought back in order to be free to return to live with Hosea. Continue reading


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What is God like?

On 24 July, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 85, Hosea 1:2-10, Luke 11:1-13.

What is God like? That’s a very big question! I suppose it would be worrying if it were not a big question as it might suggest God himself is not very big. The study of what God is like has occupied theologians for centuries. One particular puzzle is whether he is a distant and uninterested God or a present and involved God.

Writers throughout the bible, both New and Old Testaments, agree that God is holy which means he is greater in every way than anything else. The special word used for this is ‘transcendent’. He is majestic, the creator, the lord and free from any needs. He is totally complete in himself and totally separate from anything else. The emphasis here is on God’s greatness.

The God who is present and near to us, who relates to us and is involved in creation and history is said to be ‘immanent’. His Spirit sustains everything. God’s guidance has helped to direct history through the ages. God loves his creation and wants to draw people to himself and help them to live in the way that he knows is best for them. When Jesus called God ‘Father’ or ‘Abba’ he emphasised God’s goodness.

Over the centuries, Christians have tried to hold these two aspects of God’s nature together but it’s not easy. Different theologians have tried to explain how it can be that God is close yet separate from all creation, good as well as great. Sometimes the emphasis has swung more in one direction than the other and has needed correcting. Continue reading


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Martha and Mary

On 17 July, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 52, Amos 8:1-12, Colossians 1:15-28, Luke 10:38-42.

I’ve heard it said more than once that if you want to know what someone’s priorities are, look at the way they spend their money. If most of the money they earn is used for new clothes, holidays, meals in restaurants, regularly changing their car, we can assume that person believes in enjoying themselves in life. They might be one of those people who says: Work hard, play hard. Having earned their money they feel free to spend it on themselves. This is easier for a person who is single but even those in a marriage might spend a lot on themselves. It’s not just a modern phenomenon either. It’s well known that in the past many a man took his Friday pay packet with him to the pub after work and had very little to give to his wife for the necessities of life by the time he weaved his way home on unsteady feet a few hours later.

Money is not the only indicator of priorities in a person’s life. We could also look at how they spend their time. Are they workaholics, never away from the office? Does a hobby take up a large amount of time? Are they hooked on Facebook or Second Life? Do they enjoy a sport or love their garden or always take the opportunity to spend time with family? Unlike with money, there is no way to earn extra time. All of us are allocated 24 hours a day to fit in what we consider essential or important. I suppose we could give up sleep as an unnecessary waste of time but most of us would soon become ill as a result. Continue reading

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Sea Sunday 2016

On 10 July, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 107:1-3, 23-32, 43, Genesis 12:1-9, Luke 10: 25-37. The sermon and service were based on resources provided by the Mission to Seafarers.

The Bible tells many stories about people setting out on journeys. Abram was called to leave his home and his people and set out on a journey to a new land. The story is full of hope and promise but the length and outcome of the journey are uncertain. Mary and Joseph set out for Bethlehem. Last week we read about the 70 disciples being sent on a missionary adventure which involved leaving so much behind: “Take nothing for the journey, no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3) Jesus himself set out for Jerusalem. None of these journeys were easy but the promise behind all of them is of future hope and blessing.

The familiar story of the Good Samaritan speaks of some of the perils of journeying and of the life-changing impact of hospitality and love shown by strangers to those far from home. It is this gospel imperative to recognise every human being as a neighbour which drove the founder of the Mission to Seafarers, the Revd John Ashley. In his lifetime he visited 14,000 ships.

Today we give thanks for the work and inspiration of The Mission to Seafarers which is celebrating 160 years of ministry, and for all who have heard God’s call to build his kingdom amongst seafarers and who have stepped out in faith, not knowing quite where the journey might lead. They each realised that it was a journey that would bring many difficulties and challenges, but they were clear that it was one inspired by the God who would travel with them. Like so many of those earlier Bible journeys, the journey of the Mission to Seafarers from its beginnings in the Bristol Channel in England to its current work in over 200 ports in 50 countries has been one which has brought abundant life and blessing to generations of seafarers. Continue reading

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Moving forward

On 26 June, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, Luke 9:51-62.

It’s been quite a week for the people of the United Kingdom. After months of debate, thousands of words spoken, written, tweeted and texted, on Thursday the day of the referendum on UK membership of the European Union finally arrived. The media worldwide has since reported the unexpected result that the majority of the British people wish to leave the EU.

Obviously in any choice of this nature there will be those who are disappointed by the outcome. In this case that is a huge number: 16.1 million, around 48% of those who voted. It would be wrong to just look at the figures from the UK, because the decision that has been made has caused distress across much of Europe. A major nation leaving the 28 country organisation cannot be without repercussions for the other nations. Change is unsettling at the best of times; few of us can class the current world situation as the best of times.

On many occasions in the last few months, prayers on Epiphany Island have been directed to God about the referendum. As a community we care about issues that affect fellow members, even if they live half a world away. On the evening of the voting itself, those of us gathered spent time asking for God’s wisdom on the matter. I believe that God has the issue in hand and that he can bring good from the outcome. Continue reading


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See in this white garment

On 19 June, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 42, Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 8:26-39

This week it is the thirteenth birthday of Second Life. Second Life had its beginning as Linden World in 1991. At first it looked like a video arcade game but later tools were provided to allow the world to be created and adapted by those who inhabit it. In June 2003, Second Life became open to the public with just 1000 members. It now has tens of millions of accounts although the suggestion is that only around 600,000 active users exist. Of course, if Second Life didn’t exist, Anglicans of SL would never even have been thought of and many wonderful relationships that have built up over the six years of our existence would not have happened. We owe a lot to the vision of Philip Rosendale whose brainchild SL is.

One of the wonderful outcomes of giving tools to residents is the creativity that has been unleashed in world. There are landscapes of great beauty, animals, plants, trees, buildings, clothes, avatars, so many things. Shopping in SL, particularly for clothes, is a popular pastime. It’s possible to choose many different styles of clothing – the formal evening wear, beach wear, party clothes, uniforms, outrageous and unlikely outfits, with wings, tails, tattoos and halos to enhance the effect. What we wear creates an image for others to see and conveys a message about us to those we meet in world.

The same can be said for our offline lives as well as our in-world lives. What we wear helps us to make a statement about ourselves and affects how others see us. There are those who power-dress to bolster their standing in a group of people. Uniforms help us to detect which group a person belongs to and usually speak of some form of authority such as the armed forces, police or other emergency services or of members of the Scouting movement. Members of royal families may dress in splendid robes and wear crowns to set them apart from others. Special dress does much the same in the Church. Particular clothes show that people belong to religious orders of various kinds – Franciscan, Benedictine, Missionaries of Charity and so on. Chasubles, stoles, cassocks, dog collars help us to locate the leaders in a particular church. They allow us to find those who have authority within the church although not all denominations set their leaders apart in this clear way. Continue reading

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