The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life


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Farewell – well, not really – Finn

Sunday 27th, Sunday noon service.

Photograph courtesy of Pie Runner

A celebration was held to mark Finn stepping down as Chair of the Leadership Team at the the end of this month. Jude steps up to the post from October 1st.

We also said farewell to Soulllman, who is moving on to pastures new.

But there is no need to be too sad – Finn will be staying on as a member of the group and will continue to take Sunday noon services, along with Helene, until the end of October.


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Creationtide 3 sermon, Sunday 20th September 2020

by Helene Milena

Today is the third Sunday of the season of Creationtide. The theme over the whole season is ‘Jubilee for the Earth’; the theme for today is ‘There is enough for our need, not our greed’.

In the Old Testament reading, we find the people of Israel facing the reality of their change of circumstances. They were harshly treated as slaves in Egypt; freedom seemed to offer so much. However, as they observe their new surroundings, they can’t help but remember that they had enough to eat in Egypt whereas they have no idea where their food will come from in the wilderness. It’s not too difficult to understand the fear of the people. They are in the midst of a huge transition and they don’t know how life works in this new world they are entering. Slavery might have been hard, but at least they understood what was expected of them.

A natural reaction is to grumble, and grumble they do! Poor Moses and Aaron, having to deal with all this. Fortunately, God is listening and has the best interests of his people at heart. In the evening, they are showered with quails and in the morning, they gather manna to act as bread. Reading a little further than the passage for today, it says: “Those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage.” (Exodus 16.18). Everyone was provided with what they needed and no more. No one went hungry, no one was left out of the generous provision of God.

In the Gospel reading, we meet another set of grumblers. Workers had gathered at the break of day in the hope of being hired. Over the course of the day, one landowner had taken on five cohorts of labourers to work in his vineyard. When it came to the evening, all got paid the daily rate, however many hours they had worked. Those who had worked longest complained because they received no more than those who had worked only an hour. The landowner, representing God, chose to be generous and give everyone what they needed to live on for the day. To those who grumbled, he rightly pointed out that they got what they expected and should take it and go.

The economy of our world seems to work on a fear of lack, so that those who are able grab as much as they can of the world’s provisions. These actions by the powerful minority in the world leave the weak unable to compete, therefore they sink into poverty and despair. There is also the fiction that we must have more to be happy, that economies must grow no matter what. This leads to addiction to possessions, which are cast aside when the next new thing is on offer. There is no room in such a story for contentment, for being happy with enough. In the process of taking what we want, we pollute the world with our waste, damaging the lives of everyone, not just those of us who benefit from the items that create the waste.

In contrast, God’s economy embraces everyone equally, ensuring all have what they need. God does not look on some idea of worthiness to receive. He doesn’t rank people in order, meaning those who are last in line get barely anything. That would be like in my father’s family, when the dad and any working sons ate first, then the children, then mother got whatever scraps were left over. Jesus turned this upside down: the first shall be last and the last shall be first. In God’s economy, no matter how many of his creatures he needs to provide for, there is always enough. There was enough manna for everyone every day. There would have been enough denarii to give everyone their day’s wages, no matter how many men were brought from the marketplace to the vineyard. Just think of the feeding of the five thousand where all ate their fill and there was even food left over. That’s God’s economy at work, an economy of abundance, generosity and love for all.

Now we find ourselves at a critical point as a planet. We have barely any time to change our way of living. Like the people of Israel, we may look over our shoulders and long for how things were in the past, but that wasn’t good really. Being slaves in Egypt or slaves to those commercial enterprises that hold us in thrall to the idea of owning more and more is not good. Like the Israelites, we may grumble as we face transition from one way of living to another. They were travelling to the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey. Our journey is to the Hoped-For Land, where the air is clean, we can live less stressfully, we can continue to enjoy abundant variety in the natural world, where no one suffers because of climate change.

Later we will pray the Lord’s Prayer where we ask God for our daily bread, for what we need for the day. As Christians, we should lead the world in living this way, wanting only enough, not more. There are 2.4 billion Christians in the world, 29% of the population. If every Christian lived by the economics of God’s kingdom, it would change the world. Let’s each follow Gandhi’s advice: ‘Live simply, that others may simply live.’


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Sermon for Climate Sunday, September 6th 2020

by Helene Milena

The season of Creationtide is upon us, as you can probably tell from your surroundings. This is not a season that has been celebrated for centuries, such as Lent and Holy Week. It is very much a new initiative in church terms which has come from the 1989 recognition of the Day of Prayer for Creation by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is now celebrated by many churches worldwide.

Every year a theme is chosen by the ecumenical committee from around the world. This year the theme is Jubilee for the Earth. Jubilee is currently used with the meaning of an anniversary celebration, particularly for a monarch. Everyday use doesn’t come anywhere near the meaning of the word in the Bible. The Israelites were commanded to let the land rest every seventh year. The jubilee year was a rest after seven lots of seven years: You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you. (Leviticus 25:10). The land was allowed to rest, anyone enslaved because of debt was freed in this year and lands that had been sold because of debt were returned to their previous owners. This helped to alleviate poverty and remove inequality. It was this idea which was behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel unpayable debt. This was not just an anniversary party; it brought about significant change for people and the environment. Every year, Christians around the world are called to consider how we can live in a way that is best for the Earth and its inhabitants.

Perhaps this year of the COVID-19 virus has shown us most clearly how interconnected we all are. A disease that started in one city has affected near enough every country in the world. Millions have been infected; hundreds of thousands have died. We have been made aware of how difficult it is for poor people who live in crowded slums or refugee camps to find soap and water to wash their hands and the space to distance themselves from others. The provision of hospitals, doctors and lifesaving equipment is far less for them than for richer nations. Our political systems and our demand for more and more possessions make the levelling of equalities intended by a Jubilee impossible to achieve.

Paul, in Romans 13, reminds his readers of four of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and, like Jesus, sums up this part of the law: “Love your neighbour as yourself……..Love is the fulfilling of the law”. The way we live does not constitute loving our neighbour as ourselves. Our focus is nearly entirely on ourselves. We consume vast quantities of food wrapped in plastic. We make toys and many of our household goods from plastic too. When that plastic is once in the environment it enters the food chain to poison people as well as clogging up the oceans, rivers and lakes. We burn fossil fuels and pollute the atmosphere, water and land with the by-products of our industrial processes. The injustice is that it doesn’t just affect those who used the plastic or create the pollution, but those all across the globe including many who are struggling to survive. In fact, it is the poor and marginalised who are always affected disproportionately. They are the ones who suffer most from a change in climate which makes a precarious living into an impossibility. In a globally connected society, these people are our neighbours just as much as the person across the street or in the apartment above us. Future generations are also our neighbours in time; we are leaving them a terrible legacy of extremes of climate and impoverishment of biodiversity. You could also argue that our neighbours are the creatures with which we share the planet, 50% of which face extinction because of human behaviour.

So, what can we do? We cannot point the finger of blame at the world’s people in general if we, as members of the Church, are not doing something to change how we live and how we look at the problem. The Patriarch of the Orthodox church says this:
“We have traditionally regarded sin as being merely what people do to other people. Yet, for human beings to destroy the biological diversity in God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by contributing to climate change, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s waters, land and air – all of these are sins.” Sin is an unpopular word, some would say an old-fashioned word that is not helpful to people. Our modern way of looking at human motivations and the trauma in some lives which causes bad choices leaves no room to talk of something like sin. However, God gave us a mandate to look after the Earth and we have failed badly. We have grabbed what we want without a thought for the outcome. Jesus made it plain that if we see another Church member sinning, we are to try to correct them. We cannot just turn a blind eye to wrong behaviour.

We have no right to challenge a brother or sister in Christ about their choices if our own behaviour is not in line with God’s commandments. We each have a responsibility to look at our own lifestyle and choices and consider how we can change as Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said: “Resolving the ecological crisis of our planet, however, is no longer a problem we can leave to the scientists. Just as we are all part of the problem, so we are all also part of the solution. We all need to come to terms with the forces that have created this crisis and the resources within our traditions that can motivate us to resolve the crisis. One of those traditions is our biblical heritage.”

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the problem. What can we do about five huge ‘islands’ of waste plastic floating in the oceans? How can we protect people in Bangladesh from the effects of floods or people in California from raging fires? In terms of action that would make a quick difference, there is probably nothing we can do about such things. That doesn’t mean we should do nothing. Every day offers us the chance to live more in line with God’s call to jubilee.

Currently, 40% of food is wasted; meanwhile two and a half billion people go hungry. Everyone can examine ways to avoid food waste in their own household. It’s amazing what you can do with left-overs. There are websites and Facebook pages dedicated to avoiding food waste.

We can also work on reducing the rubbish we produce. We can avoid single use plastics by having reusable cups and refillable containers for products.

We can reduce the pollution from driving our cars and heating our homes by choosing clean energy. We can walk and cycle more. We know that when lockdowns began to happen, atmospheric pollution dropped by a huge amount. We have seen that our behaviour can make a difference in this wonderful world we share.

Jubilee means the ‘ram’s horn’ that was blown to mark the start of a time of universal redemption ‘Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the Day of Atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land.’ (Leviticus 25:9) The Jubilee was a time of hope for the people. It’s up to us, brothers and sisters of Christ, to be that voice of hope in the current critical time for the Earth and all who live upon it.


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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.’

Amen


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May schedule is out

ANGLICANS OF SECOND LIFE – EPIPHANY ISLAND

*Services and events during May 2020*

DAILY OFFICE PRAYER SERVICES
* Morning Prayer: Monday to Sunday at midnight in the Meditation Chapel,

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

BIBLE STUDY
*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 SERVICE
*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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Fireworks

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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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.
Dikaiosune.

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.