The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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Individuals matter

On 16 April, Easter Day, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 118.14-24Acts 10:34-43, John 20:1-18.

After six and a half weeks of introspection and somewhat sombre readings in our services, after special services in which we retold the events of what had become the inevitable end of Jesus’ earthly life, today we celebrate.

Jesus died and rose again, defeating death. The tomb could not hold him, death was denied victory. Though for a while it seemed to have won, evil did not triumph. Today we say Alleluia! Today we rejoice in our freedom from condemnation as a result of sin. We are celebrating the wonderful action of God in Christ which has brought about our reconciliation to God. Today we recall what Peter told to those gathered in Cornelius’ house: “In every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to God.” And, “Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Continue reading


Hope amid despair

On 2 April, the fifth Sunday of Lent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 130Ezekiel 37:1-14, John 11:1-45.

Those of you who know Charlie12string, who leads Morning Prayer here on Epiphany Island, will know that he has a somewhat irreverent sense of humour. He often follows up one of his comments with “One flash and I’m ash”. Every year, as Lent approaches, Charlie tells me that he’s “giving up Lent for Lent”. It’s quite an amusing idea and, to a certain extent, I can see his point.

Lent is a time for self-examination, for taking stock of our lives and being honest about our weaknesses and faults. I suppose most of us would rather accept that we are basically good people who have not done anything terribly wrong. It’s not a comfortable idea to consider purposefully looking for those things in our lives that are not as they should be. However, if we have the courage to look it can be helpful and even hopeful. Taking time to reflect on our lives can help us to see where we can make changes that may benefit us as well as others around us.

At this point in Lent, things become even less enticing. Death features strongly and that’s not a topic that most of us like to dwell on, but perhaps it’s not all bad news. Continue reading


Seeing clearly

On 26 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 23Ephesians 5:8-14, John 9:1-41.

A few years ago a 40 year old woman, Joanne Milne, from Gateshead in the North East of England, became famous, something she probably never expected to be. She was born deaf and was given cochlear implants to allow her to hear. Having waited four weeks from the operation, the implants were switched on and the first few minutes in the hearing world for Joanne were filmed. The film went viral on YouTube. Joanne was in tears as she heard the days of the week spoken by a nurse. Later she explained how amazing it was to hear running water, birds calling as they flew overhead, the light switch as it clicked, the voices and laughter of herself and friends. Having been aware of the lack of one of her senses, Joanne was learning what it was like to experience something completely new.

I think the man in our gospel story would have a good understanding of just how Joanne felt. He was born blind and was also fully adult. He had lived all his life in darkness, unable to see around him, reduced to begging to make a living. Whereas Joanne hopefully received sympathy and consideration in her life as a result of her difficulty, the man (or his parents) were suspected of being sinners and hence causing the blindness. Poor man! Continue reading

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Living Water

On 19 March, 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 95Exodus 17:1-7, John 4:5-42.

The Samaritan woman at the well is probably for many of us a well-known character in the gospel narrative. I wonder what you think when you hear her mentioned. Do you see a much maligned and ostracised woman whom society had rejected? Do you see a terrible sinner who lured men into her bed and then cast them off? Perhaps you see a bold woman who is prepared to set aside the conventions of society and dare to debate on religious matters with a Jewish rabbi.

What we actually know about this woman is not very much. She was drawing water at noon, which is unusual. The evening would have been more likely, when the heat of the sun had gone, or early morning to get fresh supplies for a new day. At noon most people would be keeping in the shade if possible. It could just be that on this occasion the woman went at noon for an extra visit for some reason or it could be that she wanted to avoid the other women of the city. The reason for avoidance could have been that the man she was living with was not her husband in a legal sense. She’d had five husbands but this seemed to be what we might call a common-law husband. Even without the complication of this sixth man, perhaps the woman felt shame due to the ending of her previous marriages (Jews considered that no woman should have more than three husbands) and so avoided the other women. Of course, in those days when life was more precarious than now, all five husbands might have died but I suppose even that might have made tongues wag. Continue reading

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Under cover of darkness

On 12 March, 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 121Genesis 12:1-4a, John 3:1-17

Feeling like a thief in the night, Nicodemus walked from deep shadow to deep shadow through the narrow streets of Jerusalem. Bright patches of moonlight were too revealing. He didn’t want to be seen. What would people think if they looked out of their doors at this time of night? All decent people were in their homes with family and friends, catching up on news with visitors who had come for the feast of Passover. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, an important person, someone to be looked up to, a wise and respected teacher. It wouldn’t do for too many questions to be asked by people and especially by other members of the Sanhedrin.

Nicodemus’ wife thought he was mad, risking so much to visit a travelling rabbi from Galilee. Weren’t there enough great rabbis he could talk to and debate with in Jerusalem? Why this one? What was so special about him? But Nicodemus couldn’t rest. He’d been there when Jesus had stormed through the Temple, scattering the merchants and their animals in all directions, spilling coins for the alert to quickly pocket. Of course, most people had been indignant, well most people of any standing anyway. The ordinary people seemed to really like this Jesus of Nazareth. They seemed to sense that he understood and cared for them. Nicodemus had heard talk of healings taking place, but many of these simple folk were easily taken in. Charlatans turned up regularly, fleecing people of their money in exchange for bogus cures and medicines. Continue reading

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The Power of God’s Word

On 5 March, the first Sunday of Lent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7Psalm 32, Matthew 4:1-11.

For some of you listening, Queen Elizabeth II is your head of state. Some of you may have another monarch who rules over you. For others, the idea of a royal family is fascinating even though you don’t have one yourselves. For some in the UK the wish is to be free of a royal family, seeing it as an expensive luxury which serves no useful purpose. Whatever your point of view or country’s political structures, I think you will be able to appreciate that when Queen Elizabeth greets someone from another country at Buckingham Palace or when she goes to visit another country, she is representing not herself but her country, or the Commonwealth in general.

A sovereign or head of state represents their nation and that was certainly the case in Old Testament and New Testament times. Jesus is the descendant of David and was born ‘king of the Jews’ as the wise men said to Herod. As King he represented Israel and in so doing he was able to rectify what Israel had got wrong. God had wanted Israel to be blessed in order to be a blessing to other nations, to be a light to those walking in darkness. In Jesus God’s calling to Israel was finally to be realised. Continue reading

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Ash Wednesday

On 1 March, Ash Wednesday, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Joel 2.1-2, 12-17Psalm 51:1-18, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.

The Ash Wednesday liturgy we are using, taken from the Church of England resources, is rich in content. There is barely any need of a reflection if you pay attention to the words of the liturgy. I will therefore confine myself to a few words which highlight what Lent is about, to remind those who are familiar with the season and to inform those who aren’t.

Lent is a time of preparation for Easter. To go straight to Easter without preparation is rather like seeing the view from the mountaintop without climbing the mountain. That can be done where trains or cable cars take people to the top but there is something missing from the experience if you have not got there by making some effort.

Lent is a time to consider just why Easter is part of the Christian story at all. By focusing on our own mortality and sin, we see clearly that only God is able to save and restore us, which he did through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the supreme act of God’s grace, to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.

Lent (which comes from the Anglo-Saxon word for Spring, when the days lengthen) is a period of 40 days, beginning today on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Eve. For those who are interested in the arithmetic, the Sundays of this period are not counted as part of Lent. They are little celebrations in anticipation of the great celebration of Easter. Continue reading