The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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Advent Sunday 2017

On 3 December, Advent Sunday, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 80:1-8, 18-20Isaiah 64:1-9, Mark 13:24-37.

It’s a common observation that time passes more quickly when you are older, or so it seems. Certainly I’ve noticed quite a number of people saying things like: ‘October already. Where has the time gone?’ or ‘I can’t believe November is just about over.’ Time seems to race ahead and take some of us by surprise at the speed of its passing.

On the other hand, for many young people time seems to crawl by. Their complaint is often, ‘I can’t wait until my birthday/ our holiday/ my friend comes for a sleepover, etc’. Currently, it’s Christmas that is not coming quickly enough for many children. The excitement is more than they can bear. They ‘can’t wait’ until Christmas Eve when Father Christmas will finally set out on his journey to deliver the presents. They ‘can’t wait’ to wake up on Christmas morning and rip open the paper to see if the much coveted item is revealed ready to be played with.

Today is Advent Sunday, the day the Church particularly concentrates on its own ‘can’t wait’ moment, the one Jesus often talked about. We are focusing on the time when Jesus will come back as our King, his Second Coming. It’s something Jesus promised us. It will be an amazing occasion. Unlike his first coming, as a baby in obscurity, no one will be able to miss the Second Coming. Think about it: the sun will be dark, the moon also, stars will fall from heaven. We will see “The Son of Man coming in clouds”. I’m not sure I can conjure up a picture of how it will look, but it sounds exciting and momentous. Continue reading

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Prepare the way of the Lord

On 4 December we celebrated the Second Sunday of Advent. Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19Isaiah 11:1-10Matthew 3:1-12.

Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Last week the focus of the week was on the Patriarchs, those early heroes of the faith who had first listened to God and followed his lead. This week the focus shifts to the prophets. Many of the Patriarchs were also prophets.

The word “prophet” is formed from a Greek word which means “to tell before”. It has two parts: “pro” is the before bit; “phemi” is “to tell”. It’s the word behind the English word “fame”. The Hebrew word for prophet, “navi”, comes from a phrase meaning “fruit of the lips” and means an inspired speaker. The inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit who puts God’s words into the mouth of the prophets. God wants his people to listen to him. Through his Spirit he can speak to people directly but he uses prophets to speak his words also.

The job of a prophet is to speak for God and in so doing he or she will warn his or her listeners, challenge them, remind them of God’s law and encourage them to respond to the message that they hear. Those chosen by God as prophets are people close to God, holy and righteous. It is this closeness that gives the prophecy the ring of authenticity which allows it to be recognised as coming from God. Continue reading

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Advent Sunday

On 27 November we celebrated the First Sunday of Advent. Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 122Isaiah 2:1-5, Romans 13:11-14Matthew 24:36-44.

I suppose I could say ‘Happy New Year!’ today. Advent Sunday is the beginning of the Church’s year.

Advent has gathered various traditions, some of which we are celebrating within our service today. From Mexico we have Posada. Young people dressed as Mary and Joseph and went from house to house telling of the coming of Jesus. On Christmas Eve they performed a nativity play and placed figures of Mary and Joseph in a stable scene. Although this probably began as a novena, a nine day cycle of prayer, it now takes place throughout Advent. Today our Posada will begin as Mary and Joseph set off to travel around SL before returning here on Christmas Eve.

The Moravian custom of Christingle is now celebrated in many churches, forming the basis of a children’s carol service and the retelling of the Christmas story. Often churches are full for such events. As they involve each child having a lighted candle this can be quite an exciting, and somewhat dangerous, service! Continue reading

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Herald of good tidings

On 6 December, The Second Sunday of Advent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were A Song of Creation, Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:1-6.

Today in our journey through Advent we are remembering John the Baptist. As I thought about what we know of him, my mind turned to the role of pacemaker or pace-setter in middle distance or long distance running. These runners are in the race to ensure that others win or break records. They are not necessarily able to run the whole length of the race fast enough to win themselves but they can run the first part of it in a very precise way. They have instructions as to what pace they should run at for each lap. The competitor for whom the pace-setter is running knows to keep up with this person for the first part of the race. They are then well placed to go on to win the race or to break the record because they are not left with too much to do in the second part of the race. If you watch the race on television the camera stays on the competitor on whom all hopes are placed. You barely see the pace-setter drop away at an alarming rate as they no longer keep up with the front of the race. Often they don’t even finish as the race is not a distance they normally run. Their job is done; they’ve paved the way for an athlete greater than themselves to succeed. They drop out gracefully. Continue reading

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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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Rejoice, rejoice!

advtwrthThe third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudate Sunday, meaning Rejoice Sunday. The sombreness of Advent is interrupted a little as the mood lifts. The candle we light on the Advent wreath is pink, not the darker purple. The readings for the day are upbeat, good news kind of readings. Rejoicing is to be done at all times, in all circumstances, not because we are trying to fool ourselves about our circumstances but because we can rely on God and his promises.

The readings were Philippians 4:4-7, Luke 3:7-18 and the Canticle was taken from Isaiah 12:2-6. My reflection is given below:

We’ve been receiving more mail than usual for the last couple of weeks. I imagine that comes as no surprise to you. Even with the increased use of e-cards, there are still many Christmas cards sent by post. Christmas cards don’t account for all the increase in the amount of mail, though. Also around this time I receive more letters from charities asking me to make a donation. Obviously charitable organisations have to keep going whatever the season. With people concentrating on buying gifts for family and friends, there is a risk they will not remember to give to good causes or that they will have little money left over to do so, hence the reminders.

I suppose, like many people, I put the majority of these requests in the recycling pile. I already give regularly to several charities and can’t hope to give to them all, no matter how pressing the need. Amid the requests to feed the homeless, care for neglected donkeys and give children a good Christmas, one request really made an impact on me. It was looking for support for a poor community in Africa. It featured one family as an example which comprised a grandmother and her four grandchildren. The lady’s daughter had died giving birth to her fourth child, leaving the grandmother to bring up the children. Money had always been tight but there had been enough to save a little over six months in order to have special food at Christmas. Now that the grandmother has four children to feed, she is lucky if she can provide them with one meal a day. There is nothing left to save. What really struck me was that she said even if they all went to bed having eaten nothing that day, she gave thanks to God at the end of the day in her prayers because that is what we should do in all circumstances. Continue reading

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Seeing the hidden picture

26669987The things of everyday life are what we see easily and what can cause us to be worried. If we look beyond these things we can see the hidden picture, the eternal perspective. This reminds me of the magic eye 3D pictures which you can only see if you focus beyond what you can immediately see. Jeremiah seemed able to do this in the midst of a very difficult situation. Jesus also urges us to look forward and not focus on now.

At the Advent Sunday service in the Cathedral the readings were Psalm 25:1-9, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-36. My reflection follows.

I wonder if you have come across the Magic Eye 3D pictures. Another name for them is single image stereograms. They were very popular in the 90s but you can still see them around in places. These are the ones which have a design on them which is what you see immediately, but if you look in the right way you can see a hidden picture. (If you are unsure what I’m talking about you can find examples here: ). We have one of these pictures in our local fish and chip shop. I have never yet been able to see the hidden image. The website I referred to shows you how to develop this skill so perhaps I should practise! The trick to seeing the hidden picture is parallel viewing. Instead of looking directly at the picture, so that your eyes focus on its surface, you look as though observing something a long way behind the picture. Your eyes work parallel to one another instead of converging on the surface of the picture and this is what allows you to see what is hidden. Continue reading