The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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The Baptism of Christ

On 15 January we recalled the Baptism of Christ. Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 40:1-12Isaiah 49:1-7, John 1:29-42.

Today is the second Sunday of the Epiphany season. I suppose as we meet on Epiphany Island, we of all people should be aware of what Epiphany means. The Greek epiphaneia means manifestation or striking appearance. It refers to some kind of new insight and realisation which gives new understanding or a different perspective on a problem.

Archimedes benefited from an epiphany when he climbed into his bath and noticed the displacement of water (probably not for the first time) and suddenly made the connection to finding the density of an object. Newton must have seen objects dropping to the ground under the influence of gravity many times, but one occasion proved to be an epiphany for him when he was able to connect the fall of an apple with the force which kept the moon orbiting the earth. 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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I am no longer my own, but yours

On 10 January, The First Sunday of Epiphany, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 29, Isaiah 43:1-7, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22.

Last Sunday we remembered the Magi arriving to worship Jesus and we marked that occasion by having them arrive at our garden stable. We have entered the Epiphany season of the Church Year and today is the First Sunday of Epiphany. The meaning of the word Epiphany is manifestation, revelation or showing. The Sundays in Epiphany have readings which are designed to show us important truths about Jesus. Therefore, we should expect to be shown something of the nature of Jesus in the verses we have been given to read today.

Although last week was Epiphany, we used the service as a New Year Covenant service. In that service we concluded by using the Methodist Covenant Prayer. Over the years that we have been using this form of service, I have had several people contact me to express just how uncomfortable they feel with that prayer. I think that shows just how seriously those people are examining the words. I always warn people that many of the statements in that prayer are challenging and that not everyone will feel able to make those statements. There is no point saying something you do not mean, particularly when making such profound promises. Continue reading

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The Baptism of Jesus

On 11th January 2015, the first Sunday of Epiphany, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 29, Acts 19:1-7, and Mark 1:4-11.

The attack in Paris on the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine prompted many to identify with the victims by carrying posters declaring “Je suis Charlie”. It is likely that not all those doing so would write or draw similar items for publication. This was a case of identification, not approval necessarily. When Jesus was baptised, he did something similar – he identified with our sinful state though he, as God, could not approve of sin and he was not himself guilty of any sin.  Continue reading


The Baptism of Christ

E0274During the season of Epiphany we focus on incidents which show the world who Jesus was. On the first Sunday we remember the visit of the Magi who saw God incarnate in the child Jesus. This Sunday we remembered Jesus’ baptism when those around heard God declare that Jesus was his Son. The readings were Psalm 29, Isaiah 43:1-7 and Luke 15-17, 21, 22. My reflection is given below:

In this world of Second Life, many people try very hard to portray themselves as they would like to be seen. Unlike in RL, that is possible. If you want to be a tiny mouse or a scary monster, a dainty little girl or a furry cat, perpetually young or improbably thin, here it can be done. You can buy who you want to be in an instant. You can modify your avatar until the look is what you are seeking for. If your mood changes, you can change your avatar to suit.

When you first create an account in SL you can choose your name. Once again, most people choose something that sends out some message about them. A few choose their own name now that it’s possible to do so, but I suspect they are very much in the minority. It is the norm not to reveal your real name. The Terms of Service for SL have dire warnings that we are not to reveal anything we find out about someone to other people on penalty of death, or the SL equivalent, namely suspension or deletion of our account. This is a world of make believe and nothing is to disturb that without our permission.

I remember it took a lot of discussion by the Leadership Team to gain agreement that Leadership Team members and Worship Leaders should give their RL names on the blog. It’s a price we pay as a result of being in leadership positions and I know it is very costly for some who would really like to keep their SL lives completely separate from their real lives. For me the transparency on behalf of leaders here is essential and answers the call for Christians to be counter-cultural. I know others think completely the opposite and I respect their opinion. Continue reading