“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Thus said Lord Acton, English Catholic historian, politician, and writer who died in 1902. The power of kingship is certainly no exception to this rule. When the people of Israel no longer wanted God as their ruler but demanded a king like other nations, God warned them what a king would be like. He would build an army, drafting their young men into it. He would use the people as his servants to till his soil, tend his animals, spin and weave and grind. In the process, inevitably a distance would open up between the king and those subject to his rule. The lives they lived would be different. That division was not apparent when God appointed leaders and judges over the people. Continue reading
On 20 November we celebrated the feast of Christ the King. Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 46, Jeremiah 23:1-6, Colossians 1:11-20, Luke 23:33-43.
Today is the last Sunday of the Christian Year when we celebrate Christ the King. Though kings are rare in modern societies, I think we are all familiar with what a king is like. When the people of Israel decided they no longer wanted God to lead them but to have a human king, God warned them what a king would be like. He would recruit their men into the army. Others would work on his land and make weapons for his campaigns. Their women would work in the kitchens. The king would help himself to the best vineyards, fields and olive groves. Of what the people had left, he would charge them taxes on their crops and livestock. The king would help himself to anything that they had and they would be servants to him. Until modern times, and certainly in the time of Jesus, that was the expectation of a king. Rich, powerful, oppressive, demanding, one who was to be served, who had the power to put his subjects to death if he so wished. Continue reading
On 22nd November, the final Sunday of the Church Year, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 93, Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, Revelation 1:4-8, John 18:33-37.
Today we are celebrating the Feast of Christ the King, on this the last Sunday of the Church Year. This feast only came into being 90 years ago when Pope Pius XI sought to counter the negative effect on faith in Jesus of a change in the governance of countries away from monarchies and towards dictatorships. Change has continued; of the 196 or so countries in the world, only 44 have monarchies. The idea of being ruled by a king, or equivalent, looks outmoded, conjuring up ideas of tyranny, oppression or even of evil. The idea of a privileged dynasty is rejected in favour of greater equality. In its place has come the elected head of state, although there are still dictators ruling about a quarter of all countries. Continue reading
On this festival of Christ the King, at the climax of the Christian year, the reading for Evening Prayer is the very last part of Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus gives his disciples the Great Commission: to go to all the world, baptising and teaching Jesus’ commands.
We too are sent out to spread the Good News including in Second Life. It’s exciting to be part of this Anglican community in SL, people from all over the world and of all different Christian traditions, learning and growing together.
The message I preached at 12pm SL on Sunday 23rd November is here:
When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, he was told that the child to be born to Mary, his betrothed, would be called Jesus meaning ‘Saviour’ and Emmanuel, ‘God with us’. After that auspicious start, things seemed to go downhill. Jesus was born in a stable rather than a comfortable house. Very soon he became a refugee in Egypt with his parents as Herod sought to snuff out this new life. He lived as a normal Jewish boy and grew up to learn a trade. He travelled as an itinerant rabbi, teaching and healing, loved by the people and hated by most of the leaders. He died the death of a common criminal after a show trial and was buried in a borrowed tomb. For so much of his earthly life, the glory of Jesus was hidden. But today, on the last Sunday of the Church year, the story reaches its climax. Continue reading