The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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Speaking in tongues

On 4 June,  the feast of Pentecost, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 104:26-35Acts 2:1-21, John 7:37-39.

Many years ago, I followed a correspondence course on the Christian faith. It was provided by a Pentecostal church with a very strong emphasis on the Holy Spirit. I had a tutor to whom I sent the responses to the questions in the course. She sent feedback to me.

At one point in the course, there was a question about being baptised in the Spirit. It assumed that evidence of that event would be speaking in tongues. In my response to the question, I was honest and wrote that I had not experienced speaking in tongues. The tutor was rather perplexed as she considered that my previous answers on the course had shown evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Her theology considered that if the Holy Spirit had been received by a person they would most definitely speak in tongues. I had to confirm that that had not been my experience. Perhaps she went away from our correspondence and had a rethink. Who knows? What I do know is that I didn’t fit what she had been taught. Continue reading

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Nathanael’s conversion

On 18th January 2015, the second Sunday of Epiphany, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 139:1-5,12-18, 1 Samuel 3:1-10, and John 1:43-51.

Epiphany is a time when we consider how Jesus was revealed to people. In the time of the Bible Jesus was available for people to touch, hear and see. Yet even then some needed someone else to encourage them to actually take the time to discover who Jesus was revealed to be. This was the case with Nathanael. It took Philip’s invitation for him to ‘come and see’ to cause him to come to faith in Jesus. Continue reading

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Sometimes we just can’t see things that are right in front of our eyes. This seemed to be the case for the two disciples of Jesus who were walking to Emmaus on that first Easter Day. Even with the risen Jesus talking to them, they just couldn’t see what was going on. It took the sight of Jesus breaking bread for them to suddenly understand. Perhaps like Archimedes, they felt like shouting Eureka! (I have found it).

The readings on Wednesday at the 2pm service were Psalm 105:1-9, Acts 3:1-10, Luke 24:13-35. Read on for my reflection.

1550h0036I remember one of the stories from my science lessons that really stuck with me was that of Archimedes. Hiero of Syracuse had a problem he wanted to solve. He had given some pure gold to a goldsmith to make a votive crown for a statue in a temple. He had his suspicions that the goldsmith had taken some of the gold for himself and replaced it with silver, being sure that the weight of the finished crown was the same as the weight of gold provided. The only way to prove if the metal was not pure gold was to calculate its density, i.e. how much a given unit of volume weighed. It was possible to weigh the crown but not to measure its volume as the volume was irregular.

This is where Archimedes, a Greek scholar, came in. On one occasion, while entering a bath, he suddenly noticed that as his body went into the water the level of the bath water rose. Realising that the water which was displaced must have the same volume as his body, Archimedes is reported to have shouted ‘Eureka!’ (I have found it). So excited was he at finding a way to solve Hiero’s problem by being able to measure irregular volumes, he is said to have leapt out of the bath and run through Syracuse naked in his eagerness to tell everyone what he had discovered. Continue reading

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To whom can we go?

Jesus can never be accused of hiding the implications of following him. He made it plain to his followers that his way was one of suffering and that his disciples should expect the same in their lives. For many this was too much and they no longer followed Jesus. For others there was no turning back. There is no doubt the journey is tough but we have at our disposal spiritual armour to help us in our fight against the forces that would oppose us.

The readings for the 26 August service in the Cathedral were Psalm 84, Ephesians 6:10-20, John 6:56-69. My reflection follows.

This is the fourth Sunday that the church has allocated a reading from the second half of John 6 as the Gospel for the day. This is obviously far too important a part of the New Testament for it to be quickly glanced at. It is parcelled out in small chunks to be digested with care.

During this long discourse about the Bread of Heaven the setting and the audience may have changed. Initially it was the crowd from the feeding of the 5000, presumably not all of them, who headed across the Sea of Galilee in search of Jesus who had disappeared. They found him in Capernaum, the town he seems to have made his base, and began a discussion with him. There is no indication where Jesus was as he talked to the people but it’s quite easy to believe that he was found near the shore as verse 25 says ‘they found him on the other side of the sea’.

When we reach today’s reading, John makes it clear that the discussion was happening in the synagogue in Capernaum and that Jesus’ audience comprised many of his disciples, so not just a random crowd. It’s easy to forget that there were more followers of Jesus than The Twelve, as they are referred to here. It seems that many people chose to follow Jesus, including several women. As much of what Jesus had been saying had caused confusion and misunderstanding, it could be that quite a few people had drifted away in despair of ever working out what was going on. Some may have gone as they were angry. Jesus seemed to be saying that he came from Heaven but his family and origin were known to many in the crowd. He came from Nazareth as far as they were concerned and not from Heaven. Even worse, Jesus had begun to say that the people must eat his flesh and drink his blood, something that if taken literally was absolutely impossible for the Jews. Continue reading

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Sheep among wolves

Although Jesus had his inner circle of three disciples – Peter, James and John – and the larger group of The 34723236Twelve, he also sent a group of seventy out on mission to do much as the disciples did, armed with the same power and authority. He is still sending people out on mission and that includes us. Listening to his advice to the seventy can help to equip us for the work he asks us to do today.

The noon service on Sunday had Psalm 66:1-8, Galatians 6:1-16 and Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 as the readings. My reflection is given below:

Jesus had a very good way of working which seemed designed to create the best possible team in preparation for when he was no longer around. When I use the words ‘best’ and ‘team’ you might wonder if I am a little misguided. The people gathered around Jesus were a strange assortment of people whose main gifting seemed to be that of getting the wrong end of the stick or being totally at a loss about what Jesus meant most of the time – hardly a definition of the best. When you consider James and John asking to be seated on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom or of the discussion between the disciples on who was the greatest, there is little sense of team. Yet this is the material that Jesus worked with. Continue reading

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A sign of the age of grace

John’s Gospel focuses on the signs which Jesus did and what they show us about him. He performed his first sign at a wedding in the town of Cana in Galilee. He had been invited there with his disciples and his mother Mary was there too. Weddings at that time could last for a week, making catering difficult. Something went wrong and the wine ran out. It was not just a minor inconvenience; it was possible to be taken to court for not providing a feast of the required standard. Mary turned to Jesus for help and as a result we see his first sign – water turned into wonderful wine.

The readings at the 10.30pm Saturday and noon Sunday services were Psalm 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11. The reflection is given below.

We live our lives surrounded by signs of various types. Around the Cathedral there are signs which direct people to various parts of the sim: ‘Conference Center’, ‘Dock’, ‘Meditation Chapel’ and so on. Some road signs are given in words in a similar way. They may point to the city you wish to reach and tell you how far away it is. At junctions you sometimes find a red sign with white writing which says ‘STOP’ which is pretty obvious in meaning. Increasingly we have programmable signs on our major roads which tell us of problems ahead such as fog or a queue or spray. They may also urge us to take a break if tired or not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These signs are all very well if you speak the language of the country you are driving in. I know when we have been in Germany or France it has not always been plain what a sign in words means until we have seen it a few times and worked it out. Continue reading