The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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Bearing our cross

On 25 June Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17Genesis 21:8-21, Matthew 10:24-39.

“We all have our cross to bear” or “That’s my cross to carry” are sayings that have come into the English language from today’s Gospel passage. It may even be similar in other languages I suppose.

Usually this saying will refer to some problem in life that someone has to put up with. Saying “We all have our cross to bear” when someone complains about something in their life is not particularly sympathetic of course. It suggests burdens are part of everyone’s life and the person should just get on with things and stop complaining.

Jesus didn’t mean to indicate something that doesn’t work out well in life, some problem that had to be tolerated when he talked about taking up the cross. The cross in his time was an instrument of the worst possible way to put someone to death. It was long, drawn out, humiliating and very painful. It could last several days. A person was forced to carry the cross which would kill them, to where they would be executed. As they staggered through the streets, onlookers would shout insults at them and mock them, something that we know continued while crucifixion took place also. Continue reading


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Trust in me

On 14 May,  Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Acts 7:55-endPsalm 31:1-5, 15,16, 1 Peter 2:2-10, John 14:1-14.

Something which praying regularly with others in SL has given me is a broader scope for my prayers. When you pray with others from around the world, issues which might once have seemed remote suddenly seem much nearer and more relevant. With the whole world to pray for, there is certainly plenty to bring before God each day.

It is not necessary to look further than the newspapers or international news broadcasts to know that the world is not a very secure place. Tension in North Korea has been high on our list of concerns. Famine and war is affecting many countries in Africa. Refugees are beginning to cross the Mediterranean again on inadequate boats and people are losing their lives. Elections are being held in various parts of the world. Wisdom is needed for world leaders as they deal with the complexity of domestic and foreign policy. Fires have been burning in Florida while lack of rain is affecting the UK. Although some girls from Chibok have been released by Boko Haram, there are others to pray for. Natural and man-made disasters lurk around the corner for many of the world’s population; fear is their daily lot. Continue reading

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Shepherd and Guardian

On 7 May,  Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Acts 2:42-47Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10.

Sheep and shepherds are the theme in the readings today. They crop up a lot in the Bible as keeping sheep was a common occupation, which is perfectly understandable. Sheep give milk, wool, meat and leather. They are very good at finding enough to eat in quite rough terrain. They are a very useful animal for a family to keep. They continue to be very useful to us now.

For city dwellers, it’s hard to connect with rural images, unless they have grown up or spent holidays in the countryside. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small market town. I could see fields from the windows of our house and used to love watching for the first lambs to appear. My mother’s family were all farmers and so I had opportunities to visit farms. I also saw sheepdog trials. These are competitions where a farmer and his sheepdog have to complete some tasks with a group of sheep which they haven’t worked with before. I was always fascinated by the way the dog would lie low in the grass and then move in response to various whistles from the farmer. The dog could round up the sheep in a bunch and drive them into a small pen, usually with a little help from the farmer. Often at least one sheep would have other ideas and decide to try to go in the wrong direction but, in the end, all would be collected up and placed in the pen. It was amazing how man and dog could work so well together, understanding one another and achieving a task even if the sheep were uncooperative. Continue reading

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Read the small print

Whenever we enter into an agreement it’s wise to be sure just what we are agreeing to. We need to carefully read the contract or carefully listen to what we are told. Jesus made no attempt to hide what it would mean to follow him. This left would-be disciples in no doubt about what to expect if they decided to be part of the group who worked alongside Jesus.

On 30th June the readings were Psalm 77: 1-2, 11-20, 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14; Galatians 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-end. Here is my reflection from the noon service:

‘Make sure you read the small print’ is good advice. I’m not sure if the expression ‘small print’ has an equivalent in languages other than English so I’ll explain what it means. When there is some kind of contract or agreement between people or companies, the main information is printed clearly, large enough to be easily read. However, any details that someone would like to keep hidden are written in a very small font (ie small print) so that they are much harder to read and are more likely to be ignored. Hence the advice to read the small print as there might be some nasty surprises lurking there.

Despite the advice, I doubt if most of us read every detail in agreements of various kinds. I know when the latest set of Terms of Service for SL was issued I wanted to get in-world quickly and so ticked ‘I agree’ even though I hadn’t read everything there. The Terms of Service are rather long and detailed, but have been written for the protection of all who use SL. If someone behaves badly, such as a griefer, the ToS will allow that person to be banned from SL if they are reported for a bad enough offence to LL. Going back and reading carefully informs every resident what may or may not be done in SL and what sanctions will apply for wrong behaviour.

If I were taking on a new job, I think I would read the small print very well indeed. I would need to know what hours I was expected to work, what holidays I was entitled to, the rate of pay, what pension rights I had, what disciplinary system operated, what recourse I might have to mediation if there was some dispute. Once I signed the contract I would be saying I agreed to abide by all that was written in it and of course my employer would be agreeing to everything written in the contract also when he or she signed it. It’s good to know where we stand rather than to be unsure.

I don’t think Jesus can be accused of hiding the equivalent of small print in the agreement he made with his disciples, whether that was his close group of twelve or the many others who followed him and learnt from him. Jesus was absolutely open about what the job would entail: fishing for people; about the benefits: you will inherit eternal life, you will do greater things than I do, my Father and I will live in you; about the drawbacks: people will hate you as they have hated me, you will be arrested and imprisoned.

In today’s gospel reading Jesus gives some potential disciples cause to think again when they understand the full implications of their enthusiasm to follow him. Continue reading