The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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Forgiving but not forgetting

On 17 September Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 103:1-13Romans 14:1-12, Matthew 18:21-35.

The Church of England has been grappling with the issue of forgiveness in a recent document called ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the Aftermath of Abuse’. The issue of abuse by priests and church organisations is a live one in many denominations. Reports into events from the distant, and not so distant, past have revealed shocking behaviour which seems to bear no relationship to the faith which Christians hold.

This report is trying to address the issue of forgiveness when considering churches which have shared in abuse in some way, those who have abused and those who have been abused. These are very tricky questions to answer. As the chair of the Faith and Order Commission, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, states even though forgiveness is “at the heart of the good news of Jesus Christ” it shouldn’t be used to collude and cover up abuse in the Church and “forgiveness needs to be seen in relation to justice, healing, and repentance”. As you can imagine, in considering the theology which relates to this issue, our Gospel passage for the day is considered.

Forgiveness is a very difficult practice of the Christian life. Our first response, on a human level, is to retaliate if we are hurt by someone else. We might think of it as sticking up for ourselves, not being a doormat that everyone can just walk all over. Forgiving can often seem to be too soft a response to those who have wronged us. Continue reading

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Two prodigals

E0747Jesus didn’t have a good reputation with the religious people he met. He spent far too much time with the not so nice people of this world, those who didn’t follow the rules of good living. He ate with them, talked to them, taught them and healed them. This was shocking but it was what God wanted. In order to explain what he was doing, Jesus told three parables about things that were lost and then found: a sheep, a coin and a son. It was the third parable which was in the gospel today.

The readings were Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 and Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32. My reflection is given below.

In English, the well-known parable of Jesus in the gospel today has often been referred to as ‘The Prodigal Son’. If you don’t speak English as a first language, it’s unlikely you will have come across the word ‘prodigal’. I suspect many native English speakers are unsure what it means. It’s not a word we would often use in everyday speech. Occasionally we might hear someone say: ‘I see the prodigal has returned’. This generally seems to refer to someone who has wandered away but has now come back.

The word ‘prodigal’ could come from two possible Latin words. One suggestion is from ‘prodigus’ which comes from the verb ‘prodigere’, meaning ‘to drive away or squander’. Alternatively, it is derived from a late Latin word ‘prodigalus’ which also comes from ‘prodigus’ but had taken on the meaning of ‘lavish’. From these two roots we get two rather different nuances of meaning in English, one negative and one positive. The negative meaning is ‘recklessly wasteful’, or slightly less negative ‘extravagant’. The positive meaning is ‘lavish’ or ‘extremely generous’.

If you will bear with me as I study the words a little further, ‘lavish’ is a very rich word. The verb means ‘to give or pour forth unstintingly’. The word comes from Middle English ‘lavas’ meaning ‘an outpouring’. That in turn comes from Old French ‘lavasse’ meaning ‘a torrent or deluge of rain’.

I’d like you to bear those meanings in mind as I examine the parable which tells of not one, but two prodigal people. Continue reading

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The hard task of forgiving

At noon SLT today, Sunday September 11 2011, we gathered in the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life to remember the events of ten years ago and to pray for peace. Though governments may go to war to right wrongs, in the end that’s not a policy that actually solves the problem. It costs more lives and perpetuates hatred. Jesus’ way is far more costly to each of us in a way that’s closer to us than a distant war fought in our name. It’s a battle to give up our right to revenge and instead to forgive anyone who harms us in any way. It’s the way that Jesus taught and the way that he lived. It’s a challenge but brings us freedom and abundant life.

The readings for the day were Psalm 103:1-13, Genesis 50:15-21, Matthew 18:21-35. My reflection follows:

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What does forgiveness really mean?

easter-09-image.jpgChrist is risen! At the Easter Sunday service in the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, Rev Mark preached on the enormously stunning news that we are truly forgiven. He teased out what this practically mean for us. Check it out! To listen press play below. (12 minutes in length)