The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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It’s not fair!

On 24 September Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 145:1-8Philippians 1:21-30, Matthew 20:1-16.

It’s not fair! That must be a cry that has been uttered by children for a very long time. There seems to be an innate sense that things should be fair, and if they are not it’s only right and proper to protest about it.

I forget where I read about a way of avoiding two children arguing over a chocolate bar they were to share. The mum asked one to break the bar and the other to choose the first piece. It struck me as a solution worthy of Solomon. Being seen to be fair is not easy task.

The leaders of North Korea and the USA have been accused of being like kindergarten children as they trade insults. I suppose we all wish they only had the power of kindergarten children also! It strikes me that at the heart of the problem lies the protest ‘It’s not fair!’ so maybe they are indeed responding like small children. From North Korea’s point of view, it’s not fair that the USA can have nuclear weapons but North Korea can’t. I suppose from the USA’s point of view it’s not fair that a leader of a small country can aspire to match the fire power of a superpower. Continue reading

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Intoxicating grace

On 17 January, 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 36:5-10, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, John 2:1-11.

A man attended a friend’s wedding in the months before his own. He was paying close attention to everything and found he really liked the choice of hymns. One particularly seemed an ideal choice for his own wedding – Number 343 ‘Love divine’. On the next visit to the priest who would conduct his wedding, the man said that he would like hymn number 343. The priest was rather disconcerted and tried to dissuade the man but he insisted. Unfortunately, the man and his friend were getting married in churches that used different hymn books from one another. The guests were rather surprised to find themselves singing:

Come, O thou traveller unknown
Whom still I hold, but cannot see;
My company before is gone
And I am left alone with thee;
With thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day. 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

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Slot machine God?

At the 2pm service on Thursday, the readings were Malachi 3:13-4.2a, Psalm 1, Luke 11:5-13. The Gospel passage contains the famous statement of Jesus that we are to ask and we will receive. I asked those present: If we are told to ask and we will be given, does that make God into some kind of cosmic slot machine, coin in at the top, goods out at the bottom; prayer in, request out?

The answers given made it plain that it’s not as simple as that. God is not Santa and doesn’t give us what we ask for. We’re told that when we ask we will be given but not what we will be given. God loves us enough to want to give us what we need, not what we might want as hedonistic, selfish people. God gives as a father does, in a way that enriches his children. He also expects us to make some effort on our own behalf. One example given was that of asking for the gift of patience and finding that trials came along to help patience to develop. This shows that God’s gifts may come in a way that we might not understand at first. God may even take things away from us in order to accomplish giving us what we need. Rather than giving us what we have asked for he may give us the gift of being content with what we already have.

On the other hand, God can be amazingly generous and creative in the way he provides for us. One member had his dream of being a farmer fulfilled by working within a Christian community which had land with sheep and dairy cows. What he couldn’t have done alone he was able to do in community. This same person has been given a car when his own was beyond repair and money at a time when he needed it to start life in a new place.

God will also do things for us out of love which we would not think to ask for. The example of Jesus dying on the cross was given. God’s gifts are more precious that the greatest things we may or may not think that we want. He sees the big picture of life and so can give the good things that are best for us. Continue reading