Children do some funny things and some annoying things. One abiding memory of our youngest son comes from the time he was four years old. I really can’t remember what I had done to provoke the outburst but I still remember the result. Our son stood there, pulled up to his full height, small though he was, hands on hips and looked me in the eye and asked in his most challenging tone: “What right do you have to tell me what to do?” I have no idea where he came across such a phrase, even his 14 year old brother had not used that to my knowledge. I didn’t have time to worry about where the question came from. I needed to explain that I actually did have the right to tell our son what to do by virtue of the fact that I was his mother. I’m not sure how happy he was with the answer, but a son who would not accept that I had any authority in his life was going to be a big problem. Our youngest son continued to be the most challenging of all our children. I suppose one answer was not going to address the whole issue. Continue reading
On 15 January we recalled the Baptism of Christ. Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 40:1-12, Isaiah 49:1-7, John 1:29-42.
Today is the second Sunday of the Epiphany season. I suppose as we meet on Epiphany Island, we of all people should be aware of what Epiphany means. The Greek epiphaneia means manifestation or striking appearance. It refers to some kind of new insight and realisation which gives new understanding or a different perspective on a problem.
Archimedes benefited from an epiphany when he climbed into his bath and noticed the displacement of water (probably not for the first time) and suddenly made the connection to finding the density of an object. Newton must have seen objects dropping to the ground under the influence of gravity many times, but one occasion proved to be an epiphany for him when he was able to connect the fall of an apple with the force which kept the moon orbiting the earth. Continue reading
On 11 December we celebrated the Third Sunday in Advent. Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 146:4-10, Isaiah 35:1-10, Matthew 11:2-11.
You may be familiar with the story of Scheherazade. In the book of One Thousand and One Nights, the Persian king Shahrya found his first wife was unfaithful to him. In his anger and distress he married a virgin every day and had her beheaded the next day before he married the next virgin. This went on until he had killed 1000 women.
Scheherazade was the daughter of the vizier. She was very well read, having studied all that she could find about the previous kings and about famous people from the past. She was reputed to have collected 1000 books of history about kings and peoples. She had also learnt poetry off by heart and was well versed in philosophy, the arts and the sciences. She was a pleasant person with a good sense of humour.
Although her father naturally disapproved, Scheherazade volunteered to spend a night with the king, despite his bloodthirsty reputation. When she was taken to the king’s chambers she requested a chance to say farewell to her sister, Dinazade. Dinazade had been told by Scheherazade to ask for a story to be told to her. The king listened as Scheherazade told her story to Dinazade. As dawn was approaching she stopped speaking but the story was not finished. The king spared her life that day as he wanted to hear how the story continued. The next night she finished off the story and began another which she didn’t complete, thus living through the next day. In this way, Scheherazade lived for 1,001 nights, telling 1000 stories. When she no longer had another story to tell, the king had already fallen in love with her and her life was no longer in danger; she became queen. Continue reading
On 4 December we celebrated the Second Sunday of Advent. Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19, Isaiah 11:1-10, Matthew 3:1-12.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Last week the focus of the week was on the Patriarchs, those early heroes of the faith who had first listened to God and followed his lead. This week the focus shifts to the prophets. Many of the Patriarchs were also prophets.
The word “prophet” is formed from a Greek word which means “to tell before”. It has two parts: “pro” is the before bit; “phemi” is “to tell”. It’s the word behind the English word “fame”. The Hebrew word for prophet, “navi”, comes from a phrase meaning “fruit of the lips” and means an inspired speaker. The inspiration comes from the Holy Spirit who puts God’s words into the mouth of the prophets. God wants his people to listen to him. Through his Spirit he can speak to people directly but he uses prophets to speak his words also.
The job of a prophet is to speak for God and in so doing he or she will warn his or her listeners, challenge them, remind them of God’s law and encourage them to respond to the message that they hear. Those chosen by God as prophets are people close to God, holy and righteous. It is this closeness that gives the prophecy the ring of authenticity which allows it to be recognised as coming from God. Continue reading
On 6 December, The Second Sunday of Advent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were A Song of Creation, Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 3:1-6.
Today in our journey through Advent we are remembering John the Baptist. As I thought about what we know of him, my mind turned to the role of pacemaker or pace-setter in middle distance or long distance running. These runners are in the race to ensure that others win or break records. They are not necessarily able to run the whole length of the race fast enough to win themselves but they can run the first part of it in a very precise way. They have instructions as to what pace they should run at for each lap. The competitor for whom the pace-setter is running knows to keep up with this person for the first part of the race. They are then well placed to go on to win the race or to break the record because they are not left with too much to do in the second part of the race. If you watch the race on television the camera stays on the competitor on whom all hopes are placed. You barely see the pace-setter drop away at an alarming rate as they no longer keep up with the front of the race. Often they don’t even finish as the race is not a distance they normally run. Their job is done; they’ve paved the way for an athlete greater than themselves to succeed. They drop out gracefully. Continue reading
On 8th February 2015, the second Sunday before Lent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 104:26-35, Colossians 1:15-20, and John 1:1-14.
It was very important that those living in Israel in the first century understood who Jesus is. God sent John the Baptist ahead of Jesus to prepare the way and prepare the hearts of the people to respond to Jesus. As we know, many did respond but others rejected him. Still others chose to condemn Jesus to death. John the Evangelist wrote his Gospel so that those who came along later could also understand who Jesus is and have the opportunity to respond. That opportunity is still available to everyone today. Continue reading
During the season of Epiphany we focus on incidents which show the world who Jesus was. On the first Sunday we remember the visit of the Magi who saw God incarnate in the child Jesus. This Sunday we remembered Jesus’ baptism when those around heard God declare that Jesus was his Son. The readings were Psalm 29, Isaiah 43:1-7 and Luke 15-17, 21, 22. My reflection is given below:
In this world of Second Life, many people try very hard to portray themselves as they would like to be seen. Unlike in RL, that is possible. If you want to be a tiny mouse or a scary monster, a dainty little girl or a furry cat, perpetually young or improbably thin, here it can be done. You can buy who you want to be in an instant. You can modify your avatar until the look is what you are seeking for. If your mood changes, you can change your avatar to suit.
When you first create an account in SL you can choose your name. Once again, most people choose something that sends out some message about them. A few choose their own name now that it’s possible to do so, but I suspect they are very much in the minority. It is the norm not to reveal your real name. The Terms of Service for SL have dire warnings that we are not to reveal anything we find out about someone to other people on penalty of death, or the SL equivalent, namely suspension or deletion of our account. This is a world of make believe and nothing is to disturb that without our permission.
I remember it took a lot of discussion by the Leadership Team to gain agreement that Leadership Team members and Worship Leaders should give their RL names on the blog. It’s a price we pay as a result of being in leadership positions and I know it is very costly for some who would really like to keep their SL lives completely separate from their real lives. For me the transparency on behalf of leaders here is essential and answers the call for Christians to be counter-cultural. I know others think completely the opposite and I respect their opinion. Continue reading