The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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On 28 January, the fourth Sunday of Epiphany, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 24, Malachi 3:1-5, and Luke 2:22-40.

Candlemas, which we celebrated on Sunday, has many meanings. Perhaps the most poignant is the fact that Jesus is presented in the Temple as belonging to the Lord and Simeon has to tell Mary that she will suffer a sword piercing her soul. What a message to have to deliver! What a message for a young mum to hear! But the cross overshadowed Jesus from his conception. It was necessary for our salvation. Continue reading

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Prepare the way of the Lord

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, 18-19Isaiah 11:1-10Matthew 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

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Active listening

On 17 April, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Acts 9:36-43, Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, John 10:22-30.

I remember in the early days of learning to counsel, I and my fellow trainees were taught some of the basic skills and practised them on one another. One of the skills was called ‘active listening’. That label seems a bit confusing; surely when you are listening you are generally not very active. We sit still, or maybe stand or move around, and hear some words and gain some meaning from the words. That’s what listening normally consists of.


Active listening involves more than just the ears; it uses all our senses. When a person is telling us something they will do more than just utter words. They will use different tones of voice; speak at different speeds; leave periods of silence; perhaps use a different selection of vocabulary – including or excluding swear words – depending on what they are sharing. They will also show facial expressions which will give some indication of their feelings. They will use their hands to help express themselves. They may move their body around in uncharacteristic ways. If we want to really understand what a person is trying to convey to us about their thoughts, feelings or way of behaving, we need to observe everything that we can about that person. Continue reading


That we may have life in his name

One of the frustrations I find in the Gospel of John is that he refers to all the stories he could have written about Jesus but didn’t. I really want to read all those stories; I wish so much that John had written more. However, John seems content what he has chosen to record is enough to allow his readers to come to belief in Jesus as the Son of God and so have life in his name. One of those stories, a very famous one, is that of the apostle Thomas and the doubts he had about Jesus’ resurrection. Some of us will be like Thomas, needing our own evidence before we can believe who Jesus is and what he has done.

The readings on Sunday were Psalm 150, Acts 5:27-32 and John 20:19-31. My reflection follows:

One of my favourite books is ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by Tolkein. It is in fact not one book but six and may be found published with all six gathered into one volume or in three separate volumes, each containing two books. It is a fantasy adventure story which tells the story of the fight of good against evil in a world populated with orcs, wizards, hobbits, goblins, people, elves, dwarves, trolls and probably my favourite – ents, treeherds which look like walking, talking trees. It’s a very complex story but, as you might imagine, it culminates in a great battle and heroic deeds by the hobbits who are the focus of the story.

It’s some time since I last read the book. Most of my reading has been of theology in the past few years. However, when I do read it, it becomes a really important part of my life. Somehow I enter into the story in a personal way, though I can’t say that I see myself as any particular character. Imagine if I was reading the Lord of the Rings and found that the last part of the story had disappeared or someone had ripped it out of my copy! I want the whole book, right to the last word; every detail of how things unfold; who says what to whom; what some mysterious saying earlier in the story really meant, and so on. I know I would be very frustrated if I couldn’t read some part of it.

I feel much the same when I read the words of John in his Gospel: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.” John even says it later at the very end of his Gospel: “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” I read these words and I wonder why John didn’t at least give the task a try. How can he tantalise us like this, saying that there’s a whole lot more to the story and then keeping it to himself? I want to read the missing bits, I want to know all the extra things that Jesus did, I want a blow by blow account of every miracle, every piece of teaching, every confrontation, every journey of Jesus. But I am denied that. However, John says that what he has written is there to allow us, his readers, to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and to have life in his name as a result. Continue reading

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Seeing the hidden picture

26669987The things of everyday life are what we see easily and what can cause us to be worried. If we look beyond these things we can see the hidden picture, the eternal perspective. This reminds me of the magic eye 3D pictures which you can only see if you focus beyond what you can immediately see. Jeremiah seemed able to do this in the midst of a very difficult situation. Jesus also urges us to look forward and not focus on now.

At the Advent Sunday service in the Cathedral the readings were Psalm 25:1-9, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Luke 21:25-36. My reflection follows.

I wonder if you have come across the Magic Eye 3D pictures. Another name for them is single image stereograms. They were very popular in the 90s but you can still see them around in places. These are the ones which have a design on them which is what you see immediately, but if you look in the right way you can see a hidden picture. (If you are unsure what I’m talking about you can find examples here: ). We have one of these pictures in our local fish and chip shop. I have never yet been able to see the hidden image. The website I referred to shows you how to develop this skill so perhaps I should practise! The trick to seeing the hidden picture is parallel viewing. Instead of looking directly at the picture, so that your eyes focus on its surface, you look as though observing something a long way behind the picture. Your eyes work parallel to one another instead of converging on the surface of the picture and this is what allows you to see what is hidden. Continue reading