The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life


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Believing without seeing

On 23 April,  Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 16Acts 2:14a, 22-32, John 20:19-31.

Most people nowadays are very security conscious and protect their homes with locks and alarms. We’re probably quite unusual as a family because we keep our front door unlocked during the day (though not at night). People we know will just knock and walk in, which is pretty much what I remember from my childhood home: a knock and a call of “It’s only me” as a friend or neighbour walked in.

In our Gospel reading today we witness Jesus doing much the same thing. He didn’t ring the doorbell or knock. If he had done, I doubt if anyone would have had the courage to open the door. The disciples were meeting in fear of those who had killed their Lord. They were hardly likely to open up. For Jesus, that was no problem as he simply ‘came and stood among them’. Whereas other visitors might have brought fear by their presence, Jesus brought Shalom – an all-encompassing peace, a wholeness that only the risen Lord could give. If there was the slightest doubt about whether this was an imposter, Jesus showed the wounds he had so recently acquired during his crucifixion. Continue reading


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Individuals matter

On 16 April, Easter Day, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 118.14-24Acts 10:34-43, John 20:1-18.

After six and a half weeks of introspection and somewhat sombre readings in our services, after special services in which we retold the events of what had become the inevitable end of Jesus’ earthly life, today we celebrate.

Jesus died and rose again, defeating death. The tomb could not hold him, death was denied victory. Though for a while it seemed to have won, evil did not triumph. Today we say Alleluia! Today we rejoice in our freedom from condemnation as a result of sin. We are celebrating the wonderful action of God in Christ which has brought about our reconciliation to God. Today we recall what Peter told to those gathered in Cornelius’ house: “In every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to God.” And, “Everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Continue reading


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Hope amid despair

On 2 April, the fifth Sunday of Lent, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 130Ezekiel 37:1-14, John 11:1-45.

Those of you who know Charlie12string, who leads Morning Prayer here on Epiphany Island, will know that he has a somewhat irreverent sense of humour. He often follows up one of his comments with “One flash and I’m ash”. Every year, as Lent approaches, Charlie tells me that he’s “giving up Lent for Lent”. It’s quite an amusing idea and, to a certain extent, I can see his point.

Lent is a time for self-examination, for taking stock of our lives and being honest about our weaknesses and faults. I suppose most of us would rather accept that we are basically good people who have not done anything terribly wrong. It’s not a comfortable idea to consider purposefully looking for those things in our lives that are not as they should be. However, if we have the courage to look it can be helpful and even hopeful. Taking time to reflect on our lives can help us to see where we can make changes that may benefit us as well as others around us.

At this point in Lent, things become even less enticing. Death features strongly and that’s not a topic that most of us like to dwell on, but perhaps it’s not all bad news. Continue reading


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That we may come to believe

On 3 April, the Second Sunday of Easter, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 150, Acts 5:27-32,  John 20:19-31.

“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 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.

Despite my frustrations, which you may share, John obviously thinks he has given enough of the story of Jesus to achieve what he set out to do. John’s gospel seems to be the one that has been the most carefully structured to bring about the desired teaching. It’s John who builds much of what he writes around the seven ‘I am’ statements of Jesus, where he effectively uses the name that God uses for himself and so declares that he is the Son of God. John is a careful and thoughtful editor of the vast amount of material at his disposal. He chose to include this story about the disciples meeting Jesus in a locked house on two occasions. These are among the signs that are written so that we may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Continue reading


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The gift of peace

On 12th April 2015, the second of Easter, Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were Psalm 133, Acts 4:32-35 and John 20:19-31.

There are various occasions in the year when we might receive a gift from friends or family, even from our place of work. Christmas is a big opportunity for gift giving for many, particularly to children. Presents of all shapes and sizes often sparkle under the Christmas tree or bulge in sacks and stockings. Birthdays too provide a similar opportunity for all ages (though the older we get the less we may want to remember our increasing age!). Then there are wedding anniversaries, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, even Grandparents’ Day for those who qualify. At work people may get an annual bonus (particularly those in the banking world it seems) or a gift on retirement. Some may have received Easter eggs in the last couple of weeks. Sometimes we simply get a gift to say ‘Thank you’. Continue reading


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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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Escaping our stories

We all make mistakes and live to regret them. The wonderful result of Jesus’ death and resurrection is that mistakes don’t have to define us. There is no need to be stuck in a story which contains no hope. Jesus came so that repentance and forgiveness of sins could be proclaimed to all . During his lifetime, Jesus offered new stories to the many struggling people he encountered. Our job as his disciples, having each been given a new st0ry, is to do the same for others.

The reflection which follows was given on 22 April at the noon SLT service in the Cathedral. The readings were Acts 3:12-19, Psalm 4 and Luke 24:36b-48.

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