The Anglican Cathedral of Second Life

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Follow the leader

On 22nd 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 Psalm 23, Acts 4:5-12 and John 10:11-18.

‘Follow the Leader’ is a children’s game. Everyone has to follow whoever is the leader and do exactly as they do. The original animated film of Peter Pan has a game of Follow the Leader in it. John leads the lost boys through a waterfall, over a fallen log, through the jungle, across stepping stones, swinging along vines and through a cornfield as they sing a song. Continue reading

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What animal are you?

On 18 June Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Psalm 116: 1, 10-17Romans 5:1-8, Matthew 9:35-10:23.

As you probably know, I work as a counsellor in a part-time capacity. One of the requirements for counsellors is that they must have a monthly meeting with a supervisor. This is someone with special training and a lot of counselling experience. These meetings are designed to make sure the counsellor is working safely in the best interests of clients and also to provide somewhere to seek advice or insight.

The supervisor I had until recently was very fond of using one particular way to make me think about my clients. Once I had shared something of their situation or the point at which counselling had arrived, she often asked me to think what animal that client was like. It can be a really difficult question to answer. There are obviously many different animals to choose from. Some aspects of an animal may seem right in relation to a client and some may not. Usually, when I had done my best to choose and had explained which aspect was relevant and which seemed not to be, I found that I had arrived at a better understanding of the client in question. Although the question was tricky to answer, in finding an answer I regularly gained insight also. Continue reading

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Shepherd and Guardian

On 7 May,  Helene Milena preached the following sermon in the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island in Second Life. The readings were  Acts 2:42-47Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10.

Sheep and shepherds are the theme in the readings today. They crop up a lot in the Bible as keeping sheep was a common occupation, which is perfectly understandable. Sheep give milk, wool, meat and leather. They are very good at finding enough to eat in quite rough terrain. They are a very useful animal for a family to keep. They continue to be very useful to us now.

For city dwellers, it’s hard to connect with rural images, unless they have grown up or spent holidays in the countryside. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a small market town. I could see fields from the windows of our house and used to love watching for the first lambs to appear. My mother’s family were all farmers and so I had opportunities to visit farms. I also saw sheepdog trials. These are competitions where a farmer and his sheepdog have to complete some tasks with a group of sheep which they haven’t worked with before. I was always fascinated by the way the dog would lie low in the grass and then move in response to various whistles from the farmer. The dog could round up the sheep in a bunch and drive them into a small pen, usually with a little help from the farmer. Often at least one sheep would have other ideas and decide to try to go in the wrong direction but, in the end, all would be collected up and placed in the pen. It was amazing how man and dog could work so well together, understanding one another and achieving a task even if the sheep were uncooperative. Continue reading

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Sheep among wolves

Although Jesus had his inner circle of three disciples – Peter, James and John – and the larger group of The 34723236Twelve, he also sent a group of seventy out on mission to do much as the disciples did, armed with the same power and authority. He is still sending people out on mission and that includes us. Listening to his advice to the seventy can help to equip us for the work he asks us to do today.

The noon service on Sunday had Psalm 66:1-8, Galatians 6:1-16 and Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 as the readings. My reflection is given below:

Jesus had a very good way of working which seemed designed to create the best possible team in preparation for when he was no longer around. When I use the words ‘best’ and ‘team’ you might wonder if I am a little misguided. The people gathered around Jesus were a strange assortment of people whose main gifting seemed to be that of getting the wrong end of the stick or being totally at a loss about what Jesus meant most of the time – hardly a definition of the best. When you consider James and John asking to be seated on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom or of the discussion between the disciples on who was the greatest, there is little sense of team. Yet this is the material that Jesus worked with. 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