The coming of Christ

First Sunday of Advent
Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thes 3:12-4:2; Luke 21: 25-28;34-36.

Happy New Year! As we begin this new season of Advent (and new liturgical year), you might imagine that we would have readings that speak of preparing for the birth of Jesus, or that would take us back to the very beginning of creation. But no, the readings instead take us to the end of all things in the second coming of Jesus. We explore the different meanings of the coming of Jesus.

We talk about the coming of Jesus in three different ways. The first is his historical birth in Bethlehem as a child, in fulfillment of the many prophecies of the coming of the Messiah (and picked up in our first reading from Jeremiah); the second, which is picked up our first reading today, is our ability to allow the Lord to actually have life and existence within us, when we accept Jesus into our lives, or to come to birth within us; the third way is when we talk about the ‘Second Coming’ of Jesus at the end of history. It is this idea of the final coming of Jesus that unifies all the readings today and provides the focus for us as we wait with hope in this season of Advent.

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Building the kingdom with Christ the King

Sunday 34 in the Season of the Year – Feast of Christ the King (B)

Sometimes, especially when we live in a Constitutional Monarchy like we do in Australia, and we have strong democratic beliefs – and perhaps even more so if we are republicans – the idea of celebrating Christ as King can seem quaint and antiquated. When the King or Queen are distant and essentially irrelevant to our lives, how do we make sense of this feast and idea of Christ as King?

If Christ is the king, then we must be part of some kingdom. Perhaps we are also confused by what exactly this kingdom is all about? Sometimes we might think (if we do at all) that the kingdom has probably something to do with the death and resurrection of Jesus. We know that through the Cross our sins have been forgiven and we are able to have the promise of another place which we call heaven after we die. But is that actually what Jesus was on about?We have been reading through the Gospel of Mark this year, and you might just remember how when we began at the start of the year in Mark chapter one, we heard Jesus begin his public ministry by proclaiming that the ‘kingdom of God’ was near, and we should repent and believe. And then he began to call and invite people into the kingdom. Yet all of this was happening two to three years before the events of his death and resurrection. So if that is what the kingdom is all about, what were they doing during those years?Perhaps we need to think about how to live in the kingdom and how it might fit with the whole story of God and God’s people. How does this fit with the story of creation, sin, confusion, darkness and so forth. And how does a dance on the streets of Paris or the “parable of the public toilet” fit into this story? Listen to find out more…

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Recorded at Sacred Heart, 9.30am (10’17”)

The end of the world – of death

Week 33 – Season of the Year B
Mark 13:24-32

Often when we are presented with a passage like the Gospel that we have just read, we are left scratching our heads and wondering what on earth (or heaven) is going on. Of course there is a fascination in our world (like theirs) about the end of the world. Movies like 2012 – released this week – or other Hollywood blockbusters like Knowing, Independence Day, the Day After Tomorrow all attest to our interest and fascination with the subject, as do bookshelves full of prophecies from Nostradamus or the Mayan empire – or indeed of course from our own Scriptures.

So yes, we have a range of passages and whole books in the Bible that are samples of what we call ‘Apocalyptic’. The first reading today was from the Prophet Daniel, and the final book in the Bible is the Book of Revelation, also called the Apocalypse. And they are notoriously difficult to interpret. Especially if we imagine that they are to be taken literally, or that they are meant to be read as precise predictions of how the world will end. Which they are not.

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The gift of the widow

Sunday 32 in the Season of the Year (B)

Mark 12:38-44 and I Kings 17:8-16.

The gift of the widow who has nothing to give.

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Recorded at St Michael’s Nowra 9.30am (14’30”)

Blessed by God

All Saints Day (Matthew 4:25-5:12)

The gospel passage that we usually call the Beatitudes seems to be one of those passages that is ‘trotted out’ for almost any occasion – from weddings to funerals to commitments of ordination and religious profession. But what on earth is it about? What does it mean to say that someone who is mourning is to be declared happy or blessed? Is it telling us that we have to be poor in spirit to be part of the kingdom? That we need to mourn and be meek? Is this a series of yet more commandments that we need to fulfill? Or a new list of ways that we will be judged? Or are these statements something else entirely? Perhaps in these statements from Jesus – addressed to this strange crowd of people from the backwaters of Galilee to the more sophisticated citizens of Judea and Jerusalem, as well as the pagans and gentiles from the Decapolis – we actually meet what is truly good news. An announcement of Jesus that we can indeed be part of the kingdom of God – or maybe that we already are precisely because we are somewhat scattered or simply somewhat ordinary?

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Recorded at St Michael’s 6pm (13’40” – including final blessing)