St Hilda's Anglican Catholic Church Service Times

You are invited to join us for Anglican Catholic Holy Communion / Mass on:
Every Sunday, Maitland NSW Australia. Venue: St Marys School Chapel in Victoria St. Mass at 11am.
Fr Matthew Kirby for further details.
Check here for any additions or cancelations of services.

Sunday 31 January 2016

a new school year

The New School Year
(Di Mathews: churchwarden /blog administrator)
This week was the beginning of a new school year. The mad rush to get uniforms ready and to be organised. Kids nervous to return to a new class and parents eager for the peace and quiet of ..."kids gone back"...
Id like to share a private view on the value of "TEACHERS".

The following is written by a gorgeous young lady. A mother of 2 children, her youngest child has just started school this year. Her perspective of teachers is passionate. She grew up not knowing school after the age of 10. So why would she adore teachers so much??? Let me share her words....

"Bless the teachers, who are some kind of saints; watching over more than twenty kids everyday, guiding them, loving them. People don't realise just how important they are to our children's lives and growth.
Its true though teachers are seriously important.
Yeah, they kinda lay the foundation of the world the kids grow into. They teach them everything they need to know. People think its not important to know the history of our country, or how to add and subtract. They don't just teach academics, they teach us things like - not to hurt others, a simple rule we all get taught in primary school - "keep your hands and feet to yourself".
If we all valued the things our children are taught then society would be different. Teachers help to learn about working in a team and that doing your best doesn't always mean winning a race. All of the education can help them to be whatever they choose. Maths and English could take you to a cash register at McDonalds or to be a teacher. Science could make you a doctor.
If parents appreciated the teachers more and understood the importance of the lessons being learnt, the kids could be absolutely anything they chose to be. Teachers must be saints or angels for the values and guidance they give our kids.
I do not think this is church worthy writing, but it is my own life experience. I did five years of school the rest is pretty much street knowledge. I could have been a surgeon or a police officer or the vet. I so badly wanted to be, but instead theres no place for a truly uneducated person in society. That's why im so forceful on my children's education. The teachers they meet will change their lives.
I finished year five in primary school (age 10) which I had to repeat because I couldn't understand simple maths or read and write very well. I missed a lot of school my whole school life. If my mum was away at nans, dad kept me home. If she worked long hours he did the same thing. I did start year six but dad pulled me out. I tried to go back but, because I had a violent history by then, I was unacceptable in case I caused injury to other students or staff.
I wanted to be a vet with my own practice one day. I know that even though I didn't make anything of my life I still became what I am thanks to people like teachers. I still had to teach myself to read better, to write and spell. Although math is something I could not teach myself. My mum tried to help with lots of books and crosswords but on one page I would pretty much only understand a paragraphs worth of words, but that was enough for me to learn the enjoyment of reading.
I just want my kids to get every opportunity in life. An education is the way to do that. Apart from taking my daughter into high school a few times I have never really been inside a high school certainly never for education.
I just think people have forgotten the value of education. I'm happy where I am in life. I try to use my street knowledge to learn normal things as well, and try to use it in good ways, in everyday life.
But I would also have been so happy to be a vet."
( Quote from Dia: Parishioner)
So as our children head off to school, realise the value of this gift and the future that it may lead to. God has given us all gifts of the Spirit, and teachers are blessed with the opportunity to mould and strengthen our children.
Keep teachers in your prayers, that God will guide them.
Grant, we beseech thee, O heavenly Father,
to all who teach in our schools,
the spirit of wisdom and grace,
that they may lead their pupils to reverence truth,
desire goodness, and rejoice in beauty;
so that all may come to know and worship thee,
the giver of all that is good;
through Jesus Christ our lord.
(The Book Of Common Prayer)

Aussie Day...

´♪ `'•.¸ ¸.•'´♪`'•.¸  Australians all let us rejoice...♫♪¸.•'´♪ `'•.¸
(Stroooth maate, woz Straya day da uva day.)

If you were surfing social network this last week you would have seen various responses to the Australia day celebrations. Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 each year to commemorate the first landing in Australia by Captain Arthur Phillip. However, to many of our Aboriginal Community this day represents an invasion day and is one of sadness and mourning rather than celebration.
Lets see if we can do prayer for "Australia day"
O God, our Father, creator of all.
Who painted our sands golden, and our seas blue;
enlivening our skys with colourful birdlife;
and our land with the most unique of creatures;
Surrounding us with beauty and wonder.
We thank you for your glorious creation.
O God, our Father, help us,
To keep our soil peaceful and free from war;
our eco-system strong and balanced;
and our society caring and loving;
We pray for your assistance in our stewardship.

O God, our Father, in whose image we are created;
Having brought together such diverse cultures,
Comfort and heal native Australians who mourn,
and assist them to keep their culture alive and proud;
Forgive the sins of convict forefathers shipped here,
may their offspring be grateful for freedom;
Nurture those who have joined us more recently;
create within them a new sense of belonging;

Give all of us direction and hope, uniting us as one.

This we ask in Jesus name. Amen

If you are Aussie and want to add suggestions to the prayer please use the comments below. Hope your Australia day was filled with Gods grace.

( Thoughts and prayer by Di Mathews: churchwarden /blog administrator)

Thursday 28 January 2016

An Evening Prayer

An Evening Prayer
O God, our Father,
We thank Thee for this day which is passed from us now.
For any glimpse of beauty we have seen;
For any echo of Thy truth that we have heard;
For any kindness that we have received;
For any good that we have been enabled to do;
And for any temptation which Thou didst give us grace to overcome;
We thank Thee. O God.
We ask Thy forgiveness
For anything which has spoiled and marred this day.
For any word which now we wish that we had never spoken;
For any deed which now we wish we had never done;
For anything which makes us ashamed when we remember it;
Forgive us, O God.
Eternal God, who givest us the day for work and the night for rest,
Grant unto us , as we go to rest, a good night sleep;
And wake us refreshed on the morrow,
Better able to serve Thee and to serve our fellow-men.
This we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer by Professor William Barclay)
There are many ideas floating around, many books written and many formulas suggested, regarding the best way to pray. There are many elegantly worded examples of prayer available to us. Some we know as familiar, some are new gems we have just discovered. However you pray, keep in mind the most valuable prayer consists of honest and intimate conversation between you and God.
Having said that, did you just read the words of the prayer above, or did you pray them?
I invite you to re-read each line giving thought to what it is saying and expand on each idea. Share with God, each positive and negative memory of the day that these words stimulate. Use the words of the prayer to create conversation with Him. Remember though that conversation goes two ways. When you have finished, listen. When you have shared your day with God, having honestly opened you heart and mind to Him, listen and feel His presence and His love.
God Bless.
Sleep Well.
( Thoughts by Di Mathews: churchwarden /blog administrator)

Saturday 23 January 2016

Jesus at The Wedding at Cana

The Wedding at Cana
(click on the image to enlarge)

The title of this oil painting on canvas is "The Wedding at Cana".
It is 660 × 990 cm (259.8 × 389.8 in)  
and is painted by the artist "Paolo Veronese" (1528–1588)
This image sets the mood beautifully for
"The 2nd chapter of the Gospel according to John".
On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus was also invited to the marriage with his disciples. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘O'Woman, what concern have you do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now six stone water-jars were standing there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.’ So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyman serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ This, the first of his signs Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
The following transcript taken from oral sermon presentation by Father Matthew Kirby

 Johns gospel tells us some important things about Jesus and his mother Mary.
We will start with Jesus.
He was no kill-joy. He was there to celebrate a marriage and all that goes with marriage. Our Lord sanctified marriage by his presence there. In fact, in the marriage services of the church, one of the things that they look back to in the liturgy is the attendance of Jesus at that wedding. Saying in a sense that by His presence there He sanctifies human marriage. It was already a natural sacrament but he sanctified it further by His presence. All that goes along with marriage and the baring of children and all the physicality of that, is something that God created and approves of.

Indeed, He is not just at a wedding, He is at a party. It is a celebration. It is a feast. It is a wedding feast. We know that in those days the feasts would go on for quite some time. Many people were invited. One of the major celebrations of a village was a wedding. Over an extended period people would drink the wine and there is Jesus present with all of this.  
He creates wine out of water.
He turns water into wine because they ran out, which in those days would have been a matter of great embarrassment and shame. It would have been a humiliation for the family but Jesus solves this problem for them by turning the water into wine. It is interesting the water that he chose was the water that was there for ceremonial purposes. Not ceremonious that the Old testament had demanded but ceremonies that the Scribes and the Pharisee and other Jews had created in order to make absolutely sure you were truly pure. They had these water pots there for purification, for people to wash their hands and so-on in them.

Jesus takes that water which is for one ceremonial purpose and turns it into another purpose, a more fun purpose you might say. And it is good alcohol, it is the good wine. “You have kept the good wine until now” . The fellow who is running the feast (the M.C.) is surprised, “this is amazing, you brought out the good wine at the end. Normally they bring it out at the beginning and then when people have drunk it and don't notice as much they bring out the bad wine”. This was over an extended period and the wine wasn't super strong in those days. It was over a period and people weren't expected to get drunk but they were expected to have fun.

People try to explain this passage.
They have said “Oh, No. It couldn't have possibly been wine as we understand wine. It couldn't have had alcohol in it. It must have been grape juice. The good wine meant grape juice and the bad wine was grape juice that had fermented.” That is really stretching things. Basically we are expected to believe that the alcoholic wine was the bad wine and the good wine was Ribena.

Neither now nor than would that have been the case for those people. They would not have associated Ribena with the good stuff. So I think we have to be honest about this passage. Yes, Jesus creates an alcoholic drink for them to enjoy. Not in excess. The Jewish people had rules about getting drunk and it was frowned upon. Especially at a wedding feast where you were meant to be honouring those present. But they were to enjoy it. They were to have fun. One of the things when people drink wine (but not to excess) is that it becomes a more social atmosphere. That was the intention of cause.

We can compare this attitude of Jesus to this celebration with the attitude we sometimes get. (As I say this, I remember reading a book by David Wilkinson, a nice fellow but he was convinced that the good wine must have been Ribena, basically grape juice).

We can compare that with a similar attitude back in the 17th Century when the Church Of England had to go underground because of the revolution. The King had been killed and the people we often know as puritans had basically taken over the government. There were a lot of things they didn't like. They weren't fond of Christmas because Christmas wasn't in the Bible. As far as they were concerned you weren't allowed to celebrate Christmas. There would be people going around ringing bells and saying “NO CHRISTMAS...NO CHRISTMAS”. I tend to think that is not a very effective way of doing things. It is like saying to people “whatever you do DO NOT THINK OF A PINK ELEPHANT... NO!... DON'T!... STOP!... Don't think of a pink elephant with wings!” Ahhh look what you've done.

“No Christmas. No Christmas”.... It wasn't only Christmas they didn’t like it was also the book of sports. They had burnings of the Book Of Sports. Before the Church of England went underground and there was still the King on the throne one of the things that had been produced by (I think) the King and approved by the church was The Book Of Sports. A book that said “these are the games and the fun things you can do on Sunday. That is your day of rest. Remember back then they didn't have a weekend of two days of rest each week. Back then they had only one day of rest, Sunday. So this Book Of Sports was produced to let people know there were innocent, harmless, fun activities they could do on the Sabbath day, Sunday, the Lord's day. Apart from going to church you could also do these other things and enjoy the day which was meant to be a day of rest and recreation with some fun. Well, the people who took over at that time after the revolution in England did not approve of the Book Of Sports. For them, all this having fun on Sunday was disrespectful so they burned these books. Fortunately the revolution was undone and the Church Of England came back from underground and that was all thrown in the dustbin of history. There have been Christians who felt that fun is bad, fun is evil. Jesus obviously wasn't one of them. Here He is at this celebration.

There is nothing here about overly puritanical hatred of simple human pleasures. Jesus does not disapprove of that. On the other hand he is hardly obsessed with them either. Mary comes to him (His Mother) and says there is a problem. They have run out of wine. He says (literally translated from the Greek) “What is that to you and to me?” So, he is saying that it is not a huge issue. It my have seemed so to the people there celebrating but in the big scheme of things running out of wine is not a huge issue. He is not obsessed with these things even though he approves of them. So, we do not have an excuse here. Even though Jesus attended a wedding and made wine it is not an excuse to be a person who lacks self

control and does what they like. It is not an excuse for what they used to call a dissipation (not caring, just behaving in an undisciplined, sinful way). There are no parts of our life where God is irrelevant or where we could not be called upon to exercise self control or self restraint.
Now, His words to Mary may not mean “What's it got to do with us?” “What has your concern got to do with me?” is another way of translating it. But note here that this apparently harsh response is put into context by what comes after. Jesus says what's that got to do with me, basically. How is that my problem? He knows that she has just asked him to do something about it, something unusual and this harsh response to his own mother. It is not the only time Jesus has a harsh response in the Gospel. Now I remind you again, why is the mother so concerned with the party running out of wine? Why is the Blessed Virgin concerned about it? Because it would have been somewhat humiliating for the people organising the feast. Jesus does not necessarily give a discouraging response because the need is trivial but because the time for public ministry and miracles has not yet arrived in his mind. He says “My time has not yet come” He doesn’t say "this is just rubbish”. He says “My time has not yet come”. That puts it into context. The other thing is that he still goes ahead and does the miracle anyway.
This is not the only time in the Gospels Jesus gives what sounds like a harsh answer. It is also a kind of encouragement for people not to take “No” for an answer.

We have a similar event when the Syrophoenician woman comes to Jesus and asks for a healing for her daughter. Jesus says “It's not right to give the bread to the dogs, it is for the children” and this initial “No” is actually ended up being a “Yes” because she didn't stop. She didn't give up. What does Jesus say to this woman? Jesus says to the Syrophoenician woman “Great is your faith” He actually commends the person who doesn’t take “no” (that initial harsh answer) as the final word. It was the same thing with Mary. Although He doesn't commend her faith by words He does by action, because He does what she want.

So, Jesus does not always say “Yes” the first time he is asked. He expects and challenges us to press beyond the apparent, initial “no” to the final “yes”. It is only an apparent “no” because He never actually says the word “no”. He says “My time has not yet come” or “Now what's that got to do with me” but He doesn’t actually say “No, I wont do anything about that”.

As great as the faith of the Syrophoenician woman was (who asked for the healing and kept asking despite the initial negative response) Mary's faith is even greater because she asks for this sign even before Jesus has started performing miracles. She knows He can do something about it. We have been told this is the first sign. This is the beginning. She knows before anybody else what He can do. We see Mary here as an intercessor (one who asks God / Christ for others). She does not impose her will, but she is persistent. It is interesting what she does. Jesus says “the time has not yet come” “What's this got to do with us?” so, what does she do? She goes to the servants (she doesn't even speak to Jesus) and she says “whatever He tells you to do – do it”. Now, that leaves it open ended. Jesus could have said “go and have a smoko outside” He didn't have to do anything. She just leaves it open ended and says “whatever He tells you to do – do it” leaving it up to him. She intercedes for those in trouble at the feast and she points to Christ. Her words are very significant “(do) whatever He tells you”.

Obedience to Christ.
This is the genuine Marion voice of the Blessed Mother directing us to her son. She doesn't direct us to herself but to her son. Mary's act of faith “(do) whatever He tells you” actually begins His ministry. We are told this is the first sign. In the same way her act of faith began His human life. What does she say when the angel comes to her and says that she will conceive? She says “be it unto me according to thy will” Again there is the principal of obedience to God. Then Elizabeth tells her later on “Blessed are you who believed” So her act of faith, in the face of what must have seemed an absurd statement that she would conceive and bare a son, she says “but I have not known a man” (literally in the Greek “I am not knowing a man”). In the same way here in the face of a difficult situation (Jesus hadn't started performing miracles yet) she says “what are you going to do about it?” She shows that Faith. Her faith began His human life and her faith began His ministry. That makes Mary the prototypical or first Christian just as Jesus is the archetype for Christians (the actual source of who we are, the pattern on who we are modelled). She is the prototype. The first off the block, so to speak.

We need to imitate Jesus in His simultaneous approval of and detachment from not spiritual human pleasures. That is what we learned from what Christ has shown us today. These things are good but they are not the most important thing.
We need to imitate Mary in her bold faith, press in and don’t give up in your prayers.

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Nicene Creed

The audio is a  small part of our Mass at St Hilda's Parish from 10th Jan 2015.
The images were all taken at our chapel over a period of time.

Monday 11 January 2016

Baptism and Living Sacrifices

Transcript taken from oral presentation of
a sermon by Fr Matthew Kirby - 1st Sunday after Epiphany.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another". (Romans 12:1-5)
Present your bodies as a living sacrifice. 
Those words: "Present your bodies as a living sacrifice." are from today's epistle and we are made into living sacrifices by baptism.
Whereas St Paul teaches us "we are united with Christ's sacrifice, death and resurrection and then it is that reality of the Baptism that we must live".
I will just read that section to you from the letter of St Paul to the Romans. Paul says this "do you not know that all of us that have been baptised into Christ Jesus are baptism into his death. We were buried therefore with him into death. Since Christ was raised from the dead in the glory of the father we too might walk in newness of life where we have been united with him in a death like His we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His". So, baptism links us to Christ and to his sacrifice and yet we are alive at the end of it. So, we are living sacrifices. In a sense we have been given up in death. Through baptism we crucified the old man - the old humanity - that we may receive God's gift of new life. We become living sacrifices.

I want to talk a little more about the baptism of Christ
The baptism of Christ  is the archetype of our baptism. Now the reason I want to look at that is because in the epiphany season that is one of the themes - the baptism of Christ. People are sometimes vaguely aware that in the epiphany we remember the wise men who visited Jesus in his infancy but the interesting thing about the feast of epiphany is that it started as a celebration of Christ's baptism. It got the name epiphany or manifestation because of that, as well as, later on because of the visit of the wise men.

What does it mean to call it the epiphany?
Well, it is the manifestation of who Christ is. We see that at the visit of the wise men where Christ was revealed as God because they worshipped him.
Who was he revealed to who?
Not just to the Jews but to these wise men who were not Jews but Gentiles. Therefore another name for the feast is "the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles".
What has that to do with baptism?
Well, similarly baptism was a kind of epiphany for Christ because it manifested who he was to others. At his baptism the Spirit descended as a dove and a voice was heard from heaven, so again there was this manifestation. This revealing, this unfolding of who Christ was among us.

I want to begin by reading from our prayer book (Book Of Common Prayer - Canada Edition 1962) on the baptism of our lord, a mass we have in this week after epiphany. It can be found if you want to follow along on pages 120 to 121. "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets,
        Behold, I send my messenger before thy face,
        which shall prepare thy way before thee.
        The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
        Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
John did baptise in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptised of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptised you with water: but he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptised of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Mark 1:1-11)

So why was Christ baptised when he was without sin and we know that the purpose of baptism is to cleanse from sin? The scriptures teach that repeatedly, yet Christ was without sin and needed no repentance. John the Baptist asked this very question. We find this in one of the other gospels, where we get a little more detail in Matthews gospel. John the Baptist says, why am I baptising you? you should be baptising me. And what is Jesus answer? He says, permit me to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.

It was fitting.
Not required because of sin that needed repentance, but it was fitting. Fitting as in appropriately placed in order to teach us and to achieve God's will. To signify something. To symbolise something. To affect the truth. To bring to fulfilment that truth, for Christ says "bring to effect now for thus is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness". But what does the baptism mean? It is there to make a point, if you will, and to set an example and to fulfil Gods righteousness.

Well, what does it mean?
What is it actually doing having fulfilled that righteousness? Let us unpack this a little further, I’m going to paraphrase or read from things that Thomas Aquinas wrote on this very question. He says "It was fitting for Christ to be baptised" first as Ambrose said in 321 our lord was baptised because he wished not to be cleansed, but to cleanse the waters. "That being purified by the flesh of Christ they that do know sin might have the virtue of baptism" and as Christendom says "that he might bequeath the sanctified waters to those who are yet to be baptised afterwards". So Christ’s baptism is unique, thus the waters cleanse us and something spiritual happens and not just something physical.

Jesus was the one who prepared the waters for our baptism. He made water what is could be. He cleansed the water of it and it cleansed us. The second reason as Christendom says "although Christ was not a sinner yet he did take on a sinful nature and a likeness of sinful flesh". Therefore although he needed not baptism for his own sake yet carnal nature in others had need. Christ was baptised so that he may plunge the old Adam entirely in the water. The point about Christ is that although he was not a sinner he represented us and in a sense took us with him. So, there is a sense in which, when we are baptised we are baptised in Christ’s baptism. He led the way, and he takes our nature with him united to his perfect humanity.

The 3rd reason the St Thomas Aquinas gives and again from the fathers is "He wished to be baptised" as Aquinas gives in a sermon on the epiphany because "He wished to do what He had commanded all to do" and this is what he means by saying "so it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness". For as Ambrose says "this is righteousness, to do first thyself that which thou wishes another to do and so encourage others by your example". So, yes! Christ sets us an example and fulfils all righteousness and, if you like, allowing us to imitate him.

Something else that Aquinas points out is this, "it was through the river Jordan that the children of Israel entered into the land of promise". So back in the days just after Moses the Israelites first went into the nation (the land of Israel, the promised land) they actually went over the Jordan, which was miraculously parted for them.

So why was Christ baptised at the Jordan?
Because the river of Jordan symbolises the entrance to the land of promise which for us is eternity with God, the heavenly life, and that’s why Aquinas says "unless a man be born again of water and the holy ghost he will not enter the kingdom of god". Baptism is a kind of entrance, a gateway as the Jordan. The river Jordan itself was an entrance, a gateway to the promised land for the Israelites and Hebrews. So by being baptised in the Jordan were the people of god once miraculously crossed to the promised land Christ showed us that baptism is the entrance into the promised land of heaven, of eternal life with God.

What does baptism have to do with sacrifice?
In submitting to that baptism he sets us an example to follow, but more than that, he identifies with us as sinners which makes his act a precursor to the cross where he identifies with sinners to the point where he takes upon himself the penalty for our sins. So, at baptism we have a kind of forerunner of the cross. At the cross Christ identifies with us sinners and takes our penalty and pays the price. But here in baptism we have a kind of foreshadowing of that where Christ identifies with us and undergoes a symbolic death and resurrection, under the waters and out of the waters. By his baptism he sanctifies the water, he makes it able to baptise us so that we may be sanctified in the spirit. So, these are all the purposes and the meanings of Christ baptism.

It is not just what Jesus and John do with water that is significant or important. At this event something else happens. The Father and The Holy Spirit act. We have the water, we have the dove, and we have the voice. The water signifies that the water cleanses us. The dove signifies that the baptism bestows the Holy Spirit to renew us from within. While the voice assures us that the father has accepted us, adopted us as beloved children of His own.

What did the voice say to Christ?
The voice of the father said "thou art my beloved son" Remember as we heard before, baptism is union with Christ so the voice that spoke to him in a sense speaks to us. By baptism when we are united in faith and repentance we are forgiven, accepted and remade.

We are forgiven with the cleansing of the waters.
We are accepted with the voice that says you are my beloved.
And we are remade as the holy spirit descends upon us.

There is one more thing I want you to notice.
It is here at the precursor to the cross that Christ hears the reassuring voice from heaven, that reassuring voice again a little before he begins his journey to the cross.

In Johns gospel (the 12th chapter) just before the last supper there is the voice from heaven again. Then at the cross itself the voice is silent and it is at the cross that Jesus cries the cry of the forsaken, "My god. My god. Why have thou forsaken me?" (the 1st verse of the 22nd psalm).
So we have the voice "Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well pleased". Then we have the voice later on that says "I will glorify again" thinking of the divine name. Again a voice from heaven responding to something Jesus just said, but then at the cross itself there is no voice.

So it may be with us.
We may experience or observe outward or inward signs of God's favour and action and when those things happen faith is strengthened. There will come a time when in the midst of difficulties we see, hear and feel nothing. We cannot detect God in any obvious way. That is when we will be tempted to despair. That is when we are tempted to forget as if nothing god has done before counts for anything, as if god has no right to our fidelity unless he constantly proves himself.

Christ, though at the cross he cried out and revealed pain and isolation, he also trusted until the very end. For there at the cross he also spoke those words of forgiveness to his executors "Father forgive them for the know not what they do". He speaks words of comfort to the thief that "today you will be with me in paradise". And at the very end he says "into thy hands I commend my spirit". Even though the voice is absent and he feels that sense of abandonment He trusts and He obeys to the very end.

Let us then accept His blessings and the reassurance of the Father with the gratitude and faith including the reassurance he gives us in baptism. Because what is baptism but an outward guarantee of his inward grace towards us. Then let us push on as Jesus did during the dry times when we can hear nothing knowing that he has spoken to us already in the faith that he IS with us, that we are beloved still.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen 

Join us Sunday 11am for Mass / Holy Communion
at St Hilda's Anglican Catholic Parish

Friday 8 January 2016

The Feast Of Saint John The Evangelist

The Feast Of Saint John The Evangelist
Transcript taken from oral presentation of a sermon by Fr Matthew Kirby - 27th December 2015.
Who Is St John The Evangelist?
Today's feast (27-12-15) is "The Feast Of Saint John The Evangelist" who gave us the Gospel named after him, also three epistles 1,2 and 3 - John's 3 letters. We had a reading from the first of those this morning. Scholars debate about whether he is also responsible for The Book Of Revelation. There is no doubt that he is one of the most important authors in the New Testament, and he was one of the twelve apostles that Jesus chose.
How is He Different to the other Apostles?
Today is his feast and we have a "white" altar cloth to celebrate. This is actually unusual because every other apostle who has a feast, every one of the twelve apostles and St Paul (another of the apostles), their feast day is "red" because they were martyred, and red is the colour of blood. St John the Evangelist is the only one who gets white, which is the normal colour for Saints. The altar cloth used is white because he was not martyred he was the only apostle from the twelve apostles, of St Paul and the other apostolic men, that was not killed either by the Jewish State or by the Roman State. At the end of his life he was the only one to die an old man, all the rest were killed because of their testimony.
The Apostle Of Divine Love?
Saint John was the one who lasted the longest, there are some traditions that say he lived until he was ninety years old. He was an old man. There is a lovely tradition, although I don't know its historical accuracy but it does sound like St John, that at the very end of his life when he could no longer walk on his own two feet and people used to carry him into church he would just continue repeating to them (and there wasn't much more for him to say other than this) "love one another, Love one another". That is St John and he is the apostle of Divine Love because that is mentioned so many times in his Gospel and his epistles. It is from St John's Gospel that we have that most famous of all verses in the Bible (John 3:16) "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, to the end that all who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." The same one which we repeat every time we have Mass.
How Does He Refer To Himself?
So, St John the Evangelist was "The Apostle Of Love" and it is interesting that he does not name himself directly in his Gospel. He doesn't refer to himself by name, but he does refer to himself, so how does he refer to himself? He constantly calls himself (almost like a code) "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" and again at the very last chapter he is referred to as "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" which is a bit strange because John himself tells us that Jesus loved all the apostles.
Okay? What did he say?
Although he says that he is "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" in chapter 13 verse 1 (this is just one of many places that we can prove this from) In his own Gospel (chapter 13 verse 1) he talks of Jesus "having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end". and there Jesus is with His apostles about to celebrate the Last Supper. So John knew very well that all of the disciples were the disciples whom Jesus loved, but that is the name he gives himself directly in his Gospel. However, I think John had an interesting sense of humour as there is also a sense in which he names himself indirectly in his Gospel. At the end of each Mass, we have what they call the Last Gospel and normally that last Gospel is the very beginning of Johns Gospel "prologue" as it is sometimes called. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Interestingly enough in the midst of all this high theology of who Jesus is (both God and man, the Word made flesh) he starts talking about John the Baptist. He says " There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came for testimony to bare witness of that light, that all might believe through him, he was not the light, but came to bare witness to the light" and then it goes back to talking about Jesus. But there is this little interlude where he talks about "a man sent from God whose name was John, who was not the light but bare witness to the light," now he is talking about John the Baptist it is very obvious in context and later in the chapter that he is talking about John the Baptist.
But is there a double meaning there?
I think so, because at the very end of his Gospel in the last two chapters he says these things, "These are written (in other words, the things he was writing - right now) that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that believing you may have life in his name" and then at the very last few verses that we heard from today in the Gospel "This is the disciple who was baring witness (there is that word again "baring witness") to these things, and who has written these things that we know, and we know that his testimony is true". So compare that with what he said about John at the beginning (so we go from the end back to the beginning). "There was a man sent from God whose name was John, he came for a testimony to bare witness (that same word used at the end) to the light, that all might believe through him" and what does he say about these writings? that "they were written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ". and so I think John was smiling when he wrote this because he knew he was talking about John the Baptist but there is that double meaning there. At the very end of the Gospel he tells you that he too is a John and was baring witness to these things.
Why Does He Call Himself That?
But having said all that, why does he call himself "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" ? when he acknowledges that Jesus loved all of his disciples. Is it because he had a special friendship with Jesus? It's possible, but I think there's something else going on here because much of what John does in his Gospel has a deeper meaning.
Alright. So what is he saying?
Well, he is saying this is his name, he gives this as his identity. His name instead of a name. Why? Well I think it is to show us that being loved by God, being loved by Jesus, is enough.

It is enough for our identity.
It is enough for our peace, and security about who we are and what we can become.
It is enough to show us our worth to God.
It is enough to show us the way to live, as we are inspired by, as we imitate and as we reflect that love shown to us by Jesus.
It is enough...
We too can call ourselves "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loves" There is a sense in which that is every Christians name, it is their fundamental identity. We are loved personally and individually by God himself, in and through His Son and as we respond to His call each of us is revealed as "The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved" .
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Join us Next Sunday for Anglican Catholic Worship At St Hilda's Parish.
In the chapel at St Marys Campus of the All Saints College.
Victoria St Maitland NSW Australia.

Friday 1 January 2016

Among the Hobbits and Orks

As you may realise Father Matthew Kirby recently went over to New Zealand. For us who couldn't manage to hide away in his luggage, he has taken some gorgeous photos. Looking through these it isn't hard to  appreciate the beauty of God's creation, so we can sit back and share his adventure in the land of Hobbits and Orks. Hope you enjoy (to view large images left click on the photos).
Thank you Fr Matthew.