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.

Monday 27 February 2017

Ash Wednesday

will be at midday this Wednesday (1st March 2017)... 
Hope to see you there.

What is Ash Wednesday About ??
This holy day will mark the beginning of Lent, a 40-day season of fasting and prayer that is considered preparation for Holy Week and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the forehead. The ashes which are made from blessed palm branches taken from the previous year's palm Sunday Mass, symbolize the dust from which God made us. The ash is placed on their foreheads in the shape of the cross as the words from Genesis 3:19 are spoken: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Although there is no Biblical reference to Ash Wednesday or Lent, scholars of Christianity date the tradition of a 40-day fasting period back to 325 A.D. Writings from the Second-century Church refer to the wearing of ashes as a visible sign of penance. They symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

Lent mirrors Jesus’ own 40-day period of fasting, described in the book of Matthew.

Thursday 16 February 2017

sacrificial payment and infinite forgiveness

The following is a transcript from an oral serman 
presented by Father Matthew Kirby to his parish.

Peter said unto Jesus, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?" Jesus said unto him "I say not until seven times, but until seventy times seven”. (Matthew 18:21-22)

To see the full significance of both Peter's and Jesus' statements we need to know two things:

The first is that Peter would have considered his maximum allowance to be seven forgiveness's per person as fairly generous, it was after all more than twice as many the number given by respected Jewish religious authority. It says to forgive 3 times so peter had clearly noted Jesus' teachings that were previously given about forgiving others. 

The second thing we need to know is that the number Jesus has given implies unlimited forgiveness. If we were to keep a written tally of how many times we had forgiven somebody (how else could we keep track of it) and then  consign them to an allowed-to-hate-forever-more list-number-491 we would be missing the point. You can imagine it can't you? someone keeping a list, "okay that is the 244th time, you are almost half way to the limit you know". To keep such a tally in anticipation of the day we may give up forgiving would show that we had never forgiven them at all. The kind of love that forgives is the kind of love that keeps no record of wrongs (to quote Paul in 1corinthians 13). So what Jesus is saying is that it is a countless number of times. 

The other important thing to note about the number Jesus uses, is that it counters (or stands against) the same number used by Lemech in the book of Genesis. Lamech used this number as a measure of revenge. (Genesis 4:23-24) " Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; you wives of Lamech, hearken to what I say, I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me. If Cain is avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”" (or 70x7 as it can be translated) And so this is a statement of revenge and he has revenged himself on somebody and he claims for himself without waiting for God something similar that has happened to Caine who had murdered his brother, God had punished him and said that no one can kill him or they will be revenged seven fold. So this fellow takes it upon himself to say "well if anyone has a go at me, they are going to be avenged seventy-sevenfold (70x7)". So Jesus is taking this particular verse (and what he says can be taken as either 70-times-7 or 77-times) from the Old Testament and turning it around (turning it on its head). That was about vengeance, this is about forgiveness. Jesus is deliberately contrasting unlimited revenge with unlimited forgiveness. 

In one commentary I read it talked about the unlimited revenge of primitive man, referring to that Old Testament example. I think it is safe to say that mankind as a whole is never outgrown its desire to go further than justice demands in seeking retribution. This is because love of justice is seldom if ever our primary motivation, fear and hatred tend to move us more than love of justice. There is many examples of this in our long and bloodied human history.   

When Jesus wants to underline limitless forgiveness he uses the parable in today's Gospel reading. In having told Peter to forgive seventy times seven or seventy seven times (uncounted times) he then goes on to tell a parable. In the parable we have a master forgiving his servant, then that servant NOT forgiving his fellow servant a debt of a much smaller amount. Again, it helps to know some of the historical context. The sum that Jesus mentions which this servant owed the Lord was 10,000 talents which is many millions of dollars in today's money. (The word talent, when used as a measure of money, refers to a talent-weight of gold or of silver. The gold talent is reported as weighing roughly the same as a person, and so perhaps 50 kg). This is almost like one man owing to total debt of a country, it was an astonishing amount. So this parable is deliberately using hyperbole because it is very difficult for a servant to owe his master that much, it is a huge amount. Then, what does the fellow servant owe him? a hundred denarius, now that is more than 3 months average wages. It is not a pittance, it is a substantial amount, yet it is so tiny compared to the previous sum. In other words Jesus in not saying "you have to forgive because what it is that you have to forgive is nothing". He is not saying that at all. He is saying "You may have to forgive a lot (the equivalent of Three months wages), but compare that to God and how He is forgiving you, the whole human race constantly and His forgiveness is unlimited". The interesting thing is that when this wicked servant (who was forgiven but would not forgive) tries to deal with the situation before he is forgiven, he says "Lord have patience with me and I will pay you everything." and that was an empty promise because he couldn't, he would simply be incapable of paying back millions and millions of dollars (or the equivalent). He was desperate. The response of his Lord was to have compassion, even though he knows this fellow is really fibbing and can't pay him back. 

But the King or Lord in this particular parable is not a direct analogy for God. It is a story we have to take on its own merits about an extreme example of a human situation. So the King is not necessarily equal to God. God wouldn't sell the mans whole family to pay off his debt as this King does later in this parable. We are meant to take this seriously as what would happen if humans behaved this way and then compare that to the way God would react to our unforgivness. As I have said before parables are not allegories, we can't say every single component in a parable stands in for something else directly, it is not that simple. Parables didn't work that way in the ancient world, they often had one or two points. You weren't meant to take every part of the parable and make it an analogy for something else. Indeed you might say that the parable is deliberately unrealistic in that we have a radical change in the the King's attitude and we have this ridiculous amount of debt, which was (even in those days) impossible for a servant to owe his master. However the massive debt does stand in for something. 

That massive debt is an analogy for how much God forgives us all for the weight of sin. There is a reason why God can not forgive the unforgiving. Because to not forgive when we are sinners is really not to repent from our own sin. The humble heart that seeks forgiveness is the same gentle heart that offers forgiveness. The two go together naturally. We need soft hearts in order to imitate Christ whose physical heart was literally broken, pierced for us on the cross. He who calls His heart meek, lowly, that is gentle and humble. One way to soften our hearts toward God and those who have hurt us is to meditate on the extent of Gods forgiveness of each and every one of us and on what it cost Him. 

So let us do that as we approach the Eucharist which is the memorial of Christ's sacrificial payment of our massive debt. It is the communication of Gods infinite forgiveness. 

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

Monday 13 February 2017

True Love.

She had beautiful brown hair with a fringe and the deepest brown eyes. Her name was Pam. She lived next door, and we would walk to school holding hands. I loved her.

Then her parents moved away, and I never saw my beloved Pam again. At the age of six one seems to have very little control over one's parents and the course of life.

I recovered, then years later, I saw her - the girl of my dreams - Renee, blond, blue eyes and even curves where the glamourous movie stars had curves. She was fourteen. I was twelve. I adored her and followed wherever I could.

What hurt most was that she got this big kid to come and tell me to "rack off".

Ive learnt a lot about love since. It certainly never runs smoothly. Ive learnt that love and suffering are very much tied together. Ive also learnt that the moments of bliss and contentment and joy still make it worth the while to love, and be loved.

Thanks Father, for the gift of Love, and people to love. Thanks for the insights it gives into the way you love each of us, however different - but for ever.

(The above text is published with permission - 
from the writtings of David Pullar. Illustration by Andrew Pullar)

As I walk through each day 
you offer so many opertunities to practice love with my fellow man 
so that I may master what Love is, prior to standing before you. 
Help me to see the good in others 
so that I not only love those who are kind to me 
but also those who are not.

Allow me to glimpse at their potential 
and see them as you do, 
Remind me of my own shortcomings 
and the fact that you still love me 
even though my journey is yet to be completed.

(prayer by Di Mathews)

What is Valentines Day

This Valentines day I am working in a charity store whose policy is to be accepting of all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion or any other aspect of life that may be a topic of predudice. Part of its policy is not to sell items of any religious nature (not limited to Christianity). The interesting thing is that I was asked to create a "Valentines day" display in the store to market some of their products. It was made obvious our cultures ignorances regarding true meanings behind some of the celebrations it now takes for granted. Last year our blog ran an article about who St Valentine was. Once again I will run this legend.

This Saint Valentines Day when you are feeling all romantic and loving, step back from the commercial card rack and give a thought to the purpose of recognising Saints because Valentines Day wasn't invented to romance the opposite sex. Its purpose was to honour a Saint and to learn by his example. In the legends that developed about Saint Valentine he wasn't trying to win the heart of a young maiden, but rather he puts his dedication to his faith and love of God, followed by his love for and serving of others, above everything including his own safety. 

We are a bit lacking in the factual recordings of this particular Saint. 
However a lot of the early Saints do have legends that develop.

There are many legends behind Saint Valentine. Story has it that while under house arrest, because he defied the order of the emperor Claudius and secretly married couples so that the husbands wouldn't have to go to war. Soldiers were sparse at this time so this was a big inconvenience to the emperor. To remind Soldiers and persecuted Christians of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have given them hearts cut from parchment. Saint Valentine (who was a former Bishop) was challenged during a discussion about faith by Judge Asterius while under arrest. The judge insisted that Valentine prove his faith and the validity of Christ by restoring the eye sight of the Judges adopted blind daughter. If successful Asterius would do anything Valentine asked. Valentine laid his hands on her eyes and the child's vision was restored. Immediately humbled, the judge asked Valentine what he should do. Valentine replied that all of the idols around the judge's house should be broken, the judge should fast for three days, and then undergo baptism. The judge obeyed and as a result, freed all the Christian inmates under his authority. The judge, his family and his forty-four member household (family members and servants) were baptized. Valentine was later arrested again and had to face the emperor Claudius. Valentine tried to convert Claudius to Christianity, but Claudius refused and condemned him to death, commanding that Valentine either renounce his faith or he would be beaten with clubs, and beheaded. Valentine refused and Claudius' command was executed February 14, 269. Legend has it that on the day of his execution he left the girl a note that was signed “Your Valentine" as a farewell.

Let Us Pray,

O'Saint Valentine,
The lover of Christ and of the church,
we ask for your intercession
so that we may learn to love God above all things,
and to selflessly love one another.
O'Glorious Saint Valentine pray for us,
that we too may have the steadfast faith of the martyrs.

Almighty God, strengthen my faith.
Give me the courage to always place you first.
Fill my soul with the love of God
so that it may shine forth into the world.
Fill my heart with your love for man
so that I may serve them well according to your will.

Lord Jesus Christ... be my Valentine.

( by Di Mathews: churchwarden /blog administrator)

Thursday 9 February 2017

Big Bin

It's garbage day! The "Big Bin" has to be put out for the collection truck which comes in the morning.

Big bins are beaut! Big, so that they can take all our garbage - garbage from the kitchen and from the study, scraps and saw dust and shavings from the workshop, even weeds from the garden. But sometimes there is also the litter others have left - on the footpath, and thrown over our fence - all placed in the "big bin" and wheeled out on its own wheels to the side of the road.

Later that day - oh the miracles of this modern age - it stands empied, patiently waiting to be taken back to its place - to be filled again.

Lord, it seems to me that's what you meant when you taught us to pray, "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us".

Only you, Lord, can take ALL the garbage of our lives - not just the wrong we have done - but ALL the wrongs others have done to us. It clutters up our lives till we wheel it out for YOU to take away - and then leave us with more room for your love.

Thank you Lord, for Garbologists - Human and Divine.

The above text is uploaded with permission
(from the writings of David Pullar, Illustration by Andrew Pullar).

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” 
(Matthew11:29-30 RSV)

Help us to make our burden light so that our souls find rest. 
Lighten our hearts and thoughts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit 
and remind us to place the trash from each day where it belongs 
and not to litter our lives nor the lives of others with it. 
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. 

(Di Mathews, Church warden and Blog admin)

The Greatest is LOVE

The three most important things to have 
are faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of them is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13