Other Homilies



Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

Home Mission Statement Homilies Liturgies In Memoriam Reports Resources Contacts Links

Homily

Reign of Christ, Year C
Celebrating Community
South Sydney Uniting Church
November 21, 2010

Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43


Bow, don’t bow’

It’s often said that you see a person’s soul or true self when that person’s body and spirit are under pressure. When the Church says that Christ crucified reveals God’s true self, it says something similar. It says that the reign of God, God’s glory, is most clearly revealed in Jesus under pressure of ridicule and scorn, under pressure of wood and nails.

It’s often said that you see a person’s soul or true self when that person’s body and spirit are under pressure. When the Church says that Christ crucified reveals God’s true self, it says something similar. It says that the reign of God, God’s glory, is most clearly revealed in Jesus under pressure of ridicule and scorn, under pressure of wood and nails.

Leaders scoff. Soldiers mock. A fellow prisoner/sufferer taunts. A fellow sufferer and human being says: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your glory.” This is the voice of understanding, of compassion, and of faith. Such a human being sees in another human being the reality of God as king, or queen, or ruler of all. Such a human being sees in another human being the ultimate reality.

Yesterday I had opportunity to visit with a man called Tony. Heather invited me to go along with her to Level 22 of the Turanga building in Waterloo. Tony is 64 and dying. He talked non-stop for about an hour – funny, sad, courageous, tragic stories of his life – open, trusting – and Heather said later that it’s striking how full of life a dying person can be. Such a human being sees in another human being the reality of God as king, or queen, or ruler of all. Such a human being sees in another human being the ultimate reality.

A couple of times in conversation Tony said he didn’t bow to anyone – he wasn’t intimidated by anyone, he said. “I don’t bow to anyone but God,” he said. It’s a defiant and noble sentiment. It’s also Good News. In the Spirit of God we are the very image of Christ the Truly Human One. In the Spirit of God we are the very (human) image of God. And in that respect – and that respect only – it is right that we bow to one another.

There’s much ridicule and scorn – there’s no life in this inhumanity, no richness, no joy. But in understanding born of suffering, in compassion and in faith there is real life.

Running with thousands of others down Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn a couple of weeks back was an incredible privilege and thrill – there were thousands of people lining the street – gospel choirs, rock bands, kids with their hands outstretched, some with bananas or glasses of water. No scoffing or mocking or taunting. A sign read: “You can do it!” Amazing joy and rich life. The experience overflowed the marathon itself – I had an amazing two weeks with my nephew, Blake – art galleries in the mornings and comic book shops in the afternoons – I met volunteers and editors of the Catholic Worker in Manhattan, toured Covenant House (I was proud to wear their T-shirt in the race), photographed colourful street performers (my favourite was a guy dressed in full NASA astronaut attire buying a hot-dog in the East Village) and subway musicians, encountered kind and generous New Yorkers at every turn. I felt quite at home.

Still, it’s good to be home. To share the experience with friends in my own community. Yesterday was joyful and rich. Life drawing class, Renaissance musicians, gardeners tidying up the garden, a new exhibition in the wings – and all this in the wake of good wishes for the marathon, fresh bread and soy milk in the kitchen when I stumbled in, a cup of real caw-fee at Appetite with Johnny Bell and at Tripod with Trevor Davies.

I’ve always felt embarrassed about playing guitar in church. It’s always felt dorky, daggy, uncool. But I have a song that wants to be sung today. For Tony at Turanga and in celebration of this precious and resilient community of believers and carers. And I don’t want to be worried about sharing what’s life-giving for me with those who make my life joyful and rich. I hope we can all say that – that we won’t worry about sharing what’s life-giving for us in the company of those who make our lives joyful and rich – that we will shun all scoffing and mocking and taunting – in the Spirit of a love that is glorious and strong.

I wrote this song one day last month – while running in the Botanic Gardens – and shared the lyric with the Wordplay group at the Woolpack Hotel. But I haven’t played it for anyone. It’s called ‘Don’t Bow’. I’ll finish with this, and then invite a time of silence before we complete the homily together.

There are various symbols of ministry on the altar-table. What do you see in one (or more) of the symbols that reminds you of Christ the image of God? You’re invited to name in one word that “royal” quality and to place a “pearl” or “gem” alongside its symbol in celebration of what you find there.

DON’T BOW

Don’t bow to jealousy
Don’t bow to a bully’s threat
Don’t bow to resentment
Don’t bow to self-hatred

You will fail and fail again
Many times over before you win
Know that I was willing you to win

Don’t bow to charisma
Don’t bow to inconsistency
Don’t bow to clanging praises
Or clinging intimacy

You will fall and fall again
Many times over before you win
Know that I was willing you to win

Don’t bow to the Buddha on the road
Don’t bow to Jesus with a gun
Don’t bow to flesh-eating idols
Not even the flashy one

You will fail and fall again
Many times over before you win
Know that I was willing you to win

 


Other Homilies