Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘How can anyone be born after having grown old?’
The artwork on our orders of service this morning is entitled, “Mother, Daughter, Holy Spirit”. I chose it because our Gospel refers to spiritual rebirth. It’s helpful sometimes to image what the evangelist imagines – to make explicit that this oft-
At yesterday’s forum on juvenile justice Julie recalled a visit to a juvenile detention centre and interviews she carried out with detainees. When you get out of this place to whom will you turn for support? Overwhelmingly, the response was given: “Mum”.
Tim Grey, one of our four speakers yesterday, could relate to this. He remembered the painful loss of his foster mother, an experience of incarceration and a turning to his grandmother. Joe Correy, another speaker, nodded in agreement. He, too, was very close to his grandmother – and his mother was in attendance yesterday – the very model of supportive.
George Dieter, psychologist and author, took the opportunity to suggest that mother-
Karen Bevan of UnitingCare said afterwards that she learned a lot from the forum, in particular from the wisdom of Tim who said that a turning point for him was having juvenile justice officers ask him why he’d engaged in anti-
I hope I’m not labouring the point! Our Gospel is about seeing things differently. Opening up the possibilities for grace, for change, for learning. The word “compassion” is derived from the Hebrew for “womb-
Spiritual rebirth is not the exclusive preserve of “born-
And it strikes me that rebirth often happens in contexts of trauma or awkwardness.
Adam Kotsko’s recent book, On Awkwardness, was one of my summer holiday favourites. “The utopia of awkwardness is where we already are,” he writes. I liked that so much I’ve used it as my email signature since the start of the year. We expend a lot of energy, Kotsko argues, trying to make ourselves safe and secure inside cultural and sub-
Rather than encourage a third culture into which Jews and Gentiles might assimilate, Paul affirms the space between Jewish and Gentile cultures as the fertile ground of grace. He says, in effect, “Come as you are”. Jews, love your Gentile brothers. Gentiles, love your Jewish sisters. The utopia (the no-
No doubt you’ve been watching and reading the news from Japan this past week. How does the situation make you feel? I heard one commentator suggest that for many of us – those of us born after the Second World War – it may be the most traumatic event we have witnessed. My mother was born on August 7, 1945, the day after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and two days before the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. At that time the bombings killed a quarter of a million Japanese people. That’s without taking into account the effects – on people and animals – of radiation sickness. The trauma of that has always felt close somehow – familial, personal. And the nuclear reactor at risk of meltdown this week – well, it’s frightening, isn’t it? It’s traumatic.
What does it mean to be born again, born from above or born of the Spirit this week? I think it can mean seeing and hearing Japanese anxiety as our own. Not just seeing and hearing but feeling and knowing, believing. It can also mean seeing nuclear technology as inherently dangerous. It can mean seeing the urgent need for greater investment in renewable energy technologies. Last week a German newspaper carried the headline: “End of the Atomic Age.”
Is this what the Spirit would have us see and believe? Is this where the Spirit would have us go?
How do you understand the movement of the Spirit in your life? What kind of new birth might you undergo? … Amen.