Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘God's song in our hearts’
Joy is God's song in our hearts. So we have prayed this morning, this third Sunday of Advent. Today is also known as Gaudete Sunday, after the Latin word for "rejoice" as in Philippians 4:4: "Rejoice in the Saviour always." On Gaudete Sunday we light the pink/rose-
Our Gospel relates an exchange between John the Baptiser and Jesus, an exchange mediated by others. Having criticised the corrupt powers, John is in prison. Jesus is busy teaching, preaching and performing the works of compassion. Our artwork shows John behind prison bars, two of his disciples (or possibly a disciple and Jesus) outside the prison. The fiery prophet (we likened him last week to Nelson Mandela, Jacques Ellul and Adam Hill) has prepared the way for Jesus. Today we see his vulnerable side. It seems he is having doubts. "Are you 'The One who is to come' or do we look for another?" John asks of Jesus. It's the quintessential Christian question. And Jesus replies in terms of compassionate works: the blind recover their sight, those who cannot walk are able to walk, those with leprosy are cured, those who are deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the poor, the "have-
John anticipated a "coming wrath" in terms of an ax and baptism by fire. Jesus performs miracles among the "nobodies". Jesus ministers to those who are suffering.
What will John make of this? Will he be scandalised by this Messiah? Will he find this Good News a stumbling block?
Jesus' words about John are compassionate and clear-
An analogy to Nelson Mandela is, again, apt. Mandela is quoted as saying that he spent the first ten years of his sentence seething with anger. The injustice of racism and inequality in his country -
The next 17 years were different -
The Clint Eastwood-
Turning points like this are steeped in mystery. Anger runs its course. Something stirs. It's a blessing, always. To use the words of Jesus, one is born into the kindom of heaven. The kin-
On one level it might seem strange to hear this Gospel about a prisoner in doubt and perhaps despair on this day marked for rejoicing, for joy. It's certainly challenging. How blessed we are, seriously, to have shared some time on this earth with Nelson Mandela and his patient, deep-
We know the story and we know the ongoing struggles in South Africa and elsewhere. Here in Australia and here among us -
Joy, we may discover, is not so much a steady-
If Jesus is to be found among those who are suffering -
Will John be scandalised by this Messiah? Is that the hint of a smile on the face of John? Might John be, to borrow the title of a book by C.S. Lewis, surprised by joy?
Where do we see God's characteristic joyful surprises? Has a prevailing cynicism tended to blanket joyful reactions? What has brought joy to you/us? Where do you see God's characteristic joyful surprises?
I met a friend for dinner on Friday night and there was joy in her company and presence. I behold my niece and nephews ... I find myself in this space with artworks by Gaylene Smith ... I hear and touch the words of the Sermon on the Mount ... I read of Act for Peace projects in Vanuatu -
Aboriginal activist Ray Jackson described his invitation to speak at the Sydney Memorial for Nelson Mandela as "a bolt from the blue". He found himself among friends and fellow supporters of justice in Australia -
That's not the end. It's the beginning. And there is joy.
Where do you see God's characteristic joyful surprises? ... Amen.