Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘Enjoy your calling’
As is often the case, our South Sydney biblical scholars have generated much of what I have to offer in this homily. On Thursday night we met to read and discuss our epistle from 1 Thessalonians -
The key words can help to frame a picture of the early Christian movement. Rejoice always. Pray constantly. Give thanks to the God of peace. Test the prophecies with an eye to goodness. Don't stifle inspiration.
Be joyful. Rejoice in the Saviour. There's exuberance here, sometimes a little confronting, embarrassing. It's a joyfulness reflected in our artwork today -
We might imagine all those forlorn and downtrodden people who found in Jesus a warmth, a strength -
One scholar understood this joyfulness as a frame of mind, something learned over time -
We need to hear of these experiences. I'm inspired to ask after that which brings me joy. What brings you joy? Real joy -
It certainly seems to be what interests Paul, addressing a troubled community in Thessalonica. Encouraging believers not simply to stick to the one emotion but to "rejoice always" -
What gives you joy -
One scholar spoke of monastic life, of tasks prayerfully carried out, objects of beauty prayerfully made. Another spoke of joy in terms of the integration of work, rest and play.
It strikes me as a cause for joy that I am able in this placement, in this community, to be myself and to express myself in homilies and songs and enthusiasm for running, cycling and drinking coffee. It's not always the case. In the past it's felt sometimes like leading multiple lives -
Just as we celebrate the Christ in whom the very joy of God is present, we celebrate the incarnation in community -
There was a time, one scholar reminded us (more than a time), when Christian leaders frowned upon pleasure. There have been Puritan and Roman attacks on creativity. Bans on dancing. Bans on music. Bans on Christmas itself.
Enjoy your calling. Enjoy Advent. Enjoy the challenges and opportunities for growth presented to you. Enjoy the mystery and process of learning, desiring wisdom. How radical this message may yet prove to be.
One of our newest volunteer writers is a young woman named Lee Evans. Lee has endured some months this year sleeping rough, learning to sleep beneath the security cameras, learning to seek out help, food, safety. It's been a tumultuous year. Writing is one of her dreams, she says. She is so looking forward to her next SSH assignment.
A few months ago Lee was invited to address a group of young people sleeping outdoors for a night -
Seek joy. Seek the joy that is your passion (and passion, not incidentally but Christianly, has to do, always, with a willingness to suffer for goodness' sake).
Lee continues: "Never underestimate how a small gesture of love and kindness is sometimes the big thing that impacts your life and another's life. Many people out there need the love you have to give ..."
Love is our theme next week. Joy, naturally, leads to love. May it be so. Amen.
1. What gives you joy?
2. Do you sometimes need permission or encouragement to rejoice? Why? When? How?