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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Epiphany 3, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
January 21, 2018

Mark 1:14-20

‘A Sight for Souls’

What struck me about this gospel in the ordinarinesss of the scene and the way FAITH is so central to the outcome:  Jesus is back in his home area of the Galilee and secondly, he saw a family at work, a father, two sons with their hired workers.

The presence of Jesus caused a transformative experience in each of their lives and in his.

He was looking, consciously or not, for others to share his mission of having people know a god of inclusivity, mercy and justice, a loving God.

The invitation to Peter and Andrew ‘Follow me’ held an urgency and desire for community on the part of Jesus.  He needed others with him.  Something about the man enabled Peter and Andrew to leave everything and go with him.  It’s extraordinary really and raises the question of faith in another.  It called for enough faith for Andrew and Peter to change their whole lives.  I can’t imagine that family and friends, for Peter his wife and father, didn’t raise objections loud and long.  The point is that they both went with Jesus.

I’ll come back to the story shortly but let’s take a minute to draw the parallel in our own lives.  We’re here at a service listening to story and reflection on the life of Jesus and taking part in a ritual which enables us to unite with Jesus in a special way through the ritual he used taking bread and wine, blessing breaking and sharing in order to be with us more intimately.

Why am I here?  Why are you here?  What about Jesus attracted and still attracts each of us to be on this journey?  What would be the characteristic of my relationship with Jesus?  Richard Rohr quotes Marcus Borg saying

 ‘How we see Jesus…… shapes what we think the Christian life is most centrally of all.’

Back to the Gospel.

 Come ……   I will make you fishers in a new way.

Acknowledging their life and life skills to that time is contained in that description of invitation.  So for us.  They had skills in reading the environment, the wind, waves, equipment to use, times to go out etc.  Action-reflection-action, you could say!

Faith is not divorced from daily life.  It grows out of the ordinary experience of living, working and relating.  We have a responsibility to ourselves, others and all of creation.

I’ve been to a number of funerals in the last month.  Two were for young people who had died tragically .  Another was a man who had lived with us at Cana and the service at Annie Green for Tom and with many of you at San Souci for Andrew’s Dad.  Ive been touched by the way those who spoke captured the life and values of the person they loved.  I could hear the beliefs, the faith that was lived by in the stories.  There was no doubting the importance of community on each occasion.

In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis says

‘Every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you that chooses into something different from what it was before’.

I think that’s a great thought to hold when we look at the way FAITH challenges us.

Jesus modelled a God who is compassionate, non-violent and inclusive of outsiders to the point of loving enemies.   Where are the challenges for me personally and for us as a community?  

We know we are called into relationship and response with our different personalities and skill sets and vision for the future.  

What is the most pressing issue for Christians today?

There are multiple causes and issues of injustice locally and globally.  As a community we make a response to homelessness here at the shelter.  What happens us when we are really touched by someone who remains homeless and at risk and there seems to be nothing more we can do?  What happens when we feel overwhelmed by the many issues we know and feel helpless to do anything about -  immigration policies, incarceration rates, indigenous disadvantage, care of the environment and the list could go on and on.  Where do we look for hope?  Is the Gospel good News for us, for me?  Do we trust our relationship with Jesus?  Do we sometimes think we’re God?

What might be a Christian response to Australia Day?  Prayer? Action? Relationship?  Advocacy?

We know the pain and mourning of the First People of this land.  We also know the lack of awareness or insight many Australians have regarding this issue.  On the other hand we are hearing amazing stories as we hear interviews with finalists from each state selected for the Australian of the year award.   Scott Rankin, The SA nominee said

‘It’s harder to hurt someone if you know their story.’

The date of the celebration will not be news in a couple of weeks.  The pain continues. The Gospel has always been presented to us as Good News.  

Over the years there has been a change of focus in the way we develop our understanding and that has enriched our lives and nurtured our spirits.  We have been through times of looking at the Gospel as a way to understanding  

The collection of truths and prescriptions for a good life,

Incarnational Theology,   

And more recently an inclusive and evolutionary and mystical spirituality.

In describing the mysticism of Teilhard de Chardin, David Rich says:

 ‘(Our) presence in the world is as Christ’s body.  Indeed, we are alive today to cocreate – through him, with him, in him, as him – the future he came to proclaim. ……

Teilhard presents a vision of the cosmos as full of divine life.  This is Christ, incarnate in matter, calling us to union with him through matter. …  We can open up to the mysterious forces in the universe that continually reveal God’s face.  Our calling is to join in the momentum of our evolving universe so we can present that face to the world.  We do this in all we are and find it everywhere we are.  We also delightedly find out who we are because a calling always reveals our potential.  (Everything Ablaze,  David Rich 2017)

The gospel today gives us cause to reflect on our own call and relationship with Jesus, with our God and our world.  We can trust our feet, they have us on the journey to the light that is Christ, our companion on the journey.

Abraham Herschel says:   Awareness of the divine begins with wonder.  

I’d like to finish with the Indian blessing.  Nameste.  A greeting that acknowledges that the god in me honours the god in you.  

Questions:

How would you describe your relationship with Jesus?  What gives it expression?

How do we as a church community  ‘join in the momentum of our evolving universe to present the face of God to the world?

Homily by Sr. Anne Jordan