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Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.

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Transfiguration, Year B
South Sydney Uniting Church
February 14, 2021

Mark 9:1-9


‘An unveiling’

On the Mount of Transfiguration, the disciples see Jesus the light of the world – loving agent of transformation, Jesus in conversation/concert with Moses and Elijah, Wisdom/Imagination vis-à-vis the law and the prophets.

Friday morning, February 12. Climbing Trig Hill Road to the Anglican Historical Section at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park in Botany. Keith, a proud Gamilaroi man, a member of the Stolen Generation and a Forgotten Australian, invited three of us to join him for a memorial: the unveiling of a headstone to honour his father, Gordon Laurence Douglass, buried 70 years in an unmarked grave.

In 1951, aged 3, Keith witnessed the sudden death of his father. The intervening years had been a mix of grief, confusion and determination on Keith’s part. He had endured institutional “care”, separation from his Aboriginal mother and younger sister. The long process of ordering the headstone entailed Keith’s purchasing the plot at the cemetery. He, too, he told us, will be buried there one day.

Beneath his father’s name, Keith had the stonemasons inscribe in marble the name of his dear mother, his own name and the names of two sisters – quite recently having learned of an older sister who’d survived just a day in 1947.

As you might imagine, Lyn and I were very moved.

Ian, an Anglican minister from Eastlakes, offered Bible readings and led us in prayer. There was a gentle breeze. The clouds overhead softened the summer sun. Keith shared a few wise words – acknowledging the pain of family members deceased or absent; also the pain of those who’d failed to protect and comfort him.  

Lyn took photos for the South Sydney Herald. Keith stood smiling, hand over heart, one arm stretched upon the headstone.

We witnessed something extraordinary. An unveiling in more than one sense. Our eyes were opened to see, we might say, the shining figure of Wisdom face-to-face with the law and the prophets – speaking the truth, re-imagining family, re-oriented to justice, a promise. We prayed the Lord’s Prayer together: “Your kin(g)dom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Gabriel Marcel writes: “Light – that is to say at the convergence of truth and love. This light we must radiate toward one another, knowing very well that our role consists above all, and perhaps even exclusively, in not being an obstacle to its passage through us.” Amen.

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