Feast of the Ascension 28 May 2017

There is evil in the world.

Our Interfaith Council has been seeking to involve the local Egyptian Coptic Church in our work for harmony and peace in our area. The world knows about the event surrounding the local Muslim desire for a place of worship (incidentally we are building two Buddhist places of worship as we speak, one in the Tibetan tradition and another in the Karen Tradition; for them no protests and no publicity!)

Evil in the world!

It is scarcely three weeks since the historic visit of Pope Francis to Egypt. His Arabic greeting of peace be unto you was warmly appreciated by the audience as he and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, embraced. Brings back the memorable visit of a previous Francis of Assisi to Egypt nearly one thousand years ago. But that was not all. The Coptic Pope Tawadros II signed a protocol with Pope Francis, recognising one another’s Baptism and they were joined in prayer by Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople on the Friday night.; this is believed to be the first time since the fifth century split during and following the Monophysite schism at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Just to add to the history, there are Catholic and Orthodox Copts in Egypt and Australia, with a beautiful Monastery next door to Bendigo in Heathcote …and, within days of all this being celebrated, we have the murder of Copts on their bus going to prayer!

The opening word from Ephesians today asking God the Father to “give you a spirit of wisdom and perception” shouts at us all. We must, in this country, whilst we can work for peace and justice.

We pray that the eyes of our minds be enlightened and that we come to realise more fully the “hope his call holds for you”.

Our world needs that vision of hope.

Our Baptism not only empowers us with many gifts, but calls us to preach the Good News of Christ risen and ascended…it is from that situation that all are empowered to build on his legacy.

 

Mons Frank

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter. Year A. 21 May 2017

 

Orphanages are newsworthy in today’s climate. Their original purpose, let alone reason for existence, has, rather conveniently, been forgotten. Often the Churches were asked to conduct such institutions for various reasons which the State couldn’t, or chose not to conduct. Sometimes it did not offer support. Except the “We are grateful” remark. Whatever the history, there were orphans and, indeed, there still are. How do we care in today’s world?

Jesus’ statement “I will not leave you orphans” was in the context that he was leaving, in his current form, and would return, but not in the flesh. Heady stuff around the dinner table.  No wonder there was confusion and disbelief and wonderment. We would use the term “out of left field” today in trying to appreciate the phrase “I will not leave you orphans.”

Whatever the mood, we now read that He remains with us in the Holy Spirit. And, one might add, there is the rub. What will that new presence do? Hold our hands? Talk comfortingly? Or suddenly find ourselves in the presence of Samaritans?

We learn, to our discomfort, that “you can’t chain up the Holy Spirit”. There are always grand lessons to be learnt from the work of missionaries, if we will but listen. Yes, it was important for the men in Jerusalem to go to Samaria and lay their hands upon the newly baptised, but it was also the first big lesson for us all, about our trying our best to catch up with the action of God in our world.

We are not orphans awaiting a friendly kiss of comfort, but people accepting a helping hand leading us to the new place of truth.

Let’s eagerly take the proffered hand.

 

Mons Frank

Fifth Sunday of Easter.  Year A. 13 May 2017

‘No access to Hope Street!’

Sometimes the message is the meeting.

Whilst out walking and pondering, “Do not let your hearts be troubled!” And, consciously or not, having the current events disturbing our civic and ecclesial world, I bumped into the above notice and immediately said “Yes!”

We are in the Liturgical season of renewed hope. We are called to ponder the known truth that Jesus is risen.  He said he would be with us always…and is. Coming to grips with that overwhelming truth is difficult, for the troublesome South Sudan, the incomprehensible destruction in Syria, the madness in North Korea, the continuing milk crisis, let alone the looming challenge to have at least one Australian frozen food manufacturer of peas and beans…..and you ask us not to be troubled!

Mother’s Day presents another ‘trouble’ for some.  What in recent times was not, then became a nice idea, has been almost totally captured by commercial interests and even we, in church, attempting to add a blessing, can be caught in the bind of leaving out many women. Again, he tells us not to be worried!

Access to hope seems very limited.

The disciples were very worried and troubled at this point in the Gospel of John. There was talk of being left alone, of Jesus departing by death, of having feet washed and its meaning, and worst of all, someone was going to betray him. And then he tells us “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

We are called to give access to hope. We are the chosen race, the royal priesthood that has the message of hope, for we know that Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life.

Like the Man of La Mancha, to bring hope to our world is our quest. It is not im possible; after all he promised that the deeds of his worshipping disciples would be greater deeds than even those of Jesus himself, but done as the result of being asked for in the name of the risen Jesus.

 

Mons Frank

Fourth Sunday of Easter. Year A. 6 May 2017

Milk.

The news this week for our Diocesan Church (I hope they are alert) is that two of our rural areas have been served notice that their milk processing factories are to close in August with the loss of at least 130 jobs in Rochester; and 100 plus in Kiewa, and we are called to consider shepherd style leadership this Sunday!

Leadership is always a challenge …even Mr Trump has had to review his style when dealing with China and North Korea. All over the world, leaders are facing challenges. Their inherited platforms and protocols are no longer in tune with the people, not only in civil society, but also in Churches.

And we are caught up again with the Shepherd Sunday and the new shepherd just back from Cairo, having tried to “smell the sheep” be they young or old, Christian, Catholic and Coptic and various shades of Muslim.

A lesson in leadership!

How we can apply the teaching of Jesus to our homes, our workplaces, our businesses, let alone our Churches, is a recurring challenge. The true shepherd leads the flock by example. He knows the flock and they know him. There are far too many thieves at large today. We need more shepherds. Be one!

Mons Frank

Third Sunday of Easter. Year A. 30 April 2017.

 

We are discovering walking again. Nearly 70 years of TV has not completely reduced us to idle sofa lay- abouts. The concept of going with a friend and chatting about all that had happened is being rediscovered. However, for many, the friend is the Walkman or its current equivalent.  All too often it is accompanied by downcast eyes, and a casual “good morning” comes like a misguided North Korean missile! There is no room for the second person, let alone the possibility of the stranger coming up and joining the conversation.

Our wonderful story today is another beautiful example of the God of surprises.  Who would dream up this scenario?  A risen Saviour taking the time to hide his reality, once again becoming like us in all things (except sin), joining in (“what matters are you discussing?”) and politely listening to their version of what had happened!

The real point is that if it happened once (you can’t chain up the Holy Spirit), then it can happen again.

So, go walking…take a friend. Offer a greeting to all who come your way. Discuss the happenings. Take with you the belief “that he is the one to set Israel free”. Then allow the true Word to speak. It may not happen every walk, but it will. Try!

 

Mons Frank