Lent Five Year B

Sermon Title: FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT

Date: 22nd March 2015

 Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

 Church Calendar Date: Fifth Sunday in Lent

Lectionary Reading: Lent Five – Year B – Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ps 119:9-16, Hebrews 5:5-14

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK…

The Bishop struck with the crook the closed doors of the Cathedral church.

The dean said: “Let the doors be opened”

The Bishop enters the cathedral.

A representative of the diocese questions the Bishop.

We greet you in the name of the Lord.

Who are you, and why do you request entry?

Bishop: I am Kay, a servant of Jesus Christ,

and I come as one seeking the grace of God,

to travel with you in God’s service together.

Why have you been sent to us?

Bishop: I am sent as bishop to serve you,

to proclaim the love of Christ,

and with you to worship and love him,

with heart and soul, mind and strength.

How do you come among us,

and with what confidence?

Bishop:  I come knowing nothing except Christ and him crucified,

and in weakness and fear and in much trembling.

The elders of the Gunnai Kurnai people greeted the Bishop and welcomed her to Gunnai Kurnai country.

As we (lay and clergy) entered the cathedral before all this took place, we went through the smoking ceremony with burning gum leaves and the didgeridoo was played just as the new Bishop entered the cathedral.

It was a very moving beginning to welcome a new Diocesan bishop to Gippsland.  Kay is the second diocesan bishop in Australia who is a woman.

People from the Anglican Communion came from all over Australia and from overseas. It was an amazing, humbling, encouraging experience to be a part of.

These were the two events that were most meaningful to me.

The first was the recognition of our indigenous brothers and sisters; the traditional owners of this land and have them take part in blessing and welcoming us.

There was something about inclusion.  About recognition that we are ‘one’ together on this south land.

I was brought up with the history of white settlement and the ‘natives’ with spears and doing scary things like corroborees.  I was ignorant back then and so were many others.

When I was nursing in Perth, Western Australia at the children’s hospital, there were many young children coming in from remote areas. Their mums would go ‘walk about’ whilst the child was in hospital.  What did I understand back then? Did I consider the effect of coming to a city hospital was like for this child for his/her mother?

Way back, as a nurse I wanted to join the flying doctor service and go to remote places and get to know our aboriginal brothers and sisters, but the way my life panned out, that never happened.

A couple of years ago, I went to a ceremony at Wittons reserve in Wonga Park. A place where aboriginal women gave birth under certain trees, and is a sacred women’s Site.  I think Simon Wonga was born under a tree in this area. Simon was an elder of the Wurundjeri indigenous people.

Why did I go?

Yesterday, I was near tears when I smiled at the aboriginal man who was smoking the gum leaves, and he smiled back at me.

Then to hear the didgeridoo play as Bishop Kay entered the cathedral.

I want to understand more.  I want to say sorry myself again and again when I think back over our history and my part in it through ignorance.

I have much to learn.  How much do any of us know or want to know?  How do we make our judgements about those who are not from the same background as us?

The other event was the entrance of the new Bishop and the questions put to her and her responses.

Who are you? Why do you request entry?

Why have you been sent to us?

How do you come among us, and with what confidence?

She stated her baptismal name and said she was a servant of Jesus Christ and that she came as one seeking the grace of God and to travel with others gathered in God’s service together.

She said she was sent to be a bishop to serve, to proclaim the love of Christ, and with others gathered, to worship and love Christ with heart, soul, mind and strength.

And how she comes among the people and with what confidence, her answer was ‘I come know nothing except Christ and him crucified, and in weakness and fear and in much trembling.

Could we say the same things as we enter this church building?  I know we are not a bishop let alone a diocesan bishop following the ritual of this event, but I think it is helpful for each of us as Christians to be able to respond to the questions.

Who are you?  Are you willing to share you name with someone…let’s do it!  Greet the person next to you saying your Christian name……

Why do you come? Why do you request entry?

Can you say that you are a servant of Jesus Christ, seeking the grace of God and that you are part of this community of faith travelling together in God’s service…. Think about what you would say………

And why have you come to St Paul’s.  Think back over the first time you came and why you came and why you have stayed….

I’m sure some of you will say it’s the friendships and that is wonderful because Christianity is about relationships.

Did you also come and stay, to worship and love Christ with your heart, soul, mind and strength and if so, how has this influenced your life and your relationships with God, with friends and family………

How do you come among us, and with what confidence?

The bishop answered that she can knowing nothing except Christ and him crucified, and in weakness and fear and in much trembling.

To be a leader in the church in the 21st century is with much fear and trembling, but what about for you who come each Sunday?

Can you lay before the foot of the cross, your worries, your pain, your grief, knowing that the love of Jesus Christ will support you.

It was only 12 months ago (in June) that Bishop John McIntyre died suddenly and the diocese have been grieving the loss of their beloved bishop. They were in the wilderness for some time, wondering what the future held for them.

Yesterday with the joyous celebration of Bishop Kay, this showed the people of Gippsland that there is life after death.  Different yes, but certainly new life and new possibilities.

I know that a number of you are going through some tough stuff at the moment.

Hold onto the fact that you are known by name,  that you are servants of Jesus Christ and he loves you.

Do not be afraid of being weak, fearful or trembling.

Very soon we will share in the bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ and in so doing individually, and together we become the body of Christ.

We place our hope and trust in him.

Knock, knock, knock: not who’s there, but confidently come in saying your Christian name knowing that you are loved by the Christ who died and rose again.

I am inviting a number of parishioners to speak to us of their impressions of St Paul’s and what they are discerning as a result of our listening together for seeds of hope.

Our fourth and final speaker this Lent is: Becky Hollingdale…representing the J2A age group.

Questions:

What were your first impressions of St Paul’s

What have you found helpful?

What has surprised you?

Have you found anything unhelpful?

As we are in this time of discernment, what are you discerning so far?