|MTR. LINDY ROOKYARD|
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Mtr. Lindy Rookyard
Sixth Sunday after Easter (Year C)
Acts 16: 16-34 The ministry of Paul & Silas in prison
John 13: 1-15
Rev. Lindy Rookyard
PALM SUNDAY (Year C)
Isaiah 50: 4-9a The Lord’s Suffering Servant
Jer 1: 4-10 The call of Jeremiah Psalm 71: 1-6 God’s constant help –
from childhood to old age 1 Cor 13: 1-13 Faith, hope, and love LUKE 4:
21-30 The rejection of Jesus at Nazareth Okay, so what has changed?
Generations come and go – congregations come and go – membership in
synagogues and churches come and go – and yet those words, ‘people
remain people’ ring true. And is it not true that we, as ‘people’, when
coming to church –
Fourteenth Sunday (Year A) (03.07.2011) St. Dunstan’s Cathedral
Exodus 1: 6-14, 22 - 2: 10 The Israelites oppressed / Birth of Moses.
A few nights ago this happened to me – I know it happens to all of us - you find yourself in the middle of a terrible nightmare – awful things are happening – you feel trapped and helpless – calling for help – running away but getting nowhere – struggling to get free – desperate! Then, you wake up – your heart is pounding – feel hot and clammy – try to lay very still - thoughts running through your mind – is this really happening or was I dreaming? Then, slowly start relaxing and breathing normally, realising it was simply a dream – thank God for the peace and stillness around you – you are able to turn over – then lay there for a while and feel very grateful that it was just a dream! The nightmare starts to repeat in your mind but now you are able to push it aside feeling a sense of relief and freedom and peacefulness as you close your eyes – all is well – thank God!
That’s the kind of feeling we are asked to bring to mind this morning – the feeling of being over whelmed or burdened – then a sense of relief and peacefulness.
Something similar takes place in the lives of the Israelites we heard about in the reading from Exodus. Those people were suffering under tremendous burden in Egypt – it was at a time when they were being tortured with heavy labour – life was extremely difficult for them – and then came a new unbearable suffering - their baby boys were being removed from their families and killed!
This was a living nightmare and they called out to God and God intervened through the faith of an Israelite woman and her young daughter. An Israelite baby boy survived – Moses. We know that God would use Moses to bring freedom and liberty, at God’s appointed time, to the oppressed and burdened people and that after a period of time they would once again be able relax and live in peace and freedom in a new land which God had in store for them.
This feeling also comes through in the words of Psalm 124 – “If God had not been on our side – when men attacked us – they would have swallowed us alive – the flood would have engulfed us – torrents of water would have swept over us – raging waters would have swept us away”. What a nightmare! But then the Psalmist goes on to say, “Praise be to God - we have escaped – because our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” – a sense of relief from their burdens.
This sense of burden, and then relief, continues through the N.T. reading.
St Paul, writing to Christians in Rome, describes what he and each one of us feels, and struggles with, at various times in our lives.
Paul says, “I do not understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I cannot. I do what I don’t want to – what I hate. I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. But I can’t help myself, because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things”.
We can just imagine St Paul tossing and turning, trying to come to terms with life at that time – struggling with personal inner turmoil.
Do you and I not go through similar turmoil? Do we not feel burdened with the many conflicts in our own lives, our own relationships, and our own spirituality? Do we not often feel, especially in this present economic and political climate that life with all its pessimism and distrust is very difficult to bear? Are we not confronted on a daily basis with negativity and a sense of hopelessness?
Thank God for the Gospel message this morning!
St Matthews describes Jesus coming to our rescue. He records Jesus saying; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”. Not maybe, or I’ll think about it, he says I will. He also says; “take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden light”.
Now what is this “yoke” all about because the word ‘yoke’ is not often heard in this day and age? What is it relevance to us today? Well, Jesus used this word because it was a familiar item used, from ancient times, to harness animals together for a purpose. It consisted of a heavy wooden bar laid across the shoulders of oxen binding them together for ploughing purposes. Being yoked allowed them to work together in unison more effectively and each yoke was specially made for each individual animal. It was a perfect fit, comfortable and easy to work under. A yoke could be seen as a symbol of submission not always with the implication of oppression.
If we go back to the reading about Moses and we recall all that Moses did for the Israelites, could we not say that it was only when Moses agreed to work with God, to be yoked with God, that great things could be achieved and the people could be relieved of their burdensome way of life and God’s intention could be revealed. But, Moses had to put aside his own fears, his own insecurities and the burden of his own speech impediment and submit to working with God for a new way of life to be enjoyed.
Then when we recall St Paul’s words regarding the turmoil in his life, the frustrations he endured, the sin he acknowledged in his life, we know that it took time and effort on his part to work through all those areas and agree to be yoked to Christ. Being yoked to Christ enabled St Paul to become what God intended him to be - one of the greatest examples of Christian living. His writings about his life, work, experience and witness were, and continue to be, of infinite value to all believers throughout the world but firstly he had to submit to be yoked with Christ.
So what about us today? Does this message, this teaching of Jesus, not enable us to see the bigger picture? Do we need to continue in our frustrated, fearful, burdened state of living? No, because today’s message is that Jesus invites us to be yoked to him …...to be bound closely to Him … to live in unison with Him……. to be free of the burden which hampers our everyday living.
I can imagine Jesus standing beside us, holding out His arm, inviting us to link up with Him, so that we can step out into the fields of our life, in a secure relationship with the One who has a definite purpose for the field we’ve been asked to plough and once we’ve linked up with Jesus – we don’t have to do it on our own anymore! Jesus gently teaches us, guides us to live our lives according to his purpose, and in doing so … the heavy burdens we do carry are lifted onto His shoulders, our souls find rest, and we are able to regain inner peace!
Jesus waits patiently for us to come to
Him, to be yoked with Him and who knows what plan of God can then be
revealed, acknowledged and enjoyed! Amen.
EASTER VI (Year A) 05.06.2011 St Dunstan’s Cathedral
Acts 1: 6-14 They gave themselves to prayer
For many people the name John Lennon conjures up a spectrum of reactions, thoughts, musings or even feelings. For those of you who did not live through, or take any notice of, the “hippy era”, the late1960’s through into the 1970’s John Lennon was an integral member of the group The Beatles. They took the world by storm at that time and their music continues to be enjoyed to this day.
Would you agree when I say that it is often only after a person has died that people take more notice of, or seek to find meaning in, what that particular person had once said or done, and credit is then given where credit is due? It is with this in mind that I would like to use a few sayings by John Lennon as we explore our message from God through Scripture today. Let me add that at times John Lennon was not very popular with what he said but taking these few sayings and viewing the words carefully shows his deep inner acknowledgment of the meaning and sanctity of life.
John Lennon once said; “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans” (repeat), meaning life is that routine which carries on regardless of what you are planning or organising or preparing for. Life is that simple every day routine which is given to you and to me to live.
I think we may at present be experiencing our day to day life as a simple routine, an “in between” time. It is nearly the middle of the year, a time of levelling out so to speak, a time of trudging through this winter, anticipating and looking forward to summer and whatever else is being planned for later on in the year.
In our church life it is also at an “in between” stage. We have enjoyed the planning and experiencing of Lent, Holy Week, Easter and then the resurrection appearances and now, this morning, we stand in remembrance of the Ascension, (last Thursday), and the celebration of the Spirit that came at Pentecost, (next Sunday), and then what? Church life will continue to progress through to the next set of planning, the planning of the Advent and Christmas season, but for now it’s an “in between” time, a time of waiting.
St Luke describes, in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, a time of waiting. He tells of how the disciples had experienced Jesus’ risen appearances, how they had listened intently to his words of encouragement, how they walked with him out to the hill of the ascension, how they watched him disappear from sight and then how they turned and walked back into the city of Jerusalem to wait for the gift Jesus had promised them, the gift of the Holy Spirit of God. They had no idea what that entailed or what it meant. The routine of life continued for them as they waited. It was an “in between time”. We are told that they stayed together as a group as they watched and waited in prayer and that’s an important point to hold onto this morning. They watched and waited in prayer.
Another saying of John Lennon was; ”how can I go forward when I don’t know which way I’m facing”? The reading from 1 Peter tells of people in distress, people whose lives were in turmoil, people who were frightened and traumatised, people who did not know which way they were facing. Does that not sound familiar? At times we ourselves are in that situation and we certainly know of people around us experiencing trauma, distress and uncertainty on which way to turn. St Peter says; “humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may life you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. How do we do that? How do we humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand? By staying in the fellowship of believers and turning to God in prayer. When we cast all our anxieties and the anxieties of those around us on him we will find it far easier to turn and go forward in the knowledge that God cares for us.
By the way, John Lennon also said; “living is easy with eyes closed”. This is so true. It is so easy to blank out, ignore or choose not to see the distress in another’s life. “Living is easy with eyes closed”. In this case we need to open our eyes, to pray for one another and in fellowship lift one another up out of despair!
And then there’s those lovely words from a song he composed; “I am he as you are he and you are me and we are all together”. The gospel reading tells of the disciples hearing Jesus praying for them. He prays to God the Father with the words “those whom you gave me; I gave them the words you gave me; all I have is yours; glory has come to me through them; protect them by the power of your name so that they may be one as we are one”.
Could Jesus not have uttered these words? “I am he as you are he and you are me and we are all together”.
What a profound statement John Lennon was making without even realising the depth of his words! That statement reminds us that we are joined to one another, by God our Father, through Jesus Christ the Son in the love and power of The Spirit.
So, what is it that we can carry away with us this morning? What is it that we are being led to explore and experience? I believe we are being led to explore and experience life with all its ups and downs, its disappointments and failures, its anxieties and hurts, its times of joy and peace, in the presence of Jesus who came to show us how to find fulfilment.
How do we experience life in the presence of Jesus? Through offering our life as a prayer, giving praise where praise is needed, giving assistance where assistance is needed, uttering words of encouragement where encouragement is needed, through depending on the love of God and by offering ourselves in service to one another. In other words preaching the gospel of Jesus through the way in which we live the life God has entrusted to us. I think it was St Francis who said; preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words.
And so, as you experience life while you’re busy making other plans, as you try to go forward when you don’t know which way you’re facing, as you experience life perhaps with your eyes closed, remember, be conscious of, the One in whom we live and move and have our being!
HARVEST FESTIVAL 6th March 2011 St Dunstans Cathedral
Deut 26: 1-11 Offering the first fruits
Harvest Festival :
· A festival celebrated from very early Biblical times
· A festival celebrated during the time of Jesus
· A festival celebrated through to modern times
· A festival you and I have come to celebrate here this morning.
We have gathered to worship God with the special intention of reminding ourselves of the many blessings God showers upon the earth, upon all creation.
The verses read from Deuteronomy, written around 1400 B.C., tell of the people of Israel being reminded of how God had blessed them in the past as a nation.
We know that in later years, when the Temple in Jerusalem had been built, people would gather at various points along the road leading up to Jerusalem. From these gathering points they would go up as a huge throng of worshippers to the Temple carrying their baskets of harvested crops. What a magnificent sight and sound that must have been, all the people singing and dancing, bringing their first fruits to God; laying them on the altar.
Today we have done something similar. Our cathedral looks beautiful – and if you’re standing where I am standing you can even smell the goodness of God’s creation!
Today we simply buy fruit and vegetables arranged on polystyrene trays covered with glad-wrap from the shelves of a supermarket, not giving a thought to the process which has taken place before it ended up in our shopping trolley! Very few people today know or understand the effort involved in producing good crops. Farming is not an easy task, but very rewarding when the harvest is successful.
Bringing to mind our Gospel reading this morning, I believe Jesus may have looked out from where he was sitting on that day and watched a farmer scattering the seed over the land. Jesus then used that visual aid to teach the people gathered around him. His listeners would have understood the efforts and rewards of planting and harvesting.
This is a famous parable. It is one which we sometimes skim over because we have heard it so often, but there is so much depth to this teaching.
We usually think along the lines of Jesus being the sower; the seed being the message he proclaims; and the ground being the various types of people who either accept or reject the message – but this morning I would like to change this usual interpretation and ask ourselves if we perhaps could be the sowers.
An article I read some time ago might help us to answer that question.
It was written by a man named Frank. He told of how in a small English village church where he worshipped there was a lonely, quiet old man, named Thomas. He told of how the old man Thomas had outlived all his family and that hardly anyone knew him. Thomas kept very much to himself so when he died, Frank had the feeling that no-one to go to the funeral. Frank then decided to go himself so that there might be someone to follow the old man to his final resting place. He was right. There was no-one else at the funeral. It was a very wet and windy day and as funeral cortege left the church door and reached cemetery gate, Frank noticed a soldier waiting. The soldier came to the graveside and when the ceremony was over the soldier stepped forward and in front of the open grave swept his hand to a salute that might have been given to a king.
Frank walked away from the graveside with the soldier, and as they walked, the wind blew the soldier’s raincoat open to reveal the shoulder badges of a brigadier. The brigadier then said to Frank, “You will perhaps be wondering what I am doing here. Many years ago Thomas was a teacher here when I attended Confirmation classes. I was a wild boy, often a sore trail to this man.
He never knew what he did for me, I’m sure he has long forgotten me, but I owe everything I am to old Thomas. Today I have come to salute him at the end”.
At the time of teaching Thomas did not know what effect he was having on that unruly boy. He never did know. Thomas simply sowed the seed. And so it is with you and I – our task is to simply sow the seed, and leave the rest to God.
Just as farmers have to wait patiently for their crops to grow in order to benefit from a good harvest, so we too have to wait to enjoy the benefit of our labours on earth. That is the message in the letter of James; “wait patiently for the Lord.”
And so, the story of the old man Thomas reminds us that our task is to be “the sowers” of God’s message – that through our efforts the Good News of Jesus Christ could be scattered and spread. Now you and I know that this is easier said than done!
We get discouraged especially when we encounter hard, thorny ground. We begin to think it is worthless, pointless to keep sowing the seeds, keep trying to live a Christian way of life, keep trying to show or instil Christians morals and values – when people just do not respond or show a willingness to change their ways. We seldom, if ever, see any progress or difference in people’s lifestyles or attitudes. In other words, we don’t seem to be harvesting for Christ.
The most difficult part for us to learn, I think, is that the results are not up to us. The results are up to God.
What we are required to do is to be obedient to the great commission, to go out and keep sowing, keep spreading the Christian message.
Like old Thomas, we may never know what growth is taking place, but that does not matter, because it is not for us to know – we are simply instruments in God’s hands.
The ground represents the different ways in which people receive the message of the Gospel - each person reacts differently at different times, but the results are controlled by God.
Today, you and I have brought our gifts
to our place of worship. These material gifts are a token of our
appreciation of God’s love for us in acknowledgement of all we have been
blessed with, and we ask that these gifts be shared with those
experiencing difficult times, but the greatest gift we can offer to God
is to keep committed to “sowing” – sowing the seeds of our love
and commitment to God – softening the soil of hearts around us! To
God be all honour and glory! Amen
24th Sunday (Year A) 11.09.2011 (D.G. Sunday) St Dunstans Cathedral
Genesis 50: 15 – 21 Joseph reassures his brothers
The readings this morning speak of brothers; of family dynamics; of occurrences in family life – squabbles, jealousies, & even the offering of forgiveness. The readings also speak of what God, the Creator of all life, expects of us His children. Now, over the past few Sundays we, Gods children, have been concentrating on “Stewardship” and “Dedicated Giving” and today we come to consciously offer back to God a portion of our “time”, our “talents” and our “hard earned money”. Thank you, Vuyo, for your informative talk on how D.G. is handled in Black Parishes and Mike for setting out for us, in a very concise way, the finances of the Cathedral Parish.
At our last clergy meeting, it was decided that I should be the one to draw together, to culminate, to mould all the ideas and suggestions of the past few Sundays into a feasible, workable and acceptable thought pattern for you to consider. In brief, I was asked to preach on this day, but I’ve decided not to do that and to rather, and please forgive me, share with you a personal experience which I believe puts the whole of Stewardship & D.G. into perspective!
As you are all well aware Tony & I are in the process of relocating to Western Australia. It has been a long journey thus far. Our beautiful 22 acre plot with house and business premises has been sold and last week we watched as the packing company arrived and began wrapping and packing all our household and other goods. I had no idea of the emotions we would experience as room by room our home began to empty. The final step was when we stood in our driveway and watched as the truck drove away with our worldly possessions! That song “there goes my every possession suddenly came to mind”! We then had to hand over the keys to our home and business premises to the new owners; then get into our car and drive away from the home and property we, and our entire extended family, come to love over the past 20 years. It was a feeling which is very difficult to describe.
As we drove away I consoled myself with the fact that our most precious possession we carry with us on a day to day basis i.e. the love we share with family and friends. That is a possession which does not require wrapping and packing it simply accompanies us everyday of our lives and very often we forget its value.
The next morning, I returned to work here at the Cathedral, and asked the ladies in the office for a square piece of cardboard and a khoki pen. When they asked why I said; “well I need to write --- please help, I’m homeless and my husband is jobless”. I then went into the vestry and met Bishop David before the 8a.m. Eucharist Service. He asked me how the move had gone and how I was feeling. I said; “Bishop, it is such a strange feeling to see our worldly possessions drive away on a truck and then to hand over the keys and then drive away from our home”. We chatted for a while and then he shared with me a similar experience he and Joan had had when they were about to leave Zimbabwe. They were not sure whether they would be able to take any possessions with them and it was then that his father-in-law had uttered words which have remained with him to this day, and you may have heard him speak of them before. His father-in-law said; “never forget there are not pockets in a shroud”! (repeat)
Yes, I think those are the words which help us to understand what is important. What is important is “the life” God has given us and “the love” with which God enables us to live our day to day earthly lives. All other “possessions” fade into obscurity when we realise the importance of the gift of life and love given freely to each one of us by our Creator God.
It is out of this realisation, or awakening, that we are enabled to make a meaningful gift and offering to God.
I think the words in the blue A.P.B, at the presentation of the gifts, are so very apt in this situation; “Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the splendour, and the majesty; for everything in heaven & on earth is yours. All things come from you, and of your own do we give you.
As you offer your gifts to God this
morning, may you be ever mindful that; “there are no pockets in a
19th Sunday of Year A 07.08.2011 St Dunstan’s Cathedral
This morning I would like you to jot down or hold in your mind three ideas which I believe stand out vividly in our readings from Scripture today.
1st, the dependability and ever-presence of God in the world throughout the ages
2nd, that people in various situations and at various times turn to or call out to God seeking a connection with that dependability, that ever-presence of God. People call out seeking assistance, strength or support in times of distress or anguish or simply because they are seeking an assurance of God’s ever-presence and dependability.
3rd, ‘turbulent water’ both literally and figuratively play a prominent role in the lives of the people recorded in the readings.
For instance, in the first reading the Israelites were standing at the edge of the Red Sea. They were experiencing anxious moments as the enemy closed in on them. We can say they were experiencing great inner turbulence as they stood at the waters edge. Then through the faith of Moses, these people were reminded of the ever-presence of God. They saw and experienced the power of dependence on God in their time of turbulence.
The words from Psalm 106, written many, many years later probably at a time when Jews were returning from exile, that great time of turbulence in the life of the Jewish nation, helped people to recall, to be reminded of, God saving their ancestors at the Red Sea and in fact how God had constantly guided and protected their nation throughout their history. These words helped the Jews rekindle their trust and faith in God’s ever-presence with them enabling them to once again sing songs of praise as the nation continued its journey in history in the warmth of God’s dependability.
Then, St Paul in his letter to the people of Rome, also many, many years later, expresses his deep love and concern for his own compatriots, his fellow Jews. The tone of this letter reveals Paul’s yearning for Jews to accept Jesus as the Son of God, knowing that this would lead them into a new and meaningful relationship with God. He wants them to reach out, to call out and to depend on Jesus.
Finally, the gospel reading holds each of these three ideas in the account of Jesus walking on the water and Peter calling out to him.
The disciples are on the boat; it’s the early hours of the morning; the wind is blowing; Jesus appears in the mists of the morning walking towards them on the water. Their emotions are in turmoil and Peter calls out; “if it’s you Lord tell me to come to you”; Jesus says; “come”.
The turbulent water is there, the calling out and turning to Jesus in times of distress is there, the dependability and ever-presence of God is there.
Now it’s all very well to find these ideas in the words of our scripture readings but do they actually apply to our lives today?
I believe they do and I’ll tell you why. I believe it’s only when, in the turbulent times in our lives, we willingly go to a quiet place, as Jesus did to gather our thoughts and to sit in quietness with God that we realise the dependability and ever-presence of God in our lives and that when we pluck up the courage to call out to him, He always beckons saying; “Come”.
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