A Sermon for Deacon Sunday

Download a pdf of this sermon suitable for printing.

Rev'd Linda Anchell
Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, 04 August 2013

Hosea 11:1-11, Psalm 107:1-9, 43, Colossians 3:1-11; Matthew 10:17-22

From Colossians 3:
"...you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!"

I wanted to look at Renewal. a renewal that changed everything. And I was prompted to do that when watching First Footprints a couple of weeks ago. (Do watch the last episode at 9.25 tonight on ABC!)

A new way of looking at Australian History.

Looking at Koonalda Cave (Link to Picture) on the Nullarbor Plain, a place of initiations where people had been coming for 24,000 or more years ago.... there are still men who had been initiated there; a place to be re born. Almost literally; from the womb of the earth and up through the passage of the cave. (with finger markings on the walls. ancient markings)

BUT

Today is Deacon Sunday; we are bracketed by yesterday, being St Stephen's Day. and next Saturday we commemorate Laurence (deacon at Rome)

Both martyrs:
Stephen, for preaching too much
Laurence, let me read

Times & Seasons: (p84)

Laurence, deacon and martyr at Rome (died 258) Arrested with his bishop Sixtus and four of his fellow-deacons in the persecution under Valerian, Laurence was spared in the hope that he would reveal the whereabouts of the church's treasure. He told his judges that the Church's riches were the poor and homeless. For this bold confession of faith he was burned alive. Times and Seasons by 1980 Gilbert Sinden SSM

Both perhaps doing the dangerous thing of Speaking Truth to Power

In October the diocese is having a seminar exploring the DANGEROUS idea of ministry of diaconal ministry...

now I don't think that "danger" is about Robin's black eye! (remember what Laurence said was the 'treasure of the church'.)

no, there is another danger in diaconal ministry....

allow me to explore a bit: my week; last week...

Saturday was a big rally for Asylum Seekers at Woden, protesting the Manus Island and PNG solution to the "problem" of the boats. A gathering with a lot of anger expressed.

On Tuesday a RAC Committee meeting at Uni. 30 people came! Perhaps I can retire! I have retired from Women in Black. Our numbers were dwindling with illness and age. We could have more people standing if Australia was in another war! I would rather we stayed small. I would rather we did not need a "Refugee Action Committee"! The PNG solution has revitalised a flagging movement.

Then on Wednesday, something entirely different.

I went to the launch of Senator Kim Carr's new book. I young friend is on his staff and mentioned in the credits. I sat with Jen and her mother, talked about politics with Deb, and there was a very angry demonstration before the lecture. (about staff pay rates and also about asylum seeker policy.) It was angry, it was ugly, it was loud. But they said their piece and left. The book was duly launched. [naming "the problem"; not boats, but winning an election!"]

Anger; despair... is this where the danger lies in this ministry?

perhaps...

Paul writes to "...get rid of all such things—anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive* (filthy) language from your mouth."

not here the "let not the sun go down on your anger" or "be angry but sin not"... the anger Paul talks of is definitely the anger that causes sin.

This is not the anger of the saints!

Do you remember the poem; it is in the pew sheet: I want angry saints

I want angry saints,
with molten wills,
who squeeze their carbon hearts
in rage and
bring forth diamonds,
weary saints
torn by countless beatings.

I want New Saints by Mary A. Bowen in WomenPsalms

Is this the danger of ministry? A danger that you might actually get angry? [My counsellor asked me on Thursday; firstly "are there any angry saints?" (James & John come to mind "Sons of Thunder"...); and are there any stories from the church for this issue?
I mentioned the Good Samaritan. A basic story for the treatment of "the other" and especially to recognise "the other".]

A friend on the Refugee Action Committee (Ron) commented:

"I know how you must feel, I thought I had retired from this, and in fact have to hold back or I'll crash. I would like to see us reaching out more widely to church groups and others, but I don't think it's in our DNA, [and I haven't the energy to push it hard. Mind you, there wasn't much response in the past. As a small part of that, I know Bishop Power is open to an approach to speak (as he did often in the post-Tampa period), perhaps the group would be open to his speaking.]"

I think Ron's challenge isn't so much with that committee as with us. Does the church have anything to say? Is there anything we can do?

(Is it too dangerous? what is the danger? That we all have different ideas?

of course we do, that isn't the danger.

there seems to be a danger in speaking out.

from another issue; one which I wonder if it is dangerous to be open about too;

I added in a footnote to a previous sermon

From LGBTAnglicans Inclusive Church newsletter 26/05/10:

"[Our problems with the state of the Church of England will not disappear within six hours of getting a letter published in the Times. Building a better church free of theologies of sexism, racism is thousands of times more complicated a process than flying someone home from India, but we have thousands of times more supporters, and] if we make some noise, in Deanery and Diocesan and General Synod, in the Church and secular press, we can make a difference. Do not wait for someone else to speak out — it is your calling. Creating a noise, positively, assertively, (and with Christian love and generosity to those who disagree) can make a HUGE difference. Do not underestimate your power.

Sermon 01 August 2010 by Rev'd Linda Anchell

[And I said in that sermon: "There is a prophetic role for deacons in the church. To be people outside the structure, yet still speaking to it. There is a prophetic role for deacons and there is a prophetic role for the church. (and hence for every member of it.) To speak to our society from outside of the structures of power, but speaking to power."]

Can I suggest some action, not just words.

We have here a variety of refugee experiences. Currently from South Sudan and Iran; So we don't only have words! (and O'Connor; Turner School sixty years ago had many children born in displaced people's camps. Some are still here.)

Perhaps some of us could get together to discuss, and to write to politicians. I confess I am no longer any good at writing and posting letters; but they are useful.

If you wanted to be actively involved there is another meeting of the refugee Action Committee on Tuesday night.

In Alstonville, Anne Bannerman writes that they have a "social justice" group at church. I hesitate to form yet another group, but could it be useful? How do we activate the church? It isn't only asylum seekers. It is so many things which the church should have a voice on. A letter writing group?

I want angry saints, with molten wills, who squeeze their carbon hearts in rage and bring forth diamonds, weary saints torn by countless beatings.

This anger is an anger that brings forth diamonds! What a metaphor to contemplate! Dare I ask us to squeeze our hearts and bring forth diamonds? The church has a message which is beyond politics; certainly beyond party politics. A Christ who is all in all

"Clothe yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator where there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!"

(and in the offertory hymn (618) we will sing: Do justly love mercy walk humbly with your God.)

and a PS and Afterword: Can "the church" say anything? Will "the church" say anything? Does "the church" have anything to say? who/what is "the church"? the bishop(s), the parish, you???