Spendthrift lover

Pentecost 16 – Sunday
12 September 2010

Jeremiah 4:11-28, Psalm 14
1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-19a
Luke 15:1-10

So here I still am blogging. Again.

I looked up at the vaulted ceilings of St. John’s again this morning and felt a great sense of peace while waiting for the 9:30am Choral Eucharist to begin. Something more than usual drew me to focus my gaze on the central upper stained glass lancet on the (liturgically) eastern cathedral wall featuring Christus Rex (Christ the King) and King David.

And as that happened, the introit procession began with the crucifers and candle bearers in their white cassocks-albs and the Cathedral choir in their red cassocks and white choir surplices singing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” (TiS111) to the wondrous and sublime sounds of the Cathedral pipe organ. Before I knew it, the Evangelio Bibliou processed past me in my pew (number 10 on the right hand side of the nave pews) with Fr Peter holding it up high (in his liturgical role today as a deacon) and Mth. Gillian as the presider of the service for this 16th Sunday after Pentecost.

Fthr. Peter’s homily was quite possibly the most lively that I’ve seen him be and provided a new way of looking at the Gospel text assigned for today in the lectionary that I hadn’t really considered as a serious interpretation before. That particular interpretation actually became alive for me today and I’ve managed to regain the sense of wonder I had when I first encountered the Gospel stories as a young child before I professed my faith years later (sadly without the sacrament/sacramental rite of Confirmation which, to be honest, I’m still annoyed about).

Heck, Fthr. Peter’s sermon reminded me a heckuva lot of the oft-quoted line by St. Augustine in his Confessions: “… because you have made us for yourself and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (Confessions 1.1, Henry Chadwick translation)

Everything was summed up by the offertory hymn (TiS676, tune: Kingsfold) which said it all and fit today’s Gospel text perfectly.

A spend-thrift lover is the Lord who never counts the cost
or asks if heaven can afford to woo a world that’s lost.
Our lover tosses coins of gold across the midnight skies,
and stokes the sun against the cold to warm us when we rise.

Still more is spent in blood and tears to win the human heart,
to overcome the violent fears that drive the world apart.
Behold the bruised and thorn-crowned face of one who bears our scars,
and empties out the wealth of grace that’s hinted by the stars.

How shall we love this heart-strong God who gives us everything,
whose ways to us are strange and odd; what can we give or bring?
Acceptance of the matchless gift is gift enough to give;
the very act will shake and shift the way we love and live.

– Thomas Henry Troeger, 1945

Was good to catch up over a BBQ in the grounds of St. Martin’s Place, next to the Cathedral itself with Mthr. Gillian and Alan (an old work colleague who is now really enjoying life with his wife since his retirement a few years back and as I understand it, is on Cathedral Council and in various roles within the Diocese of Brisbane). I shall have to make a decision soon enough about where I go or whether I remain in church “limbo”. Though the offer to serve at St. John’s on Sundays as a reader, a/v operator or liturgical assistant/server (in a white cassock-alb, in a role anciently known as acolyte) or to serve behind-the-scenes on Cathedral Council in 2011 is one I offer up prayerfully to the Lord along with retaining membership in EMP-CMCA and returning to fairly full-time attendance and serving there in 2011. It’s the evangelical and latitudinarian anglo-catholic sides of me that make life difficult. [Why did you make me so amenable to contradictory theological dispositions Lord?]

But here’s hoping that General Synod 2010 goes well in Melbourne. And I am praying for strength and guidance for Mthr. Gillian in her role as synod chaplain. God Almighty, will she need your help O Lord. And here’s hoping that Abp. Phillip will preside over a calm, cool, thoughtful, decision-making and most importantly, God-glorifying General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia. And that he doesn’t get massacred by more evangelical heads while he is there.

Yes that’s right, I’m talking about a particular grouping of Anglicans here in Australia that want diaconal and lay-presidency at the Eucharist and who as I understand it (correct me if I’ve misunderstood), think every atonement view apart from penal substitution is wack and lacks substance. One can embrace multiple views alongside penal substitution to create a richer tapestry: like embracing ransom/Christus Victor, Grotius’/Arminius’ governmental theory and Eastern Christianity’s view of atonement assisting believers to theosis.

Now I believe it it time for me to shut up and to go and mow the lawn. It’s getting cooler now. The perfect weather for gardening on a Sunday afternoon.



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