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Advent Sunday 2018 Athens

Fr James Harris

 

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness…

We don’t have to look far to see very dark forces at work in these days. Some recent headlines illustrate the point:

  • More people have died at sea attempting to reach Spain ifrom north Africa n the last three months than during the whole of 2017
  • 10 provinces of Ukraine are now under martial law
  • Famine in Yemen
  • Murder in synagogues; murder in embassies

I don’t need to go on – but I could.

And Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan – they rarely even make it into the news bulletins these days…

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Trinity 25, 18th November 2018: Daniel 12: 1-3; Hebrews 10: 11-14, 19-25; Mark 13: 1-8

Fr James Harris

 

I want to take you on a journey of the imagination this morning. So, if you’re sitting comfortably, we will begin…

 

Our imagined scene takes place somewhere on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in the province of Judea in what today would be called the year 30 AD or what the Jews of the time might have calculated as something like the 3,791st year of the Era of the World – i.e. since Creation.

 

It’s a fertile place, not like the deserts down south; sheep and goats are bleating, the whiff of fresh fish coming on the breeze from the shoreline where the fishermen sort their catch. The small town of white, low rise buildings nestles on the hillside and this is where you, a faithful Jew, have grown up.

 

In the centre of the town is a small synagogue where, week by week, for as long as you can remember, you have seen the great scrolls unrolled and the scriptures read – wonderful, ancient, inspiring histories recounting God’s faithfulness to his people, and prophecies of the time when he will send his chosen one, his Messiah to save and to set free. Prophecies like that of Daniel who talks so powerfully of this moment when a new age will dawn for God’s people here on earth. It won’t be without drama – when is it otherwise with God? – but it will mean blessing for the faithful who endure. Daniel even talks about people rising from the dead on that day. Now that’s really weird; no other scriptures talk about that possibility. Earthly life – work, family, harvest – is where you hope for God’s blessing, not once you’re dead.

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Remembrance Sunday 2018 St Paul’s Athens

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan

 

In a railway carriage that belonged to Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Supreme commander of the Allied forces, in the Forest of Compiegne in France the Armistice agreement was signed. The senior British representative was Sir Rosslyn Wemyss.

After millions of deaths, on all sides of this so called ‘war to end all wars’, it was signed at 11.00hrs, on the 11th day of the 11th month. It is a poignant moment, and it is right that this occasion should be so solemnly marked in so many parts of the world, not least in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and right here where we are.

Hostilities may have ceased at that historic moment, but we know that it was not the war to end all wars. There may have been a naivete among those who claimed it, however the aspiration that there should be no more human carnage on this scale is entirely understandable. How can we make any sense out of the mass slaughter of European, African, antipodean lives on European soil, fighting European battles?

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SS Simon & Jude 2018

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan

 

‘I believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic church.’ We say this every week in the Creed, and the observant among you would have heard this very phrase being used in the Licensing ceremony of Fr. James just a couple of weeks ago, when the Archdeacon said, ‘The Church of England is part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation.’

Being an apostolic church has at least two implications for us. Firstly, the word means ‘sent’. The NT verb is apostello, but it will be better known to modern Greek speakers as the verb stelno, ‘I send’. God ‘sent’ his Son into the world as his Word made flesh. St. John’s gospel uses the verb frequently. So as God sent his Son, Jesus, so Jesus at the time when they received the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit, sent his ‘apostles’ to be Christ’s presence, Christ’s message, Christ as gospel, into the world.

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Harvest Festival Deuteronomy 8: 7-18; Luke 12: 16-30

Fr James Harris

 

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land… a land of vines… of olive trees and honey… [where] you shall eat your fill.’

Sound familiar?!

 

Just take a moment to look around you – at the sheer beauty, goodness, abundance of this place, this land which the Lord our God has given us, in which, for whatever reason, and for however long now, he has seen fit to have us live.

Ever since we arrived here as a family at the end of August, I have been reminded just how close to the terrain of the Holy Land we are here in Greece, how similar the landscape is in this land where east meets west. Those verses from Deuteronomy could’ve been written about this place as much as about the Promised Land. And, in one sense, of course, they are written about this land and about every piece of land – because as much as they are describing a specific geographical location to which the people of God were being led at that point in history, they are also describing in universal terms the type of relationship, the covenant God has made with his Creation as a whole.

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Healing Eucharist – 18 October 2018 (St Luke) Isaiah 35: 3-6; Luke 10: 1-9

Fr James Harris

 

We gather today with a particular intention to ask for God’s healing.

 The healing power of God is all at once complex to understand, multi-dimensional, wonderful, transformative and mysterious.

 Healing is primarily a work of God the Holy Spirit – the Spirit that brooded over the waters at the moment of Creation; the Spirit that alighted on Jesus at his baptism, that empowered his ministry and teaching and that raised him from the dead; the Spirit that emboldened the disciples and apostles of the early Church; and the same Spirit that enlivens the Church today, that makes Christ real and enables us to call God Father.

 

The healing work of the Spirit is about straightening out and making right; it is about unfolding and loosening; about unlocking, unblocking and setting free; regenerating, reviving; soothing and embalming.

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Licensing of Canon Bruce Bryant-Scott – Crete Oct 12th 2018 (Acts 27, 13-26; John 20, 19-23)

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan

 

I chose the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles for purely pragmatic reasons. It mentions Crete which connects the island to the journey of the great apostle St. Paul on his way to Rome which would his place of martyrdom.

The second reading tells of St. John’s version of what we would otherwise call Pentecost – it his powerful statement of the risen Jesus Christ outpouring the Holy Spirit on his disciples.

By the end of this sermon I hope to have joined up these two rather disparate readings.

If you were here for the liturgy on the Feast of Pentecost this last May, you would have heard a sermon from me about authentic witness. ‘If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, then it is a duck’. An authentic description.  I further added, just to complicate things, what sounded to be an octopus (χταποδι), but I was actually describing bag-pipes (γκαιδα). Try playing a Scottish reel on an octopus, or eating a little dish of marinated bagpipe!

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Harvest Sermon – St. Andrews Patras 7th October 2018

Revd Canon Leonard Doolan

 

The words of so many of our harvest hymns are great. They express the beauty of God’s glory in creation, but also there is something very comforting about them.

The seasons come and go, not with relentless monotony, but each season with its own distinctiveness . καλο  φθινοπορο. The evenings begin to change, and even in Greece there is a crispness at times in the early mornings and late evenings.

For the beauty of the earth,  For the glory of the skies,

For the love which from our birth, Over and around us lies.

Yet despite the beauty that God reveals in his creation as his handiwork, there is much that distorts it, which is our handiwork.

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Trinity 19: Genesis 2, 18-24, Mark 10, 20-16

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan

 

We have just all witnessed Sarah and Luke saying their marriage vows to each other in the sight of God. The reason they asked for this is that they were married in a Registry Office when their faith did not mean the same to them.  We rejoice that they are making a journey of faith together and we pray that renewing their marriage vows here will bring a rich blessing to their marriage.

The vows are lovely – of course they are, and the vows when they were first married represent the legal commitment to each other. I rather like the words we all said together for they represent the spirit of marriage, and most importantly that marriage should bring joy and be life-giving.

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Trinity 18: Numbers 11: 4-6, 10-16, 24-29; James 5: 13-20; Mark 9: 38-50

Fr. James Harris

 

You could’ve heard the yelp in Piraeus.

 

There was I, wandering along to Bazaar with the two girls in tow to pick up some groceries; when, at the sound of the said yelp, I turned round to observe Rosa, our youngest, sticking out of a manhole in the pavement, one leg in, one leg out, her flip flop dangling precariously into the void below, eyes wide with the shock of it (understandably) and totally unable to extract herself from her predicament.  The cover of the manhole was missing; she had not ben looking where she was going as she toddled along behind me and had stepped straight into it, her momentum carrying the rest of her forward.   She escaped with only a grazed shin and it’s the sort of thing I’m sure we will laugh about in the future – do you remember the time Rosa disappeared into the pavement? – but I recount it this morning because of what happened afterwards, which I think speaks into our Bible readings this morning.

Nearby on the pavement that afternoon was a Greek family – Mum, Dad and a toddler safely in a pushchair. Seeing the incident unfold, the Dad leaped into action, helping to extract Rosa, delving into his bag for antiseptic wipes, stuffing some waste cardboard into the hole to prevent further mishaps and even going into the shop to remonstrate with the staff as to why they hadn’t reported the hole or done something about it themselves. (I must admit that made it slightly awkward when we then had to limp in there to get our shopping!)

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