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Trinity 14 – 22 September 2019 – Luke 16:1-13

Reader Sherry Angelis – St Paul’s Athens

 

We have spoken about quite a few parables and have learned so much.  As you may recall, this truly happened when we peeled back the multiple layers of our Lord’s stories.

I have often read through the Bible and was always very relieved when I did not have to preach on the parable concerning the dishonest manager!  What were the odds of it showing up at all since it is only found in Luke?

Nevertheless, my turn has finally come and the only way we can make sense of this one is to start peeling!     But before we do, let’s get a bit of background and take a quick look at the passage itself to see what it seems to tell us.

There is a rich man who has a manager – such a situation would have been a common one in Palestine, where there were many large estates owned by absentee landlords and administered by their managers.    Some of the manager’s duties would include the right to rent out land to tenant-farmers and make loans.

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Trinity 13 – 15 September 2019 – Gospel reading: Luke 15, 1-10.

St. Paul’s Athens  (Canon Leonard Doolan)

 

There is an idiom in English that goes like this: ‘Finders keepers, losers weepers. ‘

You find a €20,00 note on the pavement. Maybe you look around to see if anyone has a prior claim to it, then you bend down, pick up the note and pop it into your pocket. The feeling is good, but then you think, if only it was a €50,00…..

‘Finders keepers, losers weepers’.

Today’s gospel is all about being found. ‘There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety nine righteous persons who need no repentance.’ (Lk 15, 7)

‘There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’. (Lk 15, 10)

Each one of us has lost something important or precious. We know what that sinking feeling is like. It is not the same as having something stolen – that is a harrowing feeling; we feel helpless because someone else has committed an unsolicited act against us, so we feel personally violated. However, when we lose something the reaction is different, because we also feel angry with ourselves for not being careful enough. ‘How on earth could I have been stupid enough to have done that?’ We all know that feeling.

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Trinity 11 – 1 September 2019 – Proverbs 25, 6-7; Hebrews 13, 1-8, 15-16; Luke 14, 1, 7-14.

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan  – St Paul’s Athens

 

We don’t often have such a brief reading from the Old Testament. It may be brief, but the words set the tone for our gospel reading this morning, which I am reducing, in a sense to two main themes: personal humility and a gracious church. Since coming to Greece I have had a good number of encounters with the Orthodox Church. It is easy to make generalizations about the church that dominates in any country. Indeed, generalizations are easy about the Church of England and her clergy, back in England, where even the smallest village has a parish church. It is easy to knock any established church, in any country.

 

There are good priests and there are poor priests in every church in every land. There are open and encouraging congregations and there are closed and discouraging congregations. There are congregations open to change, and there are congregations bitterly opposed to the slightest change. There are congregations that are growing in number, and there are congregations that are declining rapidly. The reason for this is usually because being open and encouraging, being open to change, is more likely to be a community of faith that has the intention of being welcoming, loving, responsive to individuals and the needs of the local community, and therefore growing.

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Trinity 10 – 25th August 2019 – Luke 13, 10 – 17

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan,  St Paul’s Athens

 

‘Walk carefully as you come here for God is here before you

Walk humbly as you come here for two or three are gathered

Walk softly as you come here for the spirit may speak in the silence of this place’

(A Celtic prayer)

 

The Scottish poet Robert Burns was a great observer of everyday life and many of his poems concentrate of a fine detail or small item.

 

While sitting in his church in Alloway, Ayrshire, one Sunday morning, no doubt bored from listening to some great long-winded  sermon, his roving eye suddenly spots Jenny.

 

I wonder how many of us have allowed our minds to wander during a sermon and looked around to see who else is present. ‘She was wearing that dress last week’, ‘what has she done to her hair’ he’s showing his age’ did his wife not tell him that colours don’t go together’ ‘who does she think she is, coming to church when last week she was so unchristian to me’ ‘his words don’t match his actions’ and so the list will go on and on.

 

He spots on Jenny’s rather flamboyant hat, no doubt her Sunday best, an insect, a louse, crawling over the netting of her bonnet.

 

‘Oh Jenny, dinnae toss your heid,

An’ set your beauties a’ a breed

Ye little ken what dreadfu’ speed the blastie’s makin,

They winks and finger ends I dread,

Are notice takin’.

 

I suspect that any Greeks here this morning will struggle a bit with the poet’s regional dialect. In fact even English speakers struggle with it.

 

The point is that it is not just the poet who has spotted the insect. Others in the church have seen it too and are beginning to wink at each other and point, no doubt in a judgemental fashion. ‘You see, she comes in that big fancy hat to show off in church, but look at that thing crawling all over it’.

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Trinity 8 – 11th August 2019 – Treasure Trail

Deacon Christine Saccali – St Paul’s Athens

 

I speak in the name of the Triune God Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is often remarked that living in Greece is learning to live with the unpredictable and certainly over my 40, yes four zero years, here I have found that to be true and am still finding it. Take the earthquake, or heartquake as an Italian fellow deacon called it endearingly by mistake, which we lived through in Athens last month and which to some of us brought back memories of 1999 or 1981 here in Athens. It suddenly jolts the heart just as the heart stopping fires last year did.

Earthquakes are notoriously difficult to predict even though we know we live in a seismic country, there is an app to record the latest global shocks but nothing to foretell them. We put it to the back of our minds until another tremor shocks us. It is good to be aware and take precautions in case of fire, winds or quakes but we cannot live in constant expectation of them not carrying out our normal lives. This can be applied to living with political upheaval. War,  knife or gun crime or terrorism as well.

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Trinity 6 – 28th July 2019 (Luke 11, 1-13)

Canon Leonard Doolan, St. Paul’s Athens.

 

On the top of the Mount of Olives Empress St. Helena built one of her basilica churches when she visited Jerusalem in the 320’s AD. With her son being the Emperor Constantine she had some real cash and clout behind her. She was a faithful woman, and wished to see the places where the most important and holy things happened in the life of our Lord. Jerusalem at the time was a bit of a slum, so with the arrival of the Dowager Empress, Jerusalem went through one of the largest real estate developments it had seen in centuries.

This basilica, one of several built by St. Helena, was visited by a pilgrim called Egeria in the AD380’s. The journal of her pilgrimage is still in existence, and she records the liturgical events in the holy city. The great doctor of the church, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, was the bishop at the time.

Her journal describes what is done on Holy Thursday, during the Great Week, or Holy Week as we call it. On a busy liturgical day she gives us this information:

‘… after they have all eaten, all go to the Eleona to the church wherein is the cave where the Lord was with his Apostles on this very day. There, then until about the fifth hour of the night, hymns and antiphons suitable to the day and the place are said, lessons too, are read in like manner, with prayers interspersed, and the passages from the gospel are read where the Lord addressed his disciples on that same day as he sat in the same cave which is in that church’.

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4th Sunday of Trinity – 14th July 2019.

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan – St. Paul’s  Athens

 

Over quite a long ministry – on July 2nd I have been ordained 36 years – there have been some memorable experiences. One that is worthy of note was when we had invited a Messianic Jew to preach in Cirencester Parish Church. At the end of his sermon he sang the words of the ‘shema’ in Hebrew. Jesus says these same words in our gospel this morning.

‘ Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself’. I will never forget that moment as we heard the words sung plaintively in ancient musical modulations.

Also throughout the time I have been ordained, some of the most exciting and moving times have been when the Christian faith has grown visibly in the life of a person – often with life changing consequences. Such change illustrates the words of the ‘shema’ in real life and with real people,  making a real difference. Loving God and loving neighbour is not a slogan, nor a theory; it is the glory of God active in a human life. As St. Ireneaus famously said, ‘the glory of God is man fully alive’. Love God and love neighbour.

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Third Sunday after Trinity 7th July 2019

Sermon preached at St. Paul’s Athens by the Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan.

 

There is a well-known idiom, ‘you reap what you sow’. It will be known by almost everyone, but not everyone knows that it comes from the pen of St. Paul. Not only is it important to Paul, he even mentions that he has written it in his own hand – and that it is in large letters! It is thought that St. Paul had some type of eye sight problems, so his hand writing would betray this.

A slight digression! Part of our holiday was on the island of Syros. In Hermoupoli we visited the Church of the Dormition; a rather fine church. One of the elderly priests happened to be greeting visitors and he pointed us to a picture on the wall of the narthex. Many of the icons and church furnishings in this church were brought by people expelled from Pontus, and each Greek tried to bring something with them from their churches. Some of the icons were sent to for inspection to Athens to be examined by experts.

One of the icons was, not surprisingly, of the Dormition of the Panaghia. Some cleaning work was done, and something rather remarkable was discovered. The icon was signed. The signature was that of Dominikos Theotokopoulos an artist from Crete who went to live and work in Spain, and is better known to us as El Greco. His art is notable for the elongated and sometimes distorted human figures, possibly caused by a stigma, a fault in his sight.

 

So, the ‘boss eyed’ St. Paul writes in large letters with his own hand, ‘you reap what you sow.’ It is a firm lesson for life, and certainly a firm lesson for the life of the church and church members – it is a lesson in gospel sharing and what we call evangelization. You reap what you sow. If a church sows sparsely it will reap sparsely, if a church sows generously it will reap generously.

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Sermon at the Ordination of Julia Bradshaw to the Diaconate, Sunday 30th June 20

Deacon Christine Saccali, Anglican Parish of St. Thomas, Kefalas, Apokoronas, Crete, Greece.

1 Samuel 3.1-10, Psalm 119.1-6, Acts 6.1-7, and Matthew 25.31-46.

 

Spring Cleaning and the Ordination of Deacons

 

I speak in the name of the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is an enormous pleasure, privilege and a time bursting with pride to be present with you all here today and to be invited to preach at the ordination of Julia to the Distinctive Diaconate. Indeed it is such a day of joy and jubilation due to the fact that I feel as if my ministry and that of St Thomas here in Kefalas has been intertwined along with that of Julia’s path. Also, Registrar, folks gathered here – this could also be a historic occasion in the Diocese in Europe since we have three distinctive deacons present – Deacon Frances, myself, and Julia to be ordained today.

 

Forgive me if I introduce myself to those whom I don’t already know and I hope to chat with you all later over refreshments. Next month is my fortieth anniversary of being in Greece. I am married to a Greek and we have one married son and a granddaughter.I was present at Frances’ ordination in Cologne just over 10 years ago [Frances Hillier is the Suffragan Bishop’s Chaplain and Personal Assistant, and was present at the ordination, serving as the deacon of the mass]. I was ordained in St Paul’s Athens three years ago on the feast of St Thomas 3rd July, the patronal festival of this church, by Bishop David; Julia was there to support me and Frances preached a sermon that I remember well all about the calling of a deacon, based on scripture. As a Reader and active in ministry I was present during a consultation in Pendeli monastery in the mid noughties when Tony Lane stood up and said “I will build a church” – this very church, and the then Archdeacon of the East was rather taken aback, I seem to remember. Here we are today in that church – your church, St Thomas. Tony your vision was mighty and we thank you for that, dear friends, and wish you and Suzanne all the best in the UK.

 

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Feast of St Peter & St Paul 30th June 2019

Licensed Reader Mrs Sherry Angelis

 

He is bold, brash, forward, opinionated, impulsive, assertive, warm, kind, helpful, caring and one who often speaks out and acts without sufficient  thought.  Naturally, he loves to be the centre of attention and is always the life of the party.  Inside himself, though, there lives a small boy with a heart of gold who can be insecure and frightened.

 

Shimon Bar-Jonah is born around year one of our Lord, in Bethsaida – meaning house of fishing in Hebrew.  It is a beautiful city on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee where the River Jordan enters.  Shimon, or Simon in English, grows up in the usual way in that troubled part of the world at such an extremely difficult time.  He goes into the family fishing business with his brother Andrew.  He marries and probably has children.  So, for close to 30 years, life is as he expected it to be – very hard but quite simple.

 

Of course, unforgettable is the first meeting of Jesus of Nazareth with Simon.  Apparently, Andrew is already a believer in the words of John the Baptist and might have spoken endlessly to his brother about the New Prophet.  Thus, when Jesus shows up on the shoreline and tells these two seasoned fishermen, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,”  they do so immediately.

Undoubtedly, fishermen hold a special place in the Lord’s heart.  And, you may well recall that, within Christ’s elite group of 12 disciples, it is 3 fishermen, one of whom is Simon, who are with Him at some very pivotal moments in His life, such as Jesus’ Transfiguration and His last night in Gethsemane.

 

It just so happens that, within this particular rough and rugged fisherman, Jesus recognises qualities needed for His own band of disciples.  You might say that Simon is chosen for who he is and in spite of it.

 

Simon begins like the others, as a follower and learner of Jesus with all of the entire renunciation of home, family, and other callings which this implies.  His knowledge and faith for the present need only the call of personal attachment to the Master.

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