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Sermon Lent 3 – 15 March 2020: John 4 – 5 -42

Sermon written by Reader Sherry Angelis – St Paul’s Athens

           Throughout our Lord’s ministry, the Pharisees never cease being a problem.    One of the most annoying things is their persistent questioning of Jesus.   Almost every time they ask Him a question, our Lord answers so wisely that it makes them appear totally incompetent!  After these question sessions, Jesus often just walks away. 

              In the 2 verses before our Reading, Jesus has learned that the Pharisees believe He, supposedly, is baptizing more disciples than John.  It is very obvious that the Pharisees are jealous of the popularity of Christ’s new movement.  Our Lord foresees a storm of controversy rapidly approaching.  At this point, with such chaos around Him, it will certainly be a great distraction from His true mission.  The best thing He and His disciples can do is to get away from Judea.  Jesus decides they should go to Galilee.

 

             So why does Jesus decide to go through Samaria when there is another way?  After all, the mixture of similarity and difference has led to a mutual loathing and enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans for centuries, thus Jews have avoided the area.  I believe there are 2 possible answers to this question. 

             The first, is a geographical consideration.  It is much easier and faster to go that way.  The second, as we read the story, there seems to be a divine one also.   Something is going to happen in Samaria – maybe even something miraculous!

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Lent 1, 1 March 2020. Genesis 2, 15-17; 3, 1-7. Matthew 4, 1-11.

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan – St Paul’s Athens

 

This is the first Sunday in the holy season of Lent. A season of penitence, of inner examination of the soul, of reading the scriptures more assiduously, and of fasting. The holy season began 4 days ago with the day we call Ash Wednesday. The palm crosses that were blessed on Palm Sunday last year are returned to church, burned and turned into ash. Mixed with a little olive oil the priest then marks out a cross on the foreheads of the faithful. Then there is a slight dilemma.

What is the dilemma? With an ashen cross on the forehead should we then witness to the community that we are at the start of our keeping of Lent? There is much to commend this. However, at the same liturgy in the gospel, Christ condemns those who make a public show of their penitence and fasting with the words, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them” and later in the same passage of St. Matthew, “when you fast put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but your Father who is in secret.’  (Matt. 6, 1; Matt. 6, 16-17).

This is the first Sunday in the holy season of Lent. A season of penitence, of inner examination of the soul, of reading the scriptures more assiduously, and of fasting. The holy season began 4 days ago with the day we call Ash Wednesday. The palm crosses that were blessed on Palm Sunday last year are returned to church, burned and turned into ash. Mixed with a little olive oil the priest then marks out a cross on the foreheads of the faithful. Then there is a slight dilemma.

What is the dilemma? With an ashen cross on the forehead should we then witness to the community that we are at the start of our keeping of Lent? There is much to commend this. However, at the same liturgy in the gospel, Christ condemns those who make a public show of their penitence and fasting with the words, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them” and later in the same passage of St. Matthew, “when you fast put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but your Father who is in secret.’  (Matt. 6, 1; Matt. 6, 16-17).

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Sermon Preached at HT Brussels on Sunday 16th Feb 2020: Romans 8, 18-25; Matthew 6, 25-34.

The Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan (Senior Chaplain – Athens, Greece)

 

Jesus says in the gospel this afternoon. ‘Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” ‘*The reason is because, in Jesus advice, it is the non-believers who strive for these things and God knows we need them. *So what is it we should be worrying about – worry first about the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

It all seems to be a simple message. Yet if you are desperately in need of food, or a drink, or something to wear, especially against a cold February climate in Northern Europe, you would be forgiven for perhaps seeking food drink and a blanket before thinking about more spiritual things, like the Kingdom of God.

We live in a world with many deep and difficult challenges.  Many of you might have real challenges in your lives – food, drink, warm clothing, a roof over your head, and the dignity of working for an income rather than begging for it.*

I am the priest in one of Europe’s great city’s – though often if feels as if it is more an eastern city. *Anyway it is in the European Union, and is the first country in Schengen that you arrive at if you have come from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, or if you have come up from East Africa, from Sudan, or Somalia.

The route is mostly through Turkey, and some of the Greek islands are only a few kilometres away from the Turkish coastline – islands like Lesbos, or Samos. *These are tiny islands, and are ill equipped for the many migrants and refugees who find their way into Europe. *They are in search of a better life, or an escape from continual warfare, or political or religious persecution.  Many men have had to leave parents, wives, children and businesses behind. Others have nothing left to leave behind.

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Sermon preached on 2nd Sunday before Lent at the Principal Eucharist, Holy Trinity Brussels, Gen 1; Romans 8, 18-25; Matthew 6, 25-34.

The Revd Canon Leonard Doolan (Athens) 

 

I wonder if any of you remember the great Franco Zefferelli film on the life of St. Francis.

There is a simply wonderful scene when Francis goes to Rome, to the Lateran Palace, to petition the Pope (played of course by the great actor Sir Alec Guinness) for permission to found a simple poor community of men and women who could gather round Francis in prayer and acts of charity for the poorest in his local society.

Francis’s father was a wealthy cloth merchant who had sent his son off to the Holy Land as a noble Crusader. He returned from there badly wounded and very sick. It is while he is in recovery that he has his conversion to a new way of being Christian – a different way to his wealthy upbringing. It also means that Francis has some good connections, so he uses a fellow former Crusader, now a lawyer at the Papal court, to write the petition for Francis in the very best of jurisprudential Latin.

His turn comes round. He is ushered by his lawyer friend into the audience chamber, passing armed guards as he makes his way. He kneels before the Pope who is seated on a throne some dozen or so steps up. The great Papal tri-corona, triple crown, hovers majestically over Sir Alec Guinness’s head.

To left and to right of Francis are rank upon rank of Cardinals, Archbishops, bishops, archdeacons, abbots, and ecclesiastical lawyers . They all know inside out the protocols of the Papal chamber. They look with disdain and incredulity on this petitioner, dressed in a simple habit.

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3rd Sunday before Lent 2020: Isaiah 58, 1-9; 1 Cor 2, 1-12; Matt. 5, 13-20.

Canon Leonard Doolan – St Paul’s Athens

 

When I was very young – a long time ago – my father was a coal miner in Ayrshire, in the West of Scotland. Our family has been thinking a lot about him recently as he has been in hospital – nothing too serious, and he is now home – but hospitalization always focuses the minds and concerns of family and friends.

I commend to you also Colin Williams, our lovely former Archdeacon, who immediately on his retirement was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and has just begun his therapy treatment; he is having a hard time, so please keep Colin in your prayers.

Anyway, back to Ayrshire and a very young Leonard Doolan. Every year the pit where my dad worked had an open day when family could visit the coal mine. I remember getting into the lift and travelling down the lift shaft to the coal seam where the coal miners would have dug out the coal to keep our industries going and our houses warm. After a warning the lights were turned out. I recall to this day, that I have never witnessed anything so dark in all my life. Even if you held your hand right in front of your eyes you couldn’t see it. Were it not for the fact that this was all part of plan, and after a few seconds the lights were turned on again, it would have been a terrifying experience. Blackness – sheer blackness.

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Feast of the Presentation of Christ (Candlemass) Feb 2nd 2020. Readings: Malachi 3, 1-5; Luke 2, 22-40.

Revd. Canon Leonard Doolan – St Paul’s Athens

 

The temple in Jerusalem must have been full of bird song. Families who had 40 day old boys would bring their sons to the priests to be offered to God – the first fruits of their creation. All these families would be around the temple precincts, surrounded by bird song. It must be so, because all these families had to bring an additional offering – 2 doves or 2 young pigeons.

How many young 40 day old baby boys must have been around the place – what a noise from all that screaming, and added to that the sound of birds.

Our Lord was not alone. Jesus would not have been the only boy here. There could have been dozens, scores, hundreds.

We are given a privileged glimpse into one particular family, one particular child, in all the crowds and amid all the pigeons and doves – I wonder how many got away and flew around all over the place, and in their panic depositing their droppings on people and holy items alike.

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