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Homily offered by The Dean for The Reign of Christ, 22nd November 2015.
Advent is possibly the most complex of the church seasons. It is both a preparation for Christmass and a time to reflect on the fulfilment of all things. The Advent Procession is a sublime mixture of choral music, organ music hymns and readings that seeks to reflect the meaning of Advent. The choir processes around the building to make the most of the Cathedral’s diverse acoustic. Candles enable us to reflect on the interplay of light and darkness.
St John's Cathedral Brisbane, in conjunction with Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, is pleased to announce the establishment of the Queensland Conservatorium/St John¹s Cathedral Organ Scholarship. Under the generous provisions of the F.W. and E.G. Harmer Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Organ Scholar will be a full member of the music department of St John¹s Cathedral, developing skills as a liturgical musician through playing for services and supporting the various choirs of St John¹s, while studying at the Queensland Conservatorium.For further details, and information on how to apply, download the flyer here.
The Cathedral coin collection is located in the ambulatory near the Holy Spirit Chapel. It contains a permanent collection of 110 coins dating from the 6th century BCE to the present. Coin 111 is changed on a regular basis to honour significant historical events. The current coin 111 honours the signing of the Magna Carta.
This year is the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta by King John in 1215 and the ₤2 coin on display as coin 111 was issued by the United Kingdom in celebration. Most people think that the Magna Carta involved only the barons and the king but the Church was very much involved, especially the archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.
On the coin King John is seated between a bishop and a knight. Presumably the bishop is Stephen Langton and the knight is William Marshall, the earl of Pembroke, who was the leader of the barons. The king holds a quill and a roll of parchment. Actually kings at this time did not sign documents with a quill: an assistant would affix the royal seal to the document. Part of a building is shown above the three figures on the coin, but actually the event occurred in a meadow at Runnymede in Surrey.
A number of copies of the document sealed by King John at Runnymede on 10th June 2015 were made and sent to cathedrals. Today there are only four extant copies of this document: one in Lincoln Cathedral, one in Salisbury Cathedral, and two in the British Museum. The Magna Carta was written in Medieval Latin and a translation of the first clause is The English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired. The meaning of this was that the Church could elect its officers without interference by the king.
The moral imperative of climate action
Religious leaders call for deep carbon cuts and a rapid shift to renewable energy.
On Monday, the General Synod of the Church of England will likely pass two motions calling for urgent and bold action against climate change. The first urges all governments at the Paris Climate Negotiations to take bold action by transitioning to a low-carbon future and encourages the church to actively engage with the climate change issue, and the second affirms the recent decision to disinvest from coal and oil sands as a tactic to address the climate crisis.
As Anglican leaders of Australia and South Africa – two countries that have found themselves on the front lines of climate change – we celebrate these important and timely calls for climate action, based on our moral imperative to care for all of God's creation and the most vulnerable among us.
Both Australia and South Africa are already experiencing the negative impacts of rising global temperatures. Australia is one of the highest per capita carbon emitters in the world – we've seen double the amount of record hot days over the last 50 years, an increase in the frequency and intensity of weather events, a rising sea level, and further endangerment of our fragile coral reef and marine ecosystems. The story is similar in South Africa, where temperatures have risen over 1.5 times the global average over the past half century and are predicted to rise by 3-6 degrees Celcius in some areas by 2100.
Monday's motions of the Church of England – together with Pope Francis' ecology encyclical and many other faith voices – serve as a reminder that we have a moral responsibility to act on climate change. This message reminds us all that climate change is about more than the political and economic debate that all too often dominates the headlines. Climate change is first and foremost a social and moral concern.
This piece by The Dean was first published in various Fairfax publications on Sunday 31st May, the first day of Reconciliation Week
When Michael Clarke took to the cricket field wearing a black armband it was seen as a positive act of solidarity. It was his way of honouring his killed-tragically friend, Phillip Hughes. And a powerful way of ensuring we would remember the never-to-be-forgotten 16th man. The use of the black armband was a mature way of dealing with emotional upheaval. It also played a role in inspiring the Australian cricket team towards their World Cup win.
The use of black armbands by sporting folk reminds us of their healing power.
This morning I woke to the news that Andrew Chan, Myuran Sukumaran and six others had been executed in Indonesia.
I felt incredibly numb. And incredulous.
I could’t even begin to imagine the pain felt by their families.
I found myself wondering what must go through the minds of those involved and particularly those charged with pulling the trigger, flicking the switch, or injecting a lethal dose. Do they go numb themselves? Do they ever stop seeing the eyes of their victims in their dreams? Do they dehumanise the victim so that they can go through with the act of deliberated murder? Is their justification that they are ‘just following orders’? Does the justifying narrative they have woven for themselves hold up as the human being before them is blown apart? Do they end up suffering from PTSD?
The thing I find most disturbing about execution is the calculated nature of the exercise. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Indonesian officials have spent years caught up in the relentless journey to this day. It has been done according to the Rule of Law. Done by the book. Due process has been followed. Appeals heard. Clemency sought and denied. Ten years of focussed activity. State-sanctioned murder is an inhumane activity hidden beneath layers of civil order and procedure.
I am mindful of the fact that the people responsible are ordinary people just like me.
At present we are in the Easter Season, the season that proclaims that all that is death-dealing will be transformed by God who is life and love. As people of the resurrection we are called to be agents of God on earth.
So as the day has progressed I have found myself climbing out of the numbness of the early day towards an increased determination to work for a world characterised by love and justice. I have reminded myself that when Amnesty International began campaigning against the death penalty thirty years ago less than twenty nations had abandoned the death penalty. Today over 100 nations have abolished it. So in response to the state-sanctioned murder of the eight people in Indonesia I rededicate myself to continuing this important work.
This Opinion Piece by The Dean was published in The Brsbane Times for Palm Sunday:
The lie that we are separate individuals is dying; dying I hope, faster than the planet which is being destroyed by the fruits of that lie.
The lead poem in Walt Whitman's great work, Leaves of Grass, is titled Song of Myself. It begins with the words "I celebrate myself". These words make for a first impression that the poem is a self-serving or even narcissistic exercise. However the reader soon comes to appreciate that Whitman is really exploring the idea that what affects you affects me - and vice versa. His third line is "For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you".
Whitman explores the territory surveyed by John Donne a few hundred years before him and by Mary Oliver in more recent times. John Donne stated that no one should view themselves as an island but as part of a continent,