Pentecost 4: 7 July 2019

The Very Rev’d Frank Nelson

2 Kings 5: 1 – 14

Psalm 30

Galatians 6: 1 – 18

Luke 10: 1-24

Written in tiny print on the front of each of our service books are the words: “The Cathedral resides on the lands of the Kaurna people whom we acknowledge as the original custodians of the Adelaide Region.” I suspect many of us no longer even notice they are there – they are just part of the furniture! But in this NAIDOC Week it is fitting that we pay a little more than lip service to the First Nation Peoples of this wonderful country, and, in particular, the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains. In doing so we need to acknowledge that, increasingly multi-cultural though our Cathedral congregations are, there are obvious gaps in those who worship here.

St Peter’s Cathedral acknowledges that we are meeting on the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains and pays respect to Elders past and present. We recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. We acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today. And we also extend that respect to other Aboriginal Language Groups and other First Nations.

St Peter’s Cathedral tampendi, ngadlu Kaurna yertangga banbabanbalyarnendi (inbarendi). Kaurna meyunna yaitya mattanya Womma Tarndanyako.
Parnako yailtya, parnuko tappa purruna, parnuko yerta ngadlu tampendi. Yellaka Kaurna meyunna itto yailtya, tappa purruna, yerta kuma burro martendi, burro warriappendi, burro tangka martulyaiendi.
Kumarta yaitya miyurna iyangka yalaka ngadlu tampinthi.

I also want to say thank you – thank you for a truly wonderful weekend celebrating our 150th birthday and Patronal Festival. What a time it was. I have tried, very inadequately, to capture something of the weekend in my greeting of Welcome on today’s service books; and each of you will have your own special moments and memories, conversations and observations. There were the gloriously moving moments – His Excellency the Governor of South Australia using the trowel used by Bishop Short 150 years ago to lay the foundation stone, this time to scrape aside the sand covering the new stone marking this sesquicentenary anniversary. There was that moment of shock and horror on Saturday afternoon when the bells fell silent and those who were here glanced at our watches. The applause of the Welcomers and visitors as the exhausted and disappointed bell ringers came out of the bell tower. There were the deeply moving moments of baptism and confirmation at the 8.00am service, the enthusiastic singing of hymns, and somewhat more raucous singing of Happy Birthday during lunch. Sunday evening saw the excited supporters of our new Cathedral Canons so proud of their priests as they were installed during Evensong. And of course, we have solved the mystery of how Jesus managed to feed the five thousand – he had a Michael Hewitson peddling his bike to the closest Foodland to replenish the stocks of bread!!

But seriously, thank you all for a truly wonderful, moving and celebratory weekend. There are a few people I wish to single out for special thanks. Pauline Brooks is a most marvellous Convenor of Festival 150, tireless in her attention to detail and endless in her enthusiasm. Meredith Hercus and her catering team turned it on again as over two hundred joyful people enjoyed lunch. Nor should we forget that earlier in the week the team had catered for Bishop Keith Rayner’s Golden Jubilee! My clergy colleagues – Jenny, Lynn and Wendy; our wonderful Cathedral Office staff – Kate and Rachel; Leonie and David and the Cathedral Choir; all who turned out to clean and polish and arrange beautiful flowers; our Archbishop for his support and genuine affection both for the Cathedral and the people, and very fine sermon last Sunday; the Cathedral Wardens who supported and encouraged me in our planning and execution of this once in a life-time event; and so many others too many to mention by name in this sermon. Thank you. I know at least one person who is already making provision for the 200th birthday. Cricket, I am afraid you will have to do that one without me!

And now, here we are today, on the 4th Sunday of Pentecost. The great festivals of the church are over until we hit Advent in December; the liturgical colour is green (as one wag has it, even the water buckets used by the flower ladies are now green); and four somewhat disparate and complicated readings on offer. Each of them is deserving of a sermon or two in its own right. So let me simply suggest one or two things to notice in each of the readings set for today.

The reading from 2 Kings 5 is interesting in that only Namaan and Elisha are mentioned by name, yet there are other people who play a significant role in the story of Namaan’s healing. The unnamed Hebrew slave girl who dared suggest to her mistress that she knew someone who might help Namaan; and the unnamed servants of Namaan who pointed out that Namaan would have been prepared to do almost anything to be healed, yet balked at the idea of washing in what, to him, was a river of little consequence. Never underestimate the significance of a simple word of encouragement to someone, perhaps only a smile of recognition and goodwill. No one, and no thing, is too small, too insignificant, to be an agent of God’s love in this world.

The second to last verse of today’s psalm caught my eye, partly because it has been set to music in a song popular in my student days. As is often the case in the psalms, the psalmist cries out to God from her pain, his depression, and God brings healing and relief. Not only is the lamentation turned into dancing, the sackcloth put off for a girding of joy, but the psalmist goes on to sing God’s praises and give thanks. Again, something each one of us can do – give God the praise and the thanksgiving.

The verses from Galatians on offer this morning are complicated to deal with without reading Paul’s Letter as a whole. Enough to focus on verse 15 where Paul brushes the claims of both Jew and Gentile aside – ‘neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything’ – in favour of the new creation that is in Christ. This is the message of baptism which we need to notice as we are washed clean of the old life and put on the new in Christ; it is the message of the Eucharist, of Holy Communion, when, as God’s people we gather at the banquet table to share the Body and Blood of Christ together. This is God’s Kingdom come near – on earth as in heaven.

And finally we have the Gospel of Luke and the sending out of the seventy. Notice the importance of prayer in the asking of the Lord to send labourers (v 2); in the importance of the Lord commissioning people to go in His name, not in their own (v 3); and the active sending out of the seventy ‘like lambs into the midst of the wolves’ (v 3b). This is to be no easy task. There is no loving shepherd waiting to find the lost sheep, to lead them beside still waters – it is sending the sheep out into the territory of the wolves. This is not Peter feeding the Lord’s sheep, but the Lord’s sheep, having been fed, getting on with the work of the Kingdom. At times that Kingdom message will be joyfully received and will bring salvation; at other times it will be rejected and will result in judgment. (see vv 9 & 11)

This passage from Luke 10, with the seventy being sent out and returning in triumph reminds me of the Prayer for Growth offered to the Diocese by Archbishop Geoff. (There are bookmarks containing the prayer on the entrance tables.) Let me end this morning’s ramble by praying it.

Living God,

we thank you for your vision for the whole creation

and that you call us to share in your mission.

We pray that you grow your church:

Bring more people to faith in Jesus

Deepen our trust in you and knowledge of you

Help us to serve and bless our community

And strengthen us to be generous

with the money and resources you give us.

May we grow as disciples of Jesus and make disciples of others

for the blessing of the world you love.

In Jesus name we pray. Amen.