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Vicar's Musings for Ordinary Sunday 15

12 July, 2015

After two years of careful planning and prayer, the St Peter's Eastern Hill 2015 Parish Mission is upon us. Our missioner, the Bishop of Chelmsford, arrives from England on Friday and his first service, significantly, will be the 9am Marian Mass with the Cell of Our Lady of Walsingham on Saturday. All are welcome. Then on Sunday 19th July, at our 10.30am Parish High Mass, we will be joined by our Primate, Dr Philip Freier the Archbishop of Melbourne, for the official mission launch. The last such mission at The Hill was held in 1995, so this is certainly a momentous week in the life of our parish.

We do not usually have many funerals at St Peter's, but within a week we have had the terribly sad burial of four-week-old baby Elijah Hogan, and a Requiem Mass for Margaret Robbins, former organist and vestry member of the parish. Next week, the day before Bp Stephen Cottrell arrives, there will be a Requiem Mass for former Appellate Court judge, the Hon. Frank Callaway.

In addition to these sadnesses a disturbed individual, on three occasions over the past fortnight, has decided to desecrate our sanctuary in a most unpleasant way. As a result, we have been forced to temporarily close the church when not attended, and look seriously into updating our security system.

Our evangelical brothers and sisters often talk about "spiritual warfare"; by which they mean the experience of spiritual resistance to a move of God's Spirit. I am not sure about the theology of this, but over my 28 years of ministry in a number of Anglican parishes, I have noticed that occasions of spiritual significance are often preceded by unforseen trials. Walter Wink (1935-2012) American Biblical scholar, theologian and activist takes an approach that is probably better suited to our theological traditions here at St Peter's. In his book Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination (1992) he grapples with the problem of evil. In a chapter on "Prayer and the Powers" he writes (p. 298): "Intercession is spiritual defiance of what is, in the name of what God has promised. Intercession visualises an alternative future to the one apparently fated by a moment of current contradictory forces. It infuses the air of a time yet to be into the suffocating atmosphere of the present."

So, dear friends, let us intercede for Bp Stephen and the final preparations for the Parish Mission; for the repose of the souls of Elijah, Margaret and Frank; and for the troubled soul of a person who feels the need to express deep hurts and anger through the desecration of a sacred space. Let us wait on the Holy Spirit of God in silence and in our worship this day. Let us together pray ...

The Rev'd Dr Hugh Kempster

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