|Pen and Ink Reflections||
One of my grandchildren was particularly fascinated when I was in England in December. She was trying to grasp how it was night with me when it was daytime in Australia, and how it was so warm here and so cold where I was. One day, she had it sorted. Speaking to Penny on the phone, she loudly proclaimed ‘GranJo is upside down!’ I am not sure whether she thought that I was standing or walking on my head. However, in more than one sense, she was right - not least spiritually. After all, as Acts of the Apostles chapter 17 reminds us, like other early Christians, Paul and Silas were accused of ‘turning the world upside down’. It remains part of our Christian calling and sits well with the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, otherwise known as the feast of Candlemas, which we mark today. Wherever, or whoever, we are in the world, we are all called to ‘live upside down’ in spiritual terms…
What experiences have we had of the fabled Australian ‘Tall Poppy Sydrome’? ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is of course known in other countries by other names, yet it is true to say that it has had a particular strong place in our own national culture, and that of Aotearoa New Zealand. For it has been used, pejoratively, to describe the way in which people of sometimes outstanding merit can be resented, attacked, criticised, or cut down, because their talents or achievements distinguish them from their peers. Or, as a saying in Chinese and Japanese culture has it: ‘the nail that stands out gets hammered down’. Some have thus wondered recently whether ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is a factor in our remarkable turnover of Prime Ministers, something which has made us the puzzlement, and to some extent the laughing stock, of the rest of the world What do you think? I feel that there are other concerning factors too, including certain limitations and power structures of our political parties, the undoubted personality weaknesses of some politicians who have risen to power, and, not least, the unusually short gap between elections compared to other developed nations. Yet ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is surely a reality in our politics, as it is in many aspects of our national life. So, as we hear today the great Gospel story of Jesus and his community’s ‘Tall Poppy’ reaction, what are we to make of our gifts and talents?...
for Candlemas 'Service of Light' for the City, 2 Feb 2014 - by the Revd Penny Jones
In our world we value those whose intelligence and use of logic enables scientific discovery and human advancement. But rationality is not enough on its own. We all know that there are levels of intuition and spirituality that also advance our understanding of the world. Prophets and mystics are those who perceive truth not with their intellect but with their imagination. Tonight on this feast of Candlemas our tradition directs us to re-imagine the poignant story of the presentation of Jesus in the temple. In this story we have a prophet, Simeon, who foresees what the consequences of Jesus life will be, both personally and at the level of community. We also have a mystic, Anna, who has been a celibate widow devoted to the life of prayer for something like sixty years. Each of them sees the infant Jesus for who he really is and rejoices with a joy that reaches down the centuries to this gathering tonight...
Candlemas 2014, Sunday 2 February - by The Revd Dr Jonathan Inkpin
I once knew an English bishop who would occasionally get a bit frustrated with some of his priests. You can tell, he used to say, when a priest stops learning and growing, by the publication dates of the books on his bookshelf. In some cases, you only have to look at their bookcase to see that the last theology they ever read was when they were in theological college many years before. Well, that was certainly not true of Father George, my mother’s family’s priest when I was growing up. Father George was in many ways ‘just’ another priest in London diocese, but, unlike some priests and lay Christians, he never stopped learning and growing. Sure, he got a little stuck on one or two issues, as we all do...