|Pen and Ink Reflections||
“Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned” – this gospel is not ‘good news’, if you’re a pig! Which leads us perhaps to ask in what ways is it ‘good news’? Is it simply bizarre? – the kind of tale that causes us to shrug our shoulders and try to forget about it? Or does it in fact have some things to offer us, latter day followers of Jesus, celebrating as we do today 45 years of that particular expression of Christian discipleship represented by the Uniting Church of Australia – a body of whose future existence no-one in this story – probably including Jesus, could ever have conceived...
Have you ever felt silenced, not being heard, when you have shared your story and your truth? Have you ever been suppressed in some aspect of yourself, your love and understanding? Have you ever been stigmatised, misinterpreted, or presented as something you are not? If so, or if anyone you know has ever suffered any of these things, then this day – this feast of Mary Magdalene - is for you. This is your day, our day, everyone’s day: for every silenced, suppressed and stigmatised person who lives, or has ever lived. For though herself silenced, suppressed and stigmatised, throughout Christian history Mary Magdalene has always remained the foremost witness to the Resurrection, the ‘apostle to the apostles’, the first bearer of that astonishing hope which, through Christ, transforms all the silencing, the suppression, and the stigma of our world. In so far as we can identify with Mary Magdalene, we too are set free from our demons, and from our fear. We too can find our voices, step out of our tombs, and live the truth of God’s image, call and naming of us. So, rejoice my gorgeous siblings! This day – this Mary Magdalene Day - is such good news for all of us and all of God’s wider, wondrous, Creation…
First of all, may we say thankyou for this opportunity of sharing with you. It is actually unusual for us to preach together – and rest assured this does not mean a sermon of twice the usual length! – but we felt it was appropriate to do so in the light of our reading from Galatians today, which includes that amazing declaration of Saint Paul that, among other human differences, ‘there is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus.’ A good deal of our ministry, individually and together, has been seeking to share this central reality of our Faith, that ‘in Christ’ all things are made whole and flourish to their full potential. In a world so sadly divided by competition, by racism, sexism and ‘isms’ of all kinds, this is such vital ‘good news’ we have to share as Christians, beginning with the journey of wholeness we can find ourselves in Christ. In a few minutes, we want to share just three ways in which this is taking place in Toowoomba. Before we share something of Toowoomba however, let us look at our Gospel story today. For you have certainly found your visiting preachers a rip-roaring tale haven’t you?!