Monday, 10 August 2009

ANZAC biscuits and Maori chanting on St Laurence's Day

It's the summer and many colleagues at work are on holiday but prayers in the chapel have continued and have been enriching these summer days for those of us who are around and able to get out of bed in time to attend.
This week the ecumenical prayer cycle moves to Australian and New Zealand and colleagues from that part of the world blended together many elements into a moving a stimulating service which included some wonderful Maori chanting and some great modern songs celebrating creation.
In the reflection Revd Michael Wallace first invited us to remember St LaurenceOne of the seven deacons in Rome during the time of Pope Sixtus the second, Laurence was in charge of distribution of alms to the poor. In 258, the emperor Valerian put to death numerous priests and deacons. When Pope Sixtus was beheaded in this persecution, the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence surrender to him the riches of the Church.
Lawrence asked the prefect for three days to gather together the church’s wealth. He then worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property as possible to the poor. On the third day he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering and said, "Behold the treasures of the Church!"
This act of defiance led directly to his martyrdom on August 10th.
Lawrence defied the oppressive power of his day. In spite of the threat of death he kept his focus on serving Christ and his people. Even though the church lost a deacon it gained encouragement to resist the powers of evil. Laurence is remembered for his courage and his focus on not only serving but also valuing the poor.

There was also a powerful reflection on how the church can begin to speak to young people who gather in churches particularly on ANZAC day, moved by stories of those who died in wars far away from home nearly a century ago. What Christian message do we want to share with them?

The fragility of our cultures creates a situation where the demands and values of commerce can override everything else. Commerce threatens to fill the space of culture and religion, and sideline history and shared meaning.
Yet in this context a powerful spiritual yearning still arises. Despite their highly secular worldview and alienation from faith, people want to be part of an heroic and inspiring story, to believe in the kind of self-sacrifice that is displayed in the life of St. Laurence and Blessed Mary McKillop.
At the end of the service we were offered ANZAC biscuits. A sign of women's frugal work for peace.
Find the full order of worship here.