Author Archives: Avril Hannah-Jones

Sermon: Death and Life

The funeral service used to contain the reminder that ‘in the midst of life we are in death,’ which apparently comes from a battle song by tenth-century monk Notker the Stammerer and, while that might strike our twenty-first-century ears as morbid, it is simply a fact. If we accept that, today’s reading can offer us comfort. Continue reading

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Sermon: A man born blind

We are just as prone to blaming the victim as the religious authorities in this story. I have preached before about the deeply human tendency, and we have just seen an appalling example of it in the Robodebt Royal Commission. We will need to wait for the Commissioner’s final report to know exactly how things went wrong, but I have been listening in to the live stream as I have worked, and the apparent attitudes of some politicians and senior public servants to people who need to access Centrelink have been dreadful. ‘Robodebts’ were illegal, unethical, and inaccurate, and yet they seem to have been imposed because of a false belief that welfare recipients must be ripping off the system. Continue reading

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Sermon: A woman at a well

Reflection for North Balwyn Uniting Church Third Sunday of Lent, 12th of March 2023 John 4:5-42 Today’s story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well is one of my favourite stories in the entire Bible, with one of … Continue reading

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Sermon: An imagined community

The church is another such imagined community, and one that is both local and global. Everyone who participates in the service here each Sunday is part of this congregation, whether they attend in person, listen online, or read a paper version. And all these members of North Balwyn Uniting Church are members of an imagined community we call the one holy catholic and apostolic church. Continue reading

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Sermon: Chocolate, Milton, and Lent Event

I have given up chocolate for Lent. I do this at least every few years and I always feel a little ridiculous about it. Jesus is walking towards his death, the most humiliating, painful and lonely death the Roman Empire could impose, and to show my solidarity with his journey I am giving up a completely voluntary sweet treat. Continue reading

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Sermon: Salt and Light

We often worry that as churches get smaller we can no longer answer God’s call to us, that we can no longer serve God as God desires. But Jesus is calling us to be salt, and a small amount of salt can change the flavour of an entire dish; Jesus is calling us to be light, and one lamp on a lampstand can give light to an entire house. Continue reading

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Sermon: The Beatitudes

Maybe it would help to put them in contemporary terms: Blessed are the boat people, for they will find a safe and welcoming home; blessed are those on unemployment and disability pensions, for they will be treated with dignity and respect; blessed are the First Nations people, for they will regain their stolen land; blessed are the do-gooders and trouble-makers, for they will be called the children of God. Continue reading

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Sermon: In favour of the Voice to Parliament

The final paragraph of the Uluru Statement is: ‘In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future’. I do hope that Australians will walk together with First Nations people and approve the Voice, in numbers comparable to the 90% who voted ‘Yes’ in the 1967 Referendum, because doing so will be, I believe, an act of love. Continue reading

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Sermon: The Church – always ‘of God’ but never perfect

We are those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints. We are the New Testament church. Despite all their failings, Paul could give thanks for the Corinthians because of God’s faithfulness to them. The same is true of us. Yet while our status as the New Testament church should comfort us, it must never blind us to the church’s failings and our need to constantly seek to be better so that we may ‘be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Continue reading

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Sermon: Mutual epiphanies

As Christianity loses its place of privilege in Australia, there are some Christians who think the response should be to circle the wagons, to build walls between us and the rest of the world. But that is contrary to the mystery revealed to Christ’s holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, the mystery of absolute and utter inclusion. There can be no excuse for churches to re-establish walls between human beings when Jesus came to tear all those dividing walls down. Continue reading

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