St Michael and All Angels

Observatory, Cape Town

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Passion Sunday 2018 : Fr Darron Misplon

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I speak in the name of Jesus the Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Quite a few years ago, seventeen to be exact, I found myself slowly trying to rebuild my life. I had recently been discharged from a psychiatric ward for depression... Shannon had just been born, my wife had lost her company and employment, as a family we had recently lost nearly everything we had worked so hard for over many years, I had resigned from teaching post due to ill health, my marriage was failing and so I had hit rock bottom. 

Slowly, but surely, I tried to pick up the pieces. My wife found new employment, I found a small family school where I was comfortable to try my hand at teaching again and we bought a small house in Parklands, as we tried to rebuild our lives again. I even found a small second hand boat to try and start sailing again. One morning, at school at Rosebank Junior, I felt that I was really missing my church life, from which I had been separated from for many years, for various reasons. I knew a few things deep down. One: I wanted to join the Anglican Church. 2: I wanted a High Church experience. I mentioned this in passing to the music teacher at Rosebank Junior, Karin Bromberger, who immediately responded with the words, “Oh, you have to go to St Michaels!” I looked up the telephone number and contacted the Parish Office. Ethney, one of the parishioners who still frequents St Michael’s, answered the telephone and fielded my queries about the different Masses and times.

I will never forget that first Sunday back in 2001. David Aldred sat in stalls. I felt swamped with the various liturgy books and pamphlets but I definitely immediately knew one thing in my heart: I was home and this is where I belonged.

I never left.

Over the next few Sunday’s I slowly familiarised myself with the liturgy and format of the Mass. Before long I had introduced myself to Fr Barry and told him about my training for the ministry at Rhodes University. He then suggested that I join the Servers, which I did and learnt a lot. I was a server in this very parish for seven years until I was licensed as a Lay Minister. Being a server under the guidance and supervision of Doug taught me self-discipline and how to show respect to our ritual that we base our Mass on. I slowly mastered the various roles, although I never quite mastered being a MC!

I drifted away from St Michaels as my marriage drew to an end and I went through my divorce. One Sunday morning I woke up and knew immediately that I had to go back to St Michaels. I did and was immediately asked to join the Servers again. This time it was different. St Michael’s was in an interregnum and so my experience of this Parish looking after its own is not my first.
The years 2006 to 2008 saw spiritual growth and dedication in my life as I struggled to rebuild my life post divorce. I slowly became aware of my calling to the ministry again and discussed this with the new rector, Fr Richard Girdwood, who supported my decision to reapply for FOV, having already done so a few years previously.

Some of you may be wondering why I am sharing some of my personal journey with you this morning.

The situation here at St Michael’s has been on my heart for quite a while now. I want to bring you a message of hope and encouragement.

St Michael’s has been an incredible guiding light and support in my life over the last seventeen years. The beautiful music, High Mass, ritual respect for the Anglo-Catholic ethos has taught me self-discipline, spirituality and humility and helped me retain a wonder for God. St Michael’s has stood by me through all of my ups and downs. She was here for Shannon when she was baptised by Fr John Suggit. She was here for me during my post divorce years when I struggled to make sense of my new life, she was here for me during my journey of Fellowship of Vocation and she was here for me during my years as a transitional deacon. All of you make up this beautiful church and all of you have been a big part of my formation and ministry. I carry St Michael’s in my heart every day. I pray for you every day.

The message I want to bring to you this morning is one of hope and encouragement during this time of extended interregnum. I firstly want to thank all those people who have been dedicated to ensuring that the status quo continues here at St Michael’s. A special thanks goes to the Fr Tony Hogg, Fr Bev Johnson and Fr Craig Abrahams who have all been instrumental in ensuring that the Masses and Evensongs continue in the same standard as the past. Thank you also goes to the Parish Council, the Verger, the Servers, the Lay Ministers, Sides people, Lectors, Deon and the Choir and anyone else I may have inadvertently omitted. All of you have been responsible for ensuring that the Light of Jesus Christ continues during the time of interregnum, in a sense, St Michael’s is experiencing an extended “Lenten” period of trial and tribulation as we await the joy of one day celebrating a new Rector.
St Michael’s is a very special parish. She quietly celebrates the ancient rite of yesterday in a manner of respect and glory that clearly worships God and His Son, Jesus Christ. I know not of other parish in Southern Africa that is able to maintain this standard of worship and discipline. You remain a beautiful beacon of hope and grace in a world that has sometimes lost its way.

Do not despair. I say again, be strong, keep your faith, stay true to what you believe,  continue to pay respect to the ritual that you choose to worship with, never doubt yourself. This is a very special church that has weathered many a storm in the past and will do so again in the future. Continue to trust God and He will continue to honour you. A rector will be appointed one day again. In the meantime, it is all of our duty’s to ensure that the Masses continue unabated, that we all continue to contribute where we can. 
Today we celebrate Passion Sunday. Today, in the modern liturgy, Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday have been combined; however, we celebrate them apart. This Sunday is called Passion Sunday, because the church begins on this day, to make the sufferings of our Redeemer her chief thought. Traditionally, all statues and crucifixes were veiled at the Vespers for Passion Sunday. The Introit, Gradual and Tract are all petitions to save the just from the persecution of the unjust. 

So, we are reminded this morning of the Gospel reading in John 8:46. Jesus himself reminds us with the words, “Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” These powerful words apply not only to you in your personal lives, but also as a Body of Christ here at St Michael’s. Jesus is reminding us to continue paying homage to His message of love, hope and salvation, no matter the personal challenges we are experiencing. Continue to honour God and He will continue to honour you.

My wish for you, both as individuals and as a parish, as you continue your journey towards the joy of the Risen Lord this Easter, is that your souls may be freshly renewed in His spirit, you may continue to be faithful to both one another and this parish and that you will never take your eyes off the Light of hope and love that Jesus and this parish represent to many people.

St Michael’s made a difference in my life and calling, may it continue to do so in yours.

God bless you in the week ahead as you continue your journey in faith here in this beautiful parish of St Michaels.

Amen.
 
 

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