Sermon: Contains gluten

Do you like bread? Please note, this sermon contains gluten.

I love it, especially slathered with butter – note, not margarine, and Marmite, or jam, or both actually. I like baking bread too, feeling the flour and yeast turn into a silky dough as I use my hands and my arms to work it.

What does Jesus mean when he says that he is the Bread of life?

What is bread? in this context, it is the most basic element of any meal, the one go-to food when there is nothing else. Bread is cheaper than proteins like milk and eggs, and for many cultures it forms the basis of most meals. Pizza started out life as a food invented by peasants, who had bread, and some tomato for flavour, and a bit of meat and cheese for the top if they were lucky. It could just as easily be the rice or pasta or taro of life, and when the Bible is used in countries where other foods are the staple, bread is translated into that food. Continue reading

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Sermon: What is Anglicanism?


What is Anglicanism?

Felicity O’Brien  2013

Thank you for asking me to come and talk to the U3A group today. My name is Felicity O’Brien, and I am a deacon in the Tawa Anglican Parish. Today’s talk is on the topic “What is Anglicanism?” We will start by looking briefly at the history of the Anglican Church, both in the UK and here in NZ, then we will look at the doctrines and liturgy that underpin it, noting the way doctrine is treated. We will look at what holds it all together, and then consider the way Anglicanism accords authority to Scripture, tradition and reason, the three ‘pillars’ of Anglicanism. Finally we’ll have a brief look at some of the new ways Anglicanism is responding to our times.

What is Anglicanism?  To put it in context, we will have a quick lesson in English history -‘Anglican’ comes from the Latin word for English.[1] There had been Christians in Great Britain since Roman times[2] but after 1066 England was more integrated with Europe[3] and the church was ubiquitous[4] and powerful.[5] In the fourteenth century John Wyclif[6] started to distribute an English-language version of the Bible to his followers.[7] Many people had little respect for the church,[8] which required heavy taxes, and rulers throughout Europe resented the money going to Rome. King Henry VIII, a very devout man,[9] had a problem. His wife was not able to give him a son, and he wanted the Pope to allow a divorce so he could marry again.[10] He had an Act of Parliament[11] written severing all ties with Rome, setting up what was in effect a new church, with himself as head.[12] [13] Continue reading

Essay: A New Zealand Prayer Book

CHC 2051 Anglican Studies Essay 3

Felicity O’Brien


What seem to you to be the most significant features of A New Zealand Prayer Book /He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa as an expression of Anglican worship, especially when compared with the Book of Common Prayer (1662)?

This essay seeks to discover the significant features of ANZPB/HKMOA, looking first at the BCP and the developing needs of the Anglican Communion to find appropriate ways to worship in a changing world. It notes the similarities of the two prayer books both in intention and in content, and some of the challenges of developing ANZPB/HKMOA. Major features of note are changing theology around initiation rites, changing use of gendered language both in regard to human beings and how to address God, and the very ‘New Zealand’ language, both in use of Maori and Pacific languages and in local imagery and poetry.

In many ways ANZPB/HKMOA stands in continuity with the BCP, Continue reading


Job and the Judge

Sermon for St Peter’s and St Christopher’s Tawa 14 October 2012

Rev. Felicity O’Brien all rights reserved.

Job 23:1-9.16-17, Mark 10:17-31

The text from Mark and that from Job have a common thread – they are both about rich men.

The rich young ruler in the Gospel was sad that he would have to give away his wealth to follow God. Maybe Jesus could look deep in his heart, and knew that his wealth held a place that God should hold, that wealth had become an idol for him.

But I’m not going to say much about him – I’m going to talk about the reading from the book of Job today.

Job was also a rich man, with seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and very many servants – he would have needed them! Continue reading

Daily services now automated

No! we haven’t installed a robotic reader (yet) but now have a program to automate opening up the Daily Services, the Lectionary and Bible Gateway at one click. Even better you can now copy and paste from the Lectionary into Bible Gateway. The installation is simple: just proceed to ‘accept’ everything, even if it warns against it, and you will land up with a bright yellow button on your desktop. Different users will have insignificant different experiences depending on what is already installed: a MS Internet Explorer user will find 3 separate windows being opened while others will have three tabs.

There is an audio option In Bible Gateway so you can hear the word spoken if you paste the Lectionary reading into it.

Brand Anglican

A member of my family applied for a job with Coca-Cola, back in  the late 50s, when they were just starting to grow throughout New Zealand. As he sat waiting for his interview, a young employee offered him a nice cold glass of Coke.

“Uh, no thanks, I never touch the stuff” said my relative.

Did he get the job? No, of course not, because he didn’t enjoy the brand.

What’s this got to do with life as an Anglican? When I was ordained, I had to sign a declaration that I accepted the 39 articles and the constitution of the church and its rules and regulations, and the Creed.

Having been a member of the clergy for a few months now, I am discovering that some clergy, both in our diocese and others, are quite open about not subscribing to the official line. I have been troubled by this, wondering how loose the definitions need to be, especially as many of the formulations are ancient, and have been understood differently by modern theology. Where do we draw  line in the sand? What are absolutely foundational beliefs, which make us “Brand Anglican”?

Maybe as part of a 500-year cycle of having a ‘rummage sale’ and rethinking how we do church, it’s time to look at the declarations and even the creeds – ‘the resurrection of the  body’, as understood in the Apostles’ Creed, cannot surely be taken literally, for example.

Many things to think about – it’s an exciting time to be a Christian!

How’s your memory?

Roman Catholics Can Grow Extremely Pretty Cabbages, Then They take Them To Philemon. (No disrespect to RCs intended).

What is this pile of nonsense? Any guesses?

If you’re like me, you can never find the Epistles in the right order. You’re scrabbling through those thin paper leaves, trying to find the Ephesians passage you’ve just been asked to look up, before the vicar or pastor has completely finished reading it. I found this extremely frustrating, until I devised the above.

You guessed it, it’s a mnemonic, to remember the first chunk of the Epistles.

The challenge for another lost wayfarer through the Epistles – come up with another sentence to get us from Hebrews to Revelation!

Daily Services.

Our Bishop recently recommended to all clergy that we say the Daily Service, and I have found this a wonderful way of starting the day, centering myself in God, knowing that at a similar time many other Anglicans are doing the same thing.

In the olden days, the clergy lived next door to the church, and often would have a wife at home getting the children up for the day while their spouse popped next door for the service.These days, it’s a very different picture, with homes further away from churches, women clergy, and different family responsibilities.

So I have taken to reading the Daily Service by myself, with that wonderful miracle of God’s creation, Camellia Sinensis, that is, a decent cup of tea, before the morning routine.

Now I have added links on this blog, so you can join me in the Daily Service. Just click on the Daily Service page, choose the day (morning and evening services are there) and the NZ Prayer Book will be there for you! The readings from the lectionary are also available here, week-by-week. If you want to see the readings and the service at the same time, just open up another copy of your browser, and join with your brothers and sisters in Christ!

May you be nourished as you do.