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  • The Very Reverend Susan Crothers-Robertson

2nd July 2023

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

5th Sunday after Pentecost

Gen 22:1-14

Ps 13

Romans 6: 12-23

Matthew 10:40-42


In the name of God, Earth-maker, Pain Bearer, Life Giver. Amen.



Last week in her sermon Camellia spoke about Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, experiencing fear and anxiety, and in the end, Abraham sent Hagar away with her son, and we are told Abraham trusted God to care for them. Today Abraham is asked to sacrifice his son Isaac. Imagine the fear and anxiety Abraham would have felt, he risked everything for a God in whom he trusted, I know I would have not done what God expected Abraham to do. Yet he opened himself to God, making himself vulnerable. Such trust.


As we move to the gospel, in the final verse we hear, “whoever gives even a cup of cold water to these little ones in the name of a disciple-truly, I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” Interesting, when we hear God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. It is almost the opposite, although we know that God stopped Abraham just before he did it.



When Tiffany preached a few weeks ago, she talked about children being the least powerful in Greco Roman times, that they had no status, they were vulnerable. Brene Brown one of my favourite writers, has done an extraordinary amount of research on vulnerability. It is a word, a concept that people often fear, as they believe that vulnerability makes them appear weak. I would like to suggest the opposite is true.


We only have to look at the rawness, the vulnerability, of the words written by the psalmist today. The words remind me of the work of poet, W.H. Auden, who wrote in the early days of World War two, talking about the fears being faced. The psalmist alludes to great sadness and fear. Brown believes we counter these feelings of fear and vulnerability when we cultivate joy and gratitude. The psalmist moves through the fear and sadness, putting their trust in God’s unfailing love, and lets their heart rejoice. I believe the psalm is reminding us that it is ok to struggle, as Abraham said, God will provide.



An important part of working with our vulnerability, our fears, our sad times, is to take time to reflect, pray or think about life When we let down those strong walls, that supposedly keep us safe, we can embrace our vulnerability. Brown suggests, being vulnerable is about “showing up and sharing who we truly are. It is being vulnerable that we can experience the “wholeheartedness” we hear being expressed by Abraham, “The Lord will provide.”


Brown talks about 10 signposts to Wholehearted living and I am not going to go through them now, but perhaps you may like to find them and make time to reflect on them yourself. (Books & Audio | Brené Brown (brenebrown.com))


One of the signposts Brene talks about is letting go of our need for certainty and cultivating intuition and trusting faith. In other words, being vulnerable, and taking risks. Many of us feel scared about being vulnerable. Yet we hear, “You can achieve wholehearted living by embracing vulnerability and accepting that you are worthy of love and belonging. Most people aren’t raised in a wholehearted way, leaving most to work toward the lifestyle on their own.” To embrace wholehearted living, we need to learn to embrace all parts of our being, even those that we don’t like. But we also need to care for ourselves, and one way to do this is give ourselves time to reflect, pray or be mindful. My sacred time when I get to reflect and pray is my quiet time each morning. I sit with my cat on my lap, my journal, and my pot of tea, and reflect on the previous day, and the day ahead. It’s here I talk with God and listen. I’m lucky there is a great space in the deanery for me to do this. There is a beautiful grevillea tree outside the lounge window and there are often honey eaters in there. Watching the honeyeaters helps me to think about God’s creation. Another time I can reflect is when I join the Cathedral Community either face 2 face or on Zoom for morning and evening prayer, it’s a wonderful time of reflection and listening, in the stillness of the Cathedral or from my home office. I encourage all of us to think about joining in morning and evening whether in person or online, the only cost is making time, but the reward is worth the time.


Another concept I take from today’s reading is that we have an immense responsibility both as individuals and as a community to children. How do we welcome children in our midst, do we expect them to be seen and not heard, do we want young people to join our community, but we are not prepared to take risks and try new ideas with them, knowing our old comfortable ways of being church may change?


I can remember in one parish I served, someone complained about the children making busy noises in church. I don’t believe in Sunday school where we send children out of church so we can worship in peace, this meant the children played happily in the church and we could hear the children playing and talking throughout our service. I remember saying, without the sound of children’s voices we are a dead church.


We were fortunate in that parish, that we had a very young population, which meant young families would regularly come asking for Baptism. I think it takes courage, and risk for a family to come and ask for Baptism, especially when they are not regular church attendees. One time when we were setting up for a Baptism, a parishioner came in and said, oh no not another Baptism. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to talk about our role as a community, which was not to sit comfortably in the pews each Sunday, but to welcome, and make space for the families and children who came through our doors. It was a delight to watch our community grow and learn from our young families. It is exciting that people come to the Cathedral still asking for their children to be baptised. A few weeks ago, two friends came to the parish office asking if we would baptise their children, between them they have 5 little ones. They will be coming for Baptism when Naomi arrives in August, how exciting. I am sure they will find a welcoming community when they come.




CS Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable.” To love and welcome new people who walk through our door, is to be vulnerable. To love and welcome is risky, by welcoming new people, means that we have the potential to grow and change. To be vulnerable and take risks opens us to God’s amazing endless possibilities.


“Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to these little ones in the name of a disciple-truly, I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” Whoever, welcomes, baptises with water these little ones… Amen.


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