Friday, September 05, 2014

Aiming Past the Target - Being missional community

Gate Pa – Pentecost 13
(23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year A)
Psalm:                                     Psalm 149
First Reading:                         Exodus 12:1-14                       
Second Reading:        Romans 13:8-14                                 
Gospel:                        Matthew 18:15-20     

What I want to say:
I want to use these readings to explore the notion of missional community – being a community that by the way we live for each other and the people of our local community, especially the least, we shout of God’s presence in the world. I want to use Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak to think about what are the targets we aim for and how they limit us and prevent us being such a missional community.

What I want to happen:
How does out life as St. George shout of God’s presence to the people around us? How do our hopes limit us and prevent us making such a noise?

The Sermon

       1.     Introduction:

Things most grateful for from youth ministry – missional community
-         community willing to discern work of God in world, and to have grace join that work (mission)
-         community that by the values on which the community stands and how they are lived out,
o   the way we live for each other
o   and the people of our local community, especially the least,
ð we shout of God’s presence in the world.
today’s readings are all about being a missional community.
so what can we learn?

     2.     Sense of Identity through Foundational Story

what heard today is liturgy – forms the foundational story – Jewish people
story of exodus recalled every Passover in the reading and interpretation from Deuteronomy 26:5-8
            – My father was a wandering Aramean –
in this story - roots Jewish identity
we were slaves in Egypt
God heard our cry for help
we became people of God, and God became our God
God rescued us from slavery and brought us to promised land
story retold and reinterpret throughout Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament)
story still shapes Jewish identity today
what then is our foundational story?
how does that shape our identity – our sense of who we are?

     3.     Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak

recently reading
Augy – wealthy entrepreneur, consultant,
spent significant amounts time at Mepkin Abbey – Benedictine Abbey, of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance; (Trappists) in Berkeley County, South Carolina. US.
book product reflecting on Cistercian life and how that affected business practice
how that can be applied to secular business
my question is – can it be applied to church setting
in book makes case that every person wants transformation
businesses can offer that through principles of selflessness and service.
chapter just read talks about importance of community
            seems weird thing business writer talking about.
case study company helped start up – grew out Friday night Zen group
bunch people wanted apply what learning to business world.
key feature of this was community
uses words like honesty
seems to me that that is exactly what Paul letter to Romans,
            and Jesus addressing early church through Matthew’s gospel are talking about.
commitment is about playing your role
            pulling your weight
interestingly, compassion isn’t just to individual, but to whole community.
e.g. – one sales reps father dying – needed time off – which gave
            remission – returned
            got sick again – she asked more time off and he said no
            people upset
what about compassion
told them could not afford lose ¼ sales revenue any more
only way happen if everyone else picked up slack
compassion has a price
and is two way thing
in end whole team picked up slack and all happened
all happened because they were committed to each other
all happened because people were honest
             didn’t gossip and complain
            talked Augey about decision
            together they worked it out.
Paul says that love is what undergirds our dealings with each other
not right processes – easily read Matthews gospel as providing
but love
out of that love we learn to treat each other well
serving each other with honesty
Does that describe us?
how do we need to grow to be more deeply shaped by this love?

     4.     Aim beyond the target

Another concept he talks about is aiming beyond the target.
companies suggests often focus on bottom lines
            profit margins
            share market
            best provider of that service
in contrast offers Apple
which was very small player computer market until Steve Jobs came back
until then aimed increase share computer sales
Jobs aimed past that
change people’s lives
offer them technology to help that happen
created iPod – small device store most music on listen to while out about
(until then portable cd and tape devices)
created iPhone – easy use smart phone access internet on
created iPad – easy use device easily transportable people on move
created cloud computing – allowed all devices talk to each other
Apple no longer small computer company surviving off crumbs Microsoft‘s table
The major player technology world
worth most any company - history
what Jobs did was aim beyond the target.
wasn’t interested in share of computer sales
that just got in the way
blinded Apple to what was really important
kept them small.
Jobs had vision
            wanted change lives
            wanted provide technology allow that to happen
            profit margins and sales came with that
            were not the goal

     5.     Our targets?

what are our targets?
what is it that we hope for, aim for in this parish?
how do they prevent us being who we should be?
My hope for us is that we will be a missional community
-         community willing to discern work of God in world, and to have grace join that work (mission)
-         community that by the values on which the we stand and how they are lived out,
ð the way we live for each other
ð and the people of our local community, especially the least,
ð we shout of God’s presence in the world.
large attendances would be great
vibrant youth group and Sunday schools - look awesome on my cv
healthy budget mean Paula vestry and I sleep better at night
need to aim past them
with luck some those might happen as we go
maybe all them
not the point
today reading offer us glimpse what means to be people God in this place
pray have courage embrace vision
so that we continue to become community faith that shouts of God’s presence with everything we do

Thursday, September 04, 2014

True Community

This week’s readings are all about community, or more specifically, being the community of God.
We hear in Exodus the foundational story of the Hebrew people. Each Passover the Deuteronomy version of this story is recited, retold in a way that invites those taking part in this meal to experience the story as if they are the ones being brought out of Egypt, out of slavery. It forms the identity of the Hebrew people as the ones God rescued from slavery, and the ones God continues to rescue from slavery. Even though this occurred over 3000 years ago, the liturgy that tells this story in Exodus recounts the events like it was yesterday. It invites those hearing it to consider what enslaves them now, and how God is liberating them. The Eucharist is our link in with this story, and it invites us to ask the same questions. What does it mean for us to be the people God rescues from slavery?
Paul would answer – everything. Paul wrote his letter to a deeply divided church in Rome, a church intensely wrestling with the issue of the place of the Mosaic Law in the life of the new community of God. Despite those massive differences Paul pleads for a sense of deep commitment to each other. He looks for more than respect, or even good treatment. He longs for his hearers to love each other. A love born of the fact that we are all loved first by God, and our love comes in response to that: our love for God; our love for our brothers and sisters; and ultimately our love for all God’s people and all God’s creation.
Good community then has a common story that holds it together and gives it purpose. It is built on God’s deep love. The reading from Matthew deals with how to hold community together. It is about how to deal with conflict. He says we do that by dealing with it. Being in God’s community is about being committed to each other, as Paul said. And part of being committed is to be honest and address issues. Churches that tear themselves apart do not do so because there is conflict but because they are unwilling to deal with that conflict and work it through.
For me the key verse in this is Matthew 18:18 – which Mark Davis translates as “Truly I say to you, whatever [pl] you bind on the earth will be [what] has been bound in heaven and whatever you loose on the earth will be [what] has been loosed in heaven.”[1] We can read this to mean that what we do here on earth holds true for heaven too, and lots of people do read it that way. But a number of commentators suggest that this is better understood like the Lord’s Prayer, “your will be done on earth as in heaven”. What we do here on earth is to mirror  heaven. When we truly live out community we become signs of the reign of God. Real community happens when we are so committed to each other we can be honest with each other. And then we are to treat each other as Jesus treated tax collectors and gentiles – eating with them, blessing them, honouring them.
So how do we stack up? What can we learn about being community here at St. Georges? Here in Waiapu? As God’s church in Tauranga Moana?


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Imagine that some more

Gate Pa – Pentecost 12
(22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time in Year A)
Psalm:                         Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26,45c                               
Psalm Response:  Glory to God – Creator, Word and Spirit
As God always was, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

First Reading:            Exodus 3:1-15                                                            
Second Reading:        Romans 12:9-21                                              
Gospel:                       Matthew 16:21-28                                                    

What I want to say:
Use the three readings to explore the big question – who are we. From there I want to ask 3 questions – what seismic shifts are we invited into ourselves? What is our vocation in this place? What is my role in that vocation?

What I want to happen:
People to reflect on these questions and begin to live it out.

The Sermon

      1.     Introduction:

Dominant images in media last few weeks
            election – all which coloured by nicky hagars book –“dirty politics”
                        ongoing revelations and ramifications.
                        significant proportion
                                    take little interest – just vote as have last couple elections
                                    not vote at all – just encourages them
            international stage what happening Syria and Iraq –
                        James Foley – beheaded
            and ISIS crusade (use that word deliberately – mirrors Christian crusade 8-900 years ago)
                        targeting all those do not conform their idea what one believe or how behave
how to make sense of all this?
so hard
face of all that we have these three readings

      2.     Moses

foundational story Jewish people
“our people were slave in Egypt
Lord God heard our cry
rescued us and brought us through wilderness into promised land”
story recited every Passover for last 3000 years, and many occasions in between
here is beginning
grown up in Egyptian court
now shepherd far away
happy with life with wife’s family
life good
stumbles across burning bush
in that bush meets God ancestors
life turned upside down
everything took granted changed
given his vocation
free Hebrew people
see God, world and himself differently
God cares and will rescue Hebrew people
Moses would be vehicle of that
seismic shift

      3.     Gospel

not only time God invites God’s people make such seismic shift
exile another such time
most important – Jesus
one purposes of gospels help struggling churches grasp this shift and to live it out
disciples still not really get what Jesus on about
like most people – hopes future shaped desire for long life, safety, health,
                        maybe - wealth, power,
looking for world as it had been with them at top
Jesus not offering that
offering kingdom God, kingdom heaven
radically inclusive world
fuelled God’s infinite compassion and love for all humanity
kingdom not built on obedience to rules and law
not motivated by maintaining rigid boundaries
not motivated by long life, safety, health, wealth, power,
instead - life lived response to God;s love
God’s welcome and embrace
lived such way I and all people filled God’s life and love
all treated and live and sons and daughter living God
only way to that world is through the cross
Christ breaks power darkness
we in turn shed deep desires good life for ourselves.
ð Paul’s Letter Romans hear his radical drawing that life
o   in passage from heard today
passage motivated astounding story what happened her at Gate Pa 150 years ago
            acts deep courage and compassion

      4.     Two themes - vocation

two themes for me all this
first – we too, like Moses,
            like early disciples
            given vocation
one troubling things about being ordained
often asked when called to “the ministry”
answer – when baptised
all of us have God given vocation
given through baptism
mine just got marked out little more clearly
your vocation not less important
not less vital than mine
like Moses – not always easy understand it
but it is who we are

      5.     second theme – living it out our legacy

second theme – shaped story how Heni Kiri Te Karamu and Henare Taratoa and maybe others
acted out reading Romans
under great duress
putting own lives at risk
treated invading British soldiers as brothers in Christ
gave them water
how then do we live out that legacy?

      6.     Isis and elections

easy just take granted what others say
being flowers of the way involves digging deeper
have preconceptions broken open
work not have own prejudices reinforced
join God creating kingdom
what happening in Syria and Iraq is horrific
            for people involved
            for Muslims and Christians around world
sadly mirrors exactly what western Christians have done too often
in name Jesus Christ
How then do we engage and respond as people of the way?