Friday, November 27, 2015

Hope in a Hopeless World

Gate Pa – Advent 1 2015

Psalm                         Psalm 25:1-10                                                                        
First Reading:             Jeremiah 33:14-16                 
Second Reading:        1 Thessalonians 3:9-13                      
Gospel:                        Luke 21:25-36                        

What I want to say:
To explore the notion of hope at advent as more than just Christmas and peace to all on earth
It is ultimately trusting in God that all will be well, that all shall be well, that all manner of things shall be well. It is also recognising that we have a role to play in this hope. That God will not simply magic everything right. We have a part to play. And lastly that as we participate in this hope, we are being changed into people of hope – people who refuse to give into the fear and hopelessness and stands against the rising tide of constantly looking for scape goats to blame.
What I want to happen:
To find our voice this Advent on all sorts of issues that face us as a country and as a world

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

Happy New Year.
Yes, new church year has begun.
and it is advent
A time to get ready, to prepare for the greatest event of all time
coming of God’s reign of mercy, generosity, justice, and love.
Are you excited?
Because we should be super excited
and to get even more super excited
to get fully get ready we are offered four themes over advent:
-         Hope
-         Peace
-         Joy
-         Love
Today is all about Hope.

     2.     Dark Shadows

which makes choice of today’s readings really interesting.
because two readings have very dark shadow hanging over them.
dark shadow of fall of Jerusalem
Jerimiah and Luke and the fall of Jerusalem
Jeremiah – shadows are imminent
            not happened yet,
            But writing is on the wall
                        ancient city is under threat
                        temple – under threat
                        line David ruled for over 400 years is under threat.
For gospel writers
shadow is past events
            events that cast pall over parts all four gospels
-         Jewish revolt of 66 CE
o   began in Jerusalem
o   quickly spread throughout Judea and Galilee
o   while had couple successes at beginning
o   Rome’s response swift and deadly
o   army around 60,000 marched down through two areas
§  destroying all cities opposed them
§  eventually taking Jerusalem in orgy of killing
·        and destroying temple
o   when all over thought 1 million Jews died
o   another 600,000 sent Rome as slaves
-         Luke’s passages about end make a lot more sense when realise that these events were very recent when his and other gospels written.
both these events were cataclysmic
hard for us to even imagine psychological shock that had on Jewish community
included small Christian sect.
in face of all that – writers gospels offers their story of hope

     3.     Advent Hope

if you believe some commentators today
            live under similar shadow and death and hopelessness
face what happened in Paris
            is happening many other places around world
hard to hope
easy to believe that we are equally under threat today
but this is advent – time for hope
or at least prepare for possibility hope that Christmas brings
readings offer thoughts about hope

     4.     Hope in God

First partly surprising thing is that despite the huge black clouds hanging over everything, both these passages are passages of hope – Hope in God.
Three components to this hope.
First is that this is a hope in, or trust in God and Gods justice, mercy, generosity and love
or to put it another way
rejecting trusting in power of own military
rejecting in trusting in presence of temple as symbol that nothing bad will happen
rejecting in trusting that own actions built on fear and self-preservation will offer any kind of future.
is an absolute trust in way of God
generosity of God
mercy of God
love of God
justice of God
absolute hope found in loving the lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and loving ALL your neighbours as yourself.
three years ago spoke about Julian of Norwich
she had this kind of hope when she said
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”
 “If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.”
 “God loved us before he made us; and his love has never diminished and never shall.”
This hope then is found only in God.

     5.     Hope involves us

Second component is that it involves us.
This hope in God is not based on God magicking the cloud away
-         not Jeremiah’s cloud
-         not Luke's cloud
-         not our clouds
nor does it involve us creating right set circumstances so that God will come and magic the clouds away
instead - involves living out that hope
            living as if those clouds do not hang above us
            living as if reign of God is now, all around us
            in the way we respond to the cloud
            in the way we treat our families, our neighbours, act in our communities
            in our voice in the public square
we are to be people of hope
of that hope described above

     6.     Hope will change us

final component is that when we try and trust in God’s hope
when we try to live out this hope
we will be changed from within
we will become people of hope
            not just because of what we do
            but because of who we are inside
that is the greatest gift of Christmas
God comes to change us into people of Hope, peace, love, joy

     7.     pew sheet

Advent then is the time we prepare our garden for the seeds planted during this time
so that they might bear fruit
in pew sheet invite you spend each day in prayer with these questions as part of the preparation.
•          How has your hope in God changed over your life?
•          In what ways might you be invited to reform your life this advent as we prepare for Christ’s coming?
•          How are you being changed by love?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Advent Hope

Mark Davis  writes, “The apocalyptic waiting of the Advent season, is torn between avoiding rudimentary distractions and living with desperate faithfulness in a world where God is at work. And as disparate as those two options sound, they describe perfectly the dynamics of Advent 2015. In a world where environmental destruction is heating the planet and bringing threats of drought to one corner of humanity, we are invited to “Tech the halls” with new and improved gadgets. In a world facing the worst refugee crisis of the modern era, we are invited to focus on a “war on Christmas” over red coffee cups. In a world where terror chills the heart in one moment, pumpkin spice warms the body in the next.”

Advent Hope
Advent Hope is not a static thing. Like the evolution of hope between Jeremiah and Luke, our understanding of hope in God keeps evolving. Advent hope is also the reform of our present ways, the priorities we base our lives on, share our wealth, organise our communal life and prepare for the future. And lastly Advent hope is centred on God’s ongoing everlasting love at work in the world and in our lives.

Over the next four weeks you will be invited to reflect on our readings with some questions. Each day you are invited to quietly pray and reflect on some questions.
·       How has your hope in God changed over your life?
·       In what ways might you be invited to reform your life this advent as we prepare for Christ’s coming?
·       How are you being changed by love?


Friday, November 20, 2015

The Reign of Christ in the face of horror

Listen to it here

Gate Pa – Reign of Christ Sunday 2015

Psalm                          Psalm 132:1-12, 13-18           
First Reading:                         2 Samuel 23:1-7
Second Reading:                    Revelations 1:4b-8
Gospel:                                    John 18:33-37
What I want to say:
What does the idea of the reign of Christ have to say to the events in Europe and the Middle East over the last few weeks/moths/years. Where might be the reign of Christ in all this?
What I want to happen:
People to be signs of the reign of Christ in Tauranga Moana and in the world

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

Feast of Christ the King – or reign of Christ dates only from 1925 encyclical letter by Roman Catholic  Pope Pius XI
thought in main part to be in response to growing nationalism and secularism[2]
world increasingly fractured by national borders and interests
            world where loyalty to nation state was first
            and being Christian was seen in that light
or to put it another way
to remind us that our first loyalty is to Christ and not Caesar
It was a Sunday set to remind us all that our identity if found first and foremost in Jesus the Christ
·        not ethnicity
·        not culture
·        not nation
·        not even our denomination
not to all those things that have become Caesar today
as we look around world and learn own history
      incredibly hard to do
and that this should shape how we see the world
and how we act and respond to events around us.
Current date of last Sunday before advent dates from 1970

     2.     Images

Readings set down by offer number images of reign Christ – Kingdom of Christ
want to look at two today
first is that found in David’s last words in 2 Samuel
“One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God,
is like the light of morning,
like the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.”   (2 Samuel 23:3-4)
At this point – this is not a very accurate description what happening David’s family
or kingdom of Israel
all kinds intrigue and in fighting among various factions
including Bathsheba and Solomon
trying claim throne for themselves as David lay dying
they needed reign Christ Sunday as much as we do.

     3.     Mess of today

today is just as big a mess
wonderful words
offer such serene and peaceful image
seem so far off
Wars in Syria and Iraq continue
bombings and attacks in Beirut and Paris last week
            second sent shock waves around world
the second event used as excuse by some to repeat their refrains of hate and prejudice
            inciting hate of Muslims
            closing borders to Syrian refugees-
            increase in bombings so that more will die
We are far from being where the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
gleaming from the rain on the grassy land

     4.     Reign of Christ and the Gospels

What then are we to say about the reign of Christ in the face of all this?
To truly catch a glimpse what reign of Christ is about
            suggest we need to look to the gospels
today lectionary writers offered us interesting piece from John
from Jesus trial before Pilate
this is just between Pilate and Jesus
in this world Pilate was the one who would ask the questions
as prinsoner
as peasant from galilee
Jesus only rightful role is to give answers….
which he was never good at
instead he asks questions of Pilate
exasperate Pilate asks (according to John) - “What have you done?”
             - here quilt is assumed
            the only question is what punishment will fit the crime
But Jesus ignores Pilates questions and states,
“My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
                which is another way of saying that his kingdom was not
                        is not about the same things Pilate, Caesar, Herod and the high Priests were about
which can also be understood to mean –
            we are not threat
            leave my followers alone.
What is Pilate to do with that. He asks, “So you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

     5.     Not of this world

statement “My kingdom is not from this world”
led some believe that reign christ has nothing to do with this world
not this time
not of this place
so we as followers of Christ the King need not worry about these events
simply sign that this world in ending
we are to look to future
            not care about what is happening here
            hunger, poverty, war, injustice are not our concern
our role is simply to get ready for life after death
            real realm of God.

     6.     Our Father in Heaven

attitude bears little resemblance to what Jesus say and did
where he described kingdom of God and now and not yet
where he acted out generosity and healing at the centre of this kingdom
and invited others live based on God’s generosity, mercy and peace
offering that to all they live among
This vision of the reign of Christ is at the heart of the Lrods Prayer
prayer which prays – your kingdom come here on earth as in heaven
reign of Christ is now.
what does this reign look like?
prayer goes on to ask
give us today our daily bread
line pray I suspect without ever really thinking about.
three groups of people Jesus was teaching to pray
·        those lost their lands due to debt now lived as day labourers
o   never sure if they would have work
o   never sure if they and their family would have food
·        those small land holders still had family land
o   forced pay up to 80% crop in tax – Romans and Herod building projects
o   as they saw that disappear wondered if they would keep their land
o   whether they would have enough food – if they would have daily bread
·        representatives of those who obtained so much land because small land holders unable pay taxes and live
o   those who had too much land
o   too much bread
o   refused to share it.
in light of that hwo do you read the rest of this prayer Jesus taught
give us today our daily bread
forgive us our debts
as we forgive those indebted to us
save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory
now and forever

     7.     Today’s invitation

Dalai Lama –
We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.
We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.

invitation this reign of Christ Sunday is to remember that our first loyalty is not to this country
            not to our culture and way of life
it is to reign of Christ
and every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we are invited to think of the generosity and compassion inherent in that prayer
and be people who live out that prayer.
Then and only then might there be any hope for this world.