Thursday, April 28, 2016

Peace



Last week I went through the Gallipoli exhibition at Te Papa. It was a sobering way to enter into both ANZAC day and the anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pa. What struck me was the horror, the young men caught in those battles would have been filled with such fear, hopelessness and grief as they fought against all odds to stay alive. Their lives had been turned upside down and their futures suddenly looked so bleak.
In the Gospel reading today from John we join the disciples at the last supper. They too were filled with fear, hopelessness and grief. Their lives had been turned upside down and their futures look bleak. To these Jesus offers the promise that they would not be alone. In the midst of all that would happen, both in the crucifixion and beyond, they would know his presence, and they would know his peace. Jesus would have used the Aramaic for peace which is derived from the Hebrew world shalom. Wikipedia says that Shalom (שָׁלוֹם) “is a Hebrew word meaning peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquillity.”[1] It is so much more than our use of the word.
This peace changed how they lived their lives. I have no doubt the fear remained. But it was infused with hope and love. God's wholeness changed everything. For some at Gate Pa and during the conflicts we remembered on Monday it changed how they lived in the face of those conflicts. They were no longer overwhelmed by despair. They lived offering life. We too are offered the same assurance of peace, of completeness, harmony, and wholeness. What rules our approach to life?


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalom

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

George, ANZAC Day and Remembering the Battle of Gate Pa in Easter



For us at St. Georges Anglican Church at Gate Pa this is a busy time of year. We are in the middle of the Season of Easter, which lasts for 50 days. Easter is all about hope; hope that our world might live as God intended, with all loving the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind by loving our neighbour as ourselves.
On Saturday 23rd April we remember St. George. While George is the patron saint of England, he was not British. He was born into a Christian family of Greek decent in Palestine in about 280. He followed his father to be a tribune in the Emperor’s body guard. In 303 the Emperor Diocletian ordered all soldiers to sacrifice to him as a god, and if they refused for them to be put to death. George refused the order, and went to the Emperor to tell him that the order was wrong. He was tortured and put to death. His grave is in Israel and he is remembered today as the patron saint of all Palestinians. George challenged the Emperor’s attitudes and beliefs that deprived so many others of life. And he willingly paid the price.
During the last week of April we remember the centenary of the first ANZAC commemorations and the formation of the RSA, and the Battle of Gate Pa. Both occasions offer us a chance to remember the New Zealanders who died on Gallipoli and the Western Front fighting for the British Empire; and those the New Zealanders who died here defending their land, and the British invaders. There is no doubting the courage and fortitude of all those who fought. They were all put in impossible situations. We remember them all.
It is still Easter and these commemorations offer us a chance to reflect on the attitudes, hopes and beliefs that led to both the New Zealand Land Wars and WW1. With St. George, a soldier himself, are we able to ask what beliefs so easily lead us to violence, and in the light of the resurrection to look for attitudes, beliefs and ways of behaving that lead to justice, peace and hope for all. We must remember all those who fought and died, and work with God to put right the wrongs of the past, and in their name to ensure that no more suffer the same fate.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Resurrection is NOW!

Can be listened to here


Gate Pa – Easter 4 2016 (Year C)
Readings:
Psalm                       Psalm 23                                                                  
First Reading:       Acts 9:36-43                                                   
Second Reading:   Rev 7:9-17
Gospel:                John 10:22-30 

What I want to say:
Easter is a time for us to reflect on what resurrection means for us in our daily living and our joining in mission of God. Dorcas helps us in this task
What I want to happen:
People to grow as people of love and generosity towards all.

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

Alleluia – Christ is Risen
Christ is Risen indeed, Alleluia
We continue our march through Easter.
This week
            to help us in this journey
            we are given story of Dorcas/Tabitha
which is important story
In book Acts
            How many women are filled with the Holy Spirit?
            How many women disciples are named?
                        one – Dorcas (Tabitha) and we hear her story
what do we know about her?
            not a lot
            name
            lived life of service to others – maybe at cost to own health and wellbeing?
            while often portrayed as poor widow
                        possible she was woman of some substance
                                    – seem had an upper room
                                    upper rooms denote some wealth
                        average person no have resources for upper room
suggested that she understood that she was a person privilege
            – through her wealth and position
            as disciple both carried responsibility to others
            as disciple was gift to share.
û  widows
û  orphans
û  homeless
û  the hungry
û  sick
û  those pushed to edges and marginalised
ð freely and generously gave
She acts as a model for us
as we continue to reflect on what Jesus’ resurrection means for us

     2.     Easter and Resurrection

Season of Easter lasts for 49 days
            Easter Sunday until day before Pentecost Sunday – 50th Day
                        why cross made at Easter still up front
                        why we light Christ candle each week
Easter is about resurrection
celebrates Jesus resurrection
gets pretty hard celebrating week after week
            can tell from dying enthusiasm for (Christ is Risen Alleluia)
more than just remembering and celebrating though
Easter reminds us that Jesus’ physical resurrection is God’s commitment
            to THIS world
            and ALL who live in it
not want to get into the science of resurrection
but do want to focus on theology of it
heart of Christian faith
Death and resurrection of Jesus
            are Gods extravagant gift of love
fulfils all hopes and longings held in creation
            and in people of God in the  covenant
held in all hopes imbedded in various understandings of Messiah
when history reaches its climax
creation restored
all drawn into life offered by God
big
huge
so often try to make it small enough to manage
            limiting it to life after death for example
50 days reminds us that resurrection of Jesus is world changing
            cosmos changing event

     3.     Recap and Good Shepherd

to recap what heard so far this Easter to help us
heard story of empty tomb,
            Mary Magdalene was first to both see and report
                        that she had seen the risen Lord
then we heard about Thomas, who asks the questions we ask
Peter, whose deep shame was met by risen Jesus’ unconditional love
all life changing in present
            each changed how saw themselves
            how saw God
            how saw world
            how lived their lives

     4.     Good Shepherd Tradition

Today we hear Jesus apply Good Shepherd Tradition to himself
            tradition that starts with 23rd Psalm – which said/sang
23rd Psalm is important
not only for what it says
starting point of significant tradition within scripture
tradition of good shepherd
                        talked about last year on this Sunday
            tradition that is reinterpreted number times
            give hope and meaning to new situations
for example expanding 23 psalms one sheep
            to flock – representing all people God
to eventually all people
eventually this tradition becomes attached hopes for coming Messiah
When God – shepherd will act with compassion
            -> seek out and restore people God
            restore all people.
Tradition Jesus then picks up
seen in each gospels
Luke 10 – stories lost sheep, lost coin, lost sons
Matthew 18 – lost sheep
Mark 6 feeding of 5000
finally here John 10:
each reinterpretation intensifies that tradition
offered to us during Easter
            as way to help us understand resurrection of Jesus the good shepherd
to help us see God at work through Good Shepherd
so that we might  know that
            In the death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, the Christ
            we are being restored
            all of life is being restored

     5.     Resurrection is Now

Central piece of this tradition around Messiah
was that at end this age
God’s messiah
            gather up people God
            restore them to land
            rebuild temple
            bring in age peace and justice
            God’s peace and justice
For Gospel writers and Paul
Jesus is fulfilment of that hope
He is one gathering all people to God
Death is seen as outrageous act love reopens our eyes
            opens our ears
we are able to see who we are
able to recognise voice God in our lives
live in hope that this fulfilment is happening around us.

     6.     Dorcas

role of Dorcas for us today is to show us what it looks like when we live our lives in the reality of Jesus’ resurrection.
She lived with the same generosity she had experienced from risen Jesus
She lived responding to voice of God she heard in risen Jesus
knowing that that was who she truly was
She lived
            not fearing death
            not shunning this life
                        filled with a generosity that allowed others to see and hear
she was filled with life now
eternal life
lived now
we are invited to join her
be people of the resurrection
we are invited to join with all saints
be people who show
everyday acts of generosity and love
            generosity and love to all people
God’s commitment to this world
and all who live it!