Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dogs and Such

Gate Pa – 17 August 2013
Psalm:                                                 Psalm: 133                                                     
First Reading:                                       Genesis 45:1-15     
Second Reading                        Romans 11:1-2, 29-32       
Gospel:                                       Matthew 15: (10-20) 21-28 

What I want to say:
I want to explore three different ways of reading this passage today. The first is that Jesus is just rude. The second that here we see both Jesus and the early Christian community struggling with the universal implications for what Jesus was teaching and living out. To read it in this way people need to keep in mind some information about how the New Testament came to be, Thirdly I want to place this story with the what Jesus is talking about before it, and to suggest this is used by Matthew as an example of what Jesus is saying, that it is not obedience to the law that makes one clean, but what comes from ones heart.

What I want to happen:
People to be more informed to read and understand scripture for themselves.

The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

begin with a quiz
what language did Jesus speak?
what language was the Old Testament written in?
what language was the New Testament written in?
who wrote the oldest book in the New Testament?
How might we describe how the New Testament is organised?
What is the second volume of the Gospel according to Luke?
What are the Synoptic Gospels?
When did Paul write his letters?
When were the gospels thought to have been written?
What happened in 70CE?

     2.      A Tricky Gospel.

this morning’s gospel is tricky
one level, Jesus appears rude Jew, trapped by time and culture
            – part- truth to that
people often get around that by suggesting
            that really only testing disciples and woman
            –> given not treat anyone else like this,
            - most commentators read suggested unlikely
how then make sense of what happening here?
keep it in context
two contests need pay attention to
times written

     3.      times written

Here we see both Jesus and the early Christian community struggling with the universal implications for what Jesus was teaching and living out.
– use quiz to explore

     4.      Context With Text Itself

en-fleshed example of teaching vs 10-20
16 Jesus replied, "You too? Are you being willfully stupid? 17 Don't you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? 18 But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. 19 It's from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. 20 That's what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that's neither here nor there."
– explore

5.      Conclusion
which of these ring true for us?
how invite us into deeper understanding of who we are and our place in God’s ongoing work today?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

True Unity

This has been a busy few days in our Church Calendar. On Saturday (9th) women around the world, and a few men, remembered the founder of Mothers Union, Mary Sumner. Her great vision concerning the Christian responsibilities of motherhood led her to gather together women, many young and inexperienced and from different social backgrounds, for weekly classes. Within her life time her vision had spread around the world.  
On Monday (11th) we remembered Clare of Assisi, who stands with Francis as founder of the Franciscan family. Her passion for following the crucified and resurrected one through living the gospel life of poverty, and her compassion for all, including the poorest, inspired many to join her community in Assisi, or others like it around the world. For her there were no differences because of wealth or rank at birth, and all were treated equally, and equally expected to engage in the work needed to keep those houses going. It was a revolutionary vision that challenged a society built on privilege and wealth.
On Thursday (14th) we remembered Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest. During WWII he was sent to Auschwitz for publishing material critical of the Third Reich. When in August 1941 ten prisoners were condemned to be starved to death in reprisal for a single escape, Kolbe offered to take the place of a family man, who lived to attend Kolbe’s canonisation in 1982.
Three very remarkable people who offered themselves so that others might grow and flourish. How different from some of our politicians. Already, one week in, we seem to be teetering on the edge. It feels like we are ruled by the catchy one-liner, and too often seem to be more interested in our own biases and self-interest.  We forget that this is not what is best for me, but what is best for all, especially those with the least.
In our Psalm today we remember how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live in unity. That does not mean we all agree. But it does mean we remember where that goodness comes from. God’s goodness is offered through the priesthood in Jerusalem, of which Aaron was the first. God’s life and goodness comes from the dew and snow on Mount Hermon in the north, which feeds the streams which flow into the Sea of Galilee, and then down the Jordan, offering water to all in its course. God is the source of our blessing in this land as well. That was what Mary Sumner, Clare and Maximilian Kolbe knew, and based their lives on. Lives lived in service to others.
Howard Wallace reminds us that this psalm is about unity between kindred, God’s covenant people. “But today, in our multi-cultural and multi-faith society, we need to re-examine what we might mean by goodness in unity, and blessing, and who indeed are now our ‘kindred’. This passage has a lot to say to us about tolerance and compassion on asylum seekers, (and immigrants from non-English speaking countries) and about living with understanding and tolerance alongside people of another faith…. Surely, the blessing of God, and any sense of the call to living in unity implicit in v. 1 can no longer to be understood in light of the Gospel in any exclusivist sense.”[1]
How do these people and today’s readings help us ask good questions this election? As we engage in conversation how do we do so in a way that respects and honours all involved, and not just those we agree with? How do we live unity in the weeks ahead?


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Food enough for all

Gate Pa – 3 August 2014 – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm: :                  Psalm: 17:1-7, 15                                           
First Reading:         Gen 32:22-31                    
Second Reading:     Rom 9:1-5                 
Gospel:                    Matt 14:13-21                                       

What I want to say:
Feeding of the 5000 men plus women and children is more than a nice story. It is an embodied parable about the kingdom of heaven – a kingdom or empire where all have more than enough to eat – good news indeed for the poor and hungry who have come to Jesus for hope and consolation after the death of John. Use this to reflect on the Lord’s prayer, and on peace.

What I want to happen:
People to reflect on what the words of the Lord’s prayer mean in light of this and to wonder what kind of country Aotearoa might be if God’s kingdom come, God’s will be done, here and earth as it is in heaven.

The Sermon

      1.      Introduction:

reading bible is on one hand easy thing
but also really difficult thing’
whole lot of factors blind us to what passages and stories about
one those factors in that they are so familiar
loose shock value – as saw last week
think know what about
this week another really familiar story
feeding 5000 men plus women and children
            note that titles not put there by Matthew – much latter
like said before – so familiar think easy miss what about

      2.      Blindness

one problems – tend read stories like this as stand alone
bible often treated like collection of nice stand-alone stories and proverbs
            pluck out and use support our ideas
            call them biblical
forget that stories and proverbs or verses part of much bigger whole
            only understood in context of that whole
this story needs read in light of what happening in Matthew and not on own

       3.      Context

who can tell me what happens between last week’s 5 parables and this week?
Nazareth and Herod's birthday part
            leads to John’s death
so this week begins with
“Now when Jesus heard this”
this story linked with John’s death – often miss that
Pray as you go – Jesus needed time with Father
way more
Jesus filled with grief, fear and rage over death friend, mentor, and teacher
needs time alone
crowd seek him out
they too filled with grief and rage and death their prophet
one in whom they hoped
killed such depraved way by this hated despot
not small crowd
very large
only grouping people bigger – large urban areas
important fact often overlook

       4.      Jesus and the crowd

word Matthew uses to describe Jesus reaction means “to be moved as to one's bowels,” – he is moved with compassion, have compassion
another factor gets in way reading is we read stories from position of relative comfort
word used often pity
pity has sense of being removed
like i have pity people of Gaza
they are over there
sad for them
what Jesus is doing here is way more
moved to his bowels
reaction to their grief, fear and anger is gut wrenching
Jesus is moved by same feelings
meets them in these feeling

       5.      Translation

another thing gets in way is translation
written in Greek
not always easy translate from one language to another
Imam and Arabic
translators have to make decisions
one decisions in this story’
word translated as sick
equally mean “weak”
suggested Jesus meets them in grief
heals this as well physical sickness

       6.      Feeding

then disciples tell him to send crowd off for food
one level caring
at another ridiculous
villages around simply not have enough food for this size crowd
here we get to heart of this story
another factor gets in our way need to know how this happened?
often not comfortable with miracles
come up with really good ideas about people sharing food
in doing so we miss point story
Matthew and his readers not so concerned with how
but what story showed
that where preceding story plays its role
in Herod’s party presented scene of decadence, debauchery, gluttony
            way of empire
people gathered with Jesus play price for this empire
needs noted all empires – even British empire
about pulling wealth, resources and food to centre for benefit of people of centre
especially true Rome
meant people on edges, like Palestine
            paid price
lived lives on edge
often not enough feed themselves
hunger something knew a lot about  - unlike Herod and his family
last week offered five stories about kingdom of heaven
this week offered enfleshed story about kingdom of heaven
unlike Herod’s kingdom – where many go hungry
in God’s kingdom – all will have enough
            more than enough
            12 baskets food gathered all eaten their fill.

      7.      Lord’s prayer

as thought about that reminded Lord’s prayer
“give us today our daily bread”
not sure what we think as we pray that
for many first prayed that it meant what it said
prayer trust that they would have enough to eat each day
part of God’s will being done on earth as it is in Heaven
that all have enough
we live in society we=here not all have enough
and others have far too much
society wastes huge percentage food supplies because not look good, or dented, or used by or best before date expired
election chance dream of what kind society God desires for this land
in part – land where all have enough
invite you consider how that will affect your voting this year

       8.      War and peace

today is peace Sunday – Sunday nearest Hiroshima day
tomorrow – day 100 years ago NZ joined Britain’s declaration war on Germany
war many argue not fought
war 10% NZ pop went to fight – many not come home
those did were never the same
decisions made at the end war sowed seeds WWII and current conflicts across middle east.
being played out Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Libya.
today invited consider causes of war
suspect our story today gives us some good clues
            about why wars happen
            about way God’s peace
let us pray then that all people will have enough
that peace with justice will be restored