Friday, July 11, 2014

I’m sorry for being a man: sorry boys, it is all men. | First We Take Manhattan

I've listened to alot of the crap recently about David Cunliffe's apology for being a man. People who really didn't find out much about where he said it, or why he said it. Just jumped on the band wagon. Which of course is where most of our media and most people seem to be.
Which is sad. Because what David Cunliffe said was right. In the context he was speaking, a context of women abused by men, it needed to be said. And until we can be that honest, not much will change really.
Thank you Graham for your thoughtful words on this issue

Being Rooted in God

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm:                                 Psalm: 119:105-112                                                               
First Reading:                    Genesis 25:19-34                               
Second Reading:              Romans 8:1-11                                                                        
Gospel:                                Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23                                                                                

What I want to say:
That today’s readings help us explore being blessed to be a blessing. In the story of the sower we are offered picture of a recklessly generous god who sows seek life wherever. While we can read the soil types as different people, it is also us. We are a mix of soils. And that reckless God keeps on scattering that within us.

What I want to happen:
How do we nurture our good soil and help that seed grow, that we might be a blessing

The Sermon

       1.       Introduction:

Bethel – blessed to be a blessing
trouble is – not sure if blessed
                good enough
                what need to do?
even when might think blessed
                not sure who blessing for
                what are limits of this?
                limits got very narrow
                                Jesus and who is my neighbour
                how to be a blessing
                                what does that mean?
                                what involve?
bible is really all about this
today’s readings are all about this

      2.       Gospel

well known stories
parable of sower
irony is don’t spend a lot time on sower at all
dispute about technique of sower
                some – normal
                others – seen as incredibly wasteful
                                no way poor peasant waste precious seed in this fashion
                                they carefully place it in prepared soil had best chance harvest
                like many Jesus stories – this is shocking picture
This sower scatters seed willy nilly
                where ever
                no care for chance harvest
Use this as picture God scattering seed life
either reckless
                wasteful God or
recklessly generous,      
abundant God
scatters seed life and blessing wherever and everywhere
Go back old Bethel course
God scatters blessing all over place
don’t have do anything receive
there it is
scattered all over us and around us

      3.       Soil

next part reading Jesus explanation about the soil
which some suggest not Jesus at all
but early church trying make sense of this story in light experience
trouble was
despite stories of amazing growth find Acts
reality was
hard work
work among poor attracting attention
not all – positive
weren’t vast numbers
not everyone stuck
persecution making life hard
numbers converts drifting away
kind of like today
                we don’t have persecution as excuse
early followers of the way in Matthew’s community trying make sense of that
this story offers an explanation
                some were paths – seed not grow at all
                some rocky ground – some response
                                but then heat is on – they are out of there
                some have lives full of thorns
                                choke response
at one level –
                all this is helps us understand why mission is so hard
yes God is abundantly, recklessly generous
but soil people’s hearts not always ready

      4.       Problem

There is a problem with this
becomes really tempting for those us seemingly have responded
feel pretty smug about it all
look at us
responding to God’s blessing
we are good soil
leaves us feeling somewhat self-righteous
which unfortunately
can leaves us thinking that blessing is for us
forgetting all about 2nd part that equation
suddenly no longer good soil
join those others out there
only we don’t notice
too busy congratulating ourselves.
sad thing is history littered
                us Christians treating other people really badly on basis that we are righteous
                they are unrighteous
                deserving God’s judgement
                which we have then enacted on God’s behalf.
at point
we stop being good soil
somewhere else in continuum of soils

      5.       Another reading

lead us to another reading of this story
yes – all us here will be good soil
                welcomed seed reckless God scatters
                bearing fruit faith
result – trust in God
                centre our lives in love God
                be blessed
but if we were honest
                other times we will be like path
                or rocky soil
                or thorns that grow and choke
no better than anyone else
which leaves us wondering
                if we are good enough
                if we truly are blessed

      6.       Rebekah and her family

first reading heard this morning heard story about people just like that
                ongoing story Isaac and Rebekah
                                two sons – Esau and Jacob
some ways extraordinary family
ever case having more one wife
                when one wife barren – no children
                                no heirs
                                name, legacy – disappear
Isaac stays true to Rebekah - good soil
but given picture real people in this story
some ways call this dysfunctional family
Jacob and Esau – fighting even before born
parents and sons filled with
these do not seem to be the kind of people we would describe as good soil
not kind people on which God’s promise to all humanity hinges
yet that is exactly who they are
for all humanness
are good soil at times
history changed through them.
history littered followers of the way
despite all their faults
all times they were paths, rocky soil, filled with weeds and thorns
lived lives blessing all those around.

      7.       Good news

all which good news
brothers and sisters
we do not need be good soil all time
if think you are
deluding yourself
by definition aren’t good soil
here is good news
God’s seed planted in us anyway
blessed anyway
God changing world through us
let us give thanks that there is good soil in there somewhere
that seed God is planted within us despite all failings
                panted even in those failing
let us tend good soil
be people who live
blessing for other
How do we nurture our good soil and help that seed grow, that we might be a blessing?

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Being deeply rooted in God’s love and hope.

All three of today’s readings speak about the theme, being deeply rooted in God’s love and hope.
The parable of the sower is a well-known and loved parable. But I wonder how well known. I wonder how often we pause to think about how normal the method of seed distribution used was, and what that might have conveyed to those original listeners about the nature of the sower. We too often quickly follow Jesus’ lead and focus on the soils, thanking God that we are good soil and the seed has grown in us. But here’s a question. Who decides who is good soil?
The story of Rebekah, Isaac and their two sons is also well known. None of them come out well in this story. Esau seems too interested in food and does not take God’s promise or his birth right at all seriously. Jacob is jealous and desperate to swindle Esau. Rebekah seems most unmotherly and sides with the younger son. Isaac seems to play little role. And within all this deceit, division, strife and complex relationships God’s promise continues to be fulfilled. Not despite it, but within it.
All that brings us back to the soils and Paul. We are complex. At times we will be good soil, and at other times shallow. Like Rebekah and her family we can be and will be deceitful, dishonest, conniving – all the stuff Paul likes to talk about. That’s what it means to be human. And yet God is at work in all that soil. Which takes us back to the sower.
While some read this as pretty typical of how sowing happened, others understand this to be an incredibly wasteful way of operating. Reckless even. That’s how God is. Generous, reckless, wasteful, abundant. Sowing hope and love even in the midst of our complex unprepared lives. Paul’s message was simple. Stop trying to achieve this life yourself through being good enough. Just trust into God’s generosity. Sink your roots into this abundance.
In churches around the world, the second Sunday in July is Sea Sunday. This is a day set aside to remember and pray for seafarers and their families and to give thanks for their lives and work. It is also a day we can pray for the work of the Mission to Seamen, which some of our parishioners are involved in. Working with God in offering an abundance of love and hope. Our city depends on the port, all those who work there, and all who work the ships that pass through there. Over the next week I invite you to pray for all those whose livelihoods are linked to the port; to all the seafarers and their families who will travel through our port; and those who seek to bring God’s love, peace and hope into all that happens there.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Having another look

Gate Pa – 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm:       Psalm: 45:10-17                                                                     
First Reading:   Genesis 24:34-38, 42-49, 58-67                            
Second ReadingRomans 7:15-25                                                            
Gospel: Matthew11:16-19,25-30                                                                     

What I want to say:
Use the story of Rebekah to introduce being open to a different life. Then use story of Francis to explore opening ourselves to a greater vision for life.

What I want to happen:
People to engage in a penitential life, after the example of Saint Francis

The Sermon

      1.      Introduction:

Meet in this morning’s first reading remarkable young woman
Rebekah – extraordinary
            young woman shows such generosity – to unknown strangers
                        to their animals
            boldly agrees to go with this stranger to marry someone she has never met
            land she knows nothing about
            with no guarantees
clearly remarkable person
saw opportunity to have different type life than expecting
seized it
people in this congregation made similar choices
moved here for someone
live life very different from what know
at least known person marrying
Rebekah not even have that
Result of this courage and faith
extraordinary union –Rebekah and Isaac
kind of take granted
in this world polygamy was norm
            offered protection women
            not cast out when husband decided too old and needed younger version
                        as can happen today
            stayed in family system
            under husbands care
biblical account that Rebekah and Isaac were monogamous couple
            no mention other wives, concubines, slaves,
            no other children
            just Jacob, smooth man
            older brother Esau – an hairy man.
Her decision is key moment in biblical story
without it all that follows, pretty much everything
at this point promise to Abraham hinges on her answer
I wonder if any us have courage make her decisions
wonder led her to make those decisions.

      2.      What about us?

what about ujs
would we make that decision
and if so why
and if not why not
what does that reveal about what we hold dear in our lives
            What leads us to make the decisions we make
            what motivates us to do the things we do
            what passionate about
            what inspire us

      3.      Richard Rohr and Penance

currently listening book by Richard Rohr – who is he
exploring life Francis using works contemporary writers in variety fields
began book exploring some key events Francis life
suggests – based on Francis own writing - lived life penance
            what word evoke for you?
defined as:
a punishment undergone in token of penitence for sin.
a penitential discipline imposed by church authority.
a sacrament, as in the Roman Catholic Church, consisting in a confession of sin, made with sorrow and with the intention of amendment, followed by the forgiveness of the sin.

      4.      Francis and Penance

Rohr suggests that for Francis penance – making room in our lives for God
            God revealed lives those not normally see
                        not want in our lives
                        those fear, loathe, despise,
                        maybe just those dislike,
                        wish to have little or nothing to do with.
                        might describe as “the others”
            like Jesus
            like us
            lived in violent world
            son new breed person
                        wealthy middle class
            wealth not in land
            but money made through trade
like all wealthy people, all wealthy groups,
important to protect that wealth
important to keep yourself and your wealth safe
            with force
Assisi city layers
higher your were more important you were
            important keep those lower (actually and metaphorically) out
                        protect yourself from them
plain lived peasants and lowest of low
all those deemed particularly unsafe
cast out
Francis like everyone else feared them and loathed them
there was no room in his world for them
he and God had no time or compassion for them
until one day as he rode past leper hospital on plain
heard bell of leper
moved other side and covered mouth – as he normally did
looking other way so as not see or smell foul creatures
this time could not ride past
felt compelled stop
physically embrace and kiss the leper
            filled fear and loathing
            filled with revoltion
            filled with wonder
gave money
returned horse and rode on
his closed world ripped open
began to make room in it for all kinds people
people he would not have even seen in the past
renounced all possessions – because to own anything meant he had to protect it from others
moved down hill to lowest places
all joined him invited live as one poorest
working among lepers
learning make room for all
            all people        - even lepers and Muslims
                        -even refugees and poorest beggars
            all creatures
            all creation

      5.      Inspired Penance

What inspired him?
all people, all creation
reflected God to him
saw each loved by God
rather protecting what was his
sought common good
world where all honoured and blessed as children of god

as I drove home Friday night listening to pray as you go
offers 10 minutes podcast - time reflection and prayer each day
listen to as you drive or whatever doing
             takes the gospel reading set for day rcl lectionary
            reads it and offers some reflections and questions
story Matthew of Jesus going home tax collectors and response Pharisees
asked – who is it we feel uncomfortable being with at our table
            who we not want have present
sadly name some people
no-one in this parish hasten add
are people drive me nuts
invited wonder what Jesus saying to us
how might I welcome these people
I responded – do I have to?
suspect Francis is telling me   - yes

      6.      Gospel

we began this morning inspiring story Rebekah
suggested offered us example someone embraced possibility different world
here we are with Francis – embraced possibility world radically different from one lived in
people his world largely motivated by need preserve what was theirs through any means necessary
saw all those classified as other – contemptible
            deserving whatever did to them keep them at bay
Francis instead embraced all to himself
embraced all as brother and sister
willing to share all that he had with
called this life penance
this is not an easy calling
not an easy life
people abused him
and if we follow to extremes he did
will abuse us
today gospel Jesus finishes with words which so familiar
so familiar in fact really hard to read from our version bible
those words of promise
we will be yoked – not sound that inspiring really
in fact miss – yoked in pairs
others like us
with Jesus himself
Once Francis eyes were opened by leper
actually found life penance easy
found yoke Jesus as easy
called hardest times – perfect joy
like Rebekah
just trusted
what motivates us in decisions we make each day
whatg stops us making different decisions
who might be our leper?
what mean for us to live lives of penance?