Saturday, July 09, 2016

A Shocking Story about our Neighbour

 Gate Pa – Year C 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time,

Psalm                              Psalm 82
First Reading:             Amos 7:7-17
Second Reading:         Col 1:1-14
Gospel:                      Luke 10:25-37

What I want to say:
Explore the Good Samaritan story – that it asks who our neighbour is – who am I willing to be a neighbour to? Who am I willing to be my neighbour to me?

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

My mum is part of a house group
take it in turns to host the group
-         mum always happy to do
-         also have to lead the bible study
I remember talking to her about this morning’s gospel
story of good Samaritan
she was just checking out that it was all about how to be neighbourly
which I suspect is how often undertood
in some ways it is
but who are we to be neighbourly to?
that is the question

     2.     who is my neighbour?

That is the question we seem to be forever struggling with
last weekend Pauline Hanson returned to Australian Senate
policy platform that is very clear about who her neighbour is
-         white
-         non muslim
-         Australian
è everyone else is not her neighbour
o   deserves her (and our) suspicion and contempt
û  royal commission into Islam
û  no refugees
û  limited immigration (except if they are white)
all of which is so sad and a little frightening
not just Australia
            see same thing with Trump in America
            part of Brexit vote was same kind of very narrow view about who is my neighbour
            have same attitudes here in Aotearoa
I can understand it
easier when people like me are my neighbour
û  look like me
û  sound like me
û  speak same language as me
û  dress same me
û  act same - largely
û  believe same
easier assume
people like me are the good guys
people who aren’t like me are not the good guys
don’t have to pay them and their issues any attention
            probably brought it all on themselves
don’t have to be a good neighbour to them
in fact I can vilify them
withhold any generosity or mercy
feels safer this way

     3.     Context

same divisions were there in Jesus’ time
probably worse
a lot animosity between Jews and Samaritans
            went back time Solomon
Jews saw themselves vastly superior
            not as polluted with blood non-Jews
            continued with temple worship in Jerusalem
            kept law Moses – torah more devotedly
unlike those Samaritans – had intermarried with non-Jews after Assyrian invasion
abandoned temple – Jerusalem
            worshipped at Bethel and Dan and then Samaria
their understanding of Torah was sneered at
and at times extremists both sides would take this animosity
            - explode into outright hatred
both Jew and Samaritan despised Gentiles
yet they had to learn to live with one another
            most of time achieved
            animosity bubbled away under the surface
saw all this couple weeks ago when Jesus set eyes on Jerusalem
            sought stay in Samaritan village on the way
            not interested because going to Jerusalem
            John and James wanted pray for fire pour down on that village.

     4.     The Lawyer

what does Jesus do with all this?
Luke tells this story
how lawyer comes to Jesus to trap him
            show how ignorant he is?
asks what he must do to inherit eternal life
            not about going to heaven
            much more about inheriting God’s promises for this earth at the last age
Jesus turns question back on him and asks him two questions
what does law Moses say
how does he read or understand it
-         two different question
Lawyer gives oft quoted response
love the lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength
            and/by loving your neighbour as yourself
Jesus says – good answer – go and do it
Lawyer is little annoyed at this
            tables turned – he has lost a lot face in this exchange
redeem situation – asks really simple question
the question
who is my neighbour?
really simple
number clear answers
            in line with Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump
            people like me
            other good guys
all which Jesus seems to ignore with this behaviour
in response Jesus tells this story
shocking story

    5.     The shocking story

where upholders of temple law became bad guys for keeping torah and ignoring the unknown man
            – never told this man Jew, Samaritan or Gentile
-         markers gone – dress and language would give him away
good guy is Samaritan
            same people James and John wanted to pour fire onto just a few verses ago
so who is the neighbour?

    6.     So who is my neighbour?

not people like lawyer
not people obeyed torah
            in fact one disobeyed torah – law moses
one dressed, spoke, acted differently
            one we should be suspicious of and vilify
he is neighbour
not by birth
not by family relationships
not by religion
not even by obeying torah
by showing mercy
Jesu changes the rules
and most of the time we don’t even notice
our neighbours are the ones who show us mercy
we become neighbours when we show mercy
neighbours aren’t people like us
            but are all those in need
            all those in need
whatever their race
            their beliefs
            their status
            no matter whether they are part of the good guys or bad guys
all our neighbours
all which means from point of view of Jesus and his story
Pauline Hanson
Donald Trump
all those call no refugees
            end Muslim immigration
see themselves as good guys and everyone else bad
all ignoring what Jesus says
and have got it o so wrong!
What about us?
we are to be shaped by this story
ð act with mercy to all
ð receive mercy from all
as people of way
people walk with Jesus
ones who are to live out this shocking and hard story
if we are honest it will call into question
a whole lot of our ideas about who we are
            and who are our neighbours

    7.     Baptism

today we are going to baptise Elliette
do so with this story ringing in our ears
this story which talks about unearned compassion and enormous generosity
shakes up fabric of all societies
calls us to be generous neighbours
accept generosity of those we do now know
As we baptise Elliette
            we are declaring God’s unearned and unending love for her
in doing so we are declaring her a member of the God’s Church
part of people who are to live out God’s unearned love for all
baptise Elliette in hope that she will grow up immersed in generosity and compassion we find in this story
knowing that all people are her neighbour
because all people are children of God.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

What must I do to inherit eternal life? Who is my neighbour?

This Sunday we will hear the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Such a well-known and well-loved story. A lovely story we often/usually think is about how to be neighbourly. But is it that all it is about? Or have we for too long misunderstood and missed what Jesus and Luke were really up to?
So I have some questions of this story. You might like to reflect on them.

  • Who called the Samaritan “good”? 
  • What does it mean to be good? 
  • Where else have we met Samaritans in Luke’s gospel that might give some context? 
  • Where else have we met travellers on the road? 
  • Are bandits good? 
  • Do we pay any attention to the lawyer’s questions? 
  • What is eternal life? 
  • Who is my neighbour? 
  • Who will I let be a neighbour to me? 
  • If we took this story seriously what would we need to let go of?

Friday, July 01, 2016

It Is Better Together

Can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year C 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time,(Pentecost 7)

Psalm                         Psalm 30  
First Reading:              2 Kings 5:1-14 
Second Reading:         Galatians 6:7-16 
Gospel:                                    Luke 10:1-11, 16-20   

What I want to say:
explore why Christianity is a communal religion, as opposed to not being about me and God
What I want to happen:
People to do stuff together

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

As a Franciscan this mornings gospel reading is one of the readings that have shaped our identity
It was this or a similar reading Francis heard on the 24th Feb 1208
he embraced the life of poverty
threw away his leather belt and his money bag
life was never the same.
took these words literally
and seriously
sought to live them out for rest of his life
rules were written so that his brothers could also live it out
man it was hard
cracks were showing even before Francis died.
none the less - it stands at heart of Franciscan way today
clearly passage that has a lot to say about our attitudes to money
                        to possessions
one that I continue to struggle with
even as it does continue to shape me and my life.
lets be honest
none of us live it out
really demanding
so I suspect we quickly move on to the next passage

     2.     Better Together

But lets just pause for a moment
Think this passage offers us more than this
think Francis took more than attitude to possessions out of this reading
One of significant aspects of this reading I think
that Jesus sent out 70 or 72 people
not alone
in at least pairs
so would have spent a lot time together on journey to and from villages and towns they went to.
I think this is really important

    3.     Fiji  and Solomons

Remember one first times went to Fiji on youth event
spent last night or two in village
went as group
I struggled with it all
so glad that I was not doing this alone
even where we were billeted there were three of us
Much better experience with others.
able to give moral support to each other
second time we did it the other way around
went to village first
in big groups
sleeping in hall
when arrived hours late – because flight late
people were little grumpy it was ok
when transport didn’t arrive the next morning it was ok
            worked it out together
able to support each other
use gifts of each other
some great just chatting away to people not know
others could do the public speaky thing

    4.     Solomons

compare that to first time went to Solomons
I went with Dorothy Brooker who some you might know
she stayed up in Chester House
I stayed in friary
I found all that very stressful
            not knowing anyone in Friary
            not knowing what expected to go to or when anything was on
how I longed for someone else to be at there friary with me
or up at Chester House if I was honest
Each day meet with Dorothy at Chester House
sort out what doing that night
go from there
not entirely alone

Last time three years ago
went on my own
this time I knew number people
            first order friars
even when went off to Makira and Malaita on my own
with family
not on my own
well looked after
vaguely familiar
so grateful that the first two times I went I had others.
            share those experiences
            learn from them
            grow into that situation
It is better when we do it together
Jesus knew that
Francis knew that
This reading also set out how Franicis would send out brothers
in at least pairs
never alone

    5.     The buzz

imagine then the buzz when this 70 or 72 got back
the stories
the disappointments
the heartache for some
rejoicing and amazement for others
while we hear Jesus speech
            important speech
            highlights while triumphs are all good
            real source rejoicing is our relationship with God
            knowing that we are never alone
            God was with us each step of way
I think just as important part of story is not mentioned by Luke
it was the talking
In that they found God at work even when they left dust free
looked to go again

    6.     Not about me and Jesus

somehow over centuries we have lost this communal aspect
Christianity has become about me and God and getting into heaven
ministry about what I do.
Not how we find it in either Gospels or Paul
Both Paul and Jesus real emphasis was creation of new community
Paul – new Israel –
            new people of God
            become inheritors of promises of God for creation and all humanity
            means by which those promises become reality
not about what they did as individuals
what they did together as a community
            it was better together
same is true for us today
not even just about what we do here at St. Georges
although that is important
we are part of something even bigger
the church catholic
all in this together whether we like it or not
and it is still better when we do it together.
for today
lets focus on us here
doing things together
ministry is not about me
it is about us.
Lets do it together
because it is better when we do