Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sundays sermon on the calming of the storm

The Calming of the Storm

Gate Pa: June 24 2012


Hebrew Scripture:    Isaiah 40: 1-11
Psalm:                     85: 7-13
Epistle:                     2 Corinthians 6: 1-13       
Gospel:                     Mark 4: 35-41        

What I want to say:
where do we feel like in midst chaos
lost control
there is no hope
as imitators of Christ – not rely on God to fix everything
but like Christ who slept in the storm
to trust God who is source of all goodness, who bends down in compassionate love and embraces us
What I want to happen:
people to continue to know whose they are and to live that out

The Sermon:
1.     intro to Mark.
#  story heard this morning
Comes after Jesus in boat offering block teaching in series of parables:
            Farmer sowing seed
            Lamp-stand -  need to use what have
            Growing seed grows secret – produces corn
            Mustard seed
and he has had it
teaching and healing non stop
even family worried and tried take him away
Jesus says go to other side
Goes to back and goes to sleep
#  He trusts them
Experienced fisherman – know what doing
-      used to handling fishing boats in all conditions
-      able look changing weather – go to safety when need to.
But caught out
This squall comes very fast – as it can
            and is savage
                        as it can be
            even more savage
# blasting down valley - out hill of Lebanon
            intensifying as it comes
Greek used describe squall indicates that it is much more than just bad weather
            word used – similar used describe demonic
Story is about much more than bad weather
Jesus lives in world everything is controlled by spirits and these are really bad spirits at work here
use language links story with others where Jesus is confronted with demonic
-      Jesus and evil sprit in Capernaum – chapter 1 (after calling first disciple
-      Jesus and Beelzebub in chapter 3 (after 12 appointed)
-      Jesus healing demon possessed man (straight after this story)
-      And several others
One themes Marks gospel is that Jesus overcomes the deep and destructive powers of demonic in the world
=> Sets people free to live lives in light and love of God
Story is symbolic of that struggle, and that outcome

#  So have demonic storm hammering this boat and other boats that are there
Disciples begin to loose control
They freeze
And in their panic
Wake Jesus
Demanding  - “teacher don’t you care if we drown?”

2.     Why do the disciples wake Jesus
3        3.     How does Jesus sleep so well
              ask people for thoughts

·        These are his privileged followers who have already heard and responded
            Seed is planted in them and is growing
·        profound trust in God’s goodness, love and mercy
            not trust God will fix everything and keep him safe and well
                        exhibits same trust Gethsemane and Golgotha
                        trust that he is held in God’s mercy, goodness and love
so that as Julian Norwich said – all shall be well,
keeps calm and is able to sleep

4.     Jesus wakes
#  Jesus is waken by cries of panic
And stands to speak to forces swirling around his boat
            Says simply – “Peace, be still”
turns to disciples and says
“Why are you timid? Have you no faith?”
And they were afeared great fear, and said to one another, “Who the hell is this that even the wind and the sea listen to him?”

Ø what would we say?
Ø what does it mean to have faith in this story?

5.     What is Mark trying to do?
#   Mark not just writing a story here
 writing to his community in such a way that addressed their issues and questions
like God does not care what is happening to us?
places them with disciples in boat
offering them hope when
they seem to loose control
            they panic
            they feel like they have no say and are powerless?
            they are frozen into inaction
because that is the effect of the demonic in this story
people panic and are frozen into incction
But not Jesus
remains calm and trusting in the face of the demonic
– because he trusts in Gods goodness and love,
and that God has already overcome the demonic
so what is faith – trusting in God’s goodness and love and mercy
            not being frozen into inaction
            knowing that God does care even when all seems lost

This Gospel like all gospels was written as much for us as for his original hearers
We are same community of God, same church
Invites us into the boat with the disciples
Asks same questions:
When do we seem to loose control?
            What are we panicking about?
            When are we so buffeted?
            When do we feel like we have no say and are powerless?
            When are we frozen into inaction?
We too are offered hope.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A life too busy maybe

Life seems to be way too busy. In part this is due to time spent trying to get technology to work (and failing - how hard is it to get a wireless keyboard to work).
In part it is due to last week being so so busy. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Gisborne at our annual clergy conference which was held with our Tikanga partners Te Tai Rawhiti. It was enjoyable being there with friends, Maori and Pakeha. As an aside, the issue for us in the Bay of Plenty is that we do not have any occasions to meet and build relationships with the Maori clergy from this area, which is in a different Hui Amorangi. Never the less it was good.
The Monday before I left I went to the karakia (prayers) for the week leading up to the Deed of Settlement signing between Ngati Ranginui and the Crown. I then drove back from Gisborne (4 hours) on Wednesday night so that I could be at the actual signing on Thursday. It was a real privilege to be among the @1,000 people who attended this and who took part in the haka, karanga, powhiri, signing and commemoration, and then the Hakari afterwards. To be present to hear to government unequivocally apologise for the actions of previous governments, including the landing of troops, the battles, and the land confiscations was moving. To witness these people being able to have their pain and hurt from the last 150 years acknowledged, and to witness the beginning of the pain being laid aside and the future embraced was moving. And to be part of the 700 or so who took part in the Hakari (feast) afterwards was pretty cool too.
Well, that left Friday to write a sermon and prepare for a quiet day on Franciscan prayer on Saturday. A long day, which led to a long Saturday, leading the quiet day and finishing the sermon.
Sunday was church as per normal, and then a parish film showing with soup and buns. A great occasion. But another long day.

So this week I took all of Monday off. Sweet. Except yesterday was spent leading the midweek communion service, training people to visit people at home and take home communions, attending a Matariki event at the Whanau Aroha Childcare centre, and the AAW coffee event at a cafe. Then another meeting. And today has been trying to get technology working, taking a burial, and then getting ready for and having a meeting about music for the next 5 weeks. And now I am still here writing vestry reports for tomorrow night. Blah!!!! My time management skills need to improve (and this stupid wireless keyboard needs to start working.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Signs of God bring hope to a world filled with hopelessness

Landmark Christian-Muslim Peace Summit opens in Beirut

It is events like this that offer me hope. Hope that God is at work in the world when all seems lost. Hope that ways can be found to work with those who seem so far from what we believe. Hope that we do not need to descend into violence and despair, no matter what the vote conscious politicain demands. Let us hope that these seeds of hope are allowed to germinate and grow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Archbishop: What gift do we leave our children?

Archbishop Rowan Williams asks the very simple question: What gift do we leave our children?

Te Pouhere and Ngati Ranginui

Yesterday we celebrated Te Pouhere Sunday, a week late. We again used lot of Te Reo Maori, including me leading He Tikanga Whakapono. For my kauwhau I briefly described the nature of our three Tikanga constitution, and then gave a brief (it is all relative) summary of the history of Te Haahi Mihinare and how we came to this point, including the role of our church in the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. To be honest it was a tad long, but people seemed to appreciate it. It felt like another good day.

This week is the signing of the Deed of Settlement between Ngati Ranginui. I joined a small number of Ngati Ranginui and Pakeha supporters in gathering for prayer this morning at Te Ranga, the site of the battle that saw over 150 Maori butchered in a little of 15 minutes, and then led to the massive confiscations, which in turn led to the treaty claim. It was good to be there, and I look forward to being there again on Thursday for the Treaty settlement signing.

Tomorrow I am off to Gisborne for our clergy conference, this time held with Te Tai Rawhiti clergy. I am looking forward to being with some good friends.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Lost in arrogance and
self-sufficiency. Defending
all I am and all
I have. Blind to the
pain of injustice and silence
I glimpse the glory of
the coming of the Lord
“Give us today our daily bread”.
We learn to touch and
see each other’s being and
pain, to see and touch our
own pain. We learn to hear,
to act and be “we”
“Give us today our daily bread”.
Letting go, we are fed on
the common loaf of longing
in the silence of solitude.

( written on the Clergy retreat with Justin Duckworth, May 2012)

Celebrating Te Pouhere

Last Sunday was Te Pouhere Sunday, where we remember who we are as Anglicans in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and celebrate our unique constitution. We had our AGM so I moved it to this Sunday. It is amazing how little people across our church know about the constitution and how we work, and even less about why we are structured in this way. We keep talking about how this is a new thing, and yet it is 20 years ago that it came into being. There is now a generation of Anglicans who have only ever known the church in this form.

One of the resources is a report written for the 1986 General Synod entitled "Te Kaupapa Tikanga Rua." which explored the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in the life of our church. It is a sobering read really.
So this Sunday we have a chance to celebrate the gift of God that our constitution is, and remember that we are one church expressed in three tikanga. Do I think we are living it out well? Not even close. But I will continue to stand by the vision it offers of how to live out the gospel.

Read the magazine :: Anglican Diocese of Auckland

Well done the editorial team for the magazine for the Auckland Diocese, and to Brittany Kusserow in particularly. It is a courageous edition, which explores the reality of being a LGTB young person in the church, and which offers some really helpful resources. It is in line with some of the decisions at last years Synod, but even so it is good to see material aimed at young people that stands with the LGTB community, and does not demonise them as so often happens. This truly is the grace of God at work.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Place of Gay People in the life of our church.

I wonder what this new Commission will achieve. I guess it will provide a good summary of the work already done by various church entities on the various issues, including blessing same sex relationships and ordination. And I guess it will clarify what the likely consequences of any decision or non-decision will be. But in the end there will still need to have a debate, and it might not be pretty. So, I hope that this commission will allow us to do that in an informed and less brutal way. My fear is that it will stall the debate for longer, and gay people continue to pay the price for our inaction. Let us hope and pray for a good outcome.

Hope in a strange land

We had our AGM for the church on Sunday, after we gathered for Eucharist. We combined our 9.30am with our 8.00am, and it was nice to have us all together for once.
I wanted to offer a few thoughts to frame our AGM so that we were not so concerned with keeping our Parish going. I want us to think less  about ourselves, and to be much more missionally focused. So I used St. Columba, St. Francis (I can always sneak him in somewhere) and the exodus story to posit three questions that we need to work on:
  • whose are we
  • who are we
  • what is ours to do.
I offer the notes for my talk below.

Hope in a strange land

What I want to say:
That we are in a strange land, and we have been for some time
Easy to fear the future and to get locked into how good it was in the past
As we approach AGM it is important to acknowledge that, and not let that shape how we face our future
Need to be more like Columba or Francis
Use the retreat experience to explore what it is like being in this land
Hold on to hope
            Hope based on answers to: whose are we
                                    Who are we
                                    What is ours to do
What I want to happen:
Let go of their anxieties about the future
Embrace hope
Begin to answer for themselves and for this parish the key questions

The Sermon
1.     Introduction:
·        Saturday we remember St. Columba great Celtic Saints of Ireland and Scotland
·        Founder and abbot of Iona Community ,597
o   Tell some story
o   Exiled Scotland – save as many souls as lost battle
·        Established abbey on island Iona
§  Easy access around coast by boat
§  Sent brothers out establish new monasteries
§  Became part of network monasteries across Scotland and Ireland were play significant role in the life church in both places centuries
o   Central role  bringing gospel to Scotland, and eventually those north England through monks on Lindisfarne
o   Realised that not enough keep what familiar with
§  New situation,
§  New land
§  Demanded different thinking
·        Using strengths and best of all known,
·        High degree of creativity

2.     Our situation
·        I like this story because we like Columba live in new land
·        World has changed over the last few decades
·        Get people to talk about who world changed

3.     Retreat with Justin Duckworth
·        Twice - this time realise how much changed outlook
·        Basic flow
o   Comparing our story to story Exodus
o   Left Egypt – familiar good things and not so good things
o   In wilderness
§  Explored what Egypt brought with us
§  What like in wilderness
§  What promised land might look like
§  What some resources we have as we travel through the wilderness
·        first time despondent
·        Now feel very hopeful

4.     Being in the wilderness:
·        Vestry half-jokingly talked a lot about how with new vicar numbers attending will increase dramatically, and that financial worries over
·        Light hearted way, lot laughing
·        Actually there is a lot of truth to what was said
·        Deep down we really want this parish to survive and to be like it was
o   Back in the days when we were in Egypt
·        Future of this parish is uncertain
·        Easy for us to get worried and despondent about that
·        Very easy for me wonder how long I will have a job here
·        Strangely , at this point I am not worried
·        Filled with hope
·        I don’t know if this parish has a future
o   I hope it does
o   Beautiful building
o   We are on important and sacred site
o   Have important role in life Tauranga
o   You are warm and friendly group of people, I am greatly enjoying being among you
·        As I prayed through two retreats realised
·        In the end, future of this church is in God’s hands
·        If we spend all time trying keep church going,
o   pretty much guarantee it will close
·        Just as people Israel remember,
o   We remember that our task in this wilderness is to be faithful
o   In order to be faithful I suggest there are three pivotal questions we parish need to keep working at
§  Whose are we?
·        Belong to God in whom only love
·        God of peace and goodness
·        Story Jesus reminds us that we are created in  image God, people of love, peace and goodness
·        Story includes life, death and resurrection Jesus
§  Who are we? Or who might we be?
§  What is ours to do?
·        Francis on his death bed
·        Applies equally to us today

5.     Conclusion
·        As approach AGM and our future
o   Not worry about keeping the parish going
§  Often be focus AGMs, and parishes
o   Focus instead
§  Given we are now no longer living in Egypt
§  That we are whether or not we want to living in wilderness
§  Focus instead needs to be on what it means to be faithful in this time and place       
·         Remembering whose we are, who we are, and what is ours to do

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Tuesday was the day before yesterday, and it was quite the busy day. I had our mid week service at 9.30, which is always small, and always fun. I just use 730, and use the second form of prayers out of 404. There is not sermon, but we have a conversation about the gospel reading.
10.30 I was off to Fraser Manor to help lead a service with one of our parishioners. He is a kiwifruit grower, so always brings in stuff from the farm, and talks about what is happening and a bit of theology. Good stuff for people who are not allowed outside really. I do prayers and reading and lead the singing. What strange times are these when I lead the singing.

Then off to Whanau Aroha Childcare center to meet the manager and work out what will need to be talked about at the upcoming management committee meeting, which I now chair.
then back to the office for lunch and to catch up on emails and stuff with the parish secretary, before returning to the Childcare for the meeting.

Then after a two hour meeting I went to Althorp Geriatric Hospital to pray for someone who was low, and I guess to give permission to let go and embrace death.
I then went alcohol shopping for a vicars get together we were hosting, and then had the gathering. A busy but enjoyable day. then after a really quick and nutricitous dinner we were off to Pub Quiz where our awesome team won. Awesome. 

I was pretty stuffed yesterday and really did not achieve all that needed to be achieved. Never mind. Tuesday was the day!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Continuing Indaba is celebrated as “a wonderful gift to the Communion”

I am posting this from the Anglican Communion News Service. It seems to me that what we as a church, and as a world need is less rhetoric and holding strong to our positions, and more listening to each other, and hearing God's invitation to be one. This seems to offer hope for this.

By ACNS staff

An initiative to enable mission by strengthening relationship between parishes, dioceses and Provinces has been celebrated by participants and evaluators as “an important tool” and “wonderful gift” for the Anglican Communion.

Continuing Indaba, an official ministry of the Communion, has, for three years, been promoting cross-Provincial/diocesan dialogue, visits and the production of theological resources aimed at supporting the process of enabling “conversation across difference”.

A recently published progress report Continuing Indaba – Celebrating A Journey revealed that those involved considered Indaba to be “an important tool for moving forward together as a 21st century Anglican Communion”.

The report states: “The fruit of Indaba is becoming evident. The consistent testimony of those participating points to a deeper understanding of the unity of the church resulting in common participation in the Mission of God. They are already communicating the potential for Indaba in their own diocese, in their relationships with other Anglicans around the world and for the Communion as a whole.

“Participants do not report that they are now more ‘liberal’ or more ‘conservative’. They are reporting that are being challenged to be more Christ-like, to get on with mission and to discover more of the wonders of being a follower of Christ on a journey with others.”

One such participant, Ghana’s Bishop Matthias Medadues-Badohu of Ho Diocese, said: “Indaba is a wonderful gift to the Communion, bringing people together from every culture, race, language and belief into one fold, acknowledging one another as children of one Father.”

Bishop Pradeep Kumar Samataroy of Amritsar Diocese of the Church of North India said that taking part in Indaba had not been without its challenges: “People came with lots of fear, apprehension and pessimism about the usefulness and outcomes of an Indaba consultation. But those feelings were turned to joy and excitement when understanding stated to be built up through face-to-face Encounter. We came as participants [to the Indaba resource hubs] but returned as partners in the mission of God.”

Daniel Graves, of Toronto said of Indaba, “It is a different way of being together and requires us to take a leap of faith out of some of our old ways, and into being vulnerable, risking really listening and really being honest when we have our opportunity to speak.”

A team of three evaluators were appointed to follow the project, especially the pilot conversations. Dr Paula Nesbitt (USA) headed up the team with her colleagues Dr Mkunga Mtingele (Tanzania) and Dr Jo Sadgrove (UK). The aim was to establish the genuine value of the project and to guide future developments.

Their findings show that the Continuing Indaba model of Encounters and facilitated conversation improved participants’ sense of mutual listening, something and that it was very effective in developing authentic mutual listening and deeper overall understanding across dioceses, as well as a better understanding of how Anglican faith and mission are lived in different cultural contexts.

The evaluation concluded with a strong, positive recommendation to continue refining Indaba, beyond the inevitable practical difficulties, frustrations and learning points of a pilot, as an important tool for moving forward together as a 21st century Anglican Communion.

Continuing Indaba, Celebrating a Journey – Progress Report May 2012 has been commended to the Anglican Communion by Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams “as an important resource for ensuring that all voices can be heard as we seek to be a flourishing Church together.”

To coincide with the publication of the progress report a new Continuing Indaba website has been launched as a place for resources, like the report and Creating Space – a collection of essays produced during the first phase of Continuing Indaba, and continuing conversation. It also features a blog that will be a space for Anglicans and Episcopalians around the Communion to encounter one another and share their thoughts on moving forward together. Visit the site at