Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Upside-Down World of St Francis, an Ebook by Ted Witham

This book comes out of Ted Withams time as Minsiter Provincial for the Austrailan Province of the Third Order, Society of Saint Francis. In describing it's origins he writes,

"From Advent Sunday 2005 until the eve of Advent Sunday 2011 I had the privilege of being Provincial Minister for the Third Order, Society of St Francis for Australia, Papua New Guinea and East Asia. During that time, I travelled across Australia to meet tertiaries. My home Diocese of Perth also invited me to speak about St Francis and the spirituality of St Francis’s followers at the Weekends at Wollaston spirituality programme. My fellow-tertiaries in Western Australia also asked me to lead meetings and Quiet Days. The talks and seminars I presented have been adapted for this e-book. St Francis of Assisi was in love with God and a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. I pray that you will look beyond my words to the vision of St Francis and find fresh and provocative encouragement for your journey. Ted Witham, July 2012"

This looks like a really useful book and I am looking forward to getting into it.

Wake up and smell the coffee


Hebrew Scripture:     2 Samuel 11: 1-15
Psalm:                     14
Epistle:                      Ephesians 3: 14-21     
Gospel:                      John 6: 1-21    

What I want to say:

Love is to be the basis our understanding who we are
We are invited to open our eyes wide to the reality God’s generous love in our lives
-          where do we see God’s abundant, generous love?
-          where do we need to have our eyes opened?
-          what does it mean to be planted in God’s love?

What I want to happen:

people to open eyes wide to the reality of God’s generous love in their inner most being, that they might built their sense of who they are on that on not on other things, like moral correctness, good enough, personal sense of authority etc….

The Sermon

1.     Introduction:
sometimes I can get very depressed about the world
huge things are happening – feel powerless to respond
wonder, where is God in all this?
            look in disbelief at the economic situation Europe and across the West
 - bankers who earn millions and still misbehave
                        - People pay – ones played no part creation crisis
                                    pay is cut
                                    lost jobs
                                    lost their pensions
seems to be no justice in this at all.
2.     Psalm and David
how psalmist felt
powerful people his time were behaving badly with little care poor or others
just as they were during Jesus time
sordid story David and Bathsheba is great example
they behaved as it God did not notice or care
-         there is no God of Israel
-         and the sad thing is their behaviour led people believe that God of Israel did not care
o   God of Israel was absent
vision of God was simply too small
Nathan and Psalmist call bigger vision and realisation that God does care.

3.     The Big Vision
Letter to the Ephesians all about bigger vision of God
passage heard this morning begins by stating that any exercise of power and authority (described as fatherhood) must be based on way God is if it is to have any legitimacy
begs question – how we understand the way God is?
What is our image of God?
too often all powerful moral judge
demands righteousness or offers death
not picture presented either writer to the Ephesians or John

4.     Johns stories
Johns stories – told as signs
      doors though which we understand who Christ really is
      in doing so begin understand the way God is
they point to a reality beyond story
      point to reality of God
these 2 stories also told together in Mark
-         pushes them
-         fills them echoes Exodus story
§  set Passover
§  bread and mana
§  water echoes safe crossing both Red Sea and Jordan
-         echoes too Elijah – whose return will bring the messianic age
§  5 barley loaves
-         tempting focus explaining away mystery of the story
explore generosity drawn out by those gathered
this is a story about people’s generosity
this is a story about God
this is a story about God’s abundant generosity
            unasked for
            freely given
-            at times we might get hung up about miracle walking water
§  did he really do it
§  is that possible?
this is a story about God
            revealed in Jesus
story about Jesus who masters perils deep
all that fills them with fear
simply says “I am”
story that echoes creation story
spirit hovered over deep
brings all into being
These are stories designed to open our eyes to reality God present in this Jesus
who is present in lives of readers as risen Christ
5.     Ephesians
Writer Ephesians talking about the same Risen Christ
who is present in people’s lives
            present with abundant generosity
            calming our deepest fears
offering this wonderful image
            through Christ our deepest selves is planted in love
God seeks to open our eyes so that we might see the height and width and depth of God’s love
even when all seems lost
we might understand that we are our true selves when we are rooted in God’s being
we might see that love is the basis our understanding who we are
-         where do we need to have our eyes opened?
-         where do we see God’s abundant, generous love?
-         what does it mean to be planted in God’s love?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Na te Atua te Reo Maori i takoha mai / Maori Language is a Gift from God | Rev Talk

Euthanasia: no choice for Maori | Rev Talk

Thanks Hirini for this insightful and helpful reflection on this issue. It takes a perspective you do not often hear, and I am grateful.

Fighting for the right to not learn Maori - really?

Fighting for the right to not learn Maori? Shame on all of those involved in this story!

This news story appalls me on several levels. First that John Campbell even gave it air time. This did not need to be on our airwaves, and especially not during Maori Language week. This story is about ratings and pandering to the red neck community.

Secondly, Te Reo Maori is an official language of this country. It gives expression to the culture of the indigenous people, whose culture the rest of us are willing to trade off when it suits us, like doing hakas at sports events, using Maori design to highlight our uniqueness for trade expos, and for young kiwis overseas on their big OE. Te Reo Maori is part of who we are, and we should embrace it proudly and with enthusiasm.

In other countries people learn the official languages without too much bother. But not here. Here we have mono cultural people of European descent (I am not even sure I would call these people pakeha -  a name I apply to myself with pride) who want their children to have nothing to do with the indigenous people or their culture, or their language, unless of course it suits them and they get something out of it.

Now lets be clear, the issue is that their 2 year old was having the Maori words for one to ten used around her, and the  Maori words for various colours. She is not being forced to become fluent in this language, or even conversational. The parents seem to have lost all perspective on this.

And they live in Gisborne, with one of the highest percentages of Maori in the country. They meet Maori every day. They will have to use Maori names everyday, which they will mispronounce with pride. In the end they are very rude people who need to learn some basic courtesies about how to treat the people they live among and their language with a little more care. And here they are on national television complaining. It sickened me to hear their bigotry. It sickened me that John Campbell even aired it. Shame on both of you.

As New Zealanders of  European we should embrace all the official languages of this land, and not be afraid of teaching our children at least how to count. If you are unwilling to learn even that, then please, by all means, think about moving to Australia. I think you will fit in really well there.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Social Service Sunday

Hebrew Scripture:          Micah 6: 6-8
Psalm:                          89: 20-37
Epistle:                         Ephesians 2: 11-22          
Gospel:                           Mark 6: 30-34, 53-56      

What I want to say:
  • Anglican Social service is not just about the professional agencies that work under Anglican Care
  • Involves each and every one of us
  • motivation is not about helping others less fortunate
  • outworking of love live in as followers Jesus
  • involves us as individuals and as missional community
  • Use Urban Vision to explore this

What I want to happen:
people to engage their neighbours out of love

The Sermon
1.      Introduction:
joke – what do you call a fake noodle
an impasta

This week social service Sunday
Gifted by God: Inspired to serve
what is that about?
(gather responses)

lets have a look at some readings today see what they might say to all this

2.      Gospel
two weeks
heard story of Jesus sending out of disciples,
told them what to do
instructions about casting out demons might make us feel uncomfortable
            find hard understand or take seriously
One things happening here Mark establishing honour and authority Jesus and disciples
Jesus comes from poor village
not enough honour lead
not enough honour do things he was doing
one Mark’s main purpose in Gospel is to establish Jesus’ authority/honour
            Mark establishing whakapapa – Son of God
                        number ways we can understand that
filial relationship – as much as that can be applied to God
                        read like James and John being sons thunder
                                                father not thunder
                                                attributes of thunder
                                    Jesus had attributes God
                        authority over demons (higher beings)
                                    cosmology of his world
so disciples too be like him
            giving them his honour, his authority

3.      They return
today heard they return
                        imagine it – full of excitement
yet tired
between sending out and return
story of John’s death
euphoria first mission coloured by that death
            not just about good times
            being a follower of Jesus is problematic
which it was for his first readers.
            lack growth
Mark is linking their story with story Jesus
try to get away
not one stories use support maintaining boundaries – fails
takes pity of them and goes to them
says interesting thing – sheep without shepherd
– who should shepherds be?
            what is this about?
            - these people landless poor peasant (90%)
Life made miserable
heavy tax burdens of Rome and own rules - indebted
lost land absentee landowners
people should be protecting them – their leaders
part urban minority (most 10%) making all decisions
reaping all benefits
-          these are people who should be shepherds of people – failed
-          become imposters
Society that failing people here with Jesus
Society bears no resemblance society talked about prophetic tradition
society these people longed for
            messianic society

4.      prophetic tradition
– heard this morning Micah
if I were to summarise that tradition
society in which all people belong
founded on God’s love and goodness
all could contribute and all benefit
Jesus clearly stood within prophetic tradition
through actions creating  communities based on God’s love and goodness
beginnings of society  where all contribute and all benefit
within that tradition that we meet this morning
            we reflect on our social services

5.      Social Service Sunday
theme - Gifted by God: Inspired to serve
-          reminded a lot of Urban Vision “community” in Wellington
o   stand same prophetic tradition Jesus stood in
o   work create society that all contribute to and all benefit from
o   society based God’s goodness and love
-          UV is new monastic order
o   people commit live under “rule” for at least a year
o   “rule” based three key principles or pillars
A. Deepen our intimacy with Christ Jesus, (very similar to own diocesan mission statement of knowing Jesus)
§  comes out of understanding that what motivates us?
·         Obligation? Duty?
·         or love of Jesus
§  According to Charles Ringma,
·         “service is love giving itself away.
·         It is only in solitude that love finds itself again, springing up from within as we are nurtured by the great Lover.”
sadly love fragile thing
easily lost
what this about is foundational need nurture love in our lives  
            deepening our intimacy with Jesus
            immersing ourselves in God’s love
pause – how do you, how do we do that, what more might we need to do to nurture this love?
B. Deep belonging to each other
 “All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (Jn 13:35)
[Jesus came to form communities centred round God’s love. Community is a miracle and can only be sustained through God’s love. As with all of Jesus’ miracles, the miracle of community points to the promise, presence and character of God, as well as God’s activity in the world through people.]
Youth Forum and missional community
            sometimes we get so strung out by the need to do stuff that we forget what is much more important who we are God’s gathered community
pause – aks, what shapes our life as St. Georges, How do we ddeply belong to each other and what more might we need to do to nurture this?

C.  Giving our best for the least.
 “If our church is not marked by caring for the poor, the oppressed and the hungry, then we are guilty of heresy.” – St Ignatius.
one of things attracted me here, that this parish exists in place great need
community that will give our best for the least.
pause – aks, in what ways do we give our best for the least, and what more might we need to do?

6.      So what this social service Sunday?
invitation this social service Sunday is to not just give thanks for and maybe give some money to work Anglican Care
respond to God’s invitation to be God’s Anglican people in this place
            taking time grow awareness that we are immersed in God’s love –
sustained and shaped by that
            love motivates us to service – share or give that love away.
            take time deeply belong to each other, so that how we are as St Georges is of itself missional
a testimony to God’s love and goodness
            in light of those two things might give our best for the least in communities Gate Pa, Greerton, Pyes Pa and Merrivale
o   long term thing
o   not be easy
o   need to do if we are to be faithful to all who have gone before us in this place
o   faithful to who God calls us to be as God’s Anglican people.
o   truly engage in social service and join early disciples in God’s mission
o   and not be imposters

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The week that is and was

Phew. This has been a big week. I had Monday off because that is what one is traditionally supposed to do if you are a vicar, and I was knackered!!!  A good day of sleeping, and a bit of gymning and taking the dog for a walk on the beach. Oh, and I watched some recorded TV. Awesome day.

Tuesday: mid week communion service, then meeting someone for spiritual direction (I am a spiritual director). Time for more coffee at that point. But no, a young woman and her cousin came to check out the church for a wedding. So, now coffee and after a very yummy lunch of left over Indian curry I met with the wardens to organise our vestry planning day. And then for there to a meeting with a group to work on a replacement for our parish administrator. A really big day. Lucky, after sitting on an exercise cycle and reading for 40 minutes I went with the "family" pub quiz team to the pub, and came second.

Wednesday: meeting someone for supervision (I also do ministry supervision). I then did some preliminary work on the readings for Sunday.Some where in here was clearing a whole lot of emails, planning what I needed to do this week, sending in a motion for our regional conference, and o yes, a sleep and more yummy curry. Then another meeting, a management committee meeting for our outreach into the community, and op shop; Centrepoint. A little more prep on the Sunday readings, and then a meeting with a young woman who is coming to the parish to be an intern for three months. We then checked out where she will live, and then we had dinner. The Regional youth person was there as well.

Today, Thursday was a good day. I had a morning with nothing organised, where I was able do a lot more work on a sermon, finish the pew sheet stuff for Sunday, and finalise trying to find a place for a daughter of a parishioner to do some volunteer work overseas. (It is at times like this being part of a network of the International Anglican Youth Network comes in real useful). After lunch (left over Italian made by our brand new Italian student last night) I met with a couple to do some preliminary work on their wedding. My first proper wedding interview as vicar. It went quite well I think. A nice couple. Then a meeting with our assistant priest, including lessons on how to work a data projector. Back to the gym for more reading.

tomorrow, I am excited about the restart of preschool music. we are going to walk with the parachute, and dance to goodnight bear. It is sad that I know both these songs. But that is ministry. then a sermon needs to written, expol underfloor insulation needs to be bought, and plastic sheets, and maybe even do some visiting if all goes well. We shall see.

Saturday is a vestry planning day. Sunday is church and planning for next Sunday, and full on interactive service. Mean. A big week.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Honourable Way to Die - The Life and Times of John the Baptist

 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
15 July 2012
Hebrew Scripture:              2 Samuel 6: 1-5, 12b-19
Psalm:                                    24
Epistle:                   Ephesians 1: 3-14               
Gospel:                 Mark 6: 14-29

What I want to say:
remember and celebrate John
explore the role he plays as link – last first Testament prophet
explore story his death and honour that
ask, what does God invite us to in this story of John?
                gave everything in response to God’s love
                bold and courageous
                perceptive – recognised Jesus as “the one”
                willing to get out of the way

Recite the Benedictus (Song of Zechariah) in response

What I want to happen:
I want us to think about how we are John the Baptist in our time and place.

The Sermon
1.      Introduction:
Today remember and celebrate John the Baptist
not his day:
June 24 – or
August 29 – Beheading of St. John the Baptist
? what do we know about John?
·         like David was – whole hearted
·         little crazy
·         very popular – Josephus far more popular than Jesus
o   Jesus only begin ministry once John arrested
§  no room him until that point
·         baptised Jesus – which Mark and others very careful how tell story
                both honours John,
claims John
                clear Jesus not need this for repentance              
                                nor that less John
2.       Forerunner
                last of OT prophets
 – Mark 1 preached repentance
– personal sin -no such thing just personal sin
sin always includes communal and social sin
about how whole society functions
                who did he attract?
preached in wilderness
-> symbolic withdrawn existing social system
                                                People came – Judea rural poor
-          Jerusalem poor, artisans, those risk lives and shame travelling
3.       Honour shame society
                one important things need understand as read gospels
is that society is one based on honour and shame
then and now place society established by honour  family
                                life spent maintaining that honour
accumulating honour
and avoiding shame
                                graphically saw this week execution woman in Afghanistan
                                establish your honour through genealogy / whakapapa
                                how live lives as family
4.       Imprisonment and Beheaded by Herod
o   honour and shame what is behind Johns imprisonment and death
o   called out Herod Antipas and Herodias -  sought to shame them
§  marriage wrong all kinds of levels
·         Herod son Herod Great,
·         Herodias grand daughter
o   Herod’s niece
o   (Herod Great had 10 wives and 15 children, came from different maternal lines)
·          both married when first met, Herod visited brother (also really called Herod)
o   he divorced his wife – daughter Arab king – Herod’s later defeat by Aretas seen God’s punishment
o   Herodias also divorces husband
o   marriage wrong
§  brought huge loss honour and buckets shame
o   But no-one seems to be saying anything
§  massive failure social religious system
o   calling out Herod and Herodias
o   calling out social elite who accepted shameful set events
o   calling out religious leaders remained silent – although clear breach of law
·         John taking on ruling elite
o   super popular
o   no-one knows where this will end
o   decided that he should end
o   today’s gospel

5.       The creepy story
creepy story of creepy couple
                no way that step daughter, whatever age should be dancing like this deemed public arena
                                reserved family only
                                                should bring shame
                                wonder what Herod and Herodias thinking – allowing or encouraging this to happen
not bring honour house
                drunken enthusiasm
maybe to cover up shamefulness of event
– Promises anything wants – even half kingdom –
                                kingdom not his to give
                                only has it by permission Rome
loose later nephew, Herodias’ brother Agrippa
                Herodias sees chance rid herself and family pesky prophet heaps so much shame on them
asks for his head
                clearly influence continued from prison
Herod is pictured as being reluctant in his ordering of the execution
given his word
not do so invite not only shame
                raise doubts supporters minds how trustworthy he is

6.       John and us
then what more can we say about John
                confronted forces  worked against God’s justice and peace
                                worked against kind of society pictured by prophets
let nothing stand in his way
willing to pay the price

7.       Song of Zechariah
Mark not talk about childhood of anyone
Luke records early story John
and includes song of thanksgiving  father Zechariah gave at circumcision
Song Zechariah – recited Christians in morning office at least last 1500 years.
we going recite it in moment instead creed
two parts
first affirms the messianic hope – God’s rule restored
                deliverance is near at hand
second outlines Johns role in that as the forerunner,
"go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways" (v. 76) was of course an allusion to the well-known words of Isaiah 40:3
Interesting thing about that is places us in place John
        we become forerunner
        we ones prepare way Lord
                        in our time
                        in our community
                confront forces  work against God’s justice and peace
                                work kind of society pictured by prophets
let nothing stand in our way
as we recite this canticle
invite us consider what does that mean for us?