Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fresh Horizons Conference

Last week I attended a two day conference looking at ministry to those in the second half of life. It was a really interesting event. There were a number of speakers. The keynote speaker was Rob Merchant who is a gerontologist, author and Anglican priest.
Here are some reflections:
  • It was a shock as someone in my early 50's to be lumped in with those in their late 60's and beyond. Actually I just thought that was silly. It also raised for me the question of how we take this age group, those whose children have left home or are about to leave home, (or have left home and then come back again) and who are getting nearer the end of this phase of a working life. I need to think more about that.
  • It helped me become more conscious of the need to be as intentional in this ministry as in youth ministry. it isn't going to happen by accident. Having said that, one of the best sessions was taken by a Baptist church that has focused on the over 60's, and who listed some of their activities. I realised that we are doing OK here at St. Georges. We are developing a team to take home communions to people, bimonthly meetings to be intentional and careful about pastoral care to all age groups, but particularly the older parishioners, and a really good AAW group that offers good events for women in particular, and good pastoral care. But we do need to think about men and what we can do to support them.
  • Rob  also led a session on dementia, which was really helpful. It helped me think about the loss of the memory but not the emotion around that memory. Rob is involved with a group who have developed Pictures to Share Books which are specifically designed for use with people with dementia. it looks a really exciting resource and I hope to be able to encourage some of our age care facilities to buy these and make them available to their residents.
this was a really good two days. I hope to go back next year, and to take some key parishioners with me to build on what we are doing here at St. Georges.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Eat me said Jesus

Year B - Ordinary Time 20 or Pentecost 12
August 19, 2012

Readings:

Hebrew Scripture:    1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14
Psalm:                       Psalm 111
Epistle:                      Ephesians 5:15-20
Gospel:                      John 6:51-58          

What I want to say:

When reading John the big question is “who is Jesus and why should we follow him/trust him/believe in him?
It is important to not get stuck on the details, but to pay attention them and push through them to the truth that they point to.
Use the two miracles at the beginning of this section to illustrate that.
use that to explore what John might have meant having Jesus describe himself as the bread of life, and saying that people have to eat his flesh and drink his blood.
God, in Jesus, will meet us in our deepest longing, and will satisfy that longing so that we might have life now in all its fullness.
Use Maximilian Kolbe to illustrate the point

What I want to happen:

Re-read that whole story and meet God in new and life giving ways as they look beyond the details to discover Jesus the bread of life
Grow in their trust in/believing in/ immersing selves in God

The Sermon

1.     Introduction: -

-         Last four weeks we have been delving deeper into story around great I am statement “I am bread of Life” – today we get to the really difficult bit, which I have entitled “eat me!”
-         2 beginning comments:
-         audiences and what is the gospel
a. Johns community –
ð long after events
ð fall of temple
ð expulsion from synagogue
ð persecution
ð too tough
§  some left
ð John old
ð help his church community know Christ in the midst of all this
ð help them believe – more intellectual assent
§  trust, loyalty, believing into, whole of life thing
ð over-riding question though whole gospel - who is Christ?
ð why should I believe into him
b. audience of story
-         also asking who is this Jesus – question shaped by honour system within society
-         peasant
-         not have necessary honour/mana to be doing or saying any of what he is doing or saying
-         why should we pay any attention to you
-         why should we follow you
-         hang on to that question – who is Christ?

2.     John’s gospel

-         this is not history book not a dairy of what Jesus did
-         theology book -> who is christ?
-         through telling a story
-         key ingredient is his use signs - he tells as signs
-         it is important to not get stuck on the details, but to pay attention them and push through them to the truth that they point to.
-         what do I mean by that?

3.     Feeding of the 5,000 and walking on water

ð where this all began
ð often explain feeding story by saying
§  his giving thanks and sharing
·        encouraged others to share what they had
ð now if we apply that to fundamental question behind this – who is Christ?
§  someone who throws really good shared lunches
ð not going to help through persecution
ð not enough to believe into, give our entire trust and loyalty to
§  about Jesus’ generosity -> God’s generosity
§  miss the point
ð as do most people in story – also get stuck on details can’t really see beyond Jesus peasant
ð and some Johns community  - lost faith
ð important to not get stuck on details
§  not saying that miracle happened exactly as John describes it,
§  take what John says at face value
·        pay attention to details and then push through
§  when is this set?
·        Passover – important details
§  where is it set?
·        mountains in wilderness
o   lost questions arise – why people here in mountainous
·        dangerous place
·        place thieves
·        place spirits
·        thin place – meet God
o   why not home feast or Jerusalem
o   5,000 – bigger most cities Jesus time
§  Passover is:
·        celebration of Gods great liberation of people
·        foundational celebration
·        remember Moses great prophet
o   giver law (sometimes symbolised as bread)
§  Jesus feeds them
·        just like Moses fed people in wilderness
·        carefully constructed story places Jesus alongside Moses
·        like Samaritan women at Jacobs well
o   Jesus surpasses these great ancestors.
o   show him to be even greater Moses and Jacob
o   establishes mana
ð same thing walking on water
§  again we can get stuck on the details and try to explain it
§  if we don’t
·        left picture Jesus is on who walks over the chaos and spirits of deep – cause all disciples uncertainty and fear
§  as soon as they see him they are again on hard ground, immune from effects those sprits
§  Jesus is greater than even them.

4.     I am the living bread that came down from heaven

            ð so let’s apply that to today’s really tricky reading where Jesus says
    51 I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self."
   52 At this, the Jews started fighting among themselves: "How can this man serve up his flesh for a meal?"
   53 But Jesus didn't give an inch. "Only insofar as you eat and drink flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of the Son of Man, do you have life within you. 54 The one who brings a hearty appetite to this eating and drinking has eternal life and will be fit and ready for the Final Day. 55 My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 By eating my flesh and drinking my blood you enter into me and I into you. 57 “ 
-         again, important to not get stuck details 
-         many hearers did, and followers
ð pretty gross and deranged
ð blasphemous – never eat blood
            blood life – life belongs to God alone
ð pay attention to them and push on through.
o   bread
§  most hearers – staple
§  estimated 50% calories came bread
§  what kept them alive
§  just as manna kept them alive in desert.
o   real way bread is life!
o   linked with bread Jesus gives at feeding 5,000 (why important not just shared lunch)
§  echoes Moses feeding people in wilderness with manna
o   trouble with bread is, just like bread Jesus gave them on mountain – get hungry again
ð only satisfies for short while and hungry again
                        longing again
o   bread also metaphor Mosaic law
ð given as means by which much deeper longing
§  – longing for way belong to, believe in , give absolute trust and loyalty to God met
ð even that  left people unsatisfied
o   push through gory details
ð go back to miracles which started all this
§  this is about our deepest longings, hopes and fears.
ð not an intellectual things
ð about allowing God into our deepest place,
§  symbolically welcoming God and God’s life
·        symbolised by  gut
§  about God enters into us and we enter into God,
ð those deepest longing, deepest fears, deepest hopes are met
ð clearly linked to the eucharist
§  bread and wind shared each time John’s community met
ð Franciscan tradition there is this beautiful image of eucharist of God most holy bending down in love to meet us through Christ in the bread and wine
ð really what John is offering here
ð invitation to allow God to meet us and heal us.
ð especially in eucharist.
§  God, in Jesus, will meet us in our deepest longing, and will satisfy that longing so that we might have life now in all its fullness.

5.     Use Maximilian Kolbe to illustrate the point


Monday, August 13, 2012

Celebrating Clare of Assisi - and her example of Missional Community

 Gate Pa – August 12 2012

Readings:

Hebrew Scripture:          2 Samuel 18: 5-9, 15, 31-33
Psalm:                            130 (confession)
Epistle:                           Ephesians 4: 25-5:2         
Gospel:                           John 6: 35, 41-51              

What I want to say:

Introduce people to St. Clare and some of her gift to the Franciscan story
Use her story to explore the readings
These help us understand the gift of being God’s people, a missional community

What I want to happen:

St. George’s people to more intentionally embrace being a missional people in how we treat each other and those we cross paths with, like Brian

The Sermon

1.      Introduction: - who is Clare?

Born 1193 or 1194?
Great noble families Assisi
Role was to marry as directed
Always prayerful, spent significant time alms giving
Refused two offers of marriage
1212 she heard Francis preaching and was so impressed that she determined join him in life poverty
Palm Sunday March 1212 Clare secretly left home and joined Francis at Portiuncula outside Assisi
Uncle not going tolerate that – marriages arranged each
But when tried to lift them they were unable to…. left with Francis
Sister Agnes Later, her widowed mother joined her
not stay with with Francis – placed them with Benedictine community
In 1215, when the number of adherents had grown, Francis set up the small community in a house near San Damiano, the church just outside Assisi he had repaired a few years earlier. Clare remained there for next 40 years
became first home poor clares – came to be known
She died in 1253. She was canonised two years later.
talk about two key principles in way Clare
·         “The Privilege of Poverty” Pope Innocent IV granted Clare, a papal grant which ensured that the three early houses of Assisi, Perugia and Florence should never be endowed but depend solely on alms
·         crucifix was mirror in which all were to look

2.      Privilege of poverty

            Radical vision of community based on gospel
cf other monasteries
            embraced poverty
all equal
all marks of previous life wiped
all contributed equally life community
all benefited equally
all relied on alms others
become very dour and austere
life Clare sisters marked by gentleness, love and joy, and generosity
people were inspired by what they saw and heard
saw God at work in these women
Order quickly spread
Privilege of poverty was granted by Pope Innocent IV just before her death, a papal grant which ensured that the three early houses of Assisi, Perugia and Florence should never be endowed but depend solely on alms
 

3.      Ephesians and missional community

Reading heard Ephesians is also about this kind of radical community
not embracing poverty in the same way
describes community that had potential to stand out
to inspire
to draw people to God
call this a missional community
written church struggling to hold Jew and non-Jew (gentile) together
old ways thinking hard break
writer offering insights into how to live out relationship with Christ, and through that, relationship with one another
much more set rules to be applied to everyday life as it sometimes is interpreted
inviting readers into a new state of being out of which new way of being community was possible
Describes readers, us, as members or limbs of each other – we need each other
what he is doing is describing how we might live in such a way that we honour each other as our fellow limbs
Because we belong to each other exhorts readers put away all falsehood
            more than telling truth or not telling lies each other
being honest with ourselves and each other about who we are
how we feel
            ok to be angry
            be honest about what causes it and root emotions of that
                        do something about it,
don’t let it fester because that will destroy you
and your community
exhorts them to turn greed (*theft) into generosity – how often we leave out the second half of that sentence.
speak in such a way that others are built up, not diminished – “our words may give grace to those who hear”
encouraged to be imitators of God
è what does that mean to be an imitator of God
o   means being able to identify the qualities of God that we are to imitate
è what are those qualities?
è these are qualities that are to mark Ephesians
è and those are qualities that are to mark us as todays readers
o   are to mark the way we treat each other
o   those we come across in our daily lives
è those qualities marked Clare and her sisters.
how do we attain these qualities as individuals and as a community?
that leads us to the second facet of Clare’s spirituality

4.      Second facet of Clare’s spirituality – praying before the crucifix

            Sisters were to pray before, gaze into face crucified one each day
            no glass mirrors
Christ was to be their mirror – mirror into their souls
who they are much more important what look like
place who they are before the one who died for our love
Clare inviting sisters place their heart into the heart of God
recognise who they were are in the eyes God
o   beloved
ð  able to be honest about who they were to each other
ð  in doing do their eyes and ears opened to the mystery Christ present in world around us
ð  as compared to conventual monastic spiritualty taught one look beyond the distractions of this world to find God
·         one key elements Franciscan spirituality, is that through incarnation, God is found in this world, in beauty nature, and in the people live among
·          recognise that fullness of who we are in Christ can only be found in the other
that feels like lot of what Johns material about Jesus being the bread of life is about, but that is next weeks sermon.

Friday, August 10, 2012

First Funeral and other stuff.

This has been a big week. Too much going for. But I survived and hear I am Friday night blogging away.

Sunday after church I got a phone call on my way home from the church from a funeral director. A really nice lady who has been receiving home communion for quite awhile had died. I had my first funeral. I have welcomed others into St. Georges to take funerals, but this was my first one. Actually I think it is my first one in about 20 years. So I was pretty nervous going to visit them. The whole planning thing was a big learning curve. I think it all would have gone better if I had had time in my office with my computer hunting resources down to take with me, and getting my head around what needed to happen. But it was Sunday, and didn't have time for all that. Having said that, I think it all went pretty well. It was a privilege taking the funeral. I liked this woman. I liked her daughters. I was an honour being involved and i hope I did them all justice. it was a really nice funeral. they had good ideas, and it all worked.

this week has also been busy with the Management Committee for the Childcare we are in partnership in. They are employing a new staff person, and I was invited to be part of the interviews of those short listed. it was a lot of work, especially with an actual management committee meeting thrown into the middle of all that. Tuesday was nearly all childcare. I was glad to get to the gym and sit on a bike and read the readings for Sunday. 

I was interested at how few of the candidates had bothered to go to the Waiapu Anglican Care website to find out about what that was all about. I could have guaranteed that there was going to be a questions about it, and only one person was prepared. I am not even sure they had worked out what kind of questions would be asked. It made me realise how important interview technique is.

Thursday was all about  trying to get ready for Sunday, writing sermons, planning services etc... It was a really hard day.

Today was pre-school music, and a wardens meeting. And finishing getting ready for Sunday. It has been a busy week.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Sacred Space | Your daily prayer online

I sometimes struggle to fine time to pray. This is one place that helps stop and make the time to pray in the business of the day. It is really good for those who struggle to have the place or space in their day.

Another really good resource is Pray as you go, which offers an mp3 for each day, to be played on an mp3 player while journeying to where ever you are going, work or whatever, by public transport or in your own car.

Why on earth would we te reo Maori in our Sunday service?

 Gate Pa – 5th August 2012

(the week after Maori language week – te wiki o te reo Maori


Readings:

Hebrew Scripture:          2 Samuel 11:26-12:13a
Psalm:                                  51
Epistle:                 Ephesians 4:1-16             
Gospel:                                John 6:24-35,    

What I want to say:

ask people why they think it is important to use te reo Māori in the service, or what questions they have about using it?
Outline some of the reasons I think it is important:
·         welcoming for Maori speakers to hear their language
·         Te reo Maori is a gift from God, cultivated by our ancestors and bequeathed as a gift to all generations it behoves us to fill our hearts with what is good and just.
·         official language of Aotearoa New Zealand and as such deserves a place in our services
o   partly because it is an official language
o   partly Maori is used all around us and is part of our context
·         who we are as Anglicans in this country
o   language first Anglican church (te Haahi Mihinare)
o   language of our tikanga partners in this land
·         enable us to worship with Tikanga Maori partners with confidence
·         Lutheran work on relationship of liturgy with culture:
o   trans or beyond culture
o   contextual
o   counter cultural
o   cross cultural

What I want to happen:

people to engage with te reo Māori in an informed and enthusiastic way

The Sermon

Introduction:

ask people why they think it is important to use te reo Māori in the service, or what questions they have about using it?
Outline some of the reasons I think it is important:
·        welcoming for Maori speakers to hear their language
·        Te reo Maori is a gift from God, cultivated by our ancestors and bequeathed as a gift to all generations it behoves us to fill our hearts with what is good and just.
·        official language of Aotearoa New Zealand and as such deserves a place in our services
o   partly because it is an official language
o   partly Maori is used all around us and is part of our context
·        who we are as Anglicans in this country
o   language first Anglican church (te Haahi Mihinare)
o   language of our tikanga partners in this land
·        enable us to worship with Tikanga Maori partners with confidence
·        Lutheran work on relationship of liturgy with culture:
o   trans or beyond culture
o   contextual
o   counter cultural
o   cross cultural


In summary:

don’t use te reo Maori because
·        it is trendy or because it is PC
·        I use it because it is who we are

using te reo Maori honours:
·        who is here
·        who we are as an Anglican church
·        our context in these communities
·        liturgy as a vehicle that moves us
o   out of our culture
o   helps us embrace other cultures
o   hold our culture up to the gospel