Friday, November 23, 2012

He Tangata Manawanui - A Generous People

A friend, Graham Cameron was invovled in the Leadership New Zealand course this year. The course members have written a book reflecting on their experience. It can be found here. Should be a good read.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

God of the Small Things

 Gate Pa – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 18th 2012


Hebrew Scripture: 1 Samuel 1:4-20
Psalm: 1 Samuel 2: 1-10
Epistle: Hebrews 10:11-25
Gospel: Mark 13: 1-8

What I want to say:

·         who does God work though to bring about reign of God
o   What are signs of that reign?
·         God is at work through those we least expect.
·         Pay attention to the small things
·         keep an eye on the poor and marginalised because that is where God is to be found·       

What I want to happen:

·         use St. David’s “persevere with the little things to reflect on where God is to be seen in our times

The Sermon

     1.    Introduction:

*    where do we look for inspiration, for hope, for clues how to live?
o   for signs of God’s activity and our salvation?
o   for God’s reign of justice and peace?
*    story Kate in America
o   woke up find result and Facebooked “good choosing America”
o   republican depression
not just republicans
number people disappointed by Barak Obama – promised so much but had delivered so little
looking for something radically different terms foreign policy + military action, economic policy, health care,  environmental policy
looking for him to be the harbinger of very different America
simply not happened
sense for some of them, hoped he would be God’s agent bringing in much more just America,
both in terms how those live in America treated
and attitude and treatment rest world,
especially Muslim world
while has been change, not enough
in a way today’s readings are about
           ð who are people that bring us hope?
          ð who does God work though to bring about reign of God?
           ð what are signs of that reign?

      2.    Story of Hannah

explore the story of Hannah
Humiliation not fulfilling her role in family
-         have sons
-         God’s decision and punishment (clear in story)
-         other wife (Penniniah) mocks her for it
-         when go up to sacrifice at Shiloh can’t take it any more
-         bereft she and goes to pray
-         Eli mistakes her very unusual silent prayer (all prayer like all reading would have been out loud)
-         despite evidence – assures her God has heard prayer
what is interesting is that Hannah in not the first significant women who started off being barren
-         spot the deliberate mistake in theme for today?
o   Sarah  (and Abraham)
o   Rebekah (Isaac) also described barren before had Esau and Jacob
o   Rachel (Jacob) barren – used her slave women as surrogate (as did sister for a while) before she herself conceived had Joseph and Benjamin
o   later have Elizabeth – mother John Baptist
-         all these stories God uses women who everyone else saw as failures
o   because they could not conceive they were of less worth, less importance, failures
§  not kind people God might use at all
§  yet story God hinges on these women and their struggle
§  without them there is no Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Samuel, or John.

       3.    Song of Hannah

her response is found in Psalm recited this morning
            prayer she prayed after left son with Eli live as Nazarite
-         does that prayer fit with the story?
o   vote?
-         like found prayer liked and added it for artistic touch
-         not uncommon practice add poems to stories
o   sometimes they were first version story – Ex 15 (song Miriam) and Judges 5 (song of Deborah) which added prose story around it
o   sometimes added for theological perspective it adds to story
o   which is what is at play here
o   this prayer is giving theological perspective
§  that this story is about much more than barren humiliated woman from small family out in sticks
§  story of national and theological significance
§  Samuel is more than greatly loved and cherished small boy
·        play key role in story God
o   last judge
o   priest and prophet
o   one who will oversee coming together of the 12 independent tribes
o   create whole new political system
o   one who will anoint first king
o   who will anoint David as King
§  who will as much as possible unify 12 independent tribes into one nation
§  who will be template all king was to be
§  will represent all that is longed for well into future
§  all this rests on this little boys shoulders
o   and prayer insists that this is all the  work God
§  God who raises poor from dust
§  lifts needy from the ash heap
o   offered view of  Hannah who senses significance of her boy, and on behalf of whole nation gives thanks to God
-         question for us
o   is Hannah kind of person you would look to to be mother of someone as significant as Samuel?
§  vote
§  I’d be looking for someone like Michelle Obama
o   presented image of God as one who ignores and overcomes all our expectations and assumptions,
§  about our place in world,
·        what gives strength, security, (all of which can be lost in a flash)
§  about God and God’s actions (unexpected and trustworthy)

       4.    Advent

in 2 weeks we are into advent
prepare retelling Christmas story
prepare encounter incarnate God in our world in fresh ways
remember story birth of the Christ,
story of omnipotent God most high bending down in love and becoming one of us in Jesus
what kind of woman would you look for to be the mother of that child?
be mother of God?
fair to say unexpected choice find it is unmarried young women, poor small village not so great part Palestine
think process that just used choose next ABC had been used, she wouldn’t have made the top 3 list.
I think in part that is what Mark is about today
all things that represented what people expect God work though
big events like wars, famines, earthquakes, eclipses – freaky as they are
none of those represent God’s normal means operating
Message from today’s readings is that God continues to use some very unlikely people to give birth to God’s reign of justice and peace
return to my first question
-          where do we look for inspiration, for hope, for salvation, for signs of God’s activity?
o   powerful
o   important
o   influential
o   or????
St. David of Wales
            died reported to have commended his disciples to persevere in the small things
suggest that one way read all these stories is not look famous and inspirational for work of God
Look to those in our communities persevere with little things, bring knowingly and unknowingly brings about God’s reign
be inspired by them
find God’s salvation in them

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Remember Parihaka | Aotearoa Indymedia

I should have re posted this on the day. But it is worth remembering even now a week late, especially after the "Treaty Gate" meeting here on Monday night. The trouble with John Ancell is that he is prone to not tell the whole story.

So let us remember, and honour those who have gone before by creating a just New Zealand for all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lest We Forget - Armistice Day 2012


Hebrew Scripture:      Ruth 3:1-5,4:13-17    
Psalm:                         Ps 127 
Epistle:                        Hebrews  9:24-28
Gospel:                        Mark12: 38-44

What I want to say:

We need to remember Remembrance Day, remember the courage and sacrifice of those who fought and those who left behind
We need to remember that war is brutal and senseless
We need to remember that our real hope is in Christ and the way of Christ, a way that seeks justice and peace for all.

What I want to happen:

In 2 minute silence remember wastefulness and stupidity of war, especially WW1.

The Sermon 

     1.     Introduction:

Today Armistice Day or Remembrance Day –
Wonder as we gather this morning, what is it we are remembering?
            On own think
Cambridge military parade
            stunned and sick
isn’t it a good day?
where I am coming from
Comments coloured:
      After WW1 family no involvement in war – profoundly grateful;
      attitude shaped by colleague who had been a merchant seaman in WWII and felt church let those returned servicemen down
      not understood what he was talking about until I read birdsong, watched movie/TV programmes like Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers and The Pacific
WW1 – not have happened
            poorly run
            men used “cannon fodder”
             pew sheet says
-         massive loss life and casualties
-         not begin name how badly affected those who survived were by it all
o   something book birdsong explores
-         ironic that  this great war that was supposed to end all wars gave birth century wars
-         directly led WW2, which laid foundation conflicts –Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Cold War (acted out all sorts conflicts around world)
-         laid foundations – on-going conflict middle east, which in turn given rise war terror
-         this we remember today
o   millions who died in WW1 and all subsequent wars and conflicts
o   millions injured, many permanently disabled
o   millions came home psychologically scared
o   people who left at home, forced live life without loved ones, or with changed loved ones when came home
o   millions lives torn apart as war descended on them
in face of that seems absolutely inappropriate to have a parade military on this day.
choose any other day
but not this day. 

      2.     Mark

light of that want to make brief comments about Mark
            after lasts weeks polite conversation we are back to business as usual
Jesus and scribes at each
what is his objection?
in some ways could say attitude was little unjustified
our identity is usually established by being able to say which group of people we belong to and where we fit with that group of people
saw this going on with disciples in central section
already seen all societies based on these questions
scribes, like all of us defend a system that clearly said who is in and who is out
system scribes reinforced very clear about who was in and who was out
system that gave them some best places
as we heard today – treated with respect in marketplaces and best seats in synagogue
real trouble was that applied same system of being in and out to God
system (like most systems ) said people like us are in
and those who are not like us are out
and excluded people – from participating and benefitting from their society.
applying this to God excluded these people from God’s love and concern.
compare that to image God Jesus offered life and teaching
elicit answers
not exclude anyone
caring, loving all
the problem was both that they excluded people from their society
and that they excluded people from God’s embrace

       3.     Scribes and the widows mite

so in light of that lets read this week’s story
often read these two stories apart,
in fact not read first half very much at all
two stories all part of one
observation of the Widow reinforces everything Jesus has just been talking about.
            what has he been talking about
            beware scribes who ponce about
            who devour widows houses
to be a widow was to be condemned to life abject poverty
greek used where sits isn’t just about place, can also read as placing himself in opposition to what is going on there
to an economic system that impoverishes people like widow
story not just about generosity and devotion widow
story highlights how system created and supported by scribes and Pharisees not only excludes people
exploits them,
impoverishes them
Treats “other” as less than human
less than as God sees them
creates unjust and dehumanising society.
society where violence seen reasonable
Such a society can and often does, without much effort, take up arms to enforce their identity, their rightness, their place in the world
Often in name of the God.
in this story Jesus simply says that such societies and such violence are not God’s way
God’s way is the way of hospitality, generosity, embrace of all.

         4.     Brings us back to today:

Hunch – those who have gone to war, who we remember today, while many did go to be heroes, glorified, which sometimes we tend to remember them as
            which is what I fear the Cambridge parade is really about
once got there and immersed mindlessness of it all
they and their mates could survived
in their efforts to make sense of it all
hoped that what they did help create a world where others would not have to go and fight wars
hoped building  a better society, a better world
this morning reading are about that world
            world less defined by who is in and who is out
            world all participate and benefit societies live in
            just world build God’s generosity and hospitality to each other.
So this Armistice day invite us remember
·        Brutality and far too often senselessness of war
·        Profound price that has been and continues to be paid by those sent to fight in wars, and by those left behind
·        As followers of Christ, our hope is not in armed might (no matter what some politician might say) but in God’s peace and justice, God’s hospitality
·        Truly honour memory of those who have fallen, as followers of Christ, we must continue to work with God to find just ways to bring peace to conflicts, and to bring about Gods reign of justice and peace create world war unnecessary

   finish with 2 minutes silence

God most holy,
we give you thanks for those who laid down their lives in war;
we pray for courage and self-sacrifice like theirs,
so that evil may always be resisted and peace maintained; 
we your people solemnly remember the wars we have endured; the killing, the grief and the courage. 
For the evil that was done we ask your pardon;
for what was great and honourable we give you the glory. 
Lord God, we pray simply for peace on earth. 
If in war we brought peace closer, strengthen our hope;
if we shared our food with others keep us generous;
if we dream of a better world, hear our prayer;