Gate Pa – Presentation of Jesus / Epiphany 4 2013
Hebrew Scripture:      Jer 1:4-10
Psalm:             Psalm: 71:1-6                         
Epistle:            1 Cor 13:1-13 
Gospel:            Luke 4:21-30 or Luke 2: 22-40

What I want to say:
Today is about longing
            longing of those in various readings
                        for God
                        for hope
                        to be loved
            God’s longing expressed in Jeremiah
            longing of all people
            longing of Maori as we approach Waitangi Day

What I want to happen:

What does God long for for this community
for us this Waitangi day

The Sermon

         1.      Introduction:

sobering over the last week watching and reading about people Mali
especially Timbuktu
                        historic city
                        sense of history seemingly still shaping who see themselves as
as heard stories having lives overrun invading force
living under constant threat
see much what treasured
            encapsulates your identity
            suddenly danger destruction
as I watched
            I wondered what that was like
as listened people being interviewed about their experience
reminded that the experience of those people much like people of Gospels
in many ways describes world Jesus lived in
            world gospel writers
world under occupation by Romans
who were as violent as Islamist militants in Mali
living always threat violence
that shadow covers entire gospel story
colours people in it
and all long for
especially Luke

       2.      Longing

if thread ran through all readings heard today
it would be longing
longing of Psalmist God would rescue him from all besets him
Longing Jeremiah to be freed from call that God being placed on him
            knowing this will not be good
Longing of God found in that call
            longing that all that separates people from God might be removed
            they will remember again who they are
                        their identity found only in God – and not all they desire
Longing of Paul people in young church
            let go need to mark each other as in or out community,
            let go of need name some as more in and more important than others
this Pharisee,
            once guardian of who was in and out God’s community,
                        who in and out of God’s care and concern
                        who had worked maintain his position at centre of that community
says let it go
we are all in
and we are all as beloved as each other
instead of these boundaries
            he longs for his readers follow way of compassion and love.
                        see each other with compassion
                        see each other knowing they are unreservedly loved
            not wishy-washy romantic love
                        about how I feel
            but God’s hard crunchy self-giving  love
                        God unwavering eternal commitment to all humanity
                                                            that invites us sees the other as beloved,
                                                                        no matter who that other is.
Paul longs for love to be the cornerstone, not preservation, not boundaries
On Wednesday, commemorate Waitangi day
            which for many Maori is day sorrow and anger
when remember again how all they longed hoped in signing that Treaty
was betrayed
how sacred covenant they signed was broken
I wonder what we would bring to that commemoration, to the debate
if come from position of compassion
            and not preservation
follow Pauls way of love
            God’s hard crunchy self-giving  love
                        God’s commitment to Maori
asked what might need to happen that Maori can flourish
            and be all that God longs for

     3.      Gospels

longing also thread that runs through both options for gospel readings today
            Continuation of last week’s story (Luke 4 reading)
where those originally are in awe of Jesus
            reminded that just son of Joseph
            led to verbal joust
            when they lose verbal joust (as so many do)
            resort to violence, try to stone him (and so the return to Jerusalem begins)

     4.      Candlemas

in reading heard this morning set for the  Presentation of Jesus at the Temple or Candlemas
                        – explain in pew sheet
meet longing Joseph and Mary for their son
who take from Bethlehem to Jerusalem
not big journey
go to temple
            offer sacrifice –
                        giving thanks first born son -  dedicate as holy to God
            where Joseph publicly claim paternity of Jesus
                        establish is place in community as his son
            puts to rest all rumours about Mary and this pregnancy - maybe
poor devout family – can only offer sacrifice of poor people (two birds)
living under occupation
longing for an end to that
all their longing for Jesus, for themselves,
lived out in this simple act, following requirements of their faith

      5.      Simeon

in Luke
- Story early years Jesus mirror that of John’s early years
Just as John’s father prophesied at presentation at the temple
So prophesy over Jesus
way establish someone’s honour at the beginning of their life story
            gives means measuring worth life at the end.
Simeon prophesies with Jesus
His prophesy, his song has been sung or said evening prayer centuries
full of longing
story of We All Belong at Wellington Synod
developed youth policy for Diocese of Wellington
            statement of our longing church see youth ministry as so much more than running a youth group
            longing that every adult see their role in journeying with young people
                        helping them name their questions and doubts
                        helping them discover God’s longing for them
Creatively presented it at this synod
last item of business,
finished days business with evening prayer
saying this prayer, song of Simeon
            gave voice to all that longing
            gave voice all hope we had that we might live this out
profound experience have our hope and longing held in an ancient prayer.
Song of Simeon echoes great songs we have already heard
songs born out being people under occupation
full of their longing
            long freedom
            long for God,
            songs born out knowledge only God meet this longing
As we say these songs
            we join with them in this longing
            we join with all who struggle under occupation and poverty
                        long for freedom
                        long for a different life
as we say these songs
Reminded again
Luke presents Jesus as one who will fulfil that longing
            as one who embodies God’s longing for us
                        for all humanity
as Augustine of Hippo said
God longs to remind us who we are
made in Gods image
we are known
we can only know ourselves in God
when we willing embrace love that is at the core of our being.
when we know that we and every person is beloved

      6.      Treaty of Waitangi

this Wednesday is Waitangi Day
what can any of this have to say to this commemoration
often wonder how readings link with our hopes and longings
as we approach this Waitangi day
 how connect longing people live among
longing of Maori
as we approach this Waitangi day
what does Pauls way of love invite us to
what does this gospel written out hat that invite us to?