Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Harvest Festivals

Since pagan times harvest festivals have been annual celebrations for successful harvests. They featured ample food and freedom from the necessity to work in the fields. The common features were eating, merriment, contests, music and romance. Christians adopted these festivals to give thanks to God our creator for God’s goodness in the harvest. Today we give thanks for our harvest that we have grown in our gardens, if we have one, and the harvest we are able to buy each day in the shops.  We join with all God’s people continuing to give thanks for God’s provision.
Harvest festivals also provide a time to take stock. It is an occasion for us to confess that we too often are not satisfied and many in the West in particular are driven to have more. This has resulted in a significant percentage of humanity not having enough, living in constant hunger, debilitating poverty, all so that our desires might be met. The collapse of the building in Bangladesh is a stark reminder of the cost of our life of relative ease. Our greed has done lasting damage to many communities, and to our planet.  Today provides a chance to take stock and work for another way.
Harvest festivals also provide a chance to join with creations song of praise to God our creator. Some of the great saints, including Francis, saw God’s goodness and love being declared through all creation, and sought to join in that declaration,.
Today we welcome Gracie, Holly and Clara by baptism into God’s church. In so doing we invite them to join us as we seek to see creation not as a means of meeting our needs and desires, but through God’s eyes, as a declaration of God’s love. We invite them to unite with us as we join Christ living God’s goodness in all we do and to all we meet. We invite them to join us as we seek to live lives satisfied with all God gives and no more, being generous to all and cherishing this world God has given us to live on.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Podcasts of Sunday Sermons

I am recording my sunday sermons for any who are interested. So not only can you read the text you can listen to me too, if you are that crazy. This sunday was all about love and can be found here.

Friday, April 26, 2013

All You Need Is Love

Easter 5 – Commemoration of the Battle of Gate Pa


First Reading:                         Acts 11:1-18     
Psalm:                         Psalm: 148
Second Reading:        Rev 21:1-6      
Gospel:                        John 13:31-35
What I want to say:
ask – how did Jesus love and talk about loving?
Explore text from John
Loving one another is not easy – as New Testament (Acts, Pauls writing) show or as history church shows
failure to live out this “simple commandment” has led directly to us standing at dawn remembering those went to war on “our behalf”
explore examples of Henare Wiremu Taratoa and Heni Te Kiri Karamu as examples of the risk of loving as Christ loves
What I want to happen:
People to consider as hear this simple command today
Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
what invitation do they hear?
                  how might we live that out? 

The Sermon

       1.      Introduction:

ask – how did Jesus love, declare God’s love, talk about loving?
explore that
            comments about how Jesus loved
-            died for us
-            washed feet
-          fed them
-          healed them
-          ate at their tables – honoured them and showed his acceptance and respect, God’s acceptance and love
o   part of Gods community

       2.      John

spend moment explore John
seems pretty straight forward little reading
            context between Jesus talking to and about Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial
talks about his glorification – is betrayal and death
gives this nice simple commandment
 proved as difficult as all other sayings
 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (The Message)
what he means by love here is everything we have just talked about
            all that good practical stuff

        3.      Living our Love, or not – early church

love keeps getting confined by our religious and cultural expectations
we see struggle from early church –
                        ok we should love one another
                        but who do we love and how?
Acts 6 disciples accused of ignoring Hellenistic Jewish Christians
“It wouldn’t be right for us to abandon our responsibilities for preaching and teaching the Word of God to help with the care of the poor.”
fallen straight back into models of being teacher or rabbis
too busy teaching to live it out.
seem to have forgotten everything Jesus taught and shown
be missing the point of what Jesus said in this commandment we heard today
all that is about Jews
ð  does it include loving non-Jews
what are limits of this
Story heard today of Peter vision and his bold entry into Gentile house and eating their food with them   
and James response – one great uncertainty
to be worthy of this love needed to be a Jew
            not Jew, needed to become one or out – beyond limits of God’s love
Galatians – see on-going struggle – James leader Jerusalem church holding firm
Paul – realises implications of Jesus example loving and embracing all encountered
that no discrimination no matter how biblically based can stand in way of God’s outreaching love
                        when make God’s love central
Jesus did in gospel reading today and in his life and death
                                                gain freedom set aside “biblical laws”
says to James
I don’t think so
gentiles when respond to this love don’t need become Jews,
            just need keep responding to that love
            shaped by that love
            live out that love for others.
spends lot of his letters trying describe

4.      Living our Love, or not – the church

love stuff is complicated
history littered stories Christians living that out magnificently
stories care Christians showed poor in Rome – led growth church and persecution
Christians offering medical care, education, social welfare in societies down to today
Christians living out God’s love
living out this simple command
            changed world
equally stories of how absolutely failed show love
            shocking atrocities done in name of love
crusades –
bitter wars between Roman Catholic and Protestant – still being played our Northern Ireland today
persecution and executions “Anabaptists” by Luther and his followers – all in name of love
Spanish conquest of Americas – whole populations massacred – know love God
failure to live out this “simple commandment” has led directly to us standing at dawn remembering those went to war on “our behalf”

 5.      Gate Pa and Te Ranga

twisting of love helped lead to events remember tomorrow
many British Christians saw indigenous peoples only as uncivilised savages in need British civilising – done in name of loving God
need to be clear
            by no means was it all British Christians
            not include missionaries in this list
certainly attitude many settlers brought
gave them divine right treat Maori as they saw fit
            as their superiors
            meant on occasions Maori were treated appallingly as lesser beings
            attitude that helped shape the events remember tomorrow
            Battles of Gate Pa and Te Ranga
this failure to love
this twisting of love  led to deaths all those died here and Te Ranga
            led Maori being dispossessed of their land and mana
This simple command had been lived out, these events would never have happened
turns out loving one another proved a lot more difficult than we might hoped

 6.      Redemption

Good news is that today also gives opportunity remember what happens when this simple command is lived out
stories of Henare Taratoa
            Heni Te Kiri Karamu
incredibly difficult situation
            hopes two people living side by side in peace
                        each benefiting from other
                        lay ashes war
despite that they chose live out deep Christian faith
            not treat British only nameless enemy
            with respect and care and love
lived out this simple commandment
            rules engagement that Taratoa wrote
                        Maori abided by
            selfless, dangerous and merciful act of giving water dying soldier
example of each these two Maori shows what happens when take Jesus example seriously
join Crucified and Risen One in loving all those God loves
in these acts we can recognize them as Jesus disciples—we see they had love for each other, even those who came with violence to take their land and their way of life.

 7.      Invitation

As we hear this simple command today
Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”
remember the example of Taratoa and Heni
what invitation do you hear
how might we live that out?


As you listen you might also want to read Wilfred Owens poem

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots(4) 
Of tired, outstripped(5) Five-Nines(6) that dropped behind.
Gas!(7) Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets(8) just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime(9) . . .
Dim, through the misty panes(10) and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering,(11) choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud(12) 
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest(13) 
To children ardent(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.(15)
Wilfred Owen
8 October 1917 - March, 1918

Notes on Dulce et Decorum Est

1.  DULCE ET DECORUM EST - the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country.
2.  Flares - rockets which were sent up to burn with a brilliant glare to light up men and other targets in the area between the front lines (See illustration, page 118 of Out in the Dark.) 
3.  Distant rest - a camp away from the front line where exhausted soldiers might rest for a few days, or longer 
4.  Hoots - the noise made by the shells rushing through the air 
5.  Outstripped - outpaced, the soldiers have struggled beyond the reach of these shells which are now falling behind them as they struggle away from the scene of battle  
 6.  Five-Nines - 5.9 calibre explosive shells 
7.  Gas! -  poison gas. From the symptoms it would appear to be chlorine or phosgene gas. The filling of the lungs with fluid had the same effects as when a person drowned
8.  Helmets -  the early name for gas masks 
9.  Lime - a white chalky substance which can burn live tissue 
10.  Panes - the glass in the eyepieces of the gas masks 
11.  Guttering - Owen probably meant flickering out like a candle or gurgling like water draining down a gutter, referring to the sounds in the throat of the choking man, or it might be a sound partly like stuttering and partly like gurgling 
12.  Cud - normally the regurgitated grass that cows chew usually green and bubbling. Here a similar looking material was issuing from the soldier's mouth 
13.  High zest - idealistic enthusiasm, keenly believing in the rightness of the idea 
14.  ardent - keen 
15.  Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - see note 1 above.
These notes are taken from the book, Out in the Dark, Poetry of the First World War, where other war poems that need special explanations are similarly annotated. The ideal book for students getting to grips with the poetry of the First World War.
The pronunciation of Dulce is DULKAY. The letter C in Latin was pronounced like the C in "car". The word is often given an Italian pronunciation pronouncing the C like the C in cello, but this is wrong. Try checking this out in a Latin dictionary!  -  David Roberts.

(From http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/owen1.html)

ANZAC Day, fighting for freedom?

Yesterday in New Zealand and Australia we remembered ANZAC day, the day thousands of Aussie and Kiwi young men began to be sacrificed on the beaches of Gallipoli in Turkey during WW1. We remember and honour all those who have gone overseas to fight, those who did not come home, and those who came home scarred either physically or psychologically. 
I so struggle with this day. I am now the RSA chaplain and so have a role leading the dawn service. I am very happy to honour those who fought, who died, who came home forever changed, and those who were left behind in this land. It is important to remember them all. 
But when I listen to our news reporters talking about how they fought for our freedom I get so angry. WW1 cannot in any way be described as a conflict with freedom on the line. It was a war that should never have happened. And it made no difference to our freedom. It was simply about politics. In the end most of these conflicts were about politics not freedom. 
Each ANZAC Day we pray that we will not forget them. I wonder what it is that we are not to forget really? A friend of mine offered these thoughts
Forget what?
Organized murder?
The power of media
to depict and glamorize
violence and death
glorious to the extent that generations die
for the gains of an elite other
Oh yes - the sacrifice of those who risked
and gave of life in service ... by killing
or by being killed by neighbours
described by another as the other ...
... for the sake of someone
or other's game of empire.
So let us remember those who went and fought, those who died and those who came home, and those who remained here who waited and mourned. But let us also truly remember why they fought and died, without all the "freedom" decoration, really remember the stupidity and horror, and work hard to ensure that no others have to be pawns in others' disputes again.

So join me in our prayer for our ongoing work for peace built on justice.

God our help in the past and our hope for the future,
we come to remember those who have gone before us,
to celebrate their lives, to mourn their deaths,
to pray for those left behind; their comrades, their families, all who mourn
We come to give thanks for those who have laid down their lives,
to solemnly remember the wars we have endured,
and to strengthen our resolve to strive for peace with justice.
Be with us in our gathering, O God, hear us as we pray
and make us ever mindful of the continuing presence
of all those who have gone before.
This we pray in the name of your son,
who willingly laid down his life for the many
and called us to do likewise. Amen.