Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My thoughts on Reconciliation: Gate Pa Commemorations, 2014.

Your Excellency, Lt General Sir Jerry Mataparae; King Tu Heitia, Ministers of the Crown, Chief of the Defence Staff, Mayors and Councillors, Rau rangatira ma, me nga iwi o Tauranga Moana, me nga hau e wha – iwi Maori iwi Pakeha – tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou...
It is a huge privilege to be asked to speak today.
I am the vicar of St. Georges Anglican Church here at Gate Pa, on the hill of Pukehinahina. Our story is entwined with the story of the events we remember today
The church was conceived as a memorial Church in 1880's and built in 1900 in honour of the British troops who died here.
It was named after St. George. There is a Muslim saying about St. George which says that the righteous act is to confront the tyrant. George died confronting the Emperor Diocletian. We remember those today who stood against the tyrant and fought here. George is a very apt saint to be named after
In 1960's a new entrance was built in memory of Maori who died here.
The new church, built in 1993 was built as a memorial to all who fought and died.
Above the door as you enter the church are the words, "All who enter here be reconciled". Our hope is that we are symbol of reconciliation.
Reconciliation is a significant theme of these commemoration events. It is why we are here today.
The dictionaries I looked at define reconciliation as restoring friendly relationships between people or groups.  We are here today to continue the work of restoring friendly relationships between nga iwi o Tauranga Moana and those of us who are more recent arrivals.
A place to start is to know and retell the story, and for those of us here because of these events, to say sorry.  As I learn about what happened here leading up to both this battle and the Battle at Te Ranga and what happened after that, I am left with conflicting emotions. There is so much about what happened that I regret, that I wish had not happened or that some of those involved had made different decisions. The intrinsic belief that British culture was superior, was and continues to be wrong. All the decisions that were made motivated by that belief were also wrong. Added to this was the ever present hunger for more land by the ever growing numbers of European settlers. These beliefs and this hunger led to the decision to use force to meet these needs. And for me this was wrong. The decision by Bishop Selwyn to instruct the missionaries to offer pastoral support to the British troops as well as continue work among tangata whenua turned out to be a bad decision. The decision by CMS to grant their holding of land here in Tauranga Moana to the Settler Government for the creation of a military settlement without any reference to those hapu who had offered it to Brown in the first place was I believe, wrong. All this and more saddens me and I can only apologise. I wish my forebears had done better.
However, to just focus on the story will not lead to reconciliation. There are so many versions of what happened here. While we can agree on some of the basic facts, when it comes to the stories of the people which makes this a real event it becomes much more complicated. For example, while we can agree that someone or some people gave water to a or some wounded or dying British soldiers, it becomes much harder to say who.
The impact of this story also changes depending on who you are. While some of us tell this story to the best of our ability trying to honour the complexities and those who participated as much as we can, it remains for us a story about other people. A story that shapes our present, but somehow not involving me.
But as I listen to kaumatua tell this story, I realise you tell it very differently. It is your story. Some heard it from those who knew the people involved. It is your whanau. And you have lived with the consequences all your lives, and continue to live with those consequences. It is personal and real. Your understanding of what happened here will always be different from mine because of that. And so how I experience this story is different, and how you hear my apology is shaped by that.
The story of what happened here also carries a load of cultural assumptions. It is now clear that what Archdeacon Brown understood he was doing in the transactions for the land was not how the hapu involved understood it. All of that means that sometimes we are not even saying sorry for the right things, and we continue to cause pain and the relationship is not restored, let alone friendly.
Finally, when we just focus on the story of these battles, those of us who are more recent arrivals fail to see the social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual loss the land confiscations cause to nga iwi o Tauranga Moana. While we can think that just saying sorry is enough it is not until we address those losses.
It turns out reconciliation is a lot more complicated than our little sign implies. And it involves more than just saying sorry.
At the heart of Christianity is the notion of repentance. Acknowledging that wrong has been done and seeking to live in new ways, in God's grace, that looks to both stop that wrong and undo its effects. Or to put in another, repentance is living out the sorry. And that is what is needed here.
Living the sorry means seeking to first of all right the wrongs of the past. Learning the story is important. But not just the story of this battle and Te Ranga, but the whole story including the Bush Campaign of 1867, and the ongoing effects of the land confiscations.
To be reconciled also means learning to not continue the wrongs of the past in our present actions and attitudes. And it means more publically and deliberately recognising the presence of iwi and hapū on this land well before these events.
My hope is that these commemorations will help us take big strides in being reconciled. I hope that those of us who are more recent settlers in this land will learn from the attitudes, actions and grace of some of our forebears in this place. People like Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipipi Te Waharoa, who tirelessly worked to find ways for Maori and European to live side by side, each benefiting from the other and allowing each the resources they needed to flourish as Maori and European.
People like Rawiri Puhirake, Henare Wiremu Taratoa and Heni te Kiri Karamu whose courage, generosity and mercy changed how many experienced the horror of these event, and how they are understood and remembered.
The theme for this commemoration is “by understanding our history, we can see how far our community has come, and look forward to our future together.” As I look at the photos of this event 50 years ago I se we have come along way. We have along way to go. I look forward to commemorating this event every year as a city, not eveyr 50. I look forward to having a place in our city that tells the story of these events.
 My hope is that this commemoration will help us learn and understand all our history, with all it's complexities.
I also hope that we can learn to live the sorry. This will not be easy. There is an old whakatauki, ‘he waka eke noa’, we’re all in this together.
May we learn to live well together.
May all who live here be reconciled.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

To doubt like Thomas

This weeks theme is written by our guest writer, Bonnie Hebenton.

 In this week's gospel Jesus has a conversation with Thomas, who doubts that his leader is alive because he was not with the other disciples when they first saw the risen Christ. As a consequence of this conversation Thomas is henceforth known as Doubting Thomas. This tends to have a negative connotation and we use the term Doubting Thomas to critically describe someone who seems to be hesitant or stuck because of doubt

Doubt is not always bad. Sometimes doubt is absolutely essential. Doubt may be analogous to pain. Pain tells us that something nearby or within us is dangerous to our physical body. It is a call for attention and action. Similarly, doubt tells us that something in us … a concept, an idea, a framework of thinking … deserves further attention because it may be harmful, or false, or imbalance.

Christians are committed to lifelong spiritual growth. That means that five years from now, our set of beliefs will hopefully be different from today’s … our beliefs will be more fine-tuned, more tested, more balanced, more examined. What causes us to examine a belief and test it? It’s that something inside you isn’t at rest about a belief … something in you doubts that belief. By doubting it, and then examining it, you can either call it a keeper because it passed the test, discard it, or adjust it.*
*"Doubt: The Tides of Faith" Written for Christian Single Magazine by Brian McLaren 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Resurrection Now

Gate Pa – Easter 2014
Hebrew Scripture:                Acts 10:34-43                      
Epistle:                                   Col 3:1-4                 
Gospel:                                  Matthew 28:1-10                  

What I want to say:
Use the ppt of Marks version of the resurrection story to invite people to consider how resurrection affects their daily lives

What I want to happen:
where do you meet the resurrected Christ

The Sermon

1.     Introduction:
PowerPoint of story from gospel – Mark

2.     Marks version
Gospel writers do not agree on details of resurrection
some appearances in Jerusalem only
some Galilee
some both
That version resurrection in movie just saw is different from what just heard from Matthew
lot less
Gospel as written by Mark that has survived until today finishes at 16:8 - nearly all scholars agree with that
as just heard - only the women see risen Jesus
Told to tell disciples to go to Galilee, where they will see Jesus, and the woman ran from the tomb, confused, and shaking, too afraid to tell anyone what had happened
question is – is this where Mark intended to finish
was there longer version somehow got chopped off
somewhere someone or some group  thought this
longer version based on Matthew added
usually 2 included in most versions
or is this where intended to stop
Some scholars say, that is where he intended to end it

3.     Intro talk
Gospel is like an intro talk when have guest speaker at convention
Like Mark introduces Jesus by recounting stories reveal kind person he is
And then Mark says,
And now let’s hear from Jesus
Here in Rome
How have you met risen Jesus?
From this point of view
Resurrection stories set in Jerusalem and Galilee are much less important than stories how you and I meet risen Christ in our daily lives.
If Easter is just a true story, but has no impact on us
How see world
How live our lives
Then little point to it!
Reduced to level of nice story
But if this story stirs us to remember our own times with risen Christ
Allows us to recount how we have been changed by those experiences
Allows us to continue to grow into Christ's great love
Then Easter is of great significance
Season Easter is 50 days
Invite you spend those 50 days remembering times met risen Christ
invite you to tell a least one other of those times, and
to hear another's story, so that together you may
rejoice at Risen Christ continued presence with us

4.     Response
invite you talk to neighbour
when ready
use paper, pipe cleaner and pen on given on entering
words or image - times met risen Christ
how that is changing you.
after writen on paper
make into flower
place it on Cross as our prayer this morning.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Lost

This last week has been a very busy time at St. George’s Anglican Church in Gate Pa. Our church sits on the site of battle of Gate Pa. And the 150th anniversary of that battle is in less than 2 weeks. We are hosting an Exhibitions of Images of the Battle in the church, our hall is being used to display the entries to Art Competition, we have hosted a number school visits, and will be hosting a series lectures next week. Outside builders and carvers are at work preparing site for the commemoration. And some of us are busy preparing our various roles in those commemoration events. At times it is hard to keep track that Easter is close. It is hard to find time to even think about those events 2000 years go. As I retell the story of that battle and think of those who were killed or wounded, all  that carnage and death, it feels like we meet our own Good Friday here on this hill; filled with all the hate, angst, fear, pain and despair of that initial Good Friday. And like that first Good Friday it is very hard to find any good news. When I read on to the Battle of Te Ranga and the resulting destruction of Maori leadership and the massive land confiscation, like on Good Friday, I am lost to know where to find hope.
Over the last week or so I have been reading the book “Love Wins” by Rob Bell. In it he talks about how for the Prophets and Jesus heaven was not another place we go to after we die, but the hope of what this world will be like in next age, when God’s will is completely done on earth as in heaven. Easter Sunday is the day we celebrate Christ’s resurrection, his defeat of death and bringing life for us all. To live in the hope of the resurrection involves asking what does resurrected life look like. Is it like now? Is it different? Bell suggests that living resurrection involves imagining what the world will look like in the coming age (with the help of what the prophets and Jesus taught) and living to bring that to reality now.
As I look again at the story of the Battle of Gate Pa I find people of great faith living to bring heaven even into the midst of this hard story, working hard to bring God’s peace and goodness to this terrible event. People like Rawiri Puhirake and Henare Wiremu Taratoa who wrote the rules of engagement that laid out (before there was a Geneva Convention) how the wounded, the unarmed and the non-combatants were to be treated. I see it in the actions of Heni Te Kiri Karamu or Taratoa, or maybe others, who, risking their own lives, took water to the wounded and dying British soldiers after the battle. Gestures filled with God’s mercy and compassion. In these I am reminded what resurrection life looks like. I am offered hope in the midst of this story.
May we who now live in this place follow in the footsteps of Puhirake, Taratoa, and Heni, and live to bring God’s peace, mercy, compassion and goodness to all those who live in Tauranga. In this way may we honour the memory of those who fought and died here, and find ways to live resurrected lives now. May Easter hope be found in all we do.