Friday, November 28, 2014

A Time to See the Clouds

This can be listed to here

Gate Pa – Advent 1 2014
Psalm                                     Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19                                                               
First Reading:                         Isaiah 64:1-9                                  
Second Reading:                    1 Cor 1:3-9                                      
Gospel:                                    Mark 13:24-37                               

What I want to say:
Advent is a time to hear the invitation to see the world through God’s eyes, to long for all God longs for, and to be part of the coming in to being

What I want to happen:
People to approach Advent slowly, out of the normal rush, taking care to be part of God’s ongoing work of salvation

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

lot to worry us in world today
            Home invasions and crime
            ongoing financial struggle
            threat natural disasters
            will all blacks win world cup
in world -ISIS
            Climate change
            ongoing financial struggle
fear can cripple us with fear
does cripple people – afraid live their lives
readings today written out times great fear

     2.     Isaiah

from what called Third Isaiah
            first Isaiah written before exile
            second during
            third Isaiah – after exile
            when exiled elite allowed to go home
            not as expected
not welcomed with open arms those left behind
new people moved into land not welcome them
Jerusalem – no walls – constantly vulnerable raids
temple yet built
in fact life many ways better back Babylon
out that we have this prophets longing
longing to live in God’s presence
            with all that means
this prayer comes out knowledge life is found only in God
            God’s mercy
            God’s life
            God‘s action
all their efforts amount to nothing
that this life will change us if we let us.

     3.     Mark

a new year
a new gospel
back to Mark
            wrote his people living in world Jersualem
                        city God
                        where story Jesus had centred
            all Jews banished from promised land
all non-Romans, and even Roman poor
            lived under heel Roman elite and Roman legions
start Mark where left Matthew
at the end
in Jesus all important last speech
last instructions
            in gospel to group disciples whose expectations were about to take a real beating
            through Mark’s community struggling understand how Jersualem could fall
            who expectations of life as flowers of the way were not being met
            whose expectations that Jesus would return real soon were not being met
to those unrealised expectations we hear these words
these last words are Gods words to us this Advent
words of challenge
words of judgement
twin themes of watching for signs of impending end
            are in it for long haul
to do this uses apocalyptic style writing
too often read literally
            some facets of this that would described anguish of fall Jerusalem
mostly style that paints grand picture that offered hope
hope like Isaiah
that God is in control all things
all is working out for good.
Mark inviting hearers of Gospel to pay attention to events happening around them
            not too withdraw in fear and hopelessness – so let’s just stay safe
            not to withdraw because God will end it soon anyway so let’s just keep our heads down and be good in our own little world
In Mark Jesus invites hearers to be alert
            look into heart of all that causes us to lose hope
            see buds of hope sprouting
                        join in work of allowing that hope to bud and blossom

            4.     Christmas

Here we are new church year
            in advent
            preparing for Christmas
            story we know all too well
                        too well really
            no longer surprises us
            no longer shocks us
nice story
become more about babies and families and being happy
than shocking story God’s dramatic entry into this world as helpfulness
            poor baby

our expectations get in the way
just as they got in the way of returning exiles
just as they would get in the way of disciples
just as they got in the way of Marks community

We are invited us to use Advent time let go of our expectations for our lives
Prepare ourselves to be taken by surprise by the Christmas story
and to allow that surprise to shape and mould us into people of God

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Advent One

Today (Sunday) marks the beginning of Advent. The world we live in sees these few weeks leading up to Christmas as the Christmas season. Shops have had carols playing and decorations up for a week or two now. It all becomes a mad dash to get ready for Christmas day, and then it is all over. Most people would be confused if we told them that it was really Advent now, and that Christmas doesn’t start until Christmas day and carries on for the next two weeks after that. So what is Advent?
It is a time of expectant waiting for the coming of Christ. It is a time of making sure that we are awake, and have our party shoes on. We are not talking about passive waiting here, but an active alert waiting. We actively wait for God. And maybe God is actively waiting for us?
Advent also heralds the beginning of a new church year, and a new gospel to hear from. Bishop Helen-Ann Hartley notes that “(a) new Gospel unfolds before us, but not from the beginning! Advent is traditionally a time of preparation and each Sunday has a particular focus. On this first Sunday, we remember people in the Old Testament like Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, David and Solomon. We call them Patriarchs – the mothers and fathers of our faith – the people who first responded to God’s call. Advent is traditionally full of themes of judgement, another aspect of preparing ourselves to receive the Christ-child. The darkening of sun and moon indicate that creation is in disarray: judgement is now imminent. Again, we are to be alert, but not in fear; we are to live in hope of a deep transformation that lies ahead, a mystery as yet to be revealed, a birth that will change everything.”[1]
Over the next few weeks we will actively wait in hope, peace, joy and love. To actively wait means not getting caught up in the busyness of the “Christmas season” but taking the time to slow down and pay attention to the sources of hope, peace, joy and love in our lives, and what shrouds these from us?
This week we are asked to reflect in particular on what we need to be awakened to in our lives, our community and our world, and to wonder what new ways of being we might be invited to so that we might be vessels of hope?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Talented Talents

Gate Pa 16th November 2014
Pentecost 23, 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Psalm                          Psalm 123                                                                  
First Reading:             Judges 4:1-7
Second Reading:        1 Thess 5:1-11                        
Gospel:                        Matthew 25:14-30                

What I want to say:
Suggest the point of Christianity is living in presence of God rather than getting to heaven – and that the Way of Christ provides a guide as to how one might look for, live in, and respond to the presence of God now.
Then use that to explore three ways of reading the parable of the Talents.

What I want to happen:
People to think about how they live in the presence of God.

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

Parable talents
well known
ask you what about – sure you can tell me
common reading of this story
about Kingdom of God
and us using our talents in the kingdom
I think said something similar on Tuesday
wee nagging doubt
partly Lord in this story is not nice
whole casting out darkness isn’t very friendly – talked about that
partly learning nothing is ever that simple is it?

     2.     Alternative readings

two additional ways understanding this parable offered in commentaries I read.
First is amendment to what we all thought
            need allow generosity of God to flow through us
kind of like using our gifts and talents
less about what we offer and more about what God offers through us.

second radically different
takes into account few features of story that we might ignore in our common understanding
what would those listening have heard?
            first of these is that Lord in this story is not nice
            (not nice in Lukes version either)
If honest
            this is not really Lord I would want to use my gifts and talents for.
Second is take note what talent really is
Luke's version of the parable is in 19:12-27.
There each servant is given 10 minas or 10 pounds.
            A mina was worth about 100 denarii and a denarius about a day's living wage.
            so each person given about 1,000 denarii, or 1,000 time daily wage (#3 years pay)
Only Matthew's version speaks of talents.
            A talent was around 6000 denarii. – 6,000 x daily wage ($900,000 on living wage)
            So the first servant was given 30,000 denarii. That is a hefty sum!
                        ($4.5 million, 2.7, .9)
we live world banks and imaginary money in stocks and such
heard this amazing wealth in terms of land
coloured by fact they now landless
mindful that:
             when the twelve tribes entered the Promised Land, the "promise" was that every family would receive and hold a share of that land - FOREVER.
            against the law of Moses to charge interest.
heard story about Lord who had gotten rich by stealing land that rightly belonged to others.
which servant/slave would they have approved of?
            third slave
            acts honourably
            does not participated in ongoing theft land
            does not loose masters money
So what does this story mean then?
all depends on how we understand the first few words
“"For it is as if a man”
It – usually understood to refer to verse one –“The kingdom of heaven will be like this” – Jesus uses start story about 10 bridesmaids/virgins
            maybe referring to the end that story – “Therefore you must be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”
How must we be ready?
by being like third slave and not taking part in economic system that deprives so many others of their land, their way of life.
living instead in presence of God now
guided by way Jesus
            in what taught
            how he lived
filled with God’s generosity and compassion and justice

     3.     Conclusion

three different ways reading this parable
leave it to you decide which works for you
what ever you choose
invite you start by understanding that this story helps us live in the presence of God now
How does this story guide us to live in this presence?