Friday, March 27, 2015

And So It Begins

Available here on Buzzsprout

Gate Pa – Palm Sunday 2015
Psalm                                    Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29                                                
First Reading:                  Isaiah 50:4-
Second Reading:            Philippians 2:5-11  
Gospel:                                 Mark 11:1-11                                                                                        

What I want to say:
I want to help people enter into this story to hear the invitation to let go of our preconceptions, and hear the invitation to engage with the story and God in a new way

What I want to happen:
Who is Jesus? Let go of our stereotypes and engage with the one presented in the gospels

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

And so it begins  
the beginning of the end
Jesus rides a donkey into Jerusalem
as a small crowd gathers wave palms shout hosannas
big enough be remembered
but small
small enough to escape the notice of Rome
This is a different crowd from Friday
            those are haters
this crowd mostly disappear into the mass thronging into Jerusalem
and all seems to be going well
this crowd long for overthrow of Rome
look day temple rid of those corrupt high priests
            collusion with Rome
            all their profit making from others poverty

     2.     A Psalm of Hope

So sing Song of Ascents
            looks back first Passover
            God killed first born Egyptians
            liberated people God from slavery
                        also holds sense God’s will is not yet done on earth
            “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
            Hosanna in the highest”
ð so many ancient hopes bound up in this man
ð so many new hopes of land restored
o   of peace returned
o   of justice at last in land justice for poor seems so far away

     3.     First Impressions

All seems to so well
            not stopped
goes into temple
             will return next day to drive out money makers
            there is a thin line between offering a necessary service and profiteering
                        they have crossed it
this will be where revolution will start in years to come
when temple guard will kill high priests and families and with crowd overthrow Roman stronghold  

     4.     We join in

So today we join in this procession
only we, like the gospel writers and their hearers
             know where this is really heading
Rome will stay for many years yet
Chief Priests are going nowhere
we are heading to Golgotha
            to the cross
                        where all those hopes die a gasping, lingering death
                        where all we understood about God and salvation is nailed to a cross
                        declared meaningless
            left hanging
            to die
What is left of all we carry with us in the parade today?

     5.     Making sense of it all

Like Mark and other gospel writers
we are on other side trying to make sense of it all
and still so confused
            we Christians do so much hating in the name of this one riding this donkey
            we are still with that crowd blinded by our own hopes,
                        old theology
you have to wonder
            when will we put these palms down

     6.     Today is the beginning of the end

Today is the beginning of the end
where invited to let go of preconceptions about     
            life in God
today is beginning of invitation to start again
            those first disciples started again
this time beginning with the one left hanging on cross
            who returns from tomb
the one who mingles his divinity with our humanity
the one who mingles his humanity with the Trinity
The one who reminds who God is,
            and who we are
todays story can be understood in many ways
            reckless gesture
            first step in necessary journey to cross
            expression of all hope for new way
there is hope here for oppressed
            but not as they understood
            often not as we see it
this is a story of justice – but lived out in a new way
not what lot people wanted or were expecting
            no crown,
            no throne
            no force
            no uprising
none of this is as people envisaged
this is a fresh beginning
not fatal ending
what are we being invited to let go of as we join this parade?
and as we turn our heads and glance at this Jesus who rides past us this morning
ask yourselves
who is this Jesus riding past
as you take note of the one riding this donkey
            rather than throng with all their loud distracting hopes and aspirations
who is he
who is God in him
who are we as we join him
walking towards Golgotha

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

And so it begins.

And so it begins.
We have waited six weeks for this Sunday. Made our penitential way through Lent. And here it is. Palm Sunday. A mix of celebration and bravado, thumbing our noses at the Roman overlords, their temple priestly puppets, and their successors today. A small parade of entry and hopes fulfilled. Now is the time!
But now is not the time. A shadow is cast across this party. We now know where all this leads, unlike those first paraders. Just ahead are days filled with angst, fear, trembling despair and numbing grief. Both stories belong to today, and are often repeated today.
Like the gospel writers, we sit on the other side of all this. We have space to try and make sense of it all in light of our own experience and our reading of scripture.
And yet these events are still asking us questions. On the cross those first palm wavers and cloak layers lost all they hoped for and had faith in. All they understood of God and the future died as Jesus the Christ hung dying on a cross. All that had led to their involvement in this crazy action was declared meaningless.
And so it begins.
Which of our hopes and faith will hang from a cross this week? What of ours is being declared meaningless?
The temptation is to avoid all this unpleasantness. To simply rush forward and wave palms all the way to Sunday. But we are not there yet. We have only just begun. Fridays shadow is cast over us, and we are still to make our way through those events. As we hear the gospel, and we join with them in making sense of it all, what gift do we find?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Aiming for “He Iti Kahurangi”

This sermon can be listened to here:

 Gate Pa – Lent 5 2015
Hebrew Scripture:     Jeremiah 31: 31-34
Psalm:                         51:1-12
Epistle:                        Hebrews 5: 5-10
Gospel:                        John 12:2-=35

What I want to say:
·         I want to use John to explore how big it all is. I want to suggest that the cross exposes our smallness of thought – thought about God, and the world, and who we are in all that. The cross explores our preoccupation with ourselves and our own desires, dreams, hopes and aspirations. In the cross they are shown to be so petty. We are invited instead to have our imagination and our focus reoriented back to God.
What I want to happen:
Do we want to be successful or significant?

The Sermon

1.      Introduction:

Whāia te iti kahurangi
ki te tūohu koe
me he maunga teitei

in our table groups we asked to explore what it means
our group draw picture about that
thought meant that should aim for most precious jewels (which reminded me of Jesus and selling all have for the field with treasure, or buying pearl of great price)
but if you weren’t able to aim that high, if you  needed to bow something lower, then may it be the highest Maunga - mountain
what really interested me about the conversation around that was
      didn’t really talk about iti kahurangi / precious jewels
      not sure we could see the high ideals
focused instead on he maunga teitei – mountain
      saw metaphor journey life
it was really about how our priorities might change over life
from cars, good jobs, house, money
to whanau, education, marae and wider community.
all of which is good
felt like needed something more
felt like we weren’t aiming for that iti kahurangi
just maunga teitei
all had “me” at the centre
like our imagination was holding us back in conversation
all those good things were as far as we could go
anything lofty like changing world – too far
go further we needed different or bigger frame of reference

2.      Jeremiah

If we let it
Bible is all about offering bigger or different frame of reference
e.g. Jeremiah
Jeremiah – as we learned in our Lenten studies 3 years ago
one first writers to push understanding God from tribal God
better and bigger than all rest
demands obedience to rules to save
to One God, creator of all
already acted to bring salvation
invites people to live in response to love and generosity offered
and to be a beacon to all other people world
today heard that
      despite devastation suffered
are to be people of hope
driven not so much by obedience in order to earn a reward
      responded to all God already offered
      people changed from inside
Now that really is offering different or bigger frame of reference.

3.      John

Like other gospel writers
John saw Jesus as offering much bigger understanding of God that people had
saw Jesus as the signpost to God
sought broaden hearers imagination include qualities of
·         generosity
·         love
·         mercy
·         healing
·         compassion
·         changing not just individual lives
·         how whole communities function
·         shattering darkness blinds us to who we all are
·         allowing us to live again as people made in image God
cross is portrayed as THE ultimate sign
acts like battle standard
all those follow The Christ look to it
reorientate themselves by it
understand their place in relation to it.
It was the moment in which our imaginations were changed,
we become new people marked by
·          generosity
·         love
·         mercy
·         healing
·         compassion

4.      Domesticated

too often
feels like domesticate this message
domesticated God
made God small again
reduced cross to death that appeased God’s anger
allow us back into God’s sight
rather than outrageous act of compassionate love
breaks all that blinds and holds us down
allows this world to be all that God hoped for from the beginning

5.      Church

think - frame of reference become too small
not only understanding of God become too small
understanding who we are and what we are about too small
come think that we are kingdom of God rather than kingdom being God’s work among all people
come think God can only act through us
      rather than seeing God at work throughout creation
      inviting us to join that work
come to think it is all about me and God and getting into heaven
rather than God’s passion for all creation
and in incarnation
God working to allow this world and all who live in it to be all created to be.
come to think that all about going to church
rather than church helping us be people whose imaginations have been stretched
so that we join God in God’s passion for all creation
we still need different or bigger frame of reference.

6.      2nd half of life

last week also had conversation about 2nd half of life
both read Richard Rohr – American Franciscan, - writes and talks about this a lot
colleague talked about another author he had read suggested that in first half life we are motivated by need for success
really all things identified on our picture at Maori class
·         money
·         car
·         house
·         job
·         quest to be famous – see in X Factor, cooking shows etc…
2nd half-life we move to wanting to be significant
much more about people
less about me
impression leave
whether leave this earth better off for being here
even if no-one knows.

7.      Significant church

A lot of our church thinking is first half of life thinking
all about building up sense of who we are
being successful
            big congregations
            successful outreach
            being known
so many conversations I hear about church are about how to be successful
a lot of our angst is became we aren’t very successful at all
I suggest – that it is all too small
struggling up high mountain, he maunga teitei
rather than aspiring for iti kahurangi
need bigger or different frame of reference
I wonder if changing our focus to being significant might be just that
Is God inviting us to be significant rather than successful?
as we
prepare for AGM
reflect on past year I wonder what it might look like to be significant
if we allowed our imaginations to be stretched beyond breaking point
allowed ourselves meet God made known in Jesus
I wonder if we look for he iti kahurangi rather than he maunga teitei
what would a significant church look like


what has been most significant in our life as people God in last year
what does that teach us for the year ahead