Friday, June 26, 2015

Harvest Festival

Listen to this sermon here

Gate Pa – 28th June 2015, 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm:                                     Psalm 130                  
First Reading:                         2 Samuel 1:1,17-27                
Second Reading:         2 Corinthians 8:7-15              
Gospel:                                     Mark 5:21-43                         

What I want to say:
Te explore what harvest festival is about, and to link that with Jesus offering of hope and life to both people in today’s reading.

What I want to happen:
People to reflect on what it is the are giving thanks for, and to be inspired to generously offer more of themselves

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

why have harvest festival?
            interesting thing to do in middle winter
            not much harvest around
            many thoughts being in garden seems little hard in this cold weather
many don’t garden
buy food supermarkets and shops
so why have one?

     2.     Some reasons

Tradition – a lot people grew up with harvest festivals
            important event life their communities
            continue to be important

opportunity to give thanks both joy gardening
            harvest that our labours have reaped
            simple joy in growing things in own land
            being able eat what we have grown
            today we give thanks for that
in doing so also acknowledge that all this is God’s gift to us
            all that is, belongs to God
            who shares with us.
all we have, is a gift – not ours by right
            not just fruit of our labour
            but gift of generous and compassionate God
so on this harvest festival we give thanks to God who is the giver of all this harvest
in light that – we can also give thanks that we live land where most people have more than enough to survive, more than survive, to live reasonably well
easy access to food, medical care – all things too often take granted
            so today we give thanks for all that
same time invited to be mindful of all those for whom access to food is precarious
            for whom life is precarious
            bring to mind and pray for all those for whom this is not the reality
invited to be as generous and as compassionate as God we encounter in our own experience of harvest
            part of today is offer this to Food bank
            provide us opportunity gather significant offering food for foodbank
            to be a sing fo this generoisty
Lastly – our harvest festival comes during Matariki – Maori new year
            number of traditional aspects Matariki that were important for Maori
one of these was that appearance of that vast cluster of stars in dawn sky
            sign that time prepare land for kumara planting
                        so that there might be a harvest
            good harvest doesn’t just happen
relies on good soil and well tended land
this land we live in, and this planet we live on, earth – are central to idea of harvest
Matariki and Harvest Festival give us opportunity to remember
            this land, this planet are God’s greatest gifts to us
            absolutely central to our ongoing ability to live here
            the need for us to care for land
                        not just Matariki
                        all year around
So Harvest festival offers a lot more than just our tradition of having a harvest festival

     3.     Two stories

in all this we are meet God compassionate and generous beyond measure
and we give thanks for this compassionate and generous God for our harvest
            that we have grown
and that we buy
same God meet stories about Jesus
today heard 2 stories shuffled into one
continue answer questions last few weeks
            who is this man?
            with what might we compare the kingdom of God?
normally both people at centre todays stories had very little to do with Jesus
both people means and of honour
            whereas Jesus comes lowly family and small hicktown
                        little or no honour
also seen by many as rabbi
            gives certain amount honour
è someone works very different way than all other itinerant healers and exorcists that wandered that country side
            he does not charge
all he does is free gift
no strings attached
therefore available for everyone
                        not just those who can pay
                        (like the woman)
challenge to economic system based on paying for such healers
            he keeps that up – he will put them out of business
so we have these two
è woman of means who spent all on those offered healing at price
                        is still not better
                        now without hope
                        because of illness ritually unclean
                                    separated her community and God
                        seen by all including herself as judged by God
è man who overwhelmed with grief
                        he watches his daughter die
                        maybe he too has spent money on these healers
                                    charged money
                                    preserved the status quo of ill health
                        only help offered are gathering mourners
                                    there ensure she is farewelled well
both desperate
in their desperation they come to this unusual rabbi
both risk much in doing so
            woman – punishment for being out in public unchaperoned
                                    defiling all those comes contact with
                                    daring to touch garment man to whom she has no family connection
            man risks loss honour and standing from family and community for coming to this man
both are met in their desperation by Jesus’ mercy, generosity, compassion.
            Unlike everyone else they have come to... he cares
            he doesn’t do this because he is being paid
he does it because that is who he is
In that moment of compassion and healing
            they meet God’s mercy, generosity, compassion.
all of which is offered for free
            no strings attached
we are reminded again of our questions
who is this man?
with what might we compare the kingdom of God?
we might even add a question
what then is our place in this kingdom?

     4.     Conclusion

Today we celebrate our harvest
            because harvest festivals are important traditions
offer opportunity to give thanks harvest
reminded God’s generosity in harvest
and reminded God’s provision of this land, this planet
hear again our responsibility to care planet, and this land
more than that
reminded to care for all who live in this land with the same
            compassion and generosity we experience in the harvest
            we meet in Jesus
            in stories like todays
the one who heals the desperate and those they love.

Bring forward the harvest.
offering of thanks Gods goodness
            and as yes to being part of God’s ongoing generous offering of mercy, compassion, healing and life.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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 the harvest we have grown in our gardens, if we have one, and the harvest we are able to buy each day in the shops. We are reminded again of God’s generosity and we join with all God’s people in continuing to give thanks for God’s provision. We are invited to pray “give us today our daily bread” and to know that for most of us that daily bread is far more than enough.
Harvest festivals also provide a time reflect on our ongoing desire for more. 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 avarice in the West might be met. 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.
Our harvest festival comes during Matariki.  Part of the importance of Matariki for Maori was that it signified that it was time to prepare the land for the kumara planting. It is a time of caring for the earth. We are reminded of our need to care for this planet so that it may continue to provide the food we need to survive. It is God’s gift and needs our care and protection. When we mistreat the earth we mock God and put our survival at risk.
Harvest festivals also provide a chance to join with Creation’s 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.
In our gospel reading we continue to reflect on the two questions that lie at the heart of Mark’s gospel: “With what shall we compare the kingdom of God?” and “who is this man?” Today Jesus breaks the power of rules and practices that isolated and impoverished the sick woman, healing her and restoring her to the community. He meets the crowds’ disbelief and mocking, and restores the girl who was dead to life, and to her parents. In both acts Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom is built of God’s generosity and mercy, and not on rules that separate and belittle. He invites those present to see the world and each other through new eyes. He invites us to also see the world through new eyes and to join in this kingdom of generosity to all.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Feet of Clay in a Storm

Is available to be listened to here

Gate Pa - 21 June 2015 – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Psalm                         Psalm 133                  
First Reading:            1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16   
Second Reading:        2 Corinthians 6:1-13              
Gospel:                       Mark 4:35-41                         
What I want to say:
explore the nature of our heroes and suggest that for them to inspire us we need to see them as real people. This includes great heroes of faith, including Paul and disciples. In light of that want to explore story of calming of storm. We are disciples of today. Where are we in this story? What storms rock our world?

What I want to happen:
What demonic and destructive powers is Jesus overcoming, speaking words of peace to?

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

We all have heroes
people we look up to?
seek to emulate
wish we could be?
are inspired by?
who are you heroes?
what is it about them that inspires you?
what is it you seek to emulate or copy?
one things about these kinds of people is that we put them on a pedestal.
fail to see the real person
instead create this persona not real
can be a little intimidating
especially when get up close
can be really disappointing when see that not measure up image created.
also be really liberating and life giving
applies even to people who maybe are not heroes
but are people you just admire
who inspire you a little bit
remember asked by one such person to be their spiritual director
honest little bit freaked out
            she intimidated me
            don’t think sessions went very well
            until worked out really not much different from me.
saw her feet of clay
            her failings and foibles
I was able to relax and enjoy sessions lot more
            able to get to know her as a person
            able help her lot more as a result.
don’t get me wrong
still think pretty amazing person
            lot about her admire
            bit more realistic about it
actually more helpful
she is able to do these amazing things
maybe I can do some good things too.

     2.     Heroes

just as true for people we meet in story of Christian faith
            the saints
and people we meet in scripture
easy to not see them as real people
real failings, hurts, desires.
instead put on unrealistic and intimidating pedestal
out of reach
we could never be like them!
or could we?
few weeks ago remembered great Irish Saint, Saint Columba
founded monasteries across Ireland
            great monastery of Iona –
                        wee small island far from Scottish mainland as get still be in Scotland
                        close Ireland get and still be in Scotland
            monastery played significant role evangelism of Scotland
            helped others see that this isle was and is a holy place
                        thin place
            so that Viking Danes became Christianised
                        brought dead kings to be buried here
            today acts home Iona Community – ecumenical religious order
            offers hospitality on isle at rebuild Abbey and George McLeod Centre             -> people all ages
fail see that this man had same feet clay we all have
            loyal member Irish royal family –
                        through threats curses and promises blessings kept Scottish kings of Irish descent loyal high king Ireland
            filled avarice – notably for teachers book psalms
            when ordered to return
            showed himself be fiery Celt
            killed a number of teachers kinsmen to reclaim possession of his copy
so banished from Ireland
and ordered save as many souls as were killed in that battle
despite all failings
            God used endeavours change course Scottish and Irish history – down to today.
If God can use him, maybe God can use us too…

     3.     David and Paul

Same is true of David
            didn’t fit anyone’s idea of what king should be
            wasn’t oldest son of noblest family
youngest son of good family
            wasn’t bold and renowned warrior
                        like someone like Saul
fought with sling and rod
wasn’t that impressive
more beautiful rather than rugged manly man people expected.
made huge mistakes
still be is remembered as greatest of the kings.

Paul didn’t impress anyone.
            apparently not best looking chap around
            not greatest speaker – despite Lukes efforts to describe him as such
            seemed to be constantly in trouble
            not most politic of people – some letters quite sharp
didn’t seem follow rule not sending email while angry
had time re-read what wrote
way more impressive teachers now forgotten
            don’t have their works
            have Pauls
what is it that inspires us?
what is it we want to emulate?

     4.     Disciples

Disciples aren’t much different either
this mornings gospel not portrayed in very flattering light
Story in fact is continuing of Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of God
            acted out parable Mark placed deliberately at this point
                        remember this is a theology book, not history book.
set sail
Jesus collapses in back or stern
            where boat steered from
he is asleep
disciples are all good with that
all is well
all good until weather turns septic
astoundingly savage storm
shreds sail and their confidence in selves
faith and trust in Jesus
“Don’t you care that we are drowning?”
One commentators suggested Jesus was asleep
            not only exhausted from all been doing
            also, unlike disciples
            no matter what happened he completely trusted in God’s goodness and generosity
not to say trusted that life be box roses
            clearly not case
            we know where this story is heading
            his is a deeper trust and faith
disciples faith is fair weather faith
            when things going well know God cares
            when go awry – not so sure
they ask that question that is there when we are immersed in our own storms
            when all hell breaks loose
            hope seems distant and faint light
è “Don’t you care that we are drowning?”
Jesus response is swift and dumbfounding
“peace, be still”
important not to get hung up on the details
How did Jesus do that?
Did he really do that?
is that possible?
they all miss the point.
because this not just storm
Jesus isn’t someone who can boss nature around
this storm is demonic
            Greek is clear
and it comes out all powers that seek to destroy, distort and endanger
represents all that seek to destroy, distort and endanger
all works against kingdom of God
Jesus has told parables about kingdom – which disciples needed tuition on
now immersed in middle event that is in a way another parable about the kingdom
just like in parables – get stuck
            get stuck on waves and wind
we too, too often get stuck on waves and wind
miss Jesus defeating those powers
in process liberating people from all that destroys, distorts and endangers
in process announces the kingdom of God
disciples miss that
lost in fear
            fear of storm
            fear of Jesus who defeated the storm
ask question that central this and every Gospel
“who then is this man?”
they and we miss that Jesus is one who is liberating people and society from powers that  that destroys, distorts and endangers
disciples are not some great heroes beyond anything we might be or aspire to be
they are like us
            people filled with fear
            who miss the point again and again
            want all wrong things
at least ask honest questions and respond with honest responses
We are the disciples today
this story is also about us
how does that story describe our life today