Friday, August 21, 2015

Wrestling with Bread

Can be listened to hear

Gate Pa – 23 August 2015
Pentecost 13  or 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm                              Psalm 84                                                                                
First Reading:            1 Kings 8:22-30, 41-43
Second Reading:      Ephesians 6:10-20                              
Gospel:                           John 6:56-69                                       

What I want to say:
When we eat and drink God meets our deepest dears and we learn to live in, abide in life of God
What I want to happen:
people to let go of their fear, and embrace freedom and life of God

The Sermon

      1.     Introduction:

56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.”
eat my flesh
drink my blood
What on earth is that about?
How do you respond to this?
How do you make sense of this?
what does it mean for your lives?
invite you to talk to your neighbour – or yourself about that
How do you respond to this?
How do you make sense of this?
what does it mean for your lives?

      2.     Audiences

-         so for the last 5 weeks we have been weaving our way through John 6
-         delving deeper into story around great I am statement “I am bread of Life” –
-         beginning comments:
-         need remember 2 audiences
-         a. Johns community – people wrote gospel for
o   long after events
o   fall of temple
o   expulsion from synagogue
o   persecution
o   too tough
§  some left
§  just as significant number of Jesus followers leave in todays story
o   world become really dark place
o   some wondering whether what future held
§  faith community
§  world
ð kind of reminds of today really
o   John was old
o   help his church community know Christ in the midst of all this
o   encourage them to hang in there
§  help them know that it was all worth it
§  help them trust in God’s goodness, generosity and love
·        despite all evidence to contrary
§  help them continue centre their lives on the Christ
§  continue to trust, be loyal, believe into,
o   encourage us to hang in there
§  help us know that it was all worth it
§  help us trust in God’s goodness, generosity and love
·        despite all evidence to contrary
o   over-riding question though whole gospel - who is Christ?
o   why should I believe into him
o   overriding question of this chapter

      3.     The Bread of life

began 5 weeks ago with …. who can remember
(feeding of 5000 and Jesus walking on water)
these stories were set at….
conversation – once people catch up with him back on the other side
            revolves around Moses
            mana in the wilderness – bread that God gave there
            read somewhere – bread also metaphor for law
John presenting Jesus as greater than Moses
greater spirits stir depths
greater than Law or Moses
In Jesus we live in presence of God the Father – the one who abides in Jesus
so what then do we do with this eat and drink stuff

      4.     Eat and Drink

think first thing John would say is don’t get stuck on the details
look to see where this is pointing
if you take this too literally you will miss the point
so where is this pointing?
Bread and wine were the food of peasant
            of poor
            was their staple
one level clear message that even in this food of poorest – God is found
when we eat and drink even this humble common food of the poorest
            we meet God
            invited to draw God’s life into us
prayer pray when pour water into wine at communion is
            as this water mingles with this wine
            so may your divinity mingle with our humanity
            and your humanity draw us into the life of the Trinity
when come to communion
when pay attention when eating ordinary meals
invited to pay attention
God mingling with our humanity
through Jesus our being drawn into the heart of God
            life of God
            abundance God
            geneoristy of God
            love that is God.

      5.     Fear

Which brings us back to those first hearers
wondering what future held
§  faith community
§  world
I often say
often heard it say
            in Jesus God meets is in our deepest longings and desires
Suggest that John saying
            in Jesus – God meets us in our deepest fears
            things we dread most
            our lives
            our community
            our world
so often driven by what fear,
not what we hope for
Media is built around that
politicians feed off it
            creating things to fear
            trying to convince us that they are ones who can fix it
whether crime
people smugglers
trouble is that the fear continues
John is saying
when we pay attention
when eat bread and drink cup
when mingle with God
then those fears are met
able start living anew – born again
abiding in
            life of God
            abundance God
            generosity of God
            love that is God.
what are your deepest fears?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Is this all worth it?

For the last five weeks we have been listening to John offering us some pretty heavy theology about Jesus Christ (Christology), and heard Jesus describe himself as “the bread of life”.
We have slowly walked from Jesus feeding 5000 men and an unknown number of women and children in an outrageous act of uncalled for generosity. It is important to remember both this beginning and that this whole section is set at Passover – the foundational celebration of the Jews, a celebration of God’s act of liberating these once slaves, and of Moses’ role as their first great prophet, the law giver.
In all that follows Jesus is painted as the one who surpasses even Moses. All this culminates with the “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”(vs 35) Now the problems begin. Too many know who Jesus is, a carpenter from Nazareth, and this all seems too much. And then he says “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”(vs 51) and that is just way too weird for a lot of those who had been following him enough to be called disciples. And most drift off back home, to their lives of longing and ???
Following Jesus can be hard work. Ask those first readers of John’s gospel. Persecutions, martyrdoms, ostracism. None of that was on the plan. They are wavering. Is this Jesus really worth all the bother? Too many had walked away and the future looked bleak. John is writing his gospel for those who have stayed but who wonder. This is a gospel of encouragement, of hope. Jesus is the one in whom they should trust and shape their lives around
Jesus’ teaching is no less difficult or weird today. And in many places the situation is no less bleak. John continues to encourage us. Through the disciples he continues to ask “Where else shall we go? In Jesus we have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that he is the Holy One of God.” (vs 68 and 69).
To know, to believe is to trust. Jesus is the song that we are to gnaw at and shape our lives around. Jesus is the one who shows us what our deepest longings are and how to live so that they might be met.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sing a new song

I spent all of last week at our clergy school. So I asked someone else to preach for me on Sunday. Her sermon can be heard here. It sounds a little clunky becuase I deleted names in the first part.
I might try to find some time to blog about last week later in the week. But for now, here is the sermon.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Remembering St. George

This week we celebrate the life of our parish here at Gate Pa. We are also given the opportunity to wonder what it means to be named after St. George. Our focus this Sunday will be on learning more about this well-loved and increasingly controversial saint. The question we will keep in mind as how does St. George influence how we exercise our ministry and mission.
If I was to ask most people what you know of George I am sure you will tell me something about a dragon, and that he is the patron saint of England. Some people may even think he was English.
Tradition tells us that George lived around 300; that he was born in Palestine and was of Greek descent; like his father he was a Tribune in the Emperor’s elite force; and like his parents he was a Christian. He is remembered for dying during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian in about 303. We are told he died a slow death, in part for telling Diocletian that his command for all Christians to sacrifice to him was wrong. George refused to both sacrifice, and to execute those under his command who also refused the sacrifice.
I once read this Muslim saying which was said to be about George. It sums up his death, “The righteous way is to say what is just in the face of a tyrant”. 
As we celebrate all that has gone on here at St. Georges over the last 125 years, and as we look to continue that legacy into the future, I wonder how these words help us understand who we are and our role in this place at this time?

Saturday, August 01, 2015

My Heart’s Desire

This is in two podcasts
The first on My Hearts Desire can be listened to here:

Gate Pa – te Wiki o te Reo Māori. 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time


Psalm                         Psalm 51:1-12                   

First Reading:               2 Samuel 11:26 – 12:13                  

Second Reading:          Ephesians 4:1-16                             

Gospel:                          John 6:24-35                                        

What I want to say:

To ask what is our heart’s desire really – and look at John 6 in light of that

talk about why I use te reo Maori in our services

What I want to happen:

What is my heart’s desire

Appreciate te reo more

The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

Few years ago someone came up to me after service and said had word of knowledge

always little sceptical

This one stuck in my head

she said God grant my heart’s desire

What is my heart’s desire?

superficial level

            Desire have enough money to do few things

            pay off children’s student debt

                        help pay studies

            pay for these tvs

            like go visit aunt England again

            really want to do course at St Georges College in Jerusalem

            like go Istanbul

            see Liverpool play Anfield

trouble is when get stuck with the “enough money” – turn that into hearts desire

are people say that is what benefit being Christian all about

            not look at what that money hopefully is really about

for me

            just nice

            children start life without burden debt         

è comes out of my desire for world to be better for my children

            to be place where they can thrive and grow

so is that my hearts desire?

            not bad one –

            many people do stop there

I think I can go even deeper

            desire is for world be place where everyone can thrive and grow

                        not just my children

                        not just my family

                        not just people like me

            want us take seriously climate change – fear future if don’t

            want governments enact policies that allow all people in all countries to have enough

            world filled with kind of communities where all  know they belong

                        significant members of that community

            Is that my hearts desire?

today – it is that world will be as I understand God intended

            place limitless generosity

            infinite love

            same kind love Jesus felt and exhibited on cross

turns out my hearts desire is pretty tricky thing to nail down

makes hard God grant it

            suspicion is that God better idea what hearts desire is than I do

trouble is

            I don’t really think about it much

            so don’t really focus on my heart’s desire

                        instead get waylaid

                        distracted by other wants and needs

                                    point to my heart’s desire

                                    but aren’t that actually desire

            I suspect all do

     2.      John’s Gospel

want to suggest that that is what is going on in our gospel readings last week and over the next few weeks

in feeding 5000 – have a story Jesus meeting need of hunger

            not ask for this to be met

            just did it

as said last week – John describes this as a sign

            sign of God’s freely given unasked for abundant generosity

            as sign what more God offering

which is same as word knowledge to me

            God meet their hearts desire

kind of got

            but didn’t

understood their desire to be rid of Rome, Herod, current high priests etc….

            so saw sign

            thought that he was one lead them to this new world

            -want to make him king – one lead them to victory

did that without ever going deeper

            caught up in the overthrow Rome

            not ask what kind of society did they long for?

è that was world

            where land restored

            where all have enough

            peace and justice

            dwell again presence of God

the kingdom of God

sounds great

            so much more than what they thought they desired

Jesus was and is offering  even more than this

            offering a vision of new communities

            built around the qualities of God he points to in his actions and teaching

God limitless generosity

            unbounded love

            created all in God’s image

imagine that world

è that is eternal life

è that is bread Jesus offers to feed us with

well removed from what those listening to him thought

even a lot hearers struggled

as we do

got lost on the way with our own desires and needs

God’s heart desire for us remains hidden.

So what is it we long for?

What is our hearts desire?

What is it we give our soul to?

And what is it God longs for us, for this place, for this world?

     3.     Te Reo Māori 

     (This can be listened to here as a sepereate podcast)

    This week is Te wiki o re reo Māori

            thought good time outline again some of the reasons I think using te reo in our services is important:

·         who we are as Anglicans in this country

o   language first Anglican church (te Haahi Mihinare)

§  language of this diocese

o   language of our tikanga partners in this land

·         enable us to worship with Tikanga Maori partners with confidence

·         welcoming for Maori speakers to hear their language

·         Te reo Maori is a gift from God, cultivated by our ancestors and bequeathed as a gift to all generations it behoves us to fill our hearts with what is good and just.

·         Lutheran work on relationship of liturgy with culture:

o   trans or beyond culture

o   contextual

o   counter cultural

o   cross cultural

In summary:

don’t use te reo Maori because

·         it is cool or because it is PC

·         I use it because it is who we are

using te reo Maori honours:

·         who is here

·         who we are as an Anglican church

·         our context in these communities

·         liturgy as a vehicle that moves us

o   out of our culture

o   helps us embrace other cultures

o   hold our culture up to the gospel