Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Patterns of Love

This week I am flicking between the readings for the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (Candlemas) and Epiphany 4. All good stuff.
Last week I used John’s gospel to say that the Word of God is not the Bible, but Christ the Word. I want to explore that just a little using some thoughts from Brian McLaren’s book “We Make the Road by Walking”.  In chapter three Brian translates The Word or Logos of God as the logic of God. And this logic by which all is created is the essence of God. To understand the nature of God, the logic of God one need only look at the life, teaching, actions, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth – the Word/Logos/Logic of God made flesh, like you and me.
Brian then goes on to describe some competing patterns or logic at play in our societies: the logic of rivalry – where one strives to defeat the other; Compliance – where one seeks to learn to rules and abide by them; and meaningless mechanism – where the universe and our lives are simply parts of a much bigger and yet fundamentally meaningless mechanism. I wonder how often I have been drawn to live my life by one of these patterns. I know too often I am drawn into rivalry. But I wonder how often I surrender to compliance or mechanism?
So what then is the logic of God found in Jesus? Paul in today’s reading from 1 Corinthians says it is love. Above all else love. John also says it is love. And Jesus in how he acted and taught lived out generosity and love. Love is the pattern of God’s actions. And we are invited to base our lives: our thoughts, actions, beliefs, everything, on this love. What would my life, your life, our lives look like if they were based on love alone?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Standing for the Gospel

Gate Pa –Epiphany 3 2016

Psalm                          Psalm: 19                                                                                          
First Reading:                         Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6,8-10    
Second Reading:                    1 Cor 12:12-31                                               
Gospel:                                    Luke 4:14-21                                                  

What I want to say:
I want to explore why we might stand for the gospel
What I want to happen:
So that people might be more thoughtful about how they do it, rather than just do it because that is what we do

The Sermon

1. Introduction:

Few years ago at meeting about something
young women working in Anglican church there – not Anglican
briefly touched on standing for gospel
which she dismissed as unnecessary.
All bible readings are important – not single out gospel
            that put me in my place
opposite that  Bonnie and I went Anglican church in Orthodox tradition in San Francisco
not only stand for gospel reading
            but after read then processed around church for people touch and kiss
What is going on here?
Why do we stand for gospel – talk neighbour for moment

2. Why I stand – because that is what we do

responses from people
want to offer some thoughts about why I stand and let you think about why you stand

3. irreverence for scripture

standing has something to do with how see and hear scripture as a whole
fact is that bible is not always seen as a good thing by Christians
left a lot people thinking that Bible is not great thing
led some want to leave it alone.
are some not great stories and passages in there.
colleague – told not need preach from scripture readings
            moved on from that.
                        some ways surprising things
                        some ways understandable
too many people put off the bible by how some groups use it.
            conservative/ fundamentalist Christians
                        simplistically might say
                                    given by God – can’t challenge any of it
                                    treated as collections sayings use back up conservative stand
way that it has been used by groups justify
            treatment women as second class citizens at best
            treatment Africans less human - USA and South Africa name two places
            appalling treatment gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual people
                        still used today justify recriminalisation of GLBT in parts Africa                              
rules need follow getting into heaven
others - bunch old stories and archaic rules not seem to have much to do with life today
all of that is in sharp contrast to what we heard this morning in Nehemiah and our Psalm

4. The Word of God

Bible often described as Word of God
think is problematic
            dictated by God
            can't question it
John talks about The Word, the Logos being Crucified and Risen Christ
what is Bible if not Word of God?
Bible is record our encounters with eternal word
            our grappling with big questions
                        who is God
                        who are we
                        what is life all about
We meet as The Word in these pages-
that Word leads us inot God
into life
into who we are in God
quote Howard Wallace in pew sheet  “is about the life-giving, renewing, releasing, freeing, sight-giving nature of God’s word, the joy that it can engender, and the joy of wanting to hear it.” 
How often do we use words like that to describe what he heard when we hear and read from Bible
            that is attitude we are invited to bring to scripture

5. Why stand for Gospel

because in Gospel reading we meet crucified and risen Christ
The Word of God
in stories of life, teaching, death and rising again we meet the Word in the flesh
hearing the stories
we are invited to allow our lives to be shaped by those stories
One things St. Francis offered church
Bible not words needed to be learnt and explained
needed to be lived out
first rules wrote for Brothers simply collections of Gospel texts
essentially said they were to live the 

6. So

for me
I stand for gospel
            that in these words meet Word of God
remind myself that in these words join ongoing struggle know God, know myself
some of you might seen cross myself
sense saying - may these words be written on my mind and mouth and heart
or to put it another way
            these words will shape my thoughts
            revealed in my words
            be the basis for how I live my life.
so why do you stand for gospel
- re read gospel, standing of course

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Word

It is a new year. A chance to reflect on our assumptions about life and faith and such.
One of my bug bears is the phrase "The Word of God". When we hear “the Word of God” I think we too quickly think about the Bible. And that quickly gets reduced down to "The Makers Handbook" which is full of ways we are supposed to live and useful little proverbs we can pluck out and apply to all kinds of situations to prove our point - like guns are good and gays are really bad. (Some of my prejudice may be showing at this point.)
This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday in Epiphany. The readings set down are:
  • Psalm:  19 
  • Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6,8-10      
  • 1 Cor 12:12-31 
  • Luke 4:14-21 
I think the writers of these passages have something much bigger in mind. The Psalmist talks of the silent word proclaiming the glory of God. The Word is in this silent praise, but is also met in the Law, which was both written and oral. In Nehemiah the people seek the Word, standing and praising as they listen for hours on end. All of this “is about the life-giving, renewing, releasing, freeing, sight-giving nature of God’s word, the joy that it can engender, and the joy of wanting to hear it.”[1]

In Luke we find that the word found in the prophets is fulfilled in Jesus. Or to put it another way, Jesus is the Word of God. And in Jesus the Word changes everything. Including us.But not just us. The bible is not a serlf help manual. It is where we meet the world changing life giving Word of God.

As we listen to the scriptures today I wonder where we meet the Word of God? How are our eyes opened? What are we freed from? How is our poverty met?

[1] Howard Wallace, < http://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/index.html>