Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A long theme for the week

This week’s readings from Luke (10:1-11, 16-20) and from Paul’s letter to the Galatians have a strong communal theme to them. Paul is all about the new community of God’s people created through Jesus, and Luke has Jesus send out 70 or 72 to continue the work of John the Baptist preparing the way.
Too often we reduce Christianity to me being saved by Jesus and that salvation is understood as me getting into heaven. And we use Paul to support that understanding. Yet that is nothing like what Paul was on about. His hope was in the promises made to Israel, the people of God, the promise of the restoration of all creation with the coming reign of God’s justice and peace. He had understood that the inheritors of that promise were those who kept Torah and who were circumcised. He found the teaching of the followers of this dead rabbi from Nazareth dangerous…until he met that dead and resurrected rabbi on the way to Damascus. Then he came to realise that circumcision and Torah did not qualify one to be a member of Israel. When you were marked by the peace and love of God then you became a member of Israel. And all were invited by Christ’s faithfulness to be so marked and to be such a member. He then set out to establish new communities that lived by God’s norms and that shunned the social, political and economic norms of his time, including Roman, Greek, and Jewish. Community was all important. Salvation meant being part of this new community, and living in God’s reign now.
Community was also important for Luke. He was writing his Gospel with his community in mind, although I am sure he knew that others would read it too. In this week’s passage Jesus sends out 70 (some texts say 72) to go to all the cities and towns he would want to go to as he journeys to Jerusalem. This is a big group of people. They are not doing this on their own. And he gives very specific instructions that in many ways reinforce hospitality customs of his time, but also seem to make it clear that where ever they were they were to accept the hospitality given, even if that was offered by Gentiles or Samaritans. He is creating new communities in this action. And they are to bring his message of peace. This message is at the heart of Luke; from the annunciation and birth narratives through to the resurrection appearances. Jesus comes to bring peace. The seventy were to take that peace out to the cities and towns.
We are to be communities of peace today.
So how are we communities of peace? Paul saw that the systems of his time would stop those communities being people of peace. What ways are we invited to let go of so that we might be people of peace?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Harvest Festival

This can be heard here

Gate Pa – 29th June 2016, Year C 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Psalm:                                     Psalm 77:1-2, 11-20                                                   
First Reading:              2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14                 
Second Reading:         Galatians 5:1, 13-25               
Gospel:                                    Luke 9:51-62                          

What I want to say:
Te explore what harvest festival is about linking it with climate change and land and water degradation, and to link all that with Jesus sense of honesty and urgency

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:

So here we are again having a harvest festival
            in middle winter
            not much harvest around
            where weather is not very encouraging of being in garden
รจ many don’t garden so don’t have a harvest
buy food supermarkets and shops
so why have one?

     2.     Some reasons

As I said last year number good reasons
a. Tradition – a lot people grew up with harvest festivals
            important event life their communities
            allow us to reconnect with our past
            keep some those traditions that we found life giving alive

b. harvest festival provides opportunity to give thanks
            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

c. 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

     3.     Foodbank and poverty

Part of that thankfulness is to give thanks that we live in Aotearoa
            in Bay of Plenty
            that we live in a land of plenty
where most people have more than enough to survive, more than survive,
            most have enough to live reasonably well
easy access to food, medical care – all things too often take granted
but – and it is a big but
in this land of plenty
I think harvest festivals also invite us to be aware of those who do not celebrate the harvest
an increasing number of people who work fulltime
no longer have access to things many of us take for granted
they cannot afford food and accommodation
for far too many
            even when they can afford it they still can’t find it
so we have people living in cars
            and crammed into houses and garages designed to hold a fraction of the number living there
So today as we give thanks for God’s goodness and generosity
            we are invited to be mindful of all these
             look for God’s generous and compassionate work among them
            and find ways to join that work
today we do that in very small way by giving this food to the foodbank
And we continue to talk to those who are offering bigger band aids
while looking and praying for some solutions.

     4.     Matariki

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
and absolutely central to our ongoing ability to live here
            is the need for us to care for land
                        not just Matariki
                        all year around
And on that score we are not doing very well.

     5.     Animal Welfare

over recent years organisations like SAFE have brought to our attention the result of the push for more efficient ways of harvesting food from animals
sow crate
hen crates
use antibiotics on chickens
treatment of some bobby calves
to name just a few of the issues.
Our affordable food we find on supermarket shelves come cost to our fellow creatures
are at time treated appalling badly
it is in our hands to stop it.
issues about how some farm labourers are treated here in this country
overseas drive for greater profit is driving small landholders off their land
by large corporation
to then work poor wages
or forced accept low prices for produce even we here pay much more for it.
Groups like Fairtrade organisation, and Trade Aid working help us buy ethically
finally as Marie and lance alerted us to a couple f weeks ago
too often those who bring that harvest to our shores are poorly treated as well.
Harvest festivals can be dangerous and uncomfortable things if we let them.

     6.     Global Degradation - water

globally this planet we rely on for a harvest
for the food we eat
is not doing well.
farming and industrial practices here in New Zealand and around world
ways that we create the harvest
are poisoning the water we need to survive
even in this country where govt is satisfied with wadeable for many of our waterways    
            happy continue farming practices that continue to deliberately poison our water
            and hoping that will not compromise our water supply overall
too many other countries water supply being single biggest issue facing their people
            as highlighted by the CWS Christmas campaign in 2014.
            including our brother and sister Anglicans
I have to wonder what they think of our damaging practices
and our giving away our water to sell back to ourselves and overseas.

     7.     Global warming

some of our farming practices are also one of our significant contributors to global warming
dire ramifications now for brothers and sisters in the Pacific
Led youth of Diocese Polynesia – badly affected by rising water levels and increase in ferocity and regularity of storms
this year at General Synod to move motion that invited Missions Board to create programme to help us be prepared for ongoing disasters that will happen
            them to prepare
            us to respond well
and The Diocese of Polynesia in 2014
            ask General Synod to agree to divest of all fossil fuel investments and to actively work to encourage other organisations to also divest.
            and this year to agree to actively seek good investments that address the issues created by global warming
All these are our issues because this is God’s earth
They affect God’s people
God’s creatures
They are affecting our brothers and sisters in the Pacific and around the world
and they beginning to affect us

     8.     Luke

Our reading in Luke today is surprisingly important
just feels like another story
Is significant turning point for Luke
who has had Jesus declare what he was about in reading scroll from Isaiah in Nazareth
and then telling whole lot of stories illustrate Jesus living that out
            which turns out were more than healing stories
                        held strong theme of bringing good news to poor
that followed by John wanting clarification about who Jesus is
few more stories
including calming storm and casting out legion from man of Gerasene
            – showed his authority over powers of evil
mission of 12
Jesus comes point where turns his head to Jerusalem
end game has begun
this weeks readings have an urgency about them
            there is an urgency in Paul
                        that church in Galatia does not fall into ways done things in past
                        does not fit in with rest society
            continue to stand out in their defiance of economic and social systems
            stand instead in the way of Christ
Luke has Jesus has tell people there is not time to go home and say goodbye
            stark contrast to one readings could heard this morning about Elijah calling Elisha
            Elisha is allowed to go home and end that life well.
Luke and Paul both wanted that sense of urgency to continue
Brother and sisters around world are imploring us to again be urgent
urgent in our appreciation for this world
and how our actions are making their lives very very difficult now

     9.     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 and in this world with the same
            compassion and generosity we experience in the harvest
            we meet in Jesus
            reminded that there is urgent need to not be satisfied with things as they are
join in work finding new ways of living that honour this world
            and all who live on it.

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 22, 2016

Single minded urgency

Some first thoughts on this Sunday’s readings.
These readings carry a sense of urgency about them. And they all call us into a single mindedness based on God’s loving actions towards us. Paul reminds us that we do not earn this through obedience but by accepting that love and allowing God to change us within from self-indulgence to loving our neighbour as ourselves. And to allow that to happen needs both a sense of urgency and single mindedness of attitude.
This Sunday will also be our harvest festival (a randomly picked date that doesn’t clash with anything else, including the harvest) – a day to give thanks for the harvest and more importantly God’s ongoing goodness and generosity. Our harvest festival is set within Matariki – the Maori New Year which marks the beginning of the time to prepare the ground for the new harvest. This reminds us that we are to care for creation so that/as well as reaping its reward. What might it mean to treat the earth as our neighbour? How might we show the fruit of the spirit to creation rather than a spirit of self-indulgence?