Thursday, July 28, 2016

Where is our heart?

This can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year C 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time,
Psalm                          Psalm 107:1-9, 43      
First Reading:                         Hosea 11:1-11                        
Second Reading:        Col 3:1-11                               
Gospel:                        Luke 12:13-21                        

What I want to say:
Where we stand affects how we read this story. Explore some different ways of reading this story bringing it back to ‘how do we honour God’s name?”

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

This time 3 years ago I was on Savo Island
            explore what that was like
In church I was by far the wealthiest person present
I was the rich man in the story
how do you preach this story from that position?
Is there more than one way to understand this story?

     2.     How do you read it?

few weeks ago we heard Jesus ask lawyer
“what does the law of Moses say?
how do you read it?”
lot of people who see that as the same question
been seminars where I have been told that there is only one correct reading of scripture
            usually how the middle class white male would read it
            everyone else is wrong
are in fact multiple ways any piece of scripture can be read
how I read this story then will be different from how my brothers and sisters on Savo will read it
and how it was read by Luke’s community
and how it was understood by those present with Jesus.
no one reading is any more right than any of the others.

     3.     hallowed be your name

last week you might have heard Jesus teaching people how to pray
Lord’s prayer
includes line – Hallowed be your name
your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven
give us today our daily bread
Blog I read as a resource notes that the “hallowed” is in passive voice – God makes God’s name holy
How does God make God's name holy?
God makes God's name holy through "Your kingdom come."
And what does this kingdom look like?
When we who pray this prayer are willing to trust that God will "give us each day our daily bread,"
            and that we do not need to be anxious and strive each day
            willing to see what we are given as God's generous gift and to be thankful.

     4.     This story

The question asked of Jesus this morning asked by someone who was not willing to trust
and story itself is about someone who trusted in his own self.
God’s kingdom has not come
God’s name is not hallowed.
story itself is interesting.
Question asked of Jesus does not strike us as too unusual.
            but it would have been extremely dishonourable question is Jesus time
family property was not divided
            to divide it would lessens viability
            increases danger need sold
leaving family destitute
threatening livelihoods all those in community relied on that land work and food.
question is dripping with greed
individual greed
carries huge social cost
Jesus refuses to answer
tells story – as often does
story about man who has acquired land of other families
            because debt had to sell
many those listening had suffered this fate in last couple generations
            since romans arrived
this man’s wealth is built on their poverty
his plan to build bigger barns and retire
            raises question
            does he plan to continue farming?
or are all those dependant on these farms now destitute?
These stories are so much more than our individual attitudes to money
are about our place in kingdom of God
these are stories about community

     5.     Where is my heart?

another way of looking at this is – where is my heart?
big question
or to put it another way
            what gives meaning to my life?
when do I feel like my life has been worth something?
played my part
kingdom has come on earth as in heaven
question we all struggle with
talking to another spiritual director last week
reflecting on how hard it is to get ministers – like me
to think about this question beyond our ministry
            too often our worth as ministers
            as priests
                        is bound up in what we do week by week
            like that is all God is interested in.
led to many of us going seminars of developing smart goals
            out of that having comprehensive to do lists
days ruled goals and lists
worth is measured by what achieved
while all of that is important
my worth is not measured in those things
God is not confined to those things
On Savo, on Malaita, on Makira and in Honiara
            spent a lot of time sitting around talking
            being with people
At Ngatiawa in morning prayer
            people often ask prayer that they might have good conversations
            not that list get done
            not goals achieved
            they will spend good time with each other and with those who visit.
That is now on the top of my to do list
            have good conversations
because unlike brother who came to Jesus
            unlike man in Jesus story
my worth is not in what I amass
            crops stored
            money in bank
simply in fact that I am deeply and profoundly loved by God
in prayer
            in good conversations
I meet God who loves me
I hope that in those I am with will meet that God as well
And that is where my heart needs to be.
So what gives meaning to your life?
What gives you worth?
Where is your heart?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What makes our lives worthwhile?

The gospel story for this Sunday has been called, by at least one commentator, the parable of the foolish barn guy. In our lectionary the second half of the story, Luke 12:22-34 have been left off. It is helpful to read these verses as well.

At its heart this story is about where our heart is, or to put it another way, what is it that gives meaning to our lives? How do we judge our lives to be worthwhile? For the barn guy it was his own comfort and sense of importance – those big barns are not just to store things but to show how much he has? But in Luke we have already heard the parable of the Samaritan outlining what Jesus and Luke thought that measure should be.

So what measure do we apply to our lives? What makes our lives worthwhile?

Saturday, July 09, 2016

A Shocking Story about our Neighbour

 Gate Pa – Year C 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time,

Psalm                              Psalm 82
First Reading:             Amos 7:7-17
Second Reading:         Col 1:1-14
Gospel:                      Luke 10:25-37

What I want to say:
Explore the Good Samaritan story – that it asks who our neighbour is – who am I willing to be a neighbour to? Who am I willing to be my neighbour to me?

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

My mum is part of a house group
take it in turns to host the group
-         mum always happy to do
-         also have to lead the bible study
I remember talking to her about this morning’s gospel
story of good Samaritan
she was just checking out that it was all about how to be neighbourly
which I suspect is how often undertood
in some ways it is
but who are we to be neighbourly to?
that is the question

     2.     who is my neighbour?

That is the question we seem to be forever struggling with
last weekend Pauline Hanson returned to Australian Senate
policy platform that is very clear about who her neighbour is
-         white
-         non muslim
-         Australian
è everyone else is not her neighbour
o   deserves her (and our) suspicion and contempt
û  royal commission into Islam
û  no refugees
û  limited immigration (except if they are white)
all of which is so sad and a little frightening
not just Australia
            see same thing with Trump in America
            part of Brexit vote was same kind of very narrow view about who is my neighbour
            have same attitudes here in Aotearoa
I can understand it
easier when people like me are my neighbour
û  look like me
û  sound like me
û  speak same language as me
û  dress same me
û  act same - largely
û  believe same
easier assume
people like me are the good guys
people who aren’t like me are not the good guys
don’t have to pay them and their issues any attention
            probably brought it all on themselves
don’t have to be a good neighbour to them
in fact I can vilify them
withhold any generosity or mercy
feels safer this way

     3.     Context

same divisions were there in Jesus’ time
probably worse
a lot animosity between Jews and Samaritans
            went back time Solomon
Jews saw themselves vastly superior
            not as polluted with blood non-Jews
            continued with temple worship in Jerusalem
            kept law Moses – torah more devotedly
unlike those Samaritans – had intermarried with non-Jews after Assyrian invasion
abandoned temple – Jerusalem
            worshipped at Bethel and Dan and then Samaria
their understanding of Torah was sneered at
and at times extremists both sides would take this animosity
            - explode into outright hatred
both Jew and Samaritan despised Gentiles
yet they had to learn to live with one another
            most of time achieved
            animosity bubbled away under the surface
saw all this couple weeks ago when Jesus set eyes on Jerusalem
            sought stay in Samaritan village on the way
            not interested because going to Jerusalem
            John and James wanted pray for fire pour down on that village.

     4.     The Lawyer

what does Jesus do with all this?
Luke tells this story
how lawyer comes to Jesus to trap him
            show how ignorant he is?
asks what he must do to inherit eternal life
            not about going to heaven
            much more about inheriting God’s promises for this earth at the last age
Jesus turns question back on him and asks him two questions
what does law Moses say
how does he read or understand it
-         two different question
Lawyer gives oft quoted response
love the lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength
            and/by loving your neighbour as yourself
Jesus says – good answer – go and do it
Lawyer is little annoyed at this
            tables turned – he has lost a lot face in this exchange
redeem situation – asks really simple question
the question
who is my neighbour?
really simple
number clear answers
            in line with Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump
            people like me
            other good guys
all which Jesus seems to ignore with this behaviour
in response Jesus tells this story
shocking story

    5.     The shocking story

where upholders of temple law became bad guys for keeping torah and ignoring the unknown man
            – never told this man Jew, Samaritan or Gentile
-         markers gone – dress and language would give him away
good guy is Samaritan
            same people James and John wanted to pour fire onto just a few verses ago
so who is the neighbour?

    6.     So who is my neighbour?

not people like lawyer
not people obeyed torah
            in fact one disobeyed torah – law moses
one dressed, spoke, acted differently
            one we should be suspicious of and vilify
he is neighbour
not by birth
not by family relationships
not by religion
not even by obeying torah
by showing mercy
Jesu changes the rules
and most of the time we don’t even notice
our neighbours are the ones who show us mercy
we become neighbours when we show mercy
neighbours aren’t people like us
            but are all those in need
            all those in need
whatever their race
            their beliefs
            their status
            no matter whether they are part of the good guys or bad guys
all our neighbours
all which means from point of view of Jesus and his story
Pauline Hanson
Donald Trump
all those call no refugees
            end Muslim immigration
see themselves as good guys and everyone else bad
all ignoring what Jesus says
and have got it o so wrong!
What about us?
we are to be shaped by this story
ð act with mercy to all
ð receive mercy from all
as people of way
people walk with Jesus
ones who are to live out this shocking and hard story
if we are honest it will call into question
a whole lot of our ideas about who we are
            and who are our neighbours

    7.     Baptism

today we are going to baptise Elliette
do so with this story ringing in our ears
this story which talks about unearned compassion and enormous generosity
shakes up fabric of all societies
calls us to be generous neighbours
accept generosity of those we do now know
As we baptise Elliette
            we are declaring God’s unearned and unending love for her
in doing so we are declaring her a member of the God’s Church
part of people who are to live out God’s unearned love for all
baptise Elliette in hope that she will grow up immersed in generosity and compassion we find in this story
knowing that all people are her neighbour
because all people are children of God.