Friday, September 30, 2016

Having Enough Faith?

Can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year C - 20th  Sunday Pentecost; 27th  Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm                          Lamentations 3:19-26
First Reading:                         Lamentations 1:1-6                            
Second Reading:        2 Timothy 1:1-14                          
Gospel:                        Luke 17:5-10                                         

What I want to say:
What does it mean to increase our faith? Is this a real question? What is it we have faith in God to do? Fix it? Be with us in the midst of life?
What I want to happen:
people to reflect on what it is we have faith in God to do?

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

sad story from Facebook
people posted – praying hard son healed
            believed son healed
            God glorified
            have faith
three days – son died
            hard imagine devastation
many people who had had faith God would intervene
God would heal little boy
several posted how angry and devastated they were that God had not healed him
some wondered if they had had enough faith
            maybe if they had had more?
so many asked
-         why God has this happened
-         and why did you not heal this little boy
-         why did you not spare this faithful family this terrible pain?
They had faith that God would fix it
but God didn’t fix it
maybe if they had more faith?

     2.     Disciples

disciples too were looking for more faith
today heard how they asked Jesus for more faith
with each story
            Jerusalem gets closer
with that disciples get both more hopeful and more anxious
            they hope that their arrival will cause miraculous toppling of both Rome and Judean elite
            reign God restored
            Jesus at centre of all that
            they - his disciples also at centre
seen enough crosses on the road and during their lives to know how this story usually ended
seen enough death to know that Romans, Herod and Sanhedrin did not take threats lightly
so they wavered
            they believed
            and they doubted
“increase our faith!” they said
increase our faith that you will win
that we will win
with the friends on Facebook they prayed
increase our faith that you God will fix this
and it will be all good

     3.     The cross

We the hearers know that with each step the shadow of the cross grows darker
we know that God does not fix it
we know this path leads to betrayal
Jesus knows that with each step the shadow of the cross grows darker
that God will not fix it
that this path leads to betrayal
What then is faith?
what it is that we are to have faith in God to do?

     4.     Jesus responds

to be honest it is hard to know how to read Jesus’ response
some suggest he is saying that with the smallest amount of faith we can do miraculous things – including planting mulberry bushes in the sea
-         which is miraculous, and silly
some say that he is saying faith will lead us to see things in new and out of the box ways
-         like planting a mulberry bushes in the sea
-         who would have thought of that
some say that they really are missing the point
            either have faith
            or not
ð like your arm is broken, or not
ð or pregnant – or not
just giving facetious answer
because Jesus wasn’t about casting mulberry bushes into the sea
he was about changing the world
was faithful to his disciples
loyal to them as they were to him
that is what we are talking about here
being loyal
being faithful
that is faith
saying – either you are loyal and trusting
or you are not
together we are living reign of God
wherever that will lead

     5.     Faith

what it is we have faith in God to do?
fix it all?
Bible really clear that God will not fix it
reading of Lamentations is this astounding reading of grief in face fall of Jerusalem
people are left crying out
-         why God has this happened
-         and why did you not stop the destruction
-         why did you not spare we your faithful people this terrible pain?
today we join in that lament
that prayer to a God who does not fix it
and we bring our own griefs
our own cries
-         why God has this happened
-         and why did you not stop this
-         why did you not spare us your faithful people this terrible pain?

     6.     Faithful Praying

to be able to pray that is to have faith
trusting that God is with us even when it is not fixed
            even when we are in midst of the darkest place
God is there
faith is not gaining rewards
faith is not holding on to a God will fix it all
we are not asked to trust that God will make it all good if we have enough faith
So what is faith?
faith is trusting God
that God is bringing in reign of God
creation is being restored
faith is trusting in reign of God when all evidence is to the counter
faith is trusting that God is with us
            even when nothing is fixed
            when there seem to be no rewards
            even when all we can do is join in the lament
so then
what it is that we are to have faith in God to do?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

God in the darkness

Theme for the week  The readings for this sunday (Lamentations 1:1-6, Luke 17:5-10) confront us with some of our basic emotions: doubt, hopelessness and fear, and meet us in our darkest question: why has this happened? and have I the strength, the faith to find my way through? In the midst of all this we join the disciples in their plea - "Increase our faith Lord, increase our faith in the face of all that is happening!"

These readings invite us to explore where those anxieties and requests come from. They invite us to see our desire for certainty and invite us to meet God, not in certainty, not in clear answers, but in the messiness of life, in our doubts and darkness. When hope seems gone, there is God.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Being Chaste

Can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year C 19th Sunday Pentecost; 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time,

Psalm                         Psalm: 91:1-6, 14-16
First Reading:                         Jeremiah 32:1-3, 6-15            
Second Reading:         1 Timothy 6:6-19                    
Gospel:                                    Luke 16:19-31                        

What I want to say:
To explore how this story is imbedded in a number of stories about humility and chastity – seeing others as belonging to God and not for use in our quest for self-fulfilment.

What I want to happen:
People to examine their own attitudes individually and as a church

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

Last week we heard Jesus talking to the disciples about the dishonest/shrewd manager - 
a story that confuses us today
finishes with “you cannot serve God and wealth”
now some Pharisees (who Luke says love money and wealth) hear all this and mock Jesus
because everyone knows that people are wealthy because God has blessed them
at least that is what people then
and some people today
Jesus responds to this mocking by saying things like
            not trying to enter heaven by force
            importance of law and prophets
            don’t divorce your wife
            story about this rich guy without a name
                        and poor man begged at his gate called Lazarus
there’s a thing
how often hear story about rich and poor man,
            know name poor man and not rich?
what is even stranger
            poor man has no real role apart from he dies
            its nameless Mr Super Rich Guy who is in centre action
                        not noticing Lazarus
                        not offering hospitality
                        not offering compassion or generosity
                        not seeing him
            this rich guy is just too self-absorbed
            he is too busy being super rich
                        tell that from purples clothes he wears
                                    most expensive cloth going
                                    only super rich and emperors wear that colour
                        too busy making his name in world
                        no time smelly beggars dying at his gate
                        even though Torah and Prophets and social custom might suggest some generosity might be the honourable way to go
                        Mr Super Rich Guy just gets on with his own agenda.
then Lazarus dies
            hurray – not have that smelly beggar at gate cluttering place up with his destitution
then Mr Super Rich Guy dies
            one goes to Abraham
            one doesn’t
which is a bit of a twist

     2.     side note

this is not about heaven and hell
not about what happens to us after we die
Jesus is not trying to scare us into being all good and such
this is Jesus using some common ideas to provide a framework for a story he is telling
story which is all about how we live.
Martin Luther spent a lot of time using this story to not talk about heaven, but what happens to Jews and good people of faith – before Jesus when they die
è go to Abraham until the last day of resurrection

     3.     After Death

so here they both are
            one in bosom of Abraham
            one in Hades – Greek term for underworld
focus of story is still on Mr Super Rich Guy – has no name
Lazarus still stays silent
nameless Mr. Super Rich Guy looks way up and sees Lazarus with Abraham
            not what the thought should happen
he is in agony
            so he pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus down
            he pleads with Abraham to send Lazarus down
doesn’t ask Lazarus
doesn’t speak to Lazarus
not apologise way acted
ask for compassion
in fact at no point does he speak to Lazarus
            or even acknowledge him apart from wanting Lazarus to serve him
            either by coming quench thirst
            or going to his brothers and sisters warn them
Abraham says no child
each get rewards deserve from our lives
and besides there is a great chasm
            chasm is not just there after die
there all time
chasm put in place by nameless Mr Super Rich Guy
            would not see Lazarus
            would not show compassion or generosity to Lazarus
            still would not really see him as child God
            was nuisance to be ignored
            now someone who could help him
            end of story.
then have this wink wink nudge nudge ending to the story
Mr Super Rich Guy asks for Lazarus to go warn brothers and sisters
Abraham says they have Torah and prophets
            (you know – those things you ignored when you chose to show no compassion)
Mr Super Rich Guy says not enough – but if someone would come back from dead then they would believe
we all know who that is now don’t we
-         that would be Jesus
suddenly find ourselves in story
we are brothers and sisters
At this point Jesus, and Luke
are talking about hearers of story
            Jesus – Pharisees
            Luke – all hearers – including us
saying to us
            you have prophets and law – require mercy and generosity
            you have Jesus – raised from dead
            will we listen?
            what are we to listen to?

     4.     chastity

easy to see this story as what need to do to get into heaven
fact someone talked about just that on Tuesday
that would be show generosity and compassion
if we do that – all good
then get into heaven
only trouble is
that when we do that
            no different from nameless Mr Super Rich Guy
because his problem wasn’t just that he didn’t show generosity and compassion
it was that at no point did he really see Lazarus
not person Lazarus
            with name
            most importantly – child of Abraham
just – that smelly beggar at gate
            and now - that poor person who could help me.
that is our danger
that we do things for ourselves
see them simply as people we do good things for
not saying showing compassion isn’t good thing
it is a really good things
not what is going on here

     5.     The Rule

As member of TSSF I am expected to reflect on our Rule of Life each day.
the rule is broken up into daily readings for easy reflection
Day Eight: The Second Aim (Cont’d)- To spread the spirit of love and harmony
We as members of the Third Order fight against all injustice in the name of
Christ, in whom there can be neither Jew, nor Greek, slave, nor free, male,
nor female; for in him all are one. Our chief object is to reflect that
openness to all which was characteristic of Jesus . This can only be
achieved in a spirit of chastity, which sees others as belonging to God and
not as a means of self-fulfilment.
Being chaste is at heart of our calling
-         includes a lot more than just being about sex.
being chaste is at heart of this story
Mr Super Rich Guy was not chaste
            he saw others only in terms of what they could do for him
                        or how much they inconvenienced him
            Not once did he see Lazarus as Abraham saw him
                        child of God
that one thing led to his undoing
even when we are offering compassion and generosity
            danger is we see other person as means of our self-fulfilment
                        we feel fulfilled when we help
rather than way in which we serve our brothers and sisters.