Saturday, October 29, 2016

All the Saints – Even Zacchaeus

Can be listened to here

Gate Pa – Year C  31st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Pentecost 24
Psalm                         Psalm: 149
First Reading:                         Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18                            
Second Reading:        Ephesians 1:11-23                  
Gospel:                        Luke 19:1-10  
What I want to say:
Was Zacchaeus already giving half his income to the poor, or was he going to give half his income because of what Jesus says to him. Both work.  If he was already, then the issue is not that he was corrupt – as we assume, but that those he lived among assumed he was corrupt and a sinner – like we still do and Jesus saw who he really was. How do our assumptions blind us to the saints living around us?
On All Saints/All Souls – how do we honour those we grieve? 

What I want to happen:
People to face their own assumptions about people, and how that colours how they live in honour to those they grieve.

The Sermon

     1.      Introduction:

One things really like about Anglicanism, is that we have kept out Saints
seems to me many Protestant churches forgotten the saints
            many Anglicans have as well
officially we have kept them
            remember them
saints important
            inspire us with their lives
            inspire us with their faith
            inspire us with their humility
                        selfless serving those lived among.
            remind us that we are part of something much bigger
                        than us gathered here this morning
                        bigger than this parish
                                    this Diocese
                                    even Anglican church world wide
                        their story is part of our story
                        our story is continuation of their story
honouring the saints helps give perspective to what we are experiencing.
Throughout the year we are invited remember whole bunch people we call saints
            some have that official title
            Pope  continues to recognise people with that title – latest being Mother, now Saint Theresa of Calcutta.
            we also remember number people who we call saint
                        Saints part of British heritage like Florence Nightingale
                                                                        Elizabeth Fry
                        Saints who are part of our story here in Aotearoa
                                    Suzanne Aubert
                                    Wiremu Tamihana Tarapipi
                                    Tarore of Waharoa
                        Saints associated with our Diocese and with here
                                    Piripi Taumata-a-Kura
                                    Henare Wiremu Taratoa
                                    Heni Te Kiri Karamu
Tuesday 1st November is All Saints
so today – closest Sunday – we remember all Saints
            those in our calendar
            those not calendar
            those known only to God
Wednesday is All Souls
            day remember all those died in faith
            day invited remember those we love who have died
            especially, but not solely those died in last year

     2.      Zacchaeus

Reading heard is story of Zacchaeus
            well known story
rich tax collector – or publican
Jesus coming through Jericho on his way up to Jerusalem
            end of story is getting really close
too short to see
so risks huge humiliation
            climbs tree with some boys
            not what person honour or social standing should do
            just see this Jesus
Jesus shocks everyone
says to him
“"Zacchaeus, hurry down. Today is my day to be a guest in your home."
This is exactly the kind of thing that gets Jesus into trouble
            that puts him offside with leadership
            and Pharisees
            will lead very shortly in this story to his death on cross
Don’t eat with sinners
            Don’t eat with Roman collaborators
This man is clearly both –
Message says – “Everyone who saw the incident was indignant and grumped, "What business does he have getting cozy with this crook?"
But is he really a crook?

     3.      Future tense?

All depends on how we interpret the next part of the story
NRSV translates next part as
“Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.”"
Zacchaeus is crook
for his crazy act of claiming the tree
            Jesus offers God’s forgiveness
            He responds to this unsolicited offer of grace and forgiveness by this astounding offer give away half his wealth to the poor
            refund 4x anyone he or those work for him have defrauded
contrast that to ruler/rich man who just before this story
            came to Jesus and asked what he needed to do to inherit internal life
            told give away his wealth to the poor and follow Jesus
Zacchaeus seems much less attached to his wealth
            on his way to becoming an camel unloading his goods to enter through the eye of a needle.
Great piece of theology in this reading
God forgives us already
It is up to us how to respond.
Zacchaeus offers us model how we might respond.

     4.      Present tense

Message however offers this translation
   “Zacchaeus just stood there, a little stunned. He stammered apologetically, "Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I'm caught cheating, I pay four times the damages."”
did you hear the difference
NRSV is in future tense – I will (implied –in response to your grace and generosity)
this is – I am already giving ….
more in line with Greek – which is in present tense?
            and KJV and RSV – present tense
stop and think about that for a moment
            Zacchaeus is not responding to Jesus’ invitation to host him in his house
            he is protesting his lack of corruption
            yes he is a publican/tax collector – so yes he is a Roman collaborator
            yes he is wealthy
but not corrupt
            more than that -  he fulfils the requirements of the law
            he is not a sinner
            he gives half of his income away to the poor
            refunds those defrauded 4x
                        those he defrauds
                        Message carries on -   9 Jesus said, "Today is salvation day in this home! Here he is: Zacchaeus, son of Abraham! 10 For the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost."  

in this reading
Jesus is not forgiving sins
            not offering grace
simply seeing what everyone else fails to see
devout man of faith
            who happens to be a roman collaborator
while everyone else
            including most of us
            just see a sinner
            of course he is a sinner
            he has to be
            he is the chief tax collector/publican
            he is rich
            he must have defrauded people
            how else could he be wealthy?
we assume
they assumed
Jesus saw him for who he truly is
            son of Abraham
            sees us for who we truly are
            even when others can’t see it
            even when we can’t see it ourselves

     5.      Zacchaeus the publican

2 different ways of understanding the same story
both equally valid
both offer great theology
some translators have gone with one reading
some with other
leave it to you to choose.
tradition tells us that that is not end of story of Zacchaeus
            some traditions say that Zacchaeus is Matthias of books Acts
                        who became the 12th Apostle to replace Judas
            some say that Zacchaeus the publican
                        became the first bishop of Caesarea
today we remember little known saint
Zacchaeus the publican.

     6.      Today

today we remember all saints of God,
great saints,
little saint,
nameless ones who have lived their faith
today also we remember saints of God we have known and loved
who helped shape who we are today
whose passing we remember and mark
today is a day to give thanks and remember
                        honouring those gone before us
            recognise the influence they have had on our lives
            acknowledge their part that played in shaping who we are
Invite us take some time in silence to remember
            give thanks
Greatest way honour them is how we live our lives
how we pass on that legacy to others
take time
give thanks
when ready
invite you to light candle

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

All Saints/All Souls

This Sunday we will gather with Christians all around the world who light candles and remember loved ones who have died over the last year. We do this because November 1st, (next Tuesday), has for many centuries been All Saints Day. This is the day Christians have remembered all those who firstly died as martyrs for the faith, and then all those great people of faith (saints) who the rest of us look up to and are inspired by. From the twelfth or thirteenth centuries All Souls Day was held on November 2 to remember all people of faith. Today we remember all those who have gone before us, who have paved the way for us, and especially those we have loved and who loved us. We give thanks for the ways they have blessed us over our lifetimes and, as Zacchaeus reminds us, we honour their memory by how we bless others ourselves .  As we do this we also take another step in letting them go, trusting that they now rest in God, as they have always.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Whose Goodness?

Can be heard here

Gate Pa – Year C  30th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Pentecost 23
Psalm                          Psalm: 65 (8am only)
First Reading:                         Joel 2:23-32                            
Second Reading:        2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18 
Gospel:                        Luke 18:9-14               

What I want to say:
How often do we join the Pharisee and give in to the temptation that we have earned our salvation thanking God for our goodness? How often do we stand with the tax collector knowing we have nothing to offer, trusting in God’s deep love and thanking God for God’s goodness?
What I want to happen:
People to spend time giving thanks

The Sermon

     1.     Introduction:

A kangaroo kept getting out of his enclosure at the zoo. Knowing that he could hop pretty high, the zoo officials put up an 8-foot fence. The next morning, however, the kangaroo was out again, idly roaming around the zoo.

The zoo officials raised the height of the fence to ten feet. Again, however, the next morning the kangaroo was again roaming about the zoo. This kept on, night after night, until the fence was 20 feet high.

Finally, the camel in the next enclosure asked the kangaroo, "How high do you think they'll go?"

The kangaroo replied, "Who knows? Maybe 50 feet. Unless somebody starts locking the gate at night."

     2.     Pharisees

Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:
a lot about this story is wrong
eg Pharisees
yes they and Jesus seemed to be at each other
            although how much of reflects later tensions when Gospels were written hard to know
            we often see them as conservative rule keepers
-> negative force in Jewish life
            but relatively small group of reformers (only about 6,000)
-         felt priests and supporters Herod – broken faith with God
-         concerned with holiness of God
-         meditated on law as way honour God’s holiness
 – Psalm 119 gives clues to devotion
-         practices helped them keep before them law
-         adhered to in order that they honoured Holiness of God
-         so what Pharisee described as doing in this story is what happened
o   fasted
o   tithed more than law required – including on goods purchased in case tithe had not already been paid for them.
o   prays at temple
o   devout
we see them as defenders of status quo
at time their actions were seen as nonviolent opposition to leadership both Rome and Judean elite
or put it another way
not a lot of difference between Jesus and Pharisees
            both reformers
            both seen opposed status quo
            where they differed was how they interpreted law/Torah
                        through there adherence to the law made themselves holy/righteous/right with God
playing family feud
            asked “who were righteous” – Pharisees would been among top answers.

     3.     Where are we?

so going back to the story
- who is he talking to or about?
up to now – disciples
so is he talking to disciples who trusted in themselves….?
even those who were with him were getting it wrong
            seen it already
            continue to see it in gospels
that should make us all very nervous
this becomes a story about us.

      4.     The story

So Jesus tells a story about two men praying in temple
            well Pharisee is in temple
                        clearly part of the group who are “in” with God
            sinful and hated tax collector is in outer courts
                        such a person clearly not part of the group who are “in” with God
Pharisee plays his cards to God
            listing his virtues and holiness
            and listing the vices and sinfulness of others
                        to give his holiness extra gloss
                        even peeking over to that tax collector
he thanks God for his own goodness
            trusts in that goodness
            trusts that because of that goodness he will be rewarded
Tax collector is out of cards
            nothing to list
            knows he is as bad as worst offender
            can’t get any extra bonus points for being better than anyone else
            only option trust in God’s goodness
trust in God’s forgiveness
knowing there is nothing he can do to earn it

     5.     Us

That is the difference between the two people in this story
One gives thanks to God for his (mans) goodness
One gives thanks to God for God’s goodness
so where are we in this story?
Truth is most of us find ourselves with Pharisee too often
probably don’t even notice it
too busy being humble
            which is one cards I can play
if were to list virtues
            we go to church
            most us read bible
            most of us pray
            most us baptised – confirmed even
            most of us involved some kind of ministry
            most of us not like other people—robbers, crooks, adulterers, murderers, p makers, drug sellers, etc…..
If heaven is the point
            then we should be pretty near the front of the line
thank goodness we are good people
God will reward us.
But there it is
us standing with Pharisee
            standing with those disciples
who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt:
In the end all of that really doesn’t count for much if we do it to earn a reward of some kind
we earn nothing
But if we do that in response to love that is freely given
do that in response to God’s goodness
do that knowing that we are no more or no less loved than any other person
            no matter how good or bad in our eyes.
So what do we give thanks for this morning?
give thanks to God for our goodness
give thanks to God for God’s goodness