All posts by ian

All People are our People

Sunday 12 December 2021 Rev Hugh Perry

The theme for the third Sunday in Advent is joy but we may well ask if there can be any joy under the threat of Covid.

But even in such times our Zephaniah reading is a call for God’s people to rejoice because they have been restored and forgiven, and God now lives among them, bringing them restoration, joy and healing, and including all the marginalised and oppressed ones.

Furthermore, Maurice Andrew says that dealing with oppressors means saving the lame and gathering the outcasts which fits our covid context.

Zephaniah is about the liberation of Jerusalem, and he is concerned that the Israelites are held in esteem by the neighbouring people.  It is a feeling we can identify with after the T20 world cup and the All Blacks and the Black Ferns suffered significant loses in the Northern Hemisphere. Continue reading All People are our People

The Little Apocalypse

Sermon 14 November 2021

1 Samuel 1: 4-20

We read the beginning of the book of Samuel which describes the significant details of Samuel’s birth. Hannah is the favourite wife of her husband but expresses inadequacy, and indeed is tormented by Elkanah’s other wife because she has not had any children.  Her husband suggests that he loves her more than ten sons.  That is an echo from the book of Ruth where the women of Bethlehem assure Naomi that Ruth is more than seven sons.  It is worth remembering from the book of Ruth that without sons Ruth and Naomi were destitute and that would be Hanna’s fate if her husband died, especially as there seems to be rivalry with the other wife in the household.

In praying for a son Hanna promises that he will be a Nazirite, leading a life set apart and apprenticed to the priest Eli.

Mark 13: 1-8

Today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel begins as they leave the Temple and one of Jesus’ disciples comments on the large stones and the large buildings.  Jesus then predicts the destruction of the buildings which could have been the whole city or, as other gospel writers have interpreted, the Temple.  Morna Hooker suggests that, as this event is referenced in other context then, it is likely to be an authentic saying of Jesus.[1]  Some of the Jesus seminar scholars agree with her although not enough to give it a most likely, or definitely the words of Jesus, rating.

In their Five Gospels translation the Jesus Seminar tell us ‘the temple was the centre, not only of the sacrificial cult, but also of the banking system, the meat industry, and the seat of political power in Jesus’ time.’ Therefore, it is likely to have been commented on by Jesus because of his concern for the poor.[2] Continue reading The Little Apocalypse

The Paradox of Power

21 November 2021

Rev 1: 4b-8 and John 18: 33-37 YearB 2021

This is the last Sunday of the Church’s year – the day when we celebrate Christ the King, or, as the Lectionary puts it, the Reign of Christ. The whole concept of the festival of Christ the King is paradoxical. It’s not the end of the calendar year – the church calendar is out of step with the secular calendar. That, in itself, makes a statement about the nature of our faith. We like to use the word ‘countercultural’. We don’t always stop and think what we mean by it, but it’s about moving to a different drumbeat; taking to heart a set of different values. It’s about having a different agenda – that word so much overused these days, but a word that simply means our goal as followers of Christ doesn’t often (or ever) match the goal of the secular world, and the way we go about achieving that goal needs to be very different. Continue reading The Paradox of Power

People use Religion to Justify Violence

 The United Nations designates a day in August as the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.  The victims of this violence may have been targeted because of their religious beliefs or may have been targeted because of the religious beliefs of the perpetrators of the crime.  The Christchurch Muslims who were massacred at Friday prayers by a white supremacist two years ago were targeted because of their beliefs.  The Muslims jihadists who flew planes into the twin towers in New York City were motivated by their religious beliefs.  In both instances innocent people died.

We recall that the United States of America and its allies invaded Afghanistan to eliminate the terrorist group that perpetrated the attacks against the twin towers and the Pentagon.  Now, twenty years later, the western alliance is hastily withdrawing from Afghanistan,  leaving many Afghanis desperate to leave their own land in order to escape the brutality of the Taliban, whose version of Islam is an aberration of the faith of the majority of Muslim people.  Worse still is ISIS, whose suicide bombings at Kabul airport show them to be even more abhorrent than the Taliban. Continue reading People use Religion to Justify Violence

Impossible Things

 Trinity Sunday. May 2021

‘I can’t believe that!’ said Alice. ‘Can’t you?’ the Queen said in a pitying tone. ‘Try again. Draw a long breath and shut your eyes.’ Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’ ‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ (Through the Looking-Glass

Those of you who, like me, grew up knowing our ‘Alice,’ might remember that conversation. Well, today is Trinity Sunday – God is one and God is three. Sometimes our faith asks us to believe impossible things. But Trinity is part of our story, and it’s a part we often put into the too-hard basket. I’m inviting you to come with me on an exploration of the contents of that too-hard basket. I think it’s too important to be ignored. Continue reading Impossible Things

To be First, be last

Acts 4: 5-12

Peter was preaching to crowds of people and we are told that while Peter and John were still speaking the priests, the captain of the temple and Sadducees, were very annoyed because Peter and John were teaching people that, in Jesus, there is resurrection of the dead.  The Sadducees were a very traditional religious party that believed there was no life after death and were often arguing with Jesus who seemed to support the later opposite view that developed during the Maccabean revolt. Continue reading To be First, be last

Finding Words for it!

Easter 3B. 2021:  A sermon on Acts 3: 12-19 and Luke 24: 36b-48

We’re still in the season of Easter – the season of celebration. In our fast-moving world it’s easy to forget this sometimes. Easter stretches out until Pentecost – and that gives us time to ponder the significance of Easter. After all, we’re called to be an Easter people. And being an Easter people means more than enjoying Easter music, and enjoying the feeling of lightness after Holy Week, and having holidays. Continue reading Finding Words for it!

Easter Day 4th April 2021

The service will begin in silence

DECLARATION.1

Leader: Christ is risen: he is risen indeed. Alleluia.

The cloth is removed from the table. The Christ candle and the flowers are carried in and placed on the table. And the music sounds!

OPENING WORDS
Christ is risen in quiet and mysterious darkness
before the chorus of dawn.
Alleluia, Christ is risen;
He is risen indeed.|
Risen with glory and grace in reserve,
and authority beyond measure.
Alleluia, Christ is risen;
He is risen indeed.
Risen to prove that violence is no solution;
to offer us peace and life in all its fullness.
Alleluia, Christ is risen;
He is risen indeed.
The last laugh is God’s laugh;
God has the last laugh:
for freedom comes beyond the cross,
for peace comes beyond the violence,
for friendship comes beyond the betrayal.
for life comes beyond the crushing of life.The first laugh and the last laugh are God’s.
and God has made laughter for us.  Alleluia, Christ is risen;
He is risen indeed. Continue reading Easter Day 4th April 2021

Maundy Thrursday

We begin in silence.

We live on the edge of the fullness of time. Let us, therefore, watch and wait, and offer our silent prayer.    silence

PRAYER.

In ancient time it was said that there is a time for every purpose under heaven.
A time for being born and a time for growing; a time for embracing and a time for love.
It also was said that there is a time for dying, for weeping and for silence.
Dear Jesus, we just don’t know the answers.
But we know that, for you, this night, there forms a conviction that the hour has come.
What will it bring? Disillusionment or fulfillment?  The end of faith or faith’s new beginning?
Not understanding, we offer our silence.

HYMN: “All praise be yours, my God, this night.”  Tune: TALLIS’CANON

All praise be yours, my God, this night, for all the blessings of the light,
keep me, kind maker of all things beneath the shadow of your wings.|
Forgive me, by Christ’s victory won,the ill that I this day have done,|
that from the fear of sin set free, I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

O let me on your love repose, let welcome sleep my eyelids close,
sleep from whose balm new strength I take to serve my God when I awake.
Praise God who gives all blessings birth; praise God all creatures on the earth,
praise God, who makes, sustains, set free:  one holy God in persons three.

Thomas Ken

READING. John 13: 1-15, 33-35,

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

HYMN “An upper room did our Lord prepare,” Tune: O WALY WALY

An upper room did our Lord prepare, for those he loved until the end:
and his disciples still gather there  to celebrate their risen friend.

A lasting gift Jesus gave his own: to share his bread, his loving cup.
Whatever burdens may bow us down,he by his cross shall lift us up.

And after supper he washed their feet, for service too is sacrament,
in him our joy shall be made complete – sent out to serve, as he was sent.

And even as the hour now comes, he loves beyond our uttermost:
in every part of life and death he will be there, as Lord and host.

Fred Pratt Green alt.

THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER

PRAYER.

Holy God, this meal that we share today is the celebration of love – love that becomes visible through the life of Jesus, who graced lives with healing and hope, compassion and power, and whose love, life, healing and hope, compassion and power continue to grace our lives today.

On the night of his betrayal, as he sat at table and broke bread with his friends, he said “Take and eat; this is my body which is broken for you. Remember me each time you do this.” After they had eaten, he took the cup and said: “Remember me as you drink from this, for it is my life, poured out for you –the beginning of a new relationship with God.”

God came to us in Jesus.
This same God is present with us now.
And God will always be here with and for us.

The breaking of the  bread.

Now that the hour has come, send your Spirit upon the gifts of the bread and the cup.

As we take the bread, Lord, feed us with your compassion that we may be made whole, and, in our healing, become servants to a shattered world.

As we take the cup, Lord, mingle its juices with your tears of hope, so that we may carry this gift to those who have lost everything.

Thom M Shuman. alt.

A time of silence. At its conclusion, the minister says: “And when they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” 

HYMN: ‘The duteous day now closeth.’ Tune: INNSBRUCK
The duteous day now closeth, each flower and tree reposeth,
shade creeps o’er wild and wood: let us, as night is falling,
on God our Maker calling, give thanks to God, the Giver good.

Now all the heavenly splendour breaks forth in starlight tender
from myriad worlds unknown; and we, the marvel seeing,forget our selfish being,
for joy of beauty not our own.

Awhile our mortal blindness may miss God’s loving kindness,
and grope in faithless strife: but when life’s day is over
shall death’s fair night discover the fields of everlasting life.

Paul Gerhardt, tr Robert Bridges.

INTO THE SHADOWS.

The Shadow of betrayal.

In the evening he sat down with the twelve disciples; and during supper he said, “I tell you this: one of you will betray me!” In great distress they exclaimed one after the other, “Can you mean me, Lord?” he answered, “One who has dipped his hand into this bowl with me will betray me!” then Judas spoke, the one who was to  betray him: “Rabbi, can you mean me?” Jesus relied, “The words are yours.”

(The first candle is blown out)

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

The Shadow of Inner Agony

Then he went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, accompanied by his disciples. When he reached the place, he said to then: “Pray that you may be spared the hour of testing.” He himself withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down and began to pray: “Father, if it be your will, take this cup from me. Yet not my will, but yours, be done.” In anguish of spirit he prayed the more urgently, and his sweat was like clots of blood falling to the ground.

(The second candle is blown out)

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

The Shadow of loneliness.

He came to the disciples, and found them asleep; and he said to Peter: “Could you not sray awake with me one hour? Stay awake, and pray that you might not come to the time of trial; the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed: “Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” He came again, and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving the again, he went away and prayed a third time, using the same words.

(The third candle is blown out)

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

The Shadow of desertion.

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, appeared; with him was a great crowd, armed with swords and cudgels, sent by the chief priests and elders of the nation. The traitor gave them this sign: “The one I kiss is your man; seize him.” And stepping forward at once, he said: “Hail, Rabbi.” And kissed him. Jesus replied “Friend, do what you are here to do.” They came forward, seized Jesus, and held him fast.

(The fourth candle is blown out)

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

The Shadow of Accusation.

The chief priests and the whole council tried to find some allegation against Jesus on which a death sentence could be based, but they failed to fine one, though many came forward with false evidence. Finally, two men alleged that he had said “I can pull down the temple of God, and rebuild it in three days. At this the High Priest rose and said to him, “Have you no answer to the charge that these witnesses bring against you?” But Jesus kept silence.

(The fifth candle is blown out)

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

The Shadow of Mockery.

Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what shall I do with the man you call King of the Jews?’ For he knew it was out of malice that they had brought Jesus before him. But the chief priests incited the crowds to ask him to release Barabbus rather than Jesus. Pilate spoke to them again: “Then what shall I do with the man you call King of the Jews?” they shouted back “Crucify him.” ‘Why, what harm has he done?’ Pilate asked; but they shouted all the louder, Crucify him!” So Pilate, in his desire to satisfy the mob, released Bababbus to them; and then he had Jesus flogged and handed him over to be crucified. Then the soldiers took him inside the courtyard and dressed him in purple, and put a crown of thorns on his head. Then they began to salute him with “Hail, King of the Jews!”

(The sixth candle is blown out)

Lord have mercy

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

The Shadow of Death.

When they reached the place of the Skull, they crucified him there, and two criminals with him, one on his right and the other on his right. Jesus said “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

They divided his clothes among them by casting lots. The people stood, looking on, and their rulers jeered at him: “He saved others; now let him save himself, if this is God’s Messiah, his chosen.” The soldiers joined in the mockery and came forward offering him their sour wine. “If you are the king of the Jews,” they said, “save yourself.” There was an inscription over his head which ran “This is the King of the Jews.”

By now it was about noon, and a darkness fell over the whole land, which lasted until three o’clock: the sun’s light had failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus gave a loud cry and said “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit”, and with these words he died. The centurion saw it all, and gave praise to God. “Beyond all doubt,” he said,, “this man was innocent.”

(The last candle is blown out)

There is no Benediction. Leave quietly when you are ready

 

A Nameless Woman

Palm-Passion Sunday B 2021:

Today we’ve heard a story that’s familiar to many of us – the story of the woman who anointed Jesus. It’s a story that’s often mis-read, misinterpreted, and mis-remembered. We can be so much influenced by familiarity, or by what we thought we learned in Sunday School, that we can miss deeper and richer meanings. Continue reading A Nameless Woman

A Covenant to Keep

Lent 5B 2021

As we get closer to Good Friday in our Lenten journey, the Gospel readings get darker. We can no longer avoid the shadow of the cross. Jesus moves inexorably towards a terrifying death and we – we stand on the edge of the precipice trying to avert our gaze from danger. It’s just as well that there are still some flashes of light and hope in the Lenten readings that we catch out of the corners of our eyes. Continue reading A Covenant to Keep

Expectations

28 2021: Lent 2B 2021 Expectations!

We’re back with covenants and expectations. Last week we had Noah starting over again in a new environment and Jesus setting off for Jerusalem.  This is the week for Abram and Sarai and Peter. Our Lenten readings are a challenging mix! Well, that’s not surprising. Lent is a challenging mix! Outside the churches, no one pays much attention to it except in the supermarkets when the hot cross buns and the Easter eggs come onto the shelves. Lent in the so-called ‘Christian’ western countries isn’t like the season of Ramadam in Islamic nations when the rules about diet are much more part of everyday life for everyone. Continue reading Expectations

Journeying through Lent

Gen 9: 8-17 and Mark 1: 9-15. Lent 1B 2021

This is the first Sunday of Lent – we’re at the beginning of a journey. Well, not quite the beginning. Lent began on Ash Wednesday, and in one of the readings set down for that day, Paul wrote to the divided Corinthian congregations: ‘So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making God’s appeal through us’, and:  ‘We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry.’ If we’re looking for a mission statement for the Body of Christ, then surely that’s a good place to start. Our job is to be Christ’s representatives for anyone we happen to meet – and not to make it hard for others to come to that meeting. It’s a bit like the first principle of medicine. Do no harm. And it makes no difference whether we’re first century Corinthians or twenty-first century Cantabrians, Continue reading Journeying through Lent

What Comes feeds on the Past… What is past leads to what comes

2 Kings 2:1-12

Today’s reading is about Elisha succeeding Elijah and we should note that Elijah has to cross over the Jordan to fulfil his promise of succession to Elisha then in the passage immediately following today’s reading Elisha crosses back to fulfil that promised ministry.

Moses led the people across the Red Sea to leave Egypt and Joshua leads them across the Jordan to enter the Promised Land. 

As we listen to the crossing of the Jordan bringing new promise in today’s reading remember that John the Baptizer appeared as the new Elijah by the banks of the Jordan and when Jesus comes up out of the Jordan instead of the waters parting the heavens parted, a truly new beginning.

All biblical religion depends on succession and that not only helps us cope with our world but helps us understand the message the Gospel writers bring us as they explain Jesus as a continuation of their religious tradition. Continue reading What Comes feeds on the Past… What is past leads to what comes

Disciple – or Servant?

A sermon on Mark 1:29-39 and Isaiah 40: 21-31.

Isaiah reminded Israel in exile that no-one can go it alone. We try hard enough. Our culture says individuals can build themselves up. –We hear statements like: pull yourself up by your own bootstraps; anyone can make it if they try hard; you don’t need handouts from Government or charity or anyone else, and certainly not from a God out there somewhere. But if we’re honest, we’ll acknowledge that life doesn’t work like that. Relationships fail and hopes crumble. Women and men can be incredibly loving, and intolerably cruel. Mountainsides fall, and rivers flood, and fires destroy, new pandemics appear from nowhere. Untimely deaths haunt our ways. ‘Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted.’ Continue reading Disciple – or Servant?

Do us a Miracle!

Epiphany 4B 2021. St Ninians

Do us a miracle Moses! We can smile at Marc Gellman’s story – he intended us to smile. And then to pause and think about it. Think back over the story of the Exodus and the story of Moses’ leadership. How many times did those refugees from Egypt find themselves in a desperate situation? How many times did Moses somehow bring them out of it? How many times did they turn aside from the God of Israel and towards gods who seemed to promise more and sooner? How many times did the God of Israel show mercy? How many times do we despair, and look for a good ending – now? Do us a miracle, Moses! Continue reading Do us a Miracle!

A Whale of a Tale

Jonah 3,5  and Mark 1 14-20. Epiphany3B 2021

When you saw ‘Jonah’, who thought ‘whale’?  Jonah and the whale. It’s a great story, and it’s especially popular with children – as are most stories about monsters – judging by the popularity of ‘dinosaur books’ among a certain age group. In Aotearoa NZ, we know about whales – a mistranslation, by the way – so the association that sticks in the mind. The moral of the story as told to me in Sunday School, was that God miraculously preserved Jonah’s life because Jonah had faith in God. Great story – woolly theology! It misses the whole point of the story – so it’s well worth looking further and deeper. And the Lectionary we use isn’t at all interested in the whale in this, the only bit of the Book of Jonah that makes it into the list. Continue reading A Whale of a Tale

Stories keep on Growing

Epiphany. January 3 2021.

…were we led all that way for
a birth or a death? There was a birth, certainly,
we had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
but had thought they were different; this birth was
hard and bitter agony for us, like death, our death.
We returned to our places, these kingdoms,
but no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
with an alien people, clutching their gods.
T S Eliot. Journey of the Magi. Continue reading Stories keep on Growing

Christmas Day 202O

St Ninians (also Durham St Church 2000)Today we gather to celebrate, and to tell again the familiar stories of Christmas. It’s part of the treasure that we want to pass on to the next generation. Whenever we tell the stories, they change us a little, and each time they’re told, they change a little too. But when we tell them, the listeners will pick up their significance to us. Continue reading Christmas Day 202O

Chrismas Eve 2020

The weeks of waiting are almost over. We’ve had these times of re-telling the stories, of remembering the messengers, of anticipation. Times to celebrate hope, joy, peace and love. What were we waiting for? What were our long-ago ancestors waiting for? What was the message?

There’s a lot about journeying in the weeks before Christmas, but perhaps the most significant journey to think about is that of a young woman we call Mary, who was made to make what must surely have been a most uncomfortable – and dangerous – journey in the very last stages of a first pregnancy. Travelling anywhere in occupied territory is always dangerous, and especially for women. Our stories of our history tell us that. Pregnancy was more dangerous in those early times, even for the wealthy: the reading of early Roman history that I’ve been doing lately tells me that. And it’s still happening today. Think of all those women on the move around the world – and not on the move through choice. One of the stories we had from CWS this year told of a pregnant woman forced to leave her home territory. And think of the women this year who have developed Covid 19 during pregnancy. So I light this candle to remember all these women.

There’s a reason why each of our candles has a name: hope, joy, peace, love. Surely that’s what we’re waiting for. That’s the promise that rests on the shoulders of the one sent by God: the one we name Jesus the Christ. But has it happened yet or are we still waiting?

This morning’s ‘Press’ had a brief article in the business page about the business heroes and villains among the team of five million in this year of the pandemic. Actually it was really only about the villains. Such as those opportunistic politicians and business lobby groups that called for opening of the borders, and the media commentators who asked whether it was cost-effective to save the old and infirm. Such as the corporate behavior of some employers in claiming and using the wage subsidy. Fletcher Building claimed $68 million, listed improved profits – and laid off 1000 workers. Fulton Hogan received $34.3 million, made a $222 million profit and has only partially repaid the subsidy. Ryman Healthcare received $14.2 million and paid a $44 million dividend to shareholders, and only paid back the subsidy after weeks of public pressure. And there are more.

Meanwhile, the queues of people needing practical help with such basics as food and a place to live are longer than ever.

My Christmas present from the Peddie family celebration last Saturday was a book called ‘Sapiens. A brief history of humankind’ by Yuval Noah Harari, and, no, I haven’t read it yet. But I have flicked through it enough to gather that the writer is pointing out that although our particular species of sapiens managed to eliminate the other five now recognized, and although we have made some amazing and innovative discoveries, we have not managed to improve life for most of the members of our species.

Mark the Evangelist heralded ‘the beginning of the good news’ – but the beginning seems to have stalled! I think the challenge for us over these weeks of Advent – the ongoing challenge – has been that we must continue to do the work of the new kingdom, and that’s about bringing love and life to everyone.  We are all images of the One God, whatever we mean by image (and it’s not a material image by the way), which means we honour all of God’s creation. Tomorrow we take a deep breath, and start again!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Mark 13: 27-37. Advent 1 2020

The particular challenge of Advent is that many of our friends and neighbours, and possibly some of us as well, don’t really want to use this as a time to pause and reflect. The waiting time of Advent sits in rather uncomfortable juxtaposition with the desire to roll out the bells and whistles, and carols, and hurry the season along. There’s something to be said for the old tradition of clearing the church for Christmas – and that included even the flowers! Some religious orders still observe Advent as a season of fasting – forget the parties. They use the time to pause, and clear away the clutter of everyday life, and sweep the house clean for the coming of the Messiah. Continue reading O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Be Prepared

Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

This passage comes from Joshua’s second farewell speech.  Joshua gathers all the people together and challenges them to choose their God—Yahweh or the other gods they have worshiped in the past.  The people choose Yahweh and Joshua reminds them of the implications of that choice, it is a choice of total commitment without any extra gods for good measure or even extra god’s to keep up past family or tribal traditions. Continue reading Be Prepared

Re-Formation

Here we are, a small congregation set down in a largely indifferent community, wondering where to now? What do we do with our ministry, our community, our buildings? Where to next? And yet we’re called to walk tall, and keep that shining hope alive and burning. But – we’re not the first to feel hugely anxious about our church, and we won’t be the last. Since its beginnings, our Christian Church has moved through many changes, and many new beginnings. We’re always called to hope, not despair. And sometimes, remembering the past can help us to look forward. Continue reading Re-Formation

God or Caesar?

Whose faces did you see in this election? How did you choose – and why?O’Brien Coin Guide: Roman Emperors and their Coins, Part I ...

A rich but miserable man once visited a rabbi, seeking understanding of his life and how he might find peace. The rabbi led the man to a window looking out into the street, and said: “What do you see?” “I see men, women and children,” the rich man replied. The rabbi then took the man and stood him in front of a mirror. “Now what do you see?” he asked. “I see myself,” the rich man replied. Continue reading God or Caesar?

The Calf of Gold

Exodus 32: 1-14 פרשת כי תשא: כל אדם צריך לשבור לוחות, ולו פעם אחת בחייו ...

Maurice Andrew puts the impatience of the Hebrew people into our context by saying:

This is like New Zealanders as they often act in both politics and in ethnic and social relationships, wanting to get on with things, making quick decisions.  We think that not mucking about is realistic, when all along we have not admitted what the true foundations and goals are.  Quick decisions favouring immediate goals cause time-consuming problems.  

The story of the golden calf is grounded in our previous episodes where difficulty causes the people to see security in past slavery and fear the freedom they are journeying towards. Continue reading The Calf of Gold

Cornerstones

Proper 22A  2020 St Ninians- #biblestudy So #Moses gets the 10 commandments from god ...

Probably many of us carry in our heads those old images of Charlton Heston as Moses coming down from the mountain as a suddenly-old man with the stone tablets under his arms. And we often conflate that with Michaelangelo’s fearsome Moses complete with horns! What do we make of these verses in our context? Continue reading Cornerstones

River Sunday 2020

Most of us spent time in our childhoodWaimairi Stream doesn't have "a teaspoon of water" in it.s playing in the creeks and rivers around our home towns. For me, in Cristchurch, there was the Waimairi Stream that ran through our school playground, and our local park. At school, in the pre-health and safety days, once we got past our years in the Infants, we could play down by the creek. Continue reading River Sunday 2020

A “Good Fairy” Story

Geneses 45: 1-15

We have been following the saga of Abraham’s dysfunctional family. We discovered that Abraham sends one son, Ishmael, and his surrogate mother out into the wilderness to die and then attempts infanticide on Isaac, his son by his wife.  Isaac’s sons struggle in the womb and Jacob tricks Esau out of his birthright.  Jacob is exploited by his uncle, wrestles with his past and is reconciled with his brother. Continue reading A “Good Fairy” Story

Geneses 45: 1-15

We have been following the saga of Abraham’s dysfunctional family. We discovered that Abraham sends one son, Ishmael, and his surrogate mother out into the wilderness to die and then attempts infanticide on Isaac, his son by his wife.  Isaac’s sons struggle in the womb and Jacob tricks Esau out of his birthright.  Jacob is exploited by his uncle, wrestles with his past and is reconciled with his brother. Continue reading