FOR THE SAKE OF THE PLANET
10 September 2023
"The Grandeur of God" Gerald Manley Hopkins
We are now celebrating the "season of creation". And therein lies our problem! How we think about God, planet earth, and being human, can be for us a potent mix of problems and possibilities as we face the issues Cate raised last week, in relation to ourselves and the climate crisis. Our liturgical calendar sets these Sundays as the Season of Creation and so focuses our thoughts. It's good to turn our focus to the earth and all the flora and fauna that inhabit it, to give due consideration to the oceans and air, the mountains and the climate. Its especially good for us urban dwellers to remind ourselves of the fragility of what supports our life.
I JUST DON'T GET IT
3 September 2023
Today we’re seated in the round, it’s not the usual way we structure our worship space. For those of you on Livestream it may mean things are less immediately visible to you. It may be a little irritating, feel a bit uncomfortable, disorienting or unsettling. If so, let’s be aware of that. On this first Sunday in the Season of Creation such awareness of discomfort might be important to pay attention to, a means to dislodge us from our complacency.
27 August 2023
20 August 2023
Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
Today’s readings resonate and ring with the challenge of inclusion. The challenge of the boundaries we create to define who we are and confirm our identity as community which require there to be outsiders. The first reading from Isaiah comes from what’s known as third Isaiah, the account of the Israelites return from exile. God’s holy people are returning to what was their homeland. After generations of exile how are they to integrate, where do they position themselves religiously? Isaiah’s words are simple and ring clear, “Do what is right! Work for justice! Liberation is about to come and my justice is about to be revealed.” Align your actions with the faith you proclaim.
FEAR AND FAITH
13 August 2023
1 Kings 19:9-19
This week St Matthews hosted a political debate with four of the candidates standing for the Auckland Central Electorate. One of the topics that was raised, both by some of the candidates in their opening statements and by the moderator, Simon Wilson, in the questions he put to the candidates, was Safety in the City. It is understandable that some people are feeling uneasy and threatened following the recent shootings, homicides and other violent incidents. These are on top of vehicle and property thefts.
6 August 2023
Transfiguration / Ordinary 18
The transfiguration’s a liturgical opportunity not often taken up. I’m not quite sure why, other than that it seems so ethereal. It’s not a parable or story with concrete imagery that is familiar and touchable by us. It is as if it is a fantasy, something that happened but to what end. In today’s gospel Jesus and three of his disciples go to a mountain top, ascend to the vast silence that inhabits such remoteness. Upon the mountaintop, we hear, Jesus is transfigured and time transformed, the figure of Jesus in this scene provides continuity with the past and hope for the future.
HAVE YOU UNDERSTOOD ALL THIS?
30 July 2023
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
On Thursday morning I went to the dawn blessing of Te Komititanga and 1 Queens Street. Following the tragic shootings a week earlier, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei led all present through a three part ceremony, te whakawātea - to clear, te whakatea - to mourn and te whakaora, to heal, It was attended by family and friends of those who died, many of the workers on the building site, and their bosses, as well as some civic and national leaders.
DO JUSTICE, AND TO LOVE KINDNESS
Inspector David Christoffersen, Acting Area Commander, Auckland City District
23 July 2023
Social Services Sunday
WILL IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
16 July 2023
Matariki Sunday / Ordinary 15
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23
An important question for me, in relation to the church and theology, has always been “what difference will it make?” It is still a guiding question for me when I’m thinking about theology and the role of the church today: “what difference will it make?”
So when I came to consider the reading set for today I asked the same question “what difference will it make” to hear this familiar parable once again? I started my pondering by recalling the context for Matthew’s gospel, and wondering what was going on at the time, and what difference the writer we call Matthew might have hoped his writings would have made for his audience in those last decades of the first century.
LINE IN THE SAND
25 June 2023
Some years ago when, as a student at St Johns Theological college I enrolled in a CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) course. This consisted of 12 weeks where theological students in the role of chaplains based themselves in an institutional setting (such as) prisons, hospitals or social services. I was allocated a hospital – probably on account of me not liking them much. On my first day I was allocated a general and a geriatric ward up on the 10th floor. I wasn’t overly chuffed with the geriatric ward thing – but now given my age I view things a little differently.
DISABILITY AWARENESS SUNDAY
18 June 2023
Disability Awareness Sunday
Today is Disability Awareness Sunday which is booked into our lectionary every year on the third Sunday of June. If you have a disability, I don’t need to explain to you the obstacles you face, but how do we engage on a practical level with those who are disabled? At St Matthews we have a hearing loop and move pews to accommodate those who use wheelchairs, but I wonder if really we are aware what a disability is, and that we are surrounded by whanau who obvious disabilities and others with less obvious disabilities. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) defines a disability as any long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder the full and effective participation of disabled people in society on an equal basis with others.
TE POUHERE SUNDAY
11 June 2023
Te Pouhere Sunday
Isaiah 42:10-12, 16
John 17:6-8, 17-26
Today is Te Pouhere Sunday, designated by General Synod as the day on which we celebrate our life as a Three-Tikanga church.
‘Pouhere’, it is a composite word made up of the Maori words, ‘pou’ and ‘here’. The word ‘pou’ can mean a post, a pillar, an upright or column. It is always a positive image. It implies firmness and authority and has connotations of uprightness, strength and safety. The word ‘here’ can mean to tie, bind, unite, secure or knot. It is a more ambivalent image than ‘pou’ for although it is used to describe the bindings of a canoe, or the binding between ancestors, people and land, it is also used to describe imprisonment. ‘Here’ brings with it a sense of obligation or accountability.
4 June 2023
Who knows the Cuba Street fountain, the wonky, colourful water feature in central Wellington? Preparing this sermon and reflecting on the Trinity, I thought of the fountain - the water from the red bucket tipping into the yellow bucket and then into another red bucket and so on it. The same water going from bucket to bucket, the fountain dumping an erratic stream of water through its buckets, slopping a large portion over the surrounding pavement as it descends.
28 May 2023
The Day of Pentecost
I fear this week I am to preach a most unlikely and unrealistic sermon. Although I may be in good company with the dancing flame, violent wind story of Pentecost, in fact with quite a few of the biblical stories. Pentecost we celebrate in red, yellow and orange swirling colour, with song and candle, rushing wind, tongues of fire, many and varied languages spoken and heard. Spirit outpouring upon the community gathered together in one place.
NOT JUST HEAVENLY MINDED
21 May 2023
Acts 1: 6-14
From last Thursday, Ascension Day, until next Sunday, Pentecost we in this part of the Anglican communion are invited to pray for Christian unity. It always seems a tall order when we have not got unity within the Anglican church let alone other Christian churches. Why unity – well I quote for the material provided for the Week Of Prayer for Christian Unity.
7 May 2023
1 Peter 2:2-10
“There are many rooms in my Father’s house” – this passage is one you might be familiar with from hearing it read at funerals. It is often chosen to reassure the mourners that Jesus has prepared a place for us in heaven. Well today is not my funeral, just my farewell, and it is the reading for the day. I did however choose not to have the reading from the book of Acts today which includes an account of the stoning of Stephen. Many rooms - Jesus paints a picture of life in God (not necessarily life after death) as an expansive place, with room for all.
Bishop Ross Bay
30 April 2023
A visit long planned for these confirmations has ended up falling providentially just before Helen concludes her ministry as your Vicar. So I wish to take this opportunity to extend my personal thanks to you, Helen, for your work these past nine years. I’m not too sure where that time has run away to as it seems like no time since we were welcoming you. I am very grateful for all you have done during this time, and I wish you and Stephen God’s blessing as you prepare for new adventures, some of which are very joyous and exciting for you as a family.
23 April 2023
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
The story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus is, I think, my favourite Bible passage. I love to wonder about Cleopas and his unnamed companion – women tend not to be named in the Bible so maybe she is Cleopas’ wife or daughter. I love to imagine their conversation, a mixture of grief and also hope as they talk about the strange tale of the women and angels and Jesus being alive. I love the mystery of the stranger who appears and walks with them, listening, and then explaining the scriptures to them.
SEEING IS BELIEVING, OR IS IT?
16 April 2023
The Easter story lays out for us the foundations of our Christian faith but it also contrasts doubt and disbelief, the difficulty of believing with the deep peace of true belief. In today’s Gospel we encounter the disciples in a bit of a tizz, struggling with doubt and disbelief, struggling to believe. Confused, afraid, they’ve locked themselves in a room. They’ve had a rough time – a strange dinner where Jesus washes their feet, predicts his betrayal and declares himself – in Luke and John he describes himself as the Son of Man in whom God has been glorified, in Matthew and Mark says he will not drink the fruit of the vine with the disciples again until he drinks it new with them in his Father’s kingdom.
9 April 2023
Here we are, Easter day has dawned, new light of a new day, new light of Christ life with us. With great joy and much acclamation we greet this day. Yet I find I want to be quiet, still. Have you not had enough of that in Lent, you might enquire? Reflecting on this event of Easter, the enacted rituals, the traditions we follow to remind us and return us to this foundational event, greatest festival in our faith calendar, it occurred to me that they are in large part rituals of grieving and letting go. Today, you say, today is different.
26 March 2023
Spirit, water, living water, sight/insight, death and life. A few of the multiple themes we have found in our Lenten readings from John’s gospel. Bishop Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA said in a sermon recently “John is a crafty writer and wily with words; he lays down clues like breadcrumbs in the Hansel and Gretel story, helping us find our way home.” We get to follow the trail, and every time we come back to these passages we find something new or different.
TO REALLY SEE
19 March 2023
1 Samuel 16:1-13
Two weeks ago we heard of the death of Georgina Beyer after a period of illness. Georgina was the first elected transgender mayor in New Zealand and the first openly transgender Member of Parliament in the world. She had previously been an entertainer and sex worker in Wellington, before moving to the Wairarapa and the town of Carterton.
JESUS AND THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
12 March 2023
We continue our journey with the gospel of John through Lent. He’s leading us on a merry dance, providing us with gospel accounts populated by characters that, each week, stand in stark contrast to the other. Last week we met Nicodemus. Nicodemus came to speak to Jesus at night; a man with power, educated, a Pharisee, a religious leader and teacher, an insider in the Jewish world. He doesn’t understand what Jesus is saying, trying to teach him.
5 March 2023
Here we are the second Sunday in our Lenten traverse to Easter, journeying in the company of one another, attentive to those among us preparing for confirmation and/or baptism. Lent’s season has its own culture and intention, as Diana said last week Lent’s three actions include Whakawhirinaki, drawing closer to God in prayer, Whakamārie drawing closer to our neighbour through almsgiving and Whakapūmau drawing closer to ourselves in fasting. All three deeply rooted in the idea of love.
26 February 2023
Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7
We continue to live with the impact of the extreme weather events, the terrible impact of floods and cyclones, and I acknowledge those here today and watching on line whose lives have changed forever. The impact is huge - and what we can do to support people now - and how we can avoid it happening again is so complex.
19 February 2023
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
“God makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Mt 5:45) Too much rain, way too much rain. I think we are all still in a state of shock after the floods at the end of January, and now the devastation of cyclone Gabrielle. The photos coming out of the Hawke’s Bay and Tairawhiti and areas of Auckland and north defy belief.
TODAY I'VE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH
12 February 2023
Today I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving, obeying, holding fast to God. Choices and laws and how to live echo through today’s readings. Choices have repercussions that are expressed in us and in our world.
MANA IN THE BEATITUDES
29 January 2023
COME AND SEE
15 January 2023
When the disciples of John the Baptist, seek Jesus out, he does not give them a sermon or even a proclamation. He asks a question. What are you looking for? If we go back to the original Greek it could just as easily be translated as What are you seeking? What are you hoping to find? As we return to work and routine at the beginning of a new year it is a good time to take stock and to think about those questions and invitation and our response to them.