Saturday, 12 May 2018

worship Service and Sermon Climate change at Opoho Church 29 April 2018

Service of Worship   Opoho Church Sunday 29 April, 2018
‘Where are the Voices for the Earth?”
With the Opoho Music Group and Knox Church Christchurch


Call to Worship 
O God, who called all life into being,
the earth, sea and sky are yours.
Your presence is all around us,
every atom is full of your energy.
Your Spirit enlivens all who walk the earth,
with her we yearn for just to be done,
for creation to be freed from bondage,
for the hungry to be fed,
for captives to be released,
for your kingdom of peace to come on earth.

Hymn please stand as the Bible is carried in and for the first hymn
Words © Shirley Murray Tune: Dunedin by Vernon Griffiths  AA 155

Where mountains rise to open skies
your name, O God, is echoed far,
from island beach to kauri’s reach,
in water’s light, in lake and star.

Your people’s heart, your people’s part
be in our caring for this land,
for faith to flower, for aroha
to let each other’s mana stand.

From broken word, from conflict stirred,
from lack of vision, set us free
to see the line of your design,
to feel creation’s energy.
Your love be known, compassion shown,
that every child have equal scope:
in justice done, in trust begun
shall be our heritage and hope.

Where mountains rise to open skies
your way of peace distil the air,
your spirit bind all humankind,
one covenant of life to share!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the Spirit of God breathed life into being, and it was all very good in God’s eyes.
We who live in the land of Aotearoa know this perhaps more than others – the beauty, the freedom to enjoy, the connection with the land, the wisdom and deep understanding of the tangata whenua to this land.  We are indeed blessed. 
We who live in the land of Aotearoa are also blessed in our power to speak out, to influence and to challenge, to learn and to debate, to have the freedom to say our piece and the resources to choose our path.
Yet we do not always see beyond our immediate needs, have the courage to speak boldly and live according to our calling as Christians, as people who care.  We do not always support those in our community who also care, we do not always make choices, act according to our commission to love and care for creation.

Confession: A 21st Century Psalm of Darkness by Tui Bevin

Compassionate Lord, we remember the good news of Easter morning, we've said our Hallelujahs and we’ve sung about being an Easter people,

but should we really leave Lent behind without a thought
of what might happen during a typical six weeks here on earth?

We confess that we don’t need to look far to see
that it was most likely business as usual :
69 people would have committed suicide in New Zealand;
and somewhere in the world one person suicided every 40 seconds.

And around the world 6.8 million babies would be born into poverty;
33,600 women would die from pregnancy and childbirth
and 1¼ million under five year olds would die preventable deaths .

Three languages would become extinct;
and a few thousand plant and animal species would became extinct.

There would be 40 active conflicts and wars;
and 3 million guns would be sold in the US alone.

336 million people would fly in airplanes;
and about 4 million acres of tropical rain forest would be lost.

There would be 60 million disposable nappies used in New Zealand,
and 42 billion worldwide.

60.5 billion new plastic bottles would be made and sold;
and roughly the same number of plastic bags will be made and discarded.

and lastly, the science and numbers on irreversible climate change
are fast becoming too terrifying to contemplate.

Some tell me that what I do or what I don’t do
won’t make any difference,

but in that case, what will?

What will it take to make people, politicians, and business leader?

~ put faceless others ahead of themselves,
~ put their grandchildren’s futures ahead of their greed,

~ put compassion ahead of their anger, and
~ put the environment ahead of their wants?

Lord have mercy on us.

We sing: E te Ariki (Lord have mercy) FFS 13

Leader:           E te Ariki kia aroha mai
Congregation:          E te Ariki kia aroha mai

Leader:           E te Karaiti kea arouha mail
Congregation:         E te Karaiti kea arouha mai

Leader:           E te Ariki kia aroha mai
Congregation:         E te Ariki kia aroha mai

Creator God, we confess that we have sinned:
we have used creation not cherished it,
we have lived selfishly,
not watched the balance of life;
we have been greedy
not sharing earth’s gifts;
and our footprints are heavy not gentle.
Forgive us the damage that disturbs our planet.
Grant us the grace to live for the world’s healing
and our own.

We sing: E te Ariki (Lord have mercy) FFS 13

Leader:           E te Ariki kia aroha mai
Congregation:          E te Ariki kia aroha mai
Leader:           E te Karaiti kea arouha mail
Congregation:         E te Karaiti kea arouha mai

Leader:           E te Ariki kia aroha mai
Congregation:         E te Ariki kia aroha mai

May the seasons of the year, the life of this world be restored to your design Holy God.  May the horror we have allowed be transformed again into your good creation.  May we be your agents of change and reconciliation we pray. Amen

Assurance of Pardon
E te whanau – Do not be down hearted – In Christ all things are possible, in love all things can be transformed, in God and through God comes the healing of the world and of us …we are forgiven, we are set free.  Thanks be to God

Words Shirley Murray, Music Jillian Bray FFS 75

Where are the voices for the earth?
Where are the eyes to see her pain,
wasted by our consuming path, weeping the tears of poisoned rain?

Sacred the soil that hugs the seed,
sacred the silent fall of snow,
sacred the world the God decreed, water and sun and river flow.

Where shall we run who break this code,  
where shall tomorrow’s children be,
left with the ruined gifts of God. Death for the creatures, land and sea?

We are the voices for the earth,
we who will care enough to cry,
cherish her beauty, clear her breath, live that our planet may not die.                         
The Peace 
The whole universe is a gift of God.
Everything here is a gift of God.
We are the gifts of God to each other.
We are all part of the procession of life.
We are the people of God here in this place.
Let us share the peace of Christ with one another.

Kia tau tonu te rangimarie o te Ariki ki a koutou;
The Peace of Christ be with you all
A ki a koe ano hoki. And also with you
we exchange a sign of peace with each other

Community Time – welcome, notices, anniversaries

Birthday greetings today.
May God bless you we pray.
Live for Jesus dear [name or friends],
May he guide you always.

Chat Time

Hymn  please remain standing at the end for the Offertory Prayer
Words Cecil Alexander refrain and v.4(alt), Margaret Garland v.1,2,3

All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful –
the Lord God made them all.

The green ferns and the punga,
the mountain ranges high,
the sparkling lake and rivers,
the darting fantail’s cry
All things bright and beautiful,
The mighty river gorges,
the kauri trees so tall,
the rocks, and pools, and seascape,
the thund'ring waterfall,
All things bright and beautiful,

The bush, so green and peaceful,
the creatures of the sea,
the ancient tuatara,
bright kea soaring free.
All things bright and beautiful,

God gave us eyes to see them,
and lips that we might tell
how great is God Creator,
who has made all things well.
All things bright and beautiful,

Offertory Prayer
O God, we pray that, as we share these gifts, you will widen the landscape of our seeing, so that we enhance the lives of people whom we may have failed to know before. Guide us in our giving and bless our gifts, we pray.

Bible Readings  
First Reading Jonah 2: 1-10 A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Second Reading  Revelation 22: 1-5 The River of Life

Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church
People: Thanks be to God

Reflection –Rev Dr Matthew Jack  

Words of Response Words Bill Wallace HioS 146

What does our God require of us
but to do justly, love mercy
and walk humbly with God.

What does the earth require of us
but to share oneness, give nurture
and reverence of all life.

What do the people seek with us
but to gain justice, share caring
and be at one with Earth.

Come let us sing the song of God
as we seek justice, find stillness,
and treasure earth with God.

Words © Shirley Murray Music © Colin Gibson AA 143

Touch the earth lightly, use the earth gently,
nourish the life of the world in our care:
gift of great wonder, ours to surrender,
trust for the children tomorrow will bear.

We who endanger, who create hunger,
agents of death for all creatures that live,
we who would foster clouds of disaster,
God of our planet, forestall and forgive!

Let there be greening, birth from the burning,
water that blesses and air that is sweet,
health in God’s garden, hope in God’s children,
regeneration that peace will complete.
God of all living, God of all loving,
God of the seedling, the snow and the sun,
teach us, deflect us, Christ re-connect us,
using us gently and making us one.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession Len Pierce, Knox Church

A ‘Jonah Soliloquy’
Swallowed into the hot, foul smelling
belly of a dilemma too big to handle
Wrapped in weeds, drenched by the deep waters
and paralysed by terror
Dragged down into the liminal place
where the future is swamped by a discomforted and alone
In that breath before the last
a little prayer trickles up from his viscera
He says ‘I remembered the Lord’

Loving God, like our brother Jonah
We are weed draped and tangled by the confusing arguments and theories about the warming of our planet
We fell some of the terror arising when fierce winds blow, seas roar and waves smash fragile shelter in ongoing huge weather events.
We acknowledge that we have skipped along enjoying the tranquillity and prosperity of our small islands
As we listen to the daily litanies of melting ice, felled forests, dying species and destroyed habitats we, like Jonah, often want to hunker down turning our back on the mounting challenges and eventually tuning out your claim on us as your people.
The questions won’t retreat
        Are we too late?     Have we already passed the tipping point?
Has the world we have allowed to be dying left us to our own self inflicted fate? 
Elegiac, and sorrowful we are.
What can we do?  We feel small insignificant creatures; some are getting older, weaker and find it hard enough to deal with our own micro worlds.
We, like Jonah, still have a whisper of prayer.
We, like Jonah, ‘remember the Lord’.
        The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’ says the Psalmist.
The whole creation groaning to give birth to life on this blue marble that swims in an ocean of black.
We too groan with the pity of our awakened souls, looking for signs of hope.
Silence waiting for a morsel of prayer to work its way into consciousness.

It’s not a media event, or a headline, or a policy or a deal!
Jonah was a minor prophet – his inner work bubbles forth – it is about our covenant with you, about our commitment to the dearest things we love.
If we are small, O God, tell us again how we can be people who guard the promise.
Let us listen to the discussion with that inner ear.
As we brood on the immensity of challenge left us beyond the echo of our own fears and diminished hope, let us move to live with the grain of the universe.  Come, Spirit, propel us into the mission we are made for and let us, with renewed energies and a lively sense of togetherness, be voices for the earth.  Amen.
 ....we say together
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. 
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.  Amen.

Words: Brian Arthur Wren    Tune: Darwall  WOV 26

Let all creation dance in energies sublime,
as order turns with chance, unfolding space and time,
for nature’s art in glory grows,
and newly shows God’s mind and heart.

God’s breath each force unfurls, igniting from a spark
expanding starry swirls, with whirlpools dense and dark.
Though moon and sun seem mindless things,
each orbit sings: ‘Your will be done.’

Our own amazing earth, with sunlight, cloud and storms
and life’s abundant growth in lovely shapes and forms,
is made for praise, a fragile whole,
and from its soul heaven’s music plays.

Lift heart and soul and voice: in Christ all praises meet
and nature shall rejoice as all is made complete. 
In hope be strong, all life befriend
and kindly tend creation’s song.

Let us go in peace.
We go in the name of Christ.

And may the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and always.   [Sung] Amen

1Sermon Sunday 29 April, 2018
Opoho Church, Dunedin
Lesson: Jonah 2: 1-10
Preacher: Rev. Dr Matthew Jack

From the belly of a fish comes a post-traumatic psalm - a prayer for deliverance.
“The deep surrounded me, weeds were wrapped around my head. Waves and billows; at the roots of the mountains.”
This is the cry of someone for whom the environment has become a hostile
horror. For goodness sake, in what kind of distorted natural order does someone pray from the belly of a fish!? The beautiful creation has become something that eats us up for breakfast, that swallows us up. How on earth did we get to here?

How did we get to here? The story of Jonah begins with the phrase “the word of the Lord came to Jonah”. It came with something you could describe as a command, or a request from God - certainly it came as a religious responsibility.

It’s a call for Jonah to speak to the people of a certain city about how they are conducting themselves. Jonah is called to point out to the people of Nineveh that they’re getting it wrong. The text is kind of vague on the exact nature of their wrong, but we’re told that they had “violence in their hands”. Violent towards one another? Violent towards the world in which they lived? Violent towards themselves? Nobody knows, but violence is key.
The ruins of violent Nineveh lie, these days, across the river from modern day Mosul - location of the ferocious nine month battle between the Iraqi government and the Islamic State - during which 500,00 civilians fled the city. Two and a half thousand people were killed in the conflict; with a further four thousand prisoners executed afterwards. This part of the world has a well established tradition and history of violence. Things were going wrong in Nineveh, and Jonah was called to name it - to declare it, to confront it. His response? His response was to run away - fast in the other direction. How does Jonah end up with weeds wrapped around his head?
Drowned in the depths of the ocean, worrying about the foundations of
the mountains, dislocated from the natural order and praying from the belly of a fish? The first step towards all that is running away from what he knows is the truth - refusing to accept the reality - that humanity is getting it violently wrong.

Humanity is getting it wrong - we run away.

Thomas Brunner, a surveyor from Nelson (up the road) set out down the West Coast in 1846. He was looking for land suitable for farming. Among his provisions he carried two guns, biscuits and tea, and seven kilos of tobacco. Thomas obviously enjoyed a smoke. He died at the age of 52. Travelling down the coast, he contended with sand flies and rain. He enjoyed neither - and chronicled his double dislike. He fell into the habit of trekking for a week, then camping for a week. During the camping week, he’d restock his supplies by fishing, hunting, gathering cabbage and tree roots. The natural order gave to him generously – and a good, sustainable pattern settled. On one occasion, however, the natural environment failed to open its pantry, and Thomas had to tide himself over a lean time. He did this by killing and eating his dog. He described the dog meat as “something between mutton and pork - too richly flavoured to be eaten by itself.”
Having killed and eaten his companion animal, Thomas was thereafter known by his Maori guide, Kehu, as “Kai kuri” - which means dog eater. An unfortunate epithet, but what’s a man to do when he’s hungry and the environment resists!  (Violence in the hands.)

Talk about the environment not delivering! Thomas was having practically no luck finding the farming land he was looking for. Everything was far too steep, wet and mossy. However, half way up the Arahura river valley, he did find something interesting. He found land that was full of coal. Coal is good for burning. Coal is good for powering big machines and warming the city. Coal is good for selling. So he established a coal extraction industry right there and then - and named it after himself: the “Brunner mine”. Because the Brunner mine’s coal was of really good quality, it became a really popular fuel. It was sold everywhere, and contributed to much of the air pollution experienced by Victorian Aotearoa New Zealand. No other fuel was burned as significantly as Brunner coal. It made our world just a wee bit dirty.

In 1896, there was an explosion in the Brunner mine. Every one of the sixty five miners inside the mine was killed. There’s some debate about how many of the sixty five died as a direct result of the blast, and how many died of the gases that followed - gases referred to at the time as “after-damp”. Rescuers reported that many of the bodies recovered had froth around their mouths, so it seemed that gassing, rather than explosion was the main cause of death. The Brunner mine disaster remains our country’s worst industrial accident. It didn’t, of course, deter the industry from mining for coal. Coal continued to be considered necessary. We did after all have our machines to run, our cities to heat, our sales to make. The industrial machine continued to be hungry - kai kuri, violence in the hands, humanity is getting it wrong, and Jonah’s going to end up in the belly of a fish. Don’t turn away Jonah. Name it. Declare it. Confront it.

Whatever you do, don’t turn away. If you turn away, you’ll be covered in
weeds. You’ll be drowning in the ocean. You’ll be praying from the belly of a
fish. The word of the Lord insists that you speak, you act, you do.

I lived in China for a while. It was a good experience. China accounts for 47%
of coal burned globally. It is estimated that China burns 4.2 billion metric tons of coal each year. What’s a country to do? After all there are machines to be driven, cities to heat, sales to be made. One day in China there was a
temperature inversion. A lack of cloud at night meant the earth cooled quickly.
Hot air rose, and cold air fell. It became a perfect scenario for trapping, down at ground level, the pollution that normally would dissipate up into the sky. On my way to work in the morning, I couldn’t see more than a hundred metres in front of me. What I could see, though, were the people of China going about their business in the usual way. I was stunned, appalled by the filthiness of the air - but nobody else was. I found myself wondering, amid the mess, how bad it would need to get, I thought, for people to react - to say “this is not normal.

Something’s gone wrong.” Jonah, go to Nineveh, and call them to account.

Call out the violence in their hands. Name what they cannot see - the ways
they damage themselves. Where are the voices for the earth?
Jonah, the denying, disobedient one, ends up in the belly of the fish, stuck in
some unnatural and frightening situation, because he refuses to hear the word of the Lord, and refuses to confront the people about the violence in their hands. Jonah, don’t turn away. Speak the word of the Lord.

Praise God! We are told that, at the end of Jonah’s lament from inside the fish, God spoke to the fish, and it spewed Jonah out upon the dry land. Does
spewing sound horrible? Sick? Violent? Sick creation is spewing . . . And yet it puts Jonah back on firm ground - back where he belongs. And what happens next? Next, a second time, an insistent time, the word of the Lord comes to him, and says “get yourself to Nineveh”. The call has not gone away. Things in the big dirty city are still awry, and the call persists.

Where are the voices for the earth? The prophets are the ones who hear what Jonah’s narrator calls “the word of the Lord”. The prophets are the ones who know there is violence being done. The prophets are the ones who have learned that we cannot turn away - that there is a great responsibility that must be faced.
The prophets are the ones who sing, pray, cry, from an unnatural place, who
name and mourn the wrong. The prophets, the voices for the earth, are those who, even eventually, go into the city to speak - to call for a better, less violent way.

There it is.
The rest of the story of Jonah is quick and simple. Jonah goes to the city,
confronts the people. The people repent, and the city is saved. Jonah is
annoyed, because he’s been outed as someone saying “Nineveh will die” – and Nineveh has done the opposite. Would that Nineveh had died! I wish it had - better result than this egg on my face! Bloody victory of life!
Whereupon the word of God gently reminds Jonah that it’s good the city didn’t die. The city is full of 120,000 people who don’t know their left hand from their right - and also many animals. Don’t forget the animals! Brunner eats the dog - the fish is spewing, and God finishes the story of Jonah saying “don’t forget the animals”. The last words in the book of Jonah are “and also many animals”.

Something other than the human order receives the final word of concern.
Jonah runs away. God’s love for the other over-flows. The prophet story ends, while the calling begins.
Where are the voices for the earth? The word has been spoken. The prophet’s ear has been pricked. Where are the voices for the earth?

We keep a moment of quiet . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment