Saturday, 23 February 2019

Sermon Opoho Church Sunday 24 February 2019 Epiphany 7

Readings:  Genesis 45:3-11, 15      Luke 6:27-38

We pray:  Loving God, we have heard your word from scripture for us today.  We pray ears to hear and hearts ready to respond to your desire for us to walk in your way with commitment and courage. In the name of the one who shows the way. Amen. 

Joseph and the amazing technicolour dream coat must be one of the most performed stage musicals around.  Ms Wikipedia says it is one of the most family friendly shows with lots of catchy music and familiar themes.  Actually I seem to remember one or both of our girls doing this at Amberley Primary. And it does pretty much tell the biblical story (although I do stand to be corrected there)  but…. family friendly? I’m not so sure about that.

Because actually, this is one of the most dramatic scenes in Scripture. Years have passed since Joseph’s brothers first put him down a pit then sold him to passing Midianite traders. All that time they have lived the lie before their father that Joseph was dead, torn to pieces by a wild animal. It would I suspect lay heavy on their hearts. It was a shared conspiracy they could never talk about even among themselves. Perhaps they had even come to believe the lie themselves. Perhaps during the night they had, on sleepless nights, played the scene over, time and again and wondered if only they could have wound the clock back.

Whatever their fantasy, nothing prepared them for what now happened. They had first come to Egypt where they struggled to make sense of the Governor’s actions and attitude towards them. They had been accused of being spies and saw this unfair attack as punishment for how they had treated Joseph. Justified retribution.  And then to compound their confusion they found silver among the grain and couldn’t comprehend where it had come from.
Their second visit to Egypt was just as bizarre. They were honoured without explanation by a meal from the governor and told that their God had put the silver in their sacks. On their return again there was silver among the grain but more significantly a silver cup was added to Benjamin’s sack  - a dangerous find for the family.  But – here is the difference - when he is arrested the brothers stand by him in a way they never stood by Joseph all these years before. They show a concern for their father and brother that was new since Joseph had last been with them. Judah offers to take his brother’s place and suffer instead of him.

It was this new attitude that finally breaches Joseph’s defences and he breaks into weeping. Their surprise at his tears was nothing compared to their reaction to his first three words, probably spoken, to their surprise, in Hebrew, “I am Joseph!”   You can imagine - terror gripped them as their past wickedness was finally fully revealed. There was nowhere to turn.

What followed shows the triumph of grace over judgment. Words of forgiveness and reconciliation come from Joseph’s lips. He calls them closer and adds to his opening words the word “brother”. “I am your brother, Joseph.” He re-establishes the bond their betrayal had broken.
Joseph’s story shows how God used their wickedness for good. Although twice he says, “You sold me,”
three times he says, “God sent me ahead of you”.  Joseph takes seriously their hurtful actions, but, in God’s hands, their actions become a reconciliation, a light for their people.   

Their abandoned brother had become governor and he would ensure many, who otherwise would have died, would survive the famine. Instead of rejecting or punishing them he extends a hand to them and tells them to bring his father down to Egypt to see out the famine years.
Greeting Benjamin first, he embraced all his family and tears fell freely. Such is the wonder of forgiveness, of mercy and of grace. Healing and restoration had come after all these years.

It is such a powerful story, a very real transformation of what was an arrogant, spoiled and dream gifted young man into one who could say ‘I forgive you’ to his brothers who sold him off into slavery.    
His self absorption grew into wisdom, his desire for revenge was replaced with compassion – to those who had most hurt him.  His sense of division became instead a journey of reconciliation.  And perhaps one of the most absorbing parts of this story - he not only forgave his siblings but he also gave them a pathway to life.

And let’s face it – we have pretty much all been wronged at some stage, been in situations where things have definitely not gone our way.  And other times we have been in positions where what we say and do has wronged others.  We have not sought the full story, we have judged from afar, we may even have metaphorically at least dropped an annoyance down a well.  So how do we get out of that horrible spiral of holding on to anger and the sense of injustice and become instead agents of reconciliation as Joseph was?

And actually this is what the Gospel of Luke is directing us to do – to forgive those who have harmed us, those who have made our lives miserable, how do we turn from enmity to love – cause it ain’t easy.  You might say the reading is not difficult to understand but it certainly is difficult to do!

When people put us down, ignore us, belittle our views and demean those whom we love, how do we put aside the desire to at worse, pay back and at best to have nothing to do with them.  It’s impossible, isn’t it?  Only by the grace of God we might say.

Jesus is very practical and pragmatic about the examples he uses to teach here.   And it is helpful, I believe.  Basically he is saying that whatever we feel inside, our actions should do good – it’s not like we are going to see a miraculous change of heart from those we offer grace to – but we must do it anyway.

“Love is not a victim of our emotions but a servant of our will” says John Stott. Our attitude should be one of blessing not cursing, of prayer not provocation. Instead of retaliation, remain vulnerable; where exploited be generous in response; let loans become gifts and love repay hate. This countercultural way of grace marks the Christian community out from others. Jesus makes the point in this reading of showing how the default position of the world is self-interest. We love because we are loved. We do good to those from whom we have a reasonable expectation that they will return the favour. We lend where repayment is guaranteed. But go to a different gear, operate on a different level, show the same mercy to others that God shows to us and you will show the world to which family you belong. 

We so need to think about Joseph’s turnaround, what it took for him to drop the antagonism and learn to forgive.  To give up being embittered and instead to turn our ways to these somewhat daunting teachings of Jesus – to make that step into unexpected love when all someone is expecting is another put down, to put aside the judgment and instead offer to listen, to let go of the expectation of return and simply give – trusting in God to make a difference.  It’s a journey Joseph took, and it’s a journey for us to take, one that takes us not only turns enmity to love, but one that also leads us into new and fruitful relationships, offers hope to those whose future is bleak. 

A reconciled community of God, transforming the lives of those we meet because we do the unexpected, the unearned, the unbelievable.  We love freely, we give freely, we do good freely, expecting nothing in return -  knowing instead that this is the  transforming reconciling power of God at work in the world – through us. Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Margaret Garland

Credit for much of this Sermon goes to the Church of Scotland Website Worship Resources

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Service of Worship Opoho Church Sunday 17 February, 2019 Epiphany 6


Call to Worship 
Let us accept God’s blessings today.
Christ’s hands are stretched out to those in need.
Let us dare to hear Christ’s challenge today
Christ stands here with us and looks us in the face. 
Open our hearts and minds to your truth as we gather in worship
We turn to you God, for we long to be your people.

Hymn please stand as the Bible is carried in and for the first hymn
Words  Marty Haugen Tune Gather us in CH4 623

Here in this place new light is streaming,
Now is the darkness vanished away,
see in this space our fears and our dreaming,
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in – the lost and forsaken,
gather us in – the blind and the lame;
call to us now, and we shall awaken,
we shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young – our lives are a mystery,
we are the old who yearn for your face,
we have been sung throughout all of history,
called to be light to the whole human race.
Gather us in – the rich and the haughty,
gather us in – the proud and the strong;
give us a heart so meek and so lowly,
give us the courage to enter the song.

Not in the dark of the buildings confining,
not in some heaven, light years away,
but here in this place the new light is shining,
now is the Kingdom, now is the day.
Gather us in and hold us for ever,
gather us in and make us your own;
gather us in – all peoples together,
fire of love in our flesh and our bone.

Psalm read responsively based on Psalm 1
Happy are those who do not follow
the advice of the wicked
or take the paths that wrong-doers tread,
Happy are those who do not sit
in the seat of those who mock others.
Our delight is in the law of God.
We will be like trees planted by streams of living water
which yield their fruit in its season.
Our leaves will not wither
and in all that we do we will prosper.
Our delight is in the law of God.
The foolish are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
God watches over the righteous
but the way of the wicked will not last.
Our delight is in the law of God.
           © Dorothy McRae McMahon

Prayer of Confession
God, we take a moment to be still – to quieten the business of our lives, to breathe in the peace of this your house as we gather in worship.
Holy One, we bring our praise, our delight in your faithfulness, your completeness, the abundance of your mercy and your grace in our lives.
We bring our confession to you – deeply aware of how we do not always offer that same grace and mercy to others.

For the times we have dimmed your light through our anger, our judgement, our arrogance, forgive us reconciling God and teach us to better be your love in this world.

For the times we have ignored your teachings, preferring to follow our own rules and the less onerous expectations of this world, forgive us Jesus Christ and help us to expect more of ourselves as your people.

For the times we have failed to respond to your delight in our lives, when we dampen down our creativity, when we dismiss your blessing, when we fail to see the joy of diversity in your body, forgive us and encourage us to be bold and excited in our ministry, each one of us. 

Holy God, in your mercy hear these our prayers and open us to your wisdom and grace we pray.  In Jesus name. Amen

Assurance of Pardon
E te whanau – we are loved as we are, we are as we are loved – the people of God, made known in Jesus Christ, held close by the Spirit. In the bountiful mercy of the three in one God,…we are forgiven, we are set free.  Thanks be to God

The Peace 
Kia tau tonu te rangimarie o te Ariki ki a koutou;
The Peace of Christ be with you all
A ki a koe anō hokiAnd 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

Youth Hymn  please remain standing at the end for the Offertory Prayer .
WOV 166
Jesus loves me! This I know
for the Bible tells me so.
little ones to him belong;
they are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! This I know
as he loved so long ago;
taking children on His knee
saying, "Let them come to me."

Jesus loves me still today
walking with me on my way;
wanting as a friend to give
light and love to all who live.

Offertory Prayer
Gracious God, as we bring our gifts to you, remind us that we do not do this because we have to, nor because it is some subscription for membership, but because we can do no other.  Recognising the abundance of blessing that we receive we bring our abundance to share with others.  Grant that all we offer, our money, the goods for the food bank, our skills and gifts be use to your glory and to bring blessing to those in need.  We pray in Jesus name.  Amen.

Bible Readings  
First Reading Jeremiah 17:5-8
Thus says the Lord: Cursed are those who trust in mere mortals and make mere flesh their strength, whose hearts turn away from the Lord.
They shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when relief comes. They shall live in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit.
Reader: Hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church
People: Thanks be to God

Gospel Reading  Luke 6:17-26
He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon.
They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.
And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
Then he looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
"Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. "Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
"Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.
Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets.
"But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.
"Woe to you who are full now, for you will be hungry. "Woe to you who are laughing now, for you will mourn and weep.
"Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets."
Reader: This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ
People:  Praise to Christ the Word

Sermon followed by time for reflection
We pray: We have heard your word for us in the readings from scripture, O God – bless us with ears open, hearts ready, minds challenged by your message for us today we pray.  In Jesus name.  Amen,

Blessed are those…..blessed are those who trust in the Lord!  They shall be like a tree planted by water….
Blessed are those who are poor, hungry, sad, reviled…for theirs is the kingdom of God
Jeremiah and Jesus – speaking of the blessing of God to God’s people.  Jeremiah to a people in exile, Jesus to a people at the edges of society.
This version of Jesus’ sermon from Luke are a most uncomfortable message for us who are none of the above.  The beatitudes as we heard them today have a particularly sharp edge when we who have wealth, food, laughter and regard hear them.  Unlike Matthew’s version which allows us an out - poor in spirit, hungry for righteousness – Luke keeps it uncompromisingly simple and, before we know it, we seem to end up on the woeful side.  You might say that Luke’s Gospel, with its plain language, gives us way less room to wriggle ourselves into the picture. 

The problematic, uncompromising beatitudes.  What to do with that?  Let us untangle and rethread and see where we get to. 

First of all it helps to look carefully at the wording.  It’s not ‘only the poor’ but the poor – those without will know plenty in the company of God, those reviled will be loved and respected in the kingdom of God.  Rather than excluding all who are rich or replete or happy from the kingdom, this is a call to action for those whose live in comfort .  A call to also live in the generosity and compassion of Christ no matter who we are, to be abundant in our giving, not just of our material goods but of ourselves.

Secondly they are words for the time.  A time when the people of faith had turned their back on justice and mercy and compassion for the marginal.  Material ‘blessings’ of this world had become their new God and the other put aside. With that understanding, it is interesting to contemplate what the beatitudes for today might be.  Pope Francis has some thoughts on that – ones to add – they include
Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others and forgive them from their heart.
Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalised and show them their closeness.
Blessed are those who see God in every person and strive to make others also discover him.
Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home.
Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others.
Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.

What might we see as beatitudes for our Christian life, here and now? Maybe something to think about.

Thirdly these words of blessing speak of commitment and promise.  Our life as disciples of Christ is about being committed to walking, sometimes running the way that Jesus takes.  Whether we are rich or poor, we are to love each other as God loves us – and that means getting down and dirty with Jesus whatever that might look like.  Our call to action folks!  Distant, considered benevolence won’t cut it – in the truth of the beatitudes, much more is asked of us. 
Promise – ah the promise.  This is where I believe we are being taken today.  In Luke Jesus teaches not on a mountain top but on the plain – and he speaks plainly to those who have come to hear his teaching.  While much is asked of us, this we do know - we can trust Jesus to not only be with us every step of the way, but also to speak truth to us.  And it is when we are in our poverty, our pain, our weeping and our aloneness, that is when we most need to trust in the blessing of God in our lives.  When we are at our most vulnerable those roots of that trust tree that Jeremiah speaks of hold us in blessing even when we want to cry out with despair.  Blessed are you for you trust in the kingdom of God.  We are held in the promise of a God who never leaves us, who is with us for all time and in whom the pain and the poverty and the helplessness become the promise of healing and wholeness and delight.

A wise mentor once said to me that it is in the life of the parish that you will find your words for preaching – and this week past has most definitely done just that. 
It began last Sunday when we welcomed Franzi to our service – and in part anyway she came with sadness – her beloved grandfather had passed away three days before – back in Germany and she wasn’t there and his funeral was yesterday.  It was tough. She asked if we could we remember him in some way today – and soon we are going to do that.
A conversation after church –  for another of our church family a close friend and then a cousin – both untimely deaths, both hurting deeply.
Laurie  - Thursday night – not well at all in the days leading up but the finality, the pain of deep and abiding love broken for Val and for family, and for us who also loved him.
Friday morning – a number of us at Rev Dr Judith McKinlay’s funeral – inspiring, deeply mourned, tears, laughter, the gift of her life in so many ways.

And, in the midst of all this grief and the pain and heart break, the unequivocal promise of a God who, in Christ, will never let us go, who will heal and hold, who blesses us with life everlasting, and so fills us with delight and rejoicing and hope eternal.  

And so, in this time of mourning for many of us I invite us into a moment to remember.  With Franzi we are going to say a few words and light a candle and a prayer.  And then I am going to invite you all to come and also light a candle for the pain of saying goodbye to those whom we love but also to remind ourselves, to show us the light of Christ that continues to shine in each one of us and never, never goes out.

And when we are finished we will remain seated and sing for ourselves and for each other the song of blessing that Colin Gibson has written – nothing is lost on the breath of God.

A Time to Remember

©Colin Gibson FFS 50

Nothing is lost on the breath of God,
nothing is lost for ever,
God’s breath is love and that love will remain,
holding the world for ever.
No feather too light, no hair too fine,
no flower too brief in its glory,
no drop in the ocean, no dust in the air,
but is counted and told in God’s story.

Nothing is lost to the eyes of God,
nothing is lost for ever,
God sees with love and that love will remain,
holding the world for ever.
No journey too far, no distance too great,
no valley of darkness too blinding; 
no creature too humble, no child too small
for God to be seeking and finding

Nothing is lost to the heart of God,
nothing is lost for ever,
God’s heart is love and that love will remain,
holding the world for ever.
No impulse of love, no office of care,
no moment of life in its fullness; 
no beginning too late, no ending too soon,
but is gathered and known in its goodness

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession
Loving Father, compassionate God you have been beside us in this time of worship and so we don’t need to invite you into prayer for you are here.  We do need to give thanks for blessings, for each other, for faith, for compassion shown and received, for tears and laughter, for hunger and for wholeness.
Thank you loving God.
We pray for those who mourn – for Val and Susan and Janice and Gillian and their families, for Franzi here in Dunedin and for her family at home, for those in our congregation who are hurting, for the family and friends of Judith and for all who grieve.
We pray for those who are estranged from you, loving God, especially if it is through our actions or the unkindness and injustice of the church.  May we find ways to reach them in love and humbleness.
We pray for governments around the world – for politicians, for powerbrokers, for agencies and businesses that all might know generosity, compassion and justice.  Help us to speak into that which is wrong and uncaring.
We pray now in silence – for those situations and those people who are on our hearts at this time.
Loving God, hear our prayers and help us to work toward that which we pray for – in Jesus name who taught us to pray this prayer together
....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 Bernadette Farrell: CH4 543

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.
Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice.
Christ, be our light!...

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.
Christ, be our light!....

Let us go into the world and in to the week certain of the blessing of God in our lives and through our works….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.   Amen

Blessing Song
Words © Shirley Murray Tune: Colin Gibson AA 99

Now as we go, kind Spirit keep us,
in all we see, Christ be our focus,
in all we do, Christ’s story shape us,
that we may grow to God’s good purpose.

Now as we go, sister and brother,
give us good care one of the other,
more hope to share, more strength to gather,
more life to know in faith together

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Prayer for Others Sunday 10 February 2019 by Abby Smith

Prayer for a Hot Summer Morning

Good morning, our Lord and our God.
We praise you for this good morning, bright sunshine and warmth, flowers and fruit in the garden, friendly faces in a place where we freely share worship in joy and friendship.
It’s easy to praise you and thank you for days like today.  But we now take a moment to remember to praise and thank you for rain and dark days, for cold and sleet and clouds, for fog and damp and howling winds and driving snow. Because your spirit lives in all your creation.
It’s easy to praise you and thank you for people like us.  For those we love, and those we understand.  But we pause now and remember to thank you for annoying people, for people who drive badly right in front of us, for people who don’t answer emails, for people who speak differently, for people who are dirty or damaged or dangerous-looking.  Because your spirit lives in all your creation.
It’s easy to praise you and thank you for leaders and politicians and institutions who sound like us, who look like us, who say things we believe, and do things we want done.  We now pause and remember to try to thank you for people who make no sense to us, who seem intent on evil, people who deny what we feel to right.  Because your spirit lives in all your creation.
Teach us, Lord, to Judge Not.  Help us, Lord, to move away from hate.  Guide us, Lord, to give and love and trust. 
It’s easy for us to take your one whole creation and divide it into boxes:  good/bad, in/out, mine/yours, them/us.  But that’s not what Jesus did when he walked the Earth – he healed the incurable; he touched the filthy; he welcomed the unloveable.  Help us, Lord, to break down the barriers of judging and sorting and setting up boundaries.  Help us to see that “them” is “us.”  Open us up like a plant in a gentle rain, to leave judgment and division behind.  Because your spirit lives in all your creation.
We pray, Amen.

Sermon Opoho Church Sunday 10 February, 2019 Epiphany 5

Readings:  1 Corinthians 15:1-11   Luke 5:1-11
We pray:  May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight O God, our rock and our sustainer.  Amen.

“By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace toward me has not been in vain.”  With those powerful words Paul shares what was a profound moment of truth for him with the people of Corinth.  Despite the fact that he had persecuted the Christians, despite his being a latecomer to faith, despite his awkwardness and his lack of stature and feeling like an outsider, despite his spectacular ‘road to Damascus’ experience, he is who he is and God works in and through him.  For all his striving, all his pushing himself to the limit, it was the grace of God that spoke through him just as he was, a flawed and fallible follower of Christ. 

By the grace of God, we are what we are!  How we proclaim the good news of God with us does not require of us perfection or status or immense skill – it requires us to acknowledge that in Christ, just as we are, we have a new centre of existence, a new power for living, a new perspective from which to view all things.  It changes our lives forever yet we still ‘are who we are’.  Remember the words of the hymn by Deirdre Brown – ‘Come as you are, that’s how I want you…. Come as you are: that’s how I love you;…..  Nothing can change the love that I bear you; all will be well, just come as you are.’

And this is exactly what Jesus is saying to us as we hear the story from Luke of his inviting this man Simon Peter to join him in the journey – ‘come as you are’ he says to the rough and ready fishermen cleaning their nets, exhausted after a fruitless night of fishing, tidying up before they head home - such an ordinary moment of their daily living.  There would have been fishy smells, torn nets, no doubt a bit of choice muttering and some worry at their non-existent catch
And Jesus stepped into their world, just as they were; and he preached to them and to the people who had gathered – but he especially had Simon in his sights.

Remembering that in Luke’s Gospel this was not the first time that Jesus and Simon had met – in Luke 4 we hear of Simon’s mother-in-law being healed by Jesus – and that helps to explain the seemingly sudden request that Jesus makes for the use of his boat.  Simon Peter owes Jesus and that is a serious obligation.  So when Jesus asks ‘Will you help me?’ the answer has to be yes. And so we have a preacher who, with Simon’s strong hand to keep it steady, uses a boat in a lake as his pulpit, with an exhausted perhaps reluctant hand at its helm.  And Simon finds himself, instead of heading home for some well deserved rest, sitting back in his boat, on the lake, listening as he worked at keeping this makeshift pulpit on an even keel and close to shore.

We are still operating in Simon’s world at this point – lake, boat, fish, smell, nets, mates alongside –with the addition of this rabbi Jesus and the crowd that has come to hear him of course.  All is ordinary, unusual but still familiar - yet everything is about to change.  For suddenly Jesus takes their world and turns it upside down.  This landlubber, this carpenter demands that they launch their boats and head out with their nets at a time when every part of their long experience told them ‘you don’t catch fish in the day in Sea of Galilee’.  Can you imagine it?  You can almost see the thoughts going through Simon’s head: ‘You have to be joking! There’s nothing out there.  I’ll show you who knows the most about fishing, boss man! Let’s go!’

The result – mind blowing! In that moment Simon and his fellow fishers would have come face to face with the heady taste of success and unimaginable wealth.  The haul of fish was beyond belief.  Yet for Simon Peter, it was also unexpectedly a moment of truth, of realizing that Jesus was not who he thought he was, not an ordinary rabbi or someone he owed a debt to – but was actually calling him to something new.
His first reaction is that he is not worthy – but Jesus, keeping him still in his familiar world, tells him he will become a fisher of people.  The skills he has for fishing will be his skills for discipleship: patience, teamwork, hard work, dealing with failure and getting it wrong, doing things even when he doesn’t understand why!   He is to be who he always has been but changed because he has heard the call of Jesus and can never be the same.  As he walked away from the only life he had ever known, he took with him all that he was to enter in to discipleship with Jesus.

This story of the call of Peter, forever known as ‘the big fisherman,’ has much for us as we contemplate what it means to be ourselves in Christ. 

Jesus came to Peter –where he was.  Jesus approach was within his familiar world – he came to the side of lake where the fisherfolk were working, made a seemingly innocuous request for help as we might ask someone to hold the ladder for us.  He preached into their world, using the things they knew to relay his message – as he so often did. He asked for Simon Peter to be company on the way – stepping out into a new world, changing his perspective, encountering new ways.  And here’s the thing - he didn’t ask Simon Peter to go to a ministry school before he joined the company of the faithful

Jesus comes to us where we are, as we are and invites us too to be company on the way. 
He assures us that worlds we live in are the places that need us, that our skills and our abilities fit us well for the work Christ calls us too, that in the power of the Spirit healing and wholeness can some from our stumbling attempt to console, that plate of scones we popped over the fence really helped, that the word of support to the workmate over a cuppa made a difference.
We are well equipped each one of us, to discipleship just as we are – active within our daily living.  Paul’s words again: ‘By the grace of God I am what I am.’  But for many of us it is his next words that are the challenge: ‘his grace toward me has not been in vain.’
To know that we have skills and talents and value good enough for Jesus, to understand that we are loved as we are is one step on the way that Jesus invites us into.  As we reflect on how that journey has been, where it has taken us, are we also able to say with surety as Paul did that it has not been in vain.
Can we hold that tension between being accepted as we are and yet allowing the presence of God to change us, to make us bold and courageous, able to leave the familiar surroundings or rather take them with us as we journey with Christ Jesus.  The pivotal moment, I believe in the story of the call on Simon Peter is when he and others left everything and followed Jesus.  Everything being their possessions, their familiar surroundings, their comfortable existence – but not who they were.  Our everything might be our giving up of control and reasonable expectation, of a humility that paralyses the gifts we are given, of an unwillingness to venture into the unknown and sometimes, yes, to leave that which is familiar and set foot on a new road which leads only God knows where. 

You and me, with all our familiar foibles and joys, you and me and Jesus travelling together in the grace of God.  What can we not do?  In confidence and hope we walk together as Christ’s body here in Opoho.  I’m excited about that – I hope you are too.

I would finish with a blessing from Joy Cowley:

May the deep peace of our Lord Jesus Christ abide deep within you.
May you know you are exactly who you are meant to be.
May you be content with yourself knowing you are God’s unique creation and can never be separate from God.
May you not forget the great potential born of faith, that is in you and others.
May you use the gifts you receive, and pass on the love that is given to you.[1]
May your soul always find freedom to dance in abundant gratitude
And may God continue to bless you and other through you.  Amen.

Margaret Garland

[1] Blessing  from  Veil over the Light: selected spiritual writings by Joy Cowley p.154

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Tiriti o Waitangi Māori Text - Treaty of Waitangi English text

KO WIKITORIA te Kuini o Ingarani i tana mahara atawai ki nga Rangatira me nga Hapu o Nu Tirani i tana hiahia hoki kia tohungia ki a ratou o ratou rangatiratanga me to ratou wenua, a kia mau tonu hoki te Rongo ki a ratou me te Atanoho hoki kua wakaaro ia he mea tika kia tukua mai tetahi Rangatira – hei kai wakarite ki nga Tangata maori o Nu Tirani – kia wakaaetia e nga Rangatira Maori te Kawanatanga o te Kuini ki nga wahikatoa o te wenua nei me nga motu – na te mea hoki he tokomaha ke nga tangata o tona Iwi Kua noho ki tenei wenua, a e haere mai nei.

Na ko te Kuini e hiahia ana kia wakaritea te Kawanatanga kia kaua ai nga kino e puta mai ki te tangata Maori ki te Pakeha e noho ture kore ana. Na kua pai te Kuini kia tukua a hau a Wiremu Hopihona he Kapitana i te Roiara Nawi hei Kawana mo nga wahi katoa o Nu Tirani e tukua aianei amua atu ki te Kuini, e mea atu ana ia ki nga Rangatira o te wakaminenga o nga hapu o Nu Tirani me era Rangatira atu enei ture ka korerotia nei.


HER MAJESTY VICTORIA Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland regarding with Her Royal Favor the Native Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and anxious to protect their just Rights and Property and to secure to them the enjoyment of Peace and Good Order has deemed it necessary in consequence of the great number of Her Majesty's Subjects who have already settled in New Zealand and the rapid extension of Emigration both from Europe and Australia which is still in progress to constitute and appoint a functionary properly authorised to treat with the Aborigines of New Zealand for the recognition of Her Majesty's Sovereign authority over the whole or any part of those islands 

Her Majesty therefore being desirous to establish a settled form of Civil Government with a view to avert the evil consequences which must result from the absence of the necessary Laws and Institutions alike to the native population and to Her subjects has been graciously pleased to empower and to authorise me William Hobson a Captain in Her Majesty's Royal Navy Consul and Lieutenant-Governor of such parts of New Zealand as may be or hereafter shall be ceded to her Majesty to invite the confederated and independent Chiefs of New Zealand to concur in the following Articles and Conditions.


 Ko te tuatahi
Ko nga Rangatira o te wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa hoki ki hai i uru ki taua wakaminenga ka tuku rawa atu ki te Kuini o Ingarani ake tonu atu – te Kawanatanga katoa o o ratou wenua.

Ko te tuarua
Ko te Kuini o Ingarani ka wakarite ka wakaae ki nga Rangitira ki nga hapu – ki nga tangata katoa o Nu Tirani te tino rangatiratanga o o ratou wenua o ratou kainga me o ratou taonga katoa. Otiia ko nga Rangatira o te wakaminenga me nga Rangatira katoa atu ka tuku ki te Kuini te hokonga o era wahi wenua e pai ai te tangata nona te Wenua – ki te ritenga o te utu e wakaritea ai e ratou ko te kai hoko e meatia nei e te Kuini hei kai hoko mona.

Ko te tuatoru
Hei wakaritenga mai hoki tenei mo te wakaaetanga ki te Kawanatanga o te Kuini – Ka tiakina e te Kuini o Ingarani nga tangata maori katoa o Nu Tirani ka tukua ki a ratou nga tikanga katoa rite tahi ki ana mea ki nga tangata o Ingarani.

Article the first [Article 1]
The Chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand and the separate and independent Chiefs who have not become members of the Confederation cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty which the said Confederation or Individual Chiefs respectively exercise or possess, or may be supposed to exercise or to possess over their respective Territories as the sole sovereigns thereof.

Article the second [Article 2]
Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the Chiefs of the United Tribes and the individual Chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of Preemption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective Proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.

Article the third [Article 3]
In consideration thereof Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects.

(signed) William Hobson, Consul and Lieutenant-Governor.

Na ko matou ko nga Rangatira o te Wakaminenga o nga hapu o Nu Tirani ka huihui nei ki Waitangi ko matou hoki ko nga Rangatira o Nu Tirani ka kite nei i te ritenga o enei kupu, ka tangohia ka wakaaetia katoatia e matou, koia ka tohungia ai o matou ingoa o matou tohu.
Ka meatia tenei ki Waitangi i te ono o nga ra o Pepueri i te tau kotahi mano, e waru rau e wa te kau o to tatou Ariki.

(signed) William Hobson, Lieutenant-Governor.

Now therefore We the Chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand being assembled in Congress at Victoria in Waitangi and We the Separate and Independent Chiefs of New Zealand claiming authority over the Tribes and Territories which are specified after our respective names, having been made fully to understand the Provisions of the foregoing Treaty, accept and enter into the same in the full spirit and meaning thereof in witness of which we have attached our signatures or marks at the places and the dates respectively specified. Done at Waitangi this Sixth day of February in the year of Our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty.

Opoho – St Marks Combined Service February 3 2019 Waitangi Day Service

Firstly; let me begin by thanking the people of Opoho for the invitation to St Marks to join you in todays service. It is always wonderful when we get together as southern Presbyterians to share in our common worship. I call St Marks, Pinehill, Gods little green acre in Dunedin, so thank you from us.

Secondly, congratulations to everyone here today for having the Treaty of Waitangi as the theme for todays service. Last year Margaret invited me to take part in service at Opoho to mark the occasion of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. It has taken 12 months to get here, let’s just say we took the scenic route from Pinehill to Opoho, but we are here, and it is wonderful to be here as last century I was a member of this church. I was a student at the Theological Hall and I lived around the corner. No student wanted to come to Opoho as the majority of our teachers were members of this parish but I took it as challenge and I survived.
Luke 4: 21 – 30:
Survival is something that Jesus seems to be struggling with in todays text. Nazareth was a small town at that time with a population of about 500 people. In a town that size everyone knows everyone. In this reading they know him as Josephs son. In the same reading in another Gospel he is Joseph and Marys son so they certainly know him and his family connections.  He would have been no stranger in the Synagogue it would have been his family church. Then he goes into the synagogue, reads the scroll and says today it has been fulfilled in your hearing. He gets into a bit of a debate and they throw him out.

They say a prophet is without honour in their own hometown. Its sought of an unwritten rule in many churches that when you become a minister you do not return to you home parish as a minister and its based on this reading, that Jesus was rejected in his home town when he began his ministry.

In my first year as a minister I was posted to my home church, I questioned the wisdom of that decision quoting this reading of Jesus being rejected in his hometown. My Mother responded to me in the meeting saying: Your not a prophet boy, you a minister, now get over here! Any thoughts I had of being a prophet went out the window, I was a minister and still very much……….the boy!  

I think you see that in the reading when they ask isn’t this Josephs son? Put into todays language it would come out something like….hey aren’t you that kid who use to hang around with his old man one his building jobs?

I use to get that all the time….hey, aren’t you Millie’s boy? Yip, Jesus know the feeling mate.

I talked with my mentor at the time the Rev Tom Hawea about going home as the minister, actually as his minister. He said to me look at that passage again. Its at the beginning of his ministry. He’s just been baptised, he’s survived the temptations, he then goes home to start his ministry, where better to start then with your own family.

Yet in my eight years in my home parish as their minister it was the most rewarding time of my ministry. I grew up with a number of people as my minister when I returned home, they had retired and I became their minister. That was truly a humbling experience ministering to those who had ministered to you when you were a child.

I got to ordain my sister as an Elder, ok we fought like cats and dogs as brothers and sisters do. Every time we had a disagreement in our teaching sessions, I would say……excuse me I’m the minister here…my sister would say…yes your my minister but, I’m your big sister and big sisters are always right!

I got to ordain my uncle, 6 cousins and one nephew as Amorangi ministers,

I got to baptise all my own grand-children. At the 75th anniversary of the parish I did some baptisms, 75 in one day, all nephews and nieces. 

I use to tell people I had the greatest job in the world, I work with my own family and I get paid to do that.

After that I was prepared to confidently go into the world knowing that I could handle whatever challenges came my way.

Jesus had a set agenda and a set timeframe in which to achieve his task and I guess that’s why he had to move on from his hometown and couldn’t hang around a bit longer. Yet this issue of hometown, family, belonging, rejection is something he continues to struggle with. A few chapters on his Mother and brother arrive to take him home as they think he is mad making all these outrageous claims. He responds by redefining what it means to be his family, my mother, my brothers are those who hear the word of God then go out and do it.

Three days from now we mark the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in Waitangi. This is the second time I have not been there. I always had parts to play in Waitangi, in the powhiri onto the lower Marae, in the dawn ceremony and in the Ecumenical service. Totally loved my time there. In spite of what you see on TV it was always a special peaceful time, the protests only lasted for 5-10minutes when the Prime Minister arrived regardless of what political party was in power. As soon as the Prime Minister was gone everything went back to normal.

The dawn ceremony was started by a Kaumatua from the East Coast, Tom Te Maro. One-year things got a bit out of hand and Tom said to everyone, the first thing we should be doing is everyone getting together (protestors, local people, visitors and politicians) on Waitangi morning before the sun rises to get ourselves right with God. We did and it set the agenda for years to come. Until someone asked the politicians to pray, that was a mistake. The Prime Minister would begin his prayer….dear God…can I just say that as the government of this country……the leader of the opposition would pray….dear God….can I just say that if we are elected the government, we will honour the Treaty by low cost housing, affordable heath care etc. It was quite painful listening to the politicians praying, someone should seriously teach them how to pray.

The Treaty of Waitangi is very much about redefining what it means to be a country….to be New Zealander’s (how every you may want to pronounce Noo Zeelanders or Nea Zelanders) or kiwis!  As Churches we had an important part to play in Feb 6 1840, in translating the Treaty into both languages, in translating the speeches on the day, answering questions, in seeking further signatures around the country.

I once submitted an idea that I called the Presbyterian Gift to the Treaty, my suggestion was to establish a Heads of Churches Body (Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian) and every time the Crown and Iwi got into dispute, as they always do and always will, then both sides come together with the Heads of Churches to work through their differences. Got great support from the Churches except they wanted to know why are you Presbyterians there, you weren’t there in 1840! Didn’t get any support from the Crown but I did get quite a bit of support from Iwi who thought it was an idea worth considering.

They say that Presbyterians weren’t there at Waitangi in 1840 which is correct but one of our ideas from a Presbyterian minister in Australia was worked into the Treaty, the right of Crown pre-emption in land sales. John Dunmore Laing knew that there were many shady land deals prior to 1840 and he wanted all land sales prior to 1840 ruled invalid and investigated. The right of pre-emption is in the Treaty, so I call that the Presbyterian gift to the Treaty of Waitangi.

I also say that the Presbyterian Church is the Church of the Treaty. The Treaty was signed on 6 Feb 1840, the first Presbyterian Scottish settlers arrived in Wellington on 20 Feb 1840, 2 weeks after the Treaty was signed. We were certainly in Wellington when the Treaty arrived there in April that year to be signed. In the following 179 years the Treaty and the Presbyterian Church have grown side by side and we certainly do have a rich history of the Treaty within our Church. Its mentioned in our Book of Order, which makes it a constitutional relationship within our church, and as it is in the Book of Order, we simply cannot side-step it the Treaty no matter how much we may want to.

A classic example of this engagement is here today with Maurice Andrew and Simon Rae, who engage with the Treaty and what it meant when they were in leadership positions at the Theological Hall. Maurice engaged with the Jim Irwin and the Wananga a Rangi and Simon had Sonny Riini who was the Maori cultural teacher to the Church. I’m sure they would have stories to tell.

We do have a rich and proud history as a Church with the Treaty of Waitangi, something we should never forgot and certainly something we should always honour and celebrate on Feb 6 every year.

Now just to let you know my next service at St Marks is 17 Feb and my theme is celebrating Scottish Presbyterianism. The Treaty is 179 years old this month and so is Presbyterianism in this country and we will be trying our best to sing Scottish hymns and to say the Lords Prayer in Scottish Gaelic (thanks Pam).

I’m so glad that I have been able to celebrate the Treaty today here with Opoho and St Marks and when it gets to Wednesday, think I will stay home and watch TV and enjoy our balmy weather.

God bless you all.   

 Rev Wayne Te Kaawa