Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Service of Worship Opoho Church Sunday 26 May 2019 Easter 6

Celebrating the Creative Writing and Music of Opoho

Call to Worship  Psalm 67
May God be gracious to us and bless us; may God’s face shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you.
May God continue to bless us as we come together in Jesus name.

The God who gathers us together…

Hymn please stand as the Bible is carried in and for the first hymn

Words Frank Nichol, Music Rod Madill.

We believe in God, Creator,
source of every kind of worth,
from whose hand come life and loving,
giver of both heaven and earth.

And we worship Jesus, Saviour,
born of Mary, gift of grace,
coming from the Father’s glory,
coming from the human race.

With his people pleading, serving,
wonders of God’s love he shares;
all our human pride and blindness
on the cross alone he bears.

Now the Father names him victor:
he our Life, our Truth, our Way;
now with him we love, we worship,
with his people learn to pray.

In his spirit thus we journey,
each new day new signals raise,
till all creatures are unfurling
banners of unending praise.

Prayer of Approach and Confession Tui Bevin
The Separateness of our Togetherness

Loving God, you call us to be a gathered people
we find many ways of being your people:

some worship openly, some can’t
some want church buildings, some don’t
some have inclusive leadership, some don’t
some want Holy Communion every day, some never
some take a Lenten journey, some don’t
some celebrate Easter, some don’t
some celebrate Christmas, some don’t
some hear your voice, some don’t.

Loving God, you call us to be a gathered people;
we need your help:

help us live in community, not isolation
help us see commonalities, not differences
help us walk beside others, not ahead or behind
help us be the Good News, not another damning voice
help us prioritize the important, not the diversionary
help us hear your word, not what we want to hear
help us find cause to include, not exclude

Loving God, you call us to be a gathered people
you know everything there is to know about us:
so we pray for your help and guidance
that we may become the people
only you know we can be
to work together
to be the face of Christ in our world
in this time and place.

Thanks be to God 

Assurance of Pardon
…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.

The God who teaches us…

First Reading Luke 10: 38-42 Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Chat Time

Youth Hymn  please remain standing at the end for the Offertory Prayer .
Words Natalie Yule Yeoman

Alleluia 1 2 3,
Jesus died for you and me.
On the third day back he came.
Now he’s here, he’s here again.
With a 1 2 3, with a 1 2 3
He lives, he lives, he lives.

I want to live my life for him,
I want to sing my songs to him,
I want to thank him all the day long;
his love for us is mighty strong.
Ba boom ba boom boom boom

Jesus loves me this I know
for the bible tells me so;
little ones to him belong,
they are weak but he is strong.
With a 1 2 3, with a 1 2 3
He loves, he loves, he loves.
I want to live….

Jesus loves me, he will stay
close beside me all the way
and his arms he’ll open wide;
keep his children by his side.
With a 1 2 3, with a 1 2 3
He loves, he loves, he loves.
I want to live….

Alleluia 1 2 3,
Jesus died for you and me.
On the third day back he came.
Now he’s here, he’s here again.
With a 1 2 3, with a 1 2 3
He lives, he lives, he lives.

Offertory Prayer

The God who Advocates for us….

Second  Reading John 14:23-29
Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
"I have said these things to you while I am still with you.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
You heard me say to you, 'I am going away, and I am coming to you.' If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.

Words and Music Abby Smith

Not on a horse with a spear and a crown,
Not in a limousine shining through town,
Not with a glorious sweeping gold gown --
Peace comes walking, slow and still and simple.
Peace comes walking, walking.

Not in a thunderclap, not with a shout,
Not with big glistening angels about,
Not with a recipe ending all doubt --
Joy comes walking, slow and still and simple.
Joy comes walking, walking.

Not with a map that shows just where you are,
Not in a bottle, a tube or a jar,
Not on a scooter or in a race car --
Love comes walking, slow and still and simple.
Love comes walking, walking.

The God who encourages Creativity….

Psalm Andrew Smith 

Isaiah and the Psalmist meet Andrew

 Dear God, forgive me if I’m being impertinant,
        but is there an ecology of heaven?

When the lion lies down with the lamb,
        who will be the megafauna?
When a child can put their hand in the hole of an asp,
        will the eggs of a serpent’s nest be safe?
Will we keep gardens
        when cypresses grow up like weeds?
In the light of eternity, when death is no more,
        what will we commit to earth and worms?
Will there be dirt under our fingernails in the gardens of paradise?
Will you restore the unity between the angel-host and the angle-worm,
        like it was in the beginning?

What are the great beasts of heaven, the living creatures? What should we fear?
Your anger, your majesty, your judgment?
Will the deep waterfall call out to the ocean depths around your throne?
Will the sun and the day cry out your name in silent voices?
What will sting us into action, in the gardens of the LORD?
Teach us,
        what it is like to be predator,
               and what it is like to be prey,
                       on the trail-ways of heaven.

Dear God, forgive me if I’m being impertinent,
        but is there an ecology of heaven?

Words:    Mary Pearson used with permission
Tune: Cwm Rhondda (WOV 478)

God of mystery and meaning
Wisdom’s source, creation’s art,
Colouring our lives with richness
Touching minds and souls and hearts,
Drawing us to deeper caring
Helping each to find their part.

God calls each in common purpose
Weaving individual threads,
Forming with our varied colours
Tapestries of life widespread,
Integrating strength and weakness
Picturing God’s love unsaid.

Thus our lives are interwoven,
Friend with stranger, young and old,
Softer colours forming balance
With those strands more strong and bold
Linking threads from all our histories
To a future yet untold.

As each time weaves in its picture
We give thanks for all God’s grace,
Seeing beauty in each pattern
Finding everywhere God’s face.
Thus secured we each move forward
New designs for God to trace.

Psalm Margaret Garland
Creative God 

Holy God – you are a weaver
you who create the intricate relationships of all creation
        of whale with plankton, of people with you, of land with sea and sun with moon
you create in us unimagined patterns out of diverse threads
you teach us to touch each other and to breathe together.

Holy God – you are an artist
        you who colour a canvas that draws us further into life
        showing us visions and dreams of new life and hope filled landscapes
you allow us to ponder your truth, to see it in different lights:
the abstract, the poignant, the stark, the inspirational…... the belonging.

Holy God – you are a composer
        you who brings forth the harmonies of our created world
        playing the notes of joy and pain and solitude and purpose through your people
you encourage us to lift our voices, never discordant in praise of you
in the music of our world we find solace, peace, community, encouragement, sheer delight

Holy God – you are a gardener
        you who create the earth and tend all that grows on it
        the cacti and the rata, the cabbage and the kauri
you nurture and water and feed your people with abundant love, unfailing grace
you teach us to be gardeners too, so that all life might grow and flourish.

Holy God – you are all this and so much more! 

The God who walks with us on the Way….

Reflection on the Way

Words Gregor Macaulay Tune Camberwell WOV 170(ii)

Here we face a window, lighting up this space
where we gather weekly to learn of God’s grace.
Burning in the centre is the Spirit’s flame,
ever-burning, as for Moses, still the same.

See, high in the window, shines a natal star,
guiding us to Jesus like kings from afar.   
Still the Christmas story tells us of God’s love:
brighter, broader, vaster than the skies above.

Palm fronds in the window tell the Easter tale:
Jesus on a donkey, then he seemed to fail –
greeted as Messiah, nailed to a cross;
does the story end in sorrow, death and  loss?

No! the Easter story still is being told:
see the crown of glory, it’s a crown of gold.
Jesus still is living , Jesus is our king –
Lord of life and all the world and everything.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession Abby Smith

Martha’ Prayer

There is so much to do, Lord, the list is long, the time is short, there’s no time to waste.
But stopping for a moment to pray is not a waste of time.
We know that, with your help, Lord, it can all get done, or not get done, and all will be well.

We pray for resilience, health, and strength
            So we can do what we need to do.
We pray for skill, insight, and experience
            So we can do what we do well.
We pray for wisdom, perspective, and thoughtfulness
            So we can choose what to do carefully.
We pray for awareness, kindness, and empathy
            So we can stop what we are doing, if need be.
We know that, with your help, Lord, it can all get done, or not get done, and all will be well.

We pray that whatever we do will be helpful and constructive, kind and true.
We pray that it will be a good and real offering to you, who gave us life.
We pray that our works are a contribution to this world, which is ours, which is yours.
We know that, with your help, Lord, it can all get done, or not get done, and all will be well.

There are hungry people to feed, dirty clothes to wash, sick friends to visit, houses to build, prisons to break open.
There’s a planet to save, laws to change, political and personal messes to sort out.
We are moving, selling, packing, cleaning, buying, healing, teaching, baking, marking, making and doing.
But stopping for a moment to pray is not a waste of time.
We know that, with your help, Lord, it can all get done, or not get done, and all will be well.  Amen.
 …we sing 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, amen. Amen, amen. Amen, amen. Amen, amen.

WOV 676

Words Dana W. Livesay Music Tapestry by Carol King (adapted D.W. Livesay)

Our God is working quietly
in purpose through the years,
in changing times and changing ways,
the time is drawing near.
And nearer, sooner comes the moment
that must surely be,
when earth comes to the kingdom
like the rivers run to the sea.

Our God has walked among us
by the shores of Galilee,
with parable and purpose,
Jesus came to set us free.
And closer, nearer came God’s people
to community,
in seeking out the kingdom
like the rivers run to sea.

Our God then set the table
in a borrowed upper room,
the parting cup a sign
the river plunged into a tomb.
But earth could not restrain it,
and it rose, so all could see
that nothing stops the river
from its running to the sea.

So welcome to the river,
by whose Spirit, flooding free,
we find that we are gathered here
to celebrate and see:
the cup is overflowing us
as we begin to be
the earth come to the kingdom,
and a river run to the sea.

Commissioning  Postscript by Joy Cowley

This then, is the journey
from the head to the heart;
from the city of learning
to the field wide open to the sun and rain;
from music dots on paper
to the sound of a Chopin nocturne;
from the structure of words
to the mystery beyond their meaning;
from the smallness of a manger
to the Love that holds the universe in being.
.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

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Sermon Opoho Church Sunday 19 May 2019 Easter 5

We pray: May your word for us today speak into our hearts, minds and souls that we may truly live as your people, loving God, one in Christ who makes all things new.  Amen.

A new heaven and a new earth, a new way of being, a new hope for our world, a commandment to love through which  we will show the world what it means to be known as the disciples of Christ. 
Just as Simon Peter struggled with what that might mean in real life so too do we today.
Just as he had to do away with embedded concepts such as; them and us, clean and unclean, our way or no way, so too do we. 
Just as Simon Peter’s eyes were blinded to translating the way of Jesus into the practical situations he found himself faced with so too are ours.
It’s a constant that links Peter and us and all in between – how is it that, as a disciple of Christ, living in the image of God, we can truly embrace the very heart of what that means in our worship, our living, our relationships, our choices and responses in this messy mucky world.   And how often do we get derailed, hindering God by our misunderstandings?  
To begin our thinking, to consider perhaps how we are doing, let’s reflect on these words from Iona
(Our image of Jesus from Present on Earth by Wild Goose Worship Group p37)

It is of supreme importance    that we get our image of Jesus            RIGHT.
For there are too many blithering idiots,        well meaning people,
religious schismatics,              church leaders,
liberals,           right wingers,
anarchists,       establishment figures,             WHO ARE LEADING PEOPLE ASTRAY.
So listen carefully....   Jesus                as we all know
came from a model family            his mother was pregnant when she got married
and lived in a secure home            they were refugees for goodness sake
as the old hymn says ‘Throughout his wondrous childhood’..           about which we know next to nothing....
‘he was mild and obedient’....       he did a bunk when he was twelve.
Jesus was the model working man           he became redundant when he was thirty
encouraging entrepreneurship in others    he told Peter, Andrew, James, John, Matthew to give up their jobs.
He kept good company,    dining out with beggars and prostitutes
he had a good word for everybody           vipers, blind guides, hypocrites
his conversation was about the finer things in life,      dough, sheep, pig farming, wise virgin, demons
he never dabbled in controversy               he just claimed to be the son of God!
Jesus never upset anyone by his language            except priests, Pharisees, pigeon sellers, executioners and wealthy young men
he was respected in religious circles         they wanted to lynch him after his first sermon

Jesus was a man among men        and women
he was a man of God        he was the Son of God
in his majesty we see God at work           in his humility we meet God in person.
That’s why he was worshipped                 that’s why he was crucified
Jesus isn’t here now                      he rose again on the third day
so we have to get on with it ourselves      he sent his Holy Spirit to guide us
We have to build the kingdom      we have to celebrate his presence among us
we have to give a lead       we are to follow where he calls
stand up and be counted                humbly
like soldiers           as servants
we are a mighty army                   we are the body of Christ
It is of supreme importance          That we get our image of Jesus         RIGHT.

 To live as the body of Christ, not hindering but making way for the new Jerusalem, requires us to remove the blinders from our eyes and see life as it really is, right here and now.  Franklin Reid in his book ‘Living in New Jerusalem’ says ‘To truly be church is to be New Jerusalem in the world: to be a place where God and God’s Lamb reign in justice and abundance for all people.’

To truly be church is to live in the image of God – to be deeply accepting this new way of servanthood, humility, love and justice.  Yet we constantly struggle with the desire to live in the image of us. To live with: them and us, clean and unclean, our way or no way, chasing status and money, divide and conquer.

It seems a good time to think about what it is we do that we need to wrest back from human imaginings and give again to God.

Always start with the gnarly one – money!  I look on with horror as I see the bank notes swirling around in places like Destiny Church – where people do without because they are told generous giving is the gateway to heaven – or perhaps we should say the gateway to the bishop’s mansion.  Yet equally there is another horror – that of stinginess.  And I am part of the horror – on Saturday I was putting a note into the Hospice appeal and the fervent thanks I got made me realise how I so often dispatch the loose change and save the notes for coffee. 
And here as this church, are we giving with generous hearts the best we can – or are we still in the loose change way of thinking? What is our attitude to giving, is it in any way conditional, reluctant, piecemeal – and please remember, let it always be within our means.

Talking of generosity - last night Mike and I attended the farewell at First Church for the Rev Anne Thompson who is finishing after 10 years there as Associate Minister.  I was prepared for the generosity of food – but the sight of Anne and Ian sitting there as quilt after cover after quilt was laid over their knees.  It was an incredibly emotional moment – basically each woman had made something filled with love and given it to express their appreciation of who she was to them.  It was extravagant generosity for all the right reasons.

Do we still hold a ‘them and us’ mentality?  It could be in protecting our ‘brand’ of Christianity, in our belief that we are in some way superior, in our fear of those who are not like us.  Has the shock of March 15 permanently removed our barriers or are they starting to slowly creep back up?
Do we feel safer when we can put down others ways, do we find ourselves speaking with disdain of other faiths, cultures, ways of living to shore up our own?  There are those who believe they will be contaminated if they speak or engage with those of another faith – and so they argue agin them from the safety of their uninformed prejudice.  Should we not instead be engaging, growing, sharing, sure of our God and willing to converse with the other. 

What are our examples of condemning another for eating with the uncircumcised?  What is holding us back from eagerly embracing those whom we once held unclean, unworthy?
There is the relationship between Catholic and Protestant, where one considers the other unholy.  There are different ways of doing church, when one considers the other irreverent, disrespectful to God. 
There is the insisting that the true measure of our Christian faith is found in a particular brand of sexuality.  What was that Peter said: ‘If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?

In whose image are these behaviours based – not in God’s image, not in the image of the one who came, taught, loved, died and brought us to new life, that is for sure. 

Peter’s image of the new heaven and the new earth needed some shaking up – the vision left him in no doubt that he was wrong and that, in Jesus, things truly were different, the old ways had gone and the new ways were with us.  May we too see the obstacles that hold us back from being one people in the name of God and may we challenge those ways that hinder the gift of God for all people. 
May Christ and Christ alone be our vision, our best thought, our wisdom, our inheritance, our joy, first in our heart, now and forever.  Amen.

Margaret Garland

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Sermon Opoho Church Sunday 12 May Easter 4

Readings:  Acts 9:36-43  John 10:22-30

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.

On Thursday morning I was on a road trip to Gore with two other parish ministers.  In what passes for light conversation, we were discussing the often intriguing, sometimes tenuous links that we find in scripture when following the set lectionary readings for each Sunday.   Mulling over the links between the raising of the disciple Dorcas from death and the story of the Good Shepherd from the Gospel of John, I happened to mention that it was also Mothers day – yes me!  And as I told them that I planned to show the mosaic of the Good Shepherd I’d made to the children today, I suddenly made the connection that I had done this for my mother - to comfort and encourage her – for it was in the well known and comforting stories of the bible that she found her peace in her old age.  And suddenly all the threads came together, loosely I might say, to create a picture where shepherds and sheep and women and belonging all came into focus.

But first – who was Dorcas or Tabitha as she was also known in the Aramaic.  Dorcas was a Greek name meaning ‘gazelle’.   That is rather beautiful.  Did you know that there is a gazelle called the Dorcas gazelle – common in Africa and Arabia?
We know that she was a disciple of Jesus, that she did good and charitable works.
She may have been a widow herself – and we assume one of some means with her generous help for others in need.
She was important to her community and of some standing in the body of faith, suggested by the fact that when she died they were distraught – and that they immediately sent for Peter. 

What did they hope for – maybe solace for themselves, maybe recognition that in the small community of Christ followers this death was a significant moment of loss?  Or did they hope for resurrection?  When Peter arrives and is shown up to the room where her body lies it seems not – for the women there were in full mourning – showing Peter all that she had been to them. 
Yet Peter acted swiftly and decisively – and privately – to bring her back to life - it seemed that the acts of resurrection were not at an end with Jesus death, and that the community of Joppa would have been significantly affected by the return of this saint into their midst.

Today she along with Lydia and Phoebe are remembered with feast days in a number of denominations, and there is still a Dorcas society which provides clothing for the poor.

So Dorcas/Tabitha, significant in her day, and continuing to be a light for the church and the world today.

And one wonders how absolutely significant Jesus was for the women of his time.  A man who seemingly ignored the cultural hierarchy of gender in recognising and valuing discipleship, who inspired not just women but the spat-upon tax collectors and people crippled by disease both mentally and physically and the foreign soldiers – who inspired all of these who were the least to find their hope and peace in the safe hand of a loving God, in the love and companionship of the risen Christ. 

For Dorcas, for Lydia, (remember she was the seller of purple named as a disciple in Acts), and Phoebe (a deacon in Corinth mentioned in Romans), the image of Jesus as the good shepherd would have been, one imagines, quite reassuring both as disciples and as women.  To have someone understand and love you, not for what you do or say or what society says you are but for yourself – loved, held, valued as a child of God.

I think that is what my Mum found in the story of the Good Shepherd, a sense of being held in elemental peace. I think even today this imagery helps us understand the eternal love that binds us no matter who we are or what we do or say.  I think that was what I was doing when I made that particular mosaic, less than perfect as it is – I was expressing my love for my mother who was in need but I was also sharing with her my belief that Jesus is our rock, our sanctuary when all else around us is fragile.

I think that is what was happening here this past Thursday afternoon at a group of people at fellowship sat around the table and shared their thoughts on comfort food – they were sharing their stories, their vulnerabilities and caring for each other in a place of belonging, of trust. 

I think this was what we were also doing as so many of you rallied together for the fair – I hope that in the midst of the exhaustion and chaos, there were times when delight in being part of this community shone through, when it felt good to belong, right to be doing this in Jesus’ name and for his church in Opoho.  I know that this flock on the hill shone a light yesterday that illuminated us both within and out into the world. 

I have spoken to so many people who in different and often halting words have express that sense of anchorage, safeness, being loved by God especially when all else has gone down the plughole.  Who have clung to Jesus’ promise that his flock is forever held and nothing can change that.
And for the times when our lives are less traumatic the anchorage, safety, being loved by God unconditionally and eternally gives us the strength and courage to share this story of belonging to the world.  In our words and our actions we value others in the way we are valued, we love and care for and demand the right to justice for others that we are shown by Christ so that the whole world might know the belonging that comes from being loved. 

Today as we think of the women who in Jesus time knew that complete acceptance and fulfilment in Christ, as we remember the women in our lives and our history who have inspired and challenged us to be the best we can be, as we, men and women, value ourselves each one of us both in our celebrations and in our vulnerabilities and failures – may we hold the truth of a risen Christ, a loving shepherd who will allow no-one and nothing to remove us from his fold, who values all people diverse as we are, and may we know the peace of belonging and the conviction of the living faith in in our lives now, and forever.  Amen.

Margaret Garland