Sermons 2009

  • On this day in 1914 our country, and many others, were at war.  The Great War as it is remembered was one of the grimmest wars ever fought.  The conditions endured by soldiers living in trenches throughout Europe, made survival extremely difficult.  To suffer the smallest wound in such conditions was as good as a death sentence due to the high rate of infection.  Illness such as dysentery was rife and in some places caused more deaths than the actual fighting. The men more»
  • This morning I’m going to boldly launch into my sermon with a cliché:  Time is a great healer!  The reason we have such clichés is because they contain a simple truth.  Time certainly helps us to overcome difficulties.  I can recall the various debates that raged in the family home as I grew up, from the rights of women, to the springbok tour, to the homosexual law reforms of the mid 1980’s.  While different viewpoints were expressed at more»
  • Ten years ago when I began my degree in religious studies it was my intention focus on Christianity.  However due to the demands of university timetabling I ended up taking more courses on eastern faith traditions than western ones.  This part of my academic training has not been of much assistance when it comes to sermon preparation, until today! I believe there is great value in learning about other faith traditions.  By engaging with different understandings of the more»
  • Some years ago when I was still at high school I experienced something of a miracle.  During an English class I suddenly discovered that I actually liked poetry.  There was one particular poem by the New Zealand poet Denis Glover that caused this revelation.  It is taken from a series of poems that tell the story of a South Island Gold prospector named Arawata Bill.  Bill is not a religious man, yet in this poem as he finds himself stranded on the mountaintop in the more»
  • In 1940 a young man set out from Geneva on a bicycle heading for Southern France.  Along the way he stopped in a small French village and noting the lack of any religious leadership he decided to stay.  For two years he endured great risk by hiding Jewish families being hunted by the Nazis.  He was eventually driven from the area, but returned following the end of the war and founded a religious community. On Easter day 1949 the religious order was formally established at more»
  • When reading the bible we find that our God is a God of many names.  Yahweh, El Shaddai (God Almighty), Our Shield and Strength, Shepherd, Judge, The Lord our Righteousness, The Jealous one, Our Deliverer, Emmanuel (God is with us), and Wisdom to name but a handful.  A quick survey of this community would produce even more names, such as Friend, Companion or Mother.  Each name for God is a lens through which we can look upon the divine.  Each different name for God helps more»
  • On August 13th, 1961, soldiers from East Germany and the Soviet Union began building a wall in Berlin. It quickly divided families, the city, the country. Similarly walls, barbed wire, fences and heavily fortified borders before and after Berlin have divided the peoples of the world. Behind those barriers, brutal regimes repressed billions of people. They denied their citizens human rights and freedoms. Some died trying to escape…trying to join those of us living outside more»
  • This homily which I am privileged to offer to you this day is built around the Gospel which we have just had read to us – Mark Chapter 12 verses 38-44.When we read Mark’s Gospel, there is a great deal that speaks of the Kingdom of God and its nature, but importantly about the nature, the character and the hallmarks of those who will be the citizens of that Kingdom.Today’s Gospel reading has not only an immediate context in the recorded writings, but is to be seen in the more»
  • There aren’t many more heart-wrenching moments in the gospels than this one when Mary, the grieving sister of Lazarus, goes out to meet Jesus and says to him, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died…’ If only you’d been here…  We can’t know, really, how those words were spoken by Mary. We tend not to dwell on that moment, because we know how the story goes – we know that Jesus will weep, and will go to Lazaras’ more»
  • I’m always amazed at those who seem to view science and religion as being in opposition.  There are religious people and scientists who regard those on the other side of the fence as utterly misled in their beliefs.  What saddens me about this is the many people caught in the crossfire of such debates.  There are many faithful people who see their scientific work as an extension of their religious values, rather than opposing them. We often talk of the gift of more»
  • Today I’m going to talk about a topic that I am not terribly comfortable with.  Evangelism!  In my time evangelism has become something of a dirty word.  It can conjure up images of bible bashing street preachers who feel it is their God given duty to inflict their beliefs on anyone who crosses their path.  The word has strong associations with the more conservative and even fundamentalist aspects of the church, something that I believe needs to be more»
  • A few years ago Bob Jones released a book titled True Facts.  The book was a send up of market driven newspapers and the decline of journalistic standards.  The title itself refers to the name of a fictitious newspaper and was meant as something of a joke.  The idea being that facts by their very nature are true, therefore the expression True Facts is meant to tell us something about the intellectual rigour of the media.   I mention this book this evening because it more»
  • Being a Christian means being a rude and offensive person.  Now I know it’s early on a Sunday morning and some of you may be wondering if I meant to say what I just said.  So I’ll say it again.  Being a Christian means being a rude and offensive person.  The statement that God is love, a cornerstone of our faith, is a radically countercultural assertion that rallies against much of human experience.  By making such an audacious clam we can be perceived as more»
  • Our three readings this week from Esther, James and Mark all offer, if you like, different windows or angles on being community.  From Mark, we’ve just heard a passage that follows on from last week’s gospel reading. You’ll remember last week that the disciples were in a hot dispute over who among them had the highest status. Jesus’ response was to take a child onto his knee, who in their society was almost a non-person, valued even less than women, and tell more»
  • There are many pitfalls and problems that can arise in the discerning and teasing out and writing of a sermon… but you know you’re in trouble when you pull out your favourite well-respected volume of commentary, only to find that in the learned opinion of the scholars, “it is astonishing that Proverbs 31:10-31 should have been included in the Common Lectionary at all...and the best that a preacher can do with this text  is to avoid it!” They are more»
  • This morning I want to preach from this table (our altar). I think my reasons for doing so will become clear!I begin with a story about King David. One day he was involved in fighting the Philistine army, who had occupied his home town of Bethlehem, and he was pinned down with his soldiers. David happened to say how much he was longing for a cool drink of water from the wells of Bethlehem – of course impossible because of the Philistine occupation. But unbeknownst to David, three more»
  • Last week I began a time of reflecting on the nature of stewardship. Something that we will continue today and into next week.  I finished my sermon last week with a question, can St Andrew’s become a community of abundance?  As I thought more on that question, my response was, yes we can but a more important question is how do we become a community of abundance?If we are to develop a spirit of generosity as well as being intentional in caring for the gifts that we have more»
  • Just over a year ago, Emily needed to have some surgery.  Nothing too major, but as with many operations Emily required a period of recovery.  Something both Emily and I struggle with is taking time off, something even more difficult when the time off is non-negotiable.      In the months before the operation, Emily had been involved in resettling a refugee family.  Ali and Lana and their two children are an Iraqi family who arrived in New Zealand after more»
  • Being married to a passionate architect, I’ve spent many a long day, in many cities around the world, being towed around in search of amazing buildings. Some days I felt less willing than others. We even spent our honeymoon on a tour of the architecture of California! But I’ve come to love architecture. It is it’s own language. All of our buildings, for better or worse, can tell us through their fabric and design a history of our culture and activities and beliefs.Our more»
  • During our recent Pentecost series we had the opportunity to reflect on great movements of the Spirit in history.  One event that stood out to me was the life and work of Martin Luther King.  If there was any one person in the 20th century whose voice rang out like the prophets of old it was Martin Luther King.Martin Luther King knew there were people seeking to take his life.  Many rallies and meetings had been postponed due to bomb threats and the like.  And this is more»
  • This morning I would like to begin with a short poem.Today when walking I found a new religion The colour of heaven Rain down on me Like the first time The day we met Talking in the shadows Today we stood in the rain Why did I choose to start with these words today?  It is extremely difficult for humans to share their vulnerabilities.  None of us like to appear weak or insecure before others.  I am all too aware of my own English ancestry, in those weak moments when a small more»
  • I bind unto myself todayThe strong name of the Trinity.By invocation of the same,The three in one, and one in three.Those words, taken from Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, are one of the best examples of Trinitarian poetry in existence. I used them this morning as a starting point for a topic that is possibly the most important and simultaneously the least understood theological development within Christianity.Last year when I was working at King’s College I was approached by more»
  • I think all preachers have weeks when they look at the readings set down for the day, and then look for a way out - another bit of scripture that could be preached on, or another preacher who can step up to the plate. I felt a bit like that this week. It’s not that there’s no inspiration, it’s rather that Jesus’ words here “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” - are so thorny, so fraught, so more»