Sermons 2011

  • There is one member of my family who is a little bit overzealous when it comes to Christmas. On December the first every year, no less than five suitcases are taken out of storage. These cases are stuffed full of every Christmas decoration imaginable. By the time the sun sets on the first day of December, the entire house has been transformed into something of a winter wonderland. Despite this, new decorations are purchased every year and added to the arsenal for next years assault on more»
  •  This last week I helped someone by looking over their CV and making a few suggestions. In order to clarify my thinking about useful things to include in a CV I dusted off a copy of my own. What struck me as I looked at the CV I used when applying to be Vicar of this parish is the blaring omissions. Let's face it, we all tend to massage facts about ourselves when seeking a new job. In my case I simply avoided tricky questions by pretending part of my history didn't exist. Now there more»
  •  Today I'm going to begin with something of a departure from theology. This morning I want to begin by talking to you about zombies. For those of you who don't quite know what I mean let me explain. The word zombie describes a dead body that has somehow returned to life. The word was first used to describe the practices of Shaman in places like Haiti who claimed that they could bring the dead back to life as a form of slave. It is thought that what actually occurred was that the Shaman more»
  • In 1947 a young shepherd wondering through the countryside made a discovery that would have a huge impact on the world of biblical scholarship.  The story goes that upon throwing a stone into a cave the young man heard a strange cluck. He went into the cave to see just what the stone had hit and found a collection of ancient urns. Inside the urns were a collection of scrolls that turned out to be close to two thousand years old. This collection of ancient writings is what is known as more»
  • A number of years ago I took my eldest nephew down to the park to play on the swings. Before heading home he asked if we could have a treat. Being a good uncle I took him to the dairy and bought us each an ice block.  We sat in the park and as I slowly licked my ice block my nephew did that horrible thing of biting his way through his.   Having devoured his treat in record time, my nephew then turned his attention to my ice block.  Upon asking me if he could have some of more»
  • In our first reading this morning we heard the end of the story of Joseph. It is a moment of grace where brothers are reconciled to each other despite the past violence of their shared history. It was Joseph's own brothers who beat him, threw him into a pit, before selling him into slavery. Years later, Joseph who is now a powerful man shows grace and mercy to his own brothers, rather than pursuing the path of vengeance. Earlier this year during our Matariki series, we used a short more»
  •  Mr President, members of Synod, Eighteen months ago I found myself pondering a short passage found in the Gospel of Luke. In Luke 4: 18 Jesus states that God sent him to proclaim release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and to let the oppressed go free. I have often preached on this passage focussing on how this statement refers to the many ways humans imprison themselves. I have spoken of the prison of anger, the prison of greed and the prison of selfishness. more»
  •  The BBC once issued a challenge for listeners to submit their life story in six words. A remarkable idea really, and one that generated an enormous and profound response. And I began to wonder whether the same idea could be applied to the art of sermon writing. Ironically, the time it would take to prepare a six-word sermon would probably be significantly greater than your average, but I'm sure the time saved in sermon delivery could be put to excellent use! All of this wafted more»
  • Last week I spoke about the concept of process theology, the idea that God develops and changes overtime in the same way humanity changes overtime. I suggested that this idea was helpful when contrasted with some theological ideas that have been unhelpful to some of us. This week I want to elaborate on one of the small comments I made regarding the idea of God as King.  The sovereignty of God, the idea that God possesses greater power than all other powers, can conflict with our personal more»
  • This past week during our Living the Questions course we had a lively discussion about different understandings of God.  Part of our theological inheritance is the ways in which previous generations have tried to define just what God is. Words such as immutable, impassable, and omnipresent and more besides have tried to account for the ways in which humanity has experienced the divine. The problem with such words is that typically they provide a box that is far too small to contain the more»
  • “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  That insight was given to us by the psychologist Carl Jung.  Some of you will be familiar with the writings and legacy of Carl Jung.  He was an important figure in the foundation of psychology as a discipline.   Jung is typically regarded more highly than Sigmund Freud in religious circles.  This is because Freud took a pessimistic view of religious experience, more»
  •  When we think about oral traditions, we often lament the way Pakeha culture seems to have lost track of its story telling tradition. When we think of oral traditions we often call to mind the rose-tinted image of people gathered around a fire telling stories. While I agree that there is an argument that technology has impacted on the way western society hands on its knowledge, I am not convinced that the oral tradition has completely disappeared. I know that within my own family more»
  • Last weekend, while most of you were enjoying an informative presentation from Richard Ryan on our parish finances, Emily and I took 18 young people away on our annual youth camp.  In previous years I have used the week following camp to show you images of just what goes on.  This is not only informative, but makes for some easy sermon preparation as well. This year, while I will show you a short presentation, I am going to speak on an aspect of our camps that is more»
  •  Today as we mark 90 years of service of the Cavell Guide Unit I want to begin by stating the core values of Guiding. Guides try to:* be honest and trustworthy* friendly and cheerful* good team members* they strive to be responsible for what they say and do* they respect and help other people* use their time and abilities wisely* face challenges and learn from their experiences* and care for the environment. Robert and Agnes Baden-Powell were two people who believed that the way more»
  • Earlier this week an elderly couple in Cambridge were hit by a truck while making their way across the road. The aftermath of this accident played out in a similar way to the well-known parable of the Good Samaritan. Many people seeing the accident simply passed by. Fortunately one person did stop and through her actions emergency services quickly got to the scene. In an article in the Herald, the son of the couple who were injured, praised the kindness of the one person who stopped to more»
  • This morning I want to begin by discussing the concept of orthodoxy, a word that can be understood as meaning right belief.   For some the word orthodoxy implies strict adherence to proscribed beliefs.  For others orthodoxy is not so much about quantifying the immeasurable as it is a process of discerning truth.  In the history of the early church orthodoxy was not a set of universally accepted beliefs, it was something that was discovered through argument and debate. more»
  •  Last year when I was scouting around to find some interesting selections for our parish book group I found myself having a conversation about different genres with an 8 o'clock parishioner. During the conversation this person said to me, “I find autobiographies difficult”. When I asked why they stated, “I don't like the “I” factor.” One of the rules of preaching I try to stick too, is to limit personal story telling to an absolute minimum. I don't more»
  • Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Ascension. This is the first time I've preached on this topic since coming to St Andrew's. This is because there are certain aspects of this tradition that I find off-putting. How can we take seriously the idea that sometime after the resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven? The first problem we need to address is the name ascension itself. The word ascension implies that Jesus floated off into the clouds. For me this conjures up comical more»
  • As I begin today I am acutely aware that today is the first anniversary of the death of our friend and colleague The Reverend Jenny Harrison. Many of us gathered here today were blessed to have experienced something of Jenny's ministry and continue to feel the huge gap she has left in our lives. In remembering Jenny I wish to begin by sharing a story she once told me, about a formative experience in her ministry. Growing up as a child in South Africa, Jenny attended a church that was yet more»
  •  In 1974 the IRA bombed two pubs in Guildford, London. The pubs had been chosen due to their popularity with English military personnel. In the explosions 5 people were killed and 65 people were wounded. English police moved swiftly to identify those involved in the bombing in order to bring them to justice. The police initially arrested four young Irish people aged between 17 and 25. All had recently left Ireland to make their home in London. The police claimed that these four had more»
  •  I must admit to being a little daunted about preaching this morning. Firstly because (it being the morning after the rapture), I wasn't sure if there'd be enough of us to constitute a quorum. And secondly, preaching on Jesus as “the way to the Father” to those of us who had been “left behind” might've been a bit like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. However, I didn't want to let Richard down, (and here we all are) so I went on the prowl for more»
  • This morning's reading from the book of Acts describes something of a golden age of the church. Yes back in those days the sun always shone, no one ever said a harsh word, everyone was optimistic and generous. All jokes were hilarious, everyone had ice cream for breakfast and your favourite sports team won every single game.   I have heard a great many sermons that have begun in a similar manner to this one. Where our attention is instantly drawn to the disparity between the New more»
  • This morning's Gospel reading is my favourite resurrection narrative. It appeals not just because of its theological meaning, but because I love the mysterious quality of it. It is almost like something out of a dream. The risen Christ appears to two disciples but they do not recognise him. A cathartic moment comes when a meal is shared. Bread is broken, as it was at the last supper, as it was at the feeding of the five thousand, as it was at almost every meal they had shared. Suddenly more»
  • There are many symbols that are associated with the celebration of Easter. The cross, the empty tomb, hot cross buns and of course Easter eggs and bunnies. While Easter is now strongly associated with confectionary the symbols of new life continue as part of the tradition. Today, however, I wish to suggest a new symbol for Easter. Here I am holding my iPhone. It is a remarkable piece of technology. On this device I have my diary, I have about 7 days worth of music, access to GPS, I can more»
  • Of the three readings set down for this week, the story of Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones cannot help but draw our attention. Many of you will know the traditional spiritual song Dem Bones which is based upon this story. That song has been stuck in my head all week. While it's tempting to now sing a couple of verses so you all get it stuck in your heads as well, I'm going to resist.   To really understand what the passage is saying we need to consider the metanarrative which it more»
  • Of all of our senses it would seem that we value our eyesight above all others. While some may claim to value their hearing more, or their sense of taste or smell, the way we use language suggests a bias towards sight. For example words such as vision imply far more that the ability to see. Indeed even a person who has impaired eyesight can still be described as a visionary.   Whereas once the word visionary described a person who had literally witnessed or viewed something, the term more»
  • Vicar's Annual Report 20 March 2011 Ministry  As with last year I'd like to begin with some basic statistics to give us a small snapshot of 2010. 7 Weddings21 Funerals20 Baptisms7 Confirmations While we had fewer weddings than usual all other statistical measures of parish life showed positive increase. While ministry is not about numbers it's nice to be able to see some signs of growth as a community. I will now comment on a number of areas of ministry in more detail more»
  • This morning's Gospel reading suggested that when building the architecture of our lives, we build upon the sure foundation which is Christ. Today, however, I'm going to speak about architecture in a very literal sense. I'm going to speak about buildings. The first step on our journey today takes us a long way from the St Andrew's. We are going to begin here A few years ago when I was still studying towards my degree in Religious Studies, I had the opportunity to learn about the religions more»
  • As I begin today I am deeply aware of the earthquake that happened earlier this week. Like many of you I have friends and family who have been caught up in this tragedy. As I sat down to write a sermon I found that there were many things I could say. There are huge questions regarding God's relationship to the disaster that has occurred. Where is God in all that has happened?   But today is not a day for getting into intellectual arguments and unanswerable questions of theology. Such more»
  •  The Lord spoke to Moses and told him to tell the people, you will be holy as your God is holy. Sometimes we read such phrases with gravitas as if God were sitting on a cloud on Mount Olympus handing down divine imperatives. But the God of Israel is not Zeus. The God of Israel is not a being that bears close resemblance to the baser aspects of human existence. Rather, the God of Israel is the God who led the Israelites out of slavery, who guided and journeyed with them throughout the more»
  • It's that time of the year again.   I am not talking about Ash Wednesday or our Shrove Tuesday Pancake breakfast in a few weeks time.   Nor am I speaking about our first youth group meetings of the year.   I am talking about the important cultural event otherwise known as the Hollywood Award Season.   The most notable event of the award season is of course the Academy Awards, which is now in it's 83rd year. In two weeks time when the Oscars are awarded all news more»
  • There is a thread of thought that runs through Celtic spirituality that talks about thin places.   A thin place is somewhere that God's presence is more keenly and readily felt.   Logically this doesn't make a great deal of theological sense as most theologians agree that God is everywhere.   Just think of those words from Psalm 139, “If I climb up to heaven you are there. If I make my bed in the grave you are also there.   If I take the wings of the dawn and light more»
  • When defining the church, the Cappadocians who influenced the creation of the Nicene Creed used the words, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.   These four words are sometimes referred to as the marks of the church.   By saying those words we are affirming that in some sense the church is One, meaning that there is something that unites all Christians.   We affirm that something is unique and precious about the church by calling it holy.   The word catholic denotes more»
  • One of the quintessential 1980’s pop groups was a band called Frankie goes to Hollywood.  Their no. 1 selling album was titled Welcome to the Pleasuredome.  It was a fairly explicit album for its time and featured a number of hits.  My favourite song from this album is called The Power of Love and it is particularly memorable because of the video the band made to accompany the song.  Having earned something of a reputation due to their sexually explicit lyrics as more»