Sermons 2012

  •  When we consider the text of Luke 2:41 to 2:52, we see that young Jesus is separated from his parents during the festival of Passover, and that Joseph and Mary do not discover this until after an entire day's travel back towards Nazareth. Joseph and Mary are in shock when they realize that young Jesus is not with extended family and whanau. He is not with an auntie, or an uncle, or cousin or friend.  Some background here:  Traditionally the Passover festival was very much a more»
  •  Each year at St Andrew's, a group of parishioners form a singing group and head off to our local rest homes to spread some Christmas joy. What they don't realise is that the tradition of carol singing in the community began in the middle ages when priests became upset by the singing and dancing of carol groups. It was the priests who kicked the carollers out of the churches claiming that all the singing and dancing was the work of the devil. Thus carol singers were forced to roam the more»
  •  On this, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we are invited to reflect in the role that Mary played in the Christmas story. From the ages of 11 to 18, I was educated by the Sisters of Mercy at a convent school in the north-east of England, where I grew up. It was here that I was exposed to the plethora of prayers and rituals surrounding Mary, the Mother of Jesus that form an important part of the Roman Catholic tradition.    As someone whose prior exposure to Mary was found more»
  • It would be easy from our first two readings to identify the major theme of joy - joy over what Jesus has done and will do. This fits nicely with the third Sunday in Advent considering we have just lit the “joy” candle. Luke's report about John the Baptist's ministry, however, contradicts this cheery picture of what it means to prepare for the arrival of Jesus. Opening one's preaching with the words “You brood of vipers!” doesn't exactly have the same ring to it as more»
  •  I have spent much of this last week making preparations. Lots of little jobs such as ordering Christmas trees, turning on the Christmas lights that illuminate the front of our church, and writing the script for next week's Christmas pageant. The combined effect of these activities is that I'm starting to feel kind of Christmassy. All these things, and more beside, have become personal traditions that mark this time of year.   Advent, as we hear each and every year, is a time of more»
  • Many of you will know some form of the story of Faust. In the original German version of this myth Faust is a scholar who feels great dissatisfaction with his life. For this reason he makes a deal with the devil, giving his soul in exchange for knowledge and worldly pleasure. There are numerous versions of the myth but most serve as a cautionary tail and result in Faust’s damnation. A Faustian bargain that you may not be so aware of concerns a man named Robert Johnson. The story more»
  •  Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, a day that it sometimes also referred to as 'stir-up Sunday'. This is traditionally the day on which we 'stir up' our Christmas puddings, in anticipation of the coming festive season. The phrase 'stir up' is actually drawn from the traditional post-communion collect set for this day. This week however, I have found myself stirred up with dismay at the breaking news on early Wednesday morning that the Church of England had voted to more»
  •  Last Sunday afternoon I spoke to the council of Christians and Muslims on the topic of, “Being faithful in a consumer society.”  When trying to think of something intelligent to say on that rather daunting topic I couldn't help but think of the way we seem to fill our lives with things. By “things” I refer to the non-living objects that so many of us desire. I think men are particularly bad at this. As many of you know there is one part of my life where more»
  •  November the 5th is an important day in New Zealand history.  I am not talking about fireworks, although I love fireworks.  I am not talking about the demise of a plot to destroy the English parliament. The November the fifth I speak of was a day 1881 when 1500 armed European soldiers entered a Maori village in the Taranaki. This invasion was the result of a stand-off between the colonial government of the day and the Maori people of many tribes who were living at the together more»
  •  I was recently speaking to a person about their first experience of the Anglican Church. He commented on how he was deeply suspicious of clergy who wore collars and vestments.   His reaction was that Anglicans thought they were better because they had more ornate churches and vestments. But after spending some time in the church he came to see that candles and altars and robes were not a statement of affluence but are deeply symbolic. In coming to understand what these things more»
  •  As I've commented in the past facebook, if nothing else, is an interesting window into other people's lives. Recently I was party to a conversation in which people were commenting on some of the surprises they have had when reconnecting with old school friends.  Of particular note are those people who have gone on to fame and fortune. I certainly have known people who have had significant success in their careers. Among them are people who one could easily be envious of. Let's more»
  •  If such a thing exists, then I wonder if the epitaph on the grave of the rich young man in our Gospel reading might read: 'At least he was honest.'Yet again, our Gospel reading gives us a reflection on the costs of discipleship.   Perhaps not so much of a reflection, as a confrontation.One commentator writes of this passage: Do you find that Jesus gets easier or harder to understand, as the Gospel goes on? Personally I am with the disciples on this one: in our reading they are more»
  •  In case you are not already aware, the sermons preached at St Andrew's are typically published on our website. Not 100% of the time but most of them are there. I began doing this some years ago as an environmentally friendly way of making this part of our worshipping life available to members of this community.   What I have realised in recent times is that I was rather naive in beginning this practice. While we have used the internet to make sermons available to our community, more»
  • Human infants make no sense at all. When babies are born they are vulnerable in a way that few other creatures are. They are completely dependent upon their parents for food, safety and love. And this goes on for months. By comparison a baby antelope will walk within 30 minutes of being born. Baby whales are born swimming.   Yet human babies can do almost nothing.   From an evolutionary perspective this doesn't quite add up. We can say that antelopes and whales are born with a more»
  •  I recently read an article by a fellow clergy person who wrote of her reluctance to tell people what she does for a living when meeting them for the first time. I read that article with some interest as I personally find that there are occasions when I tend to hold off telling people I am a priest because often it can bring conversations to an absolute standstill. The person writing this article says that her reluctance is due to the way people respond to her career choice by telling her more»
  • This morning I'm going to begin with a little heresy. The heresy I particularly want to focus on is known as Gnosticism.  The term Gnosticism does not refer to a particular sect or even to a clearly defined group of beliefs. Gnosticism is a collective term applied to a collection of philosophies that broadly shared a number of characteristics. Some of you will know that Gnosticism was rejected as a heresy by the church in the second century.  Typically we think of Gnosticism as one of more»
  •  Within the logic of the lectionary, there is a subtle flaw.   A flaw that, on days like today, makes preaching on a text that bit more difficult, and this being my first time doing so in this community it was something I really did not need, but here we are.   The flaw I am alluding to is the assumption the lectionary makes that we will all listen to, let alone remember, what it was that we read and heard preached the week or even weeks, before.   This is a specific more»
  • Today's a special day. It's media prayer day and I'd like to reflect upon that in a moment. And then warmly invite us all to contemplate what media prayer day, may mean for us, as Christians, as we celebrate the opportunity and calling to be a part of this wonderful day of hope, faith, and love. To lead into this day of prayer, let us consider again, today's new testament text from Paul's letter to the Ephisians 4:1-16. “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some more»
  • You may recall that last week, I expressed a certain dismay at the lectionary's Olympic style leaping from one part of a chapter to another missing out all the action: the feeding of the 5000 and the walking on the water?   Well, this week we get our action, albeit from another Gospel writer: John. The holy picnic and the miracle wind-surfing without the correct equipment; it's all go this week on the Gospel action front! Provision of food in the desert is the only miracle of Jesus' more»
  • A couple of years ago there burst onto the literary scene a variety of versions of the Bible designed for those 'on the go.' The Bible in 100 minutes (you have to set your stop-watch for that). The Bible in text message (apparently it would take 30,000 text messages to transmit the entire Bible, which might run up your phone-bill and certainly take you outside your monthly text limit). The Twitter Bible, tricky to summarise everything in 140 characters! The Espresso Bible - more»
  •  There was a famine in the land and none of the animals had enough to eat. Billy the goat went out searching for food for his family. He came across an apple in a tree but he was unable to reach it. Billy politely asked a passing giraffe if he would mind plucking down the apple so he could take it home and feed his hungry family. The giraffe refused, saying “Sorry Billy, I don't want to get involved in these food wars.” Disappointed, Billy searched his mind for other more»
  •  Some of you may have noticed how much better the traffic around Auckland has been over the last week. The reason for this is that we are in the middle of the school holidays. When I reflect on winter holidays as a child I can't help but remember days spent in the kitchen with my two older sisters. Being the youngest child I had the privilege of being able to “help” with any baking my sisters decided to undertake. While I don't doubt that my help was counterproductive at more»
  •  In today's gospel story we are invited to be part of a great thanksgiving.  A thanksgiving for answered prayers, for miracles, for God's love in Christ, and for how faith can transform our own lives, as it did for the people of that small village where Jesus was, two thousand years ago.  It's not always easy during our life journey, to trust God all the time like the woman and the man in this gospel story, or to imitate Christ's pure love for us, as we are invited to do more»
  • Ten years ago a group of students studying outdoor recreation set out on a kayaking trip on the Buller River. During this trip one student became trapped beneath a partially submerged log. Despite all attempts to rescue this young man he succumbed to the elements and drowned. As it happened, I knew this young man.   He had been a member of one of my Youth Groups. In the weeks following his death people who knew him began to ask a number of difficult questions. Questions such as this: If more»
  •  When I discovered that the dominant theme from this morning's readings might involve me flexing my green fingers and donning my wellington boots (or gum-boots as they are called here), I must confess I sighed a little. Don't get me wrong, I love gardens and indeed it has been a constant delight living next to the St John's bush, to observe new trees and plants and to wonder at the changing autumnal colours of the southern hemisphere seasonal shift. To notice new things about God's more»
  • Considering today's new testament reading Corinthians 4:13-5.1 there is a passage that stands out for many, far above the rest, it challenges us with its dualistic imagery, it is written by beloved St Paul, by divine inspiration, and speaks to the heart of the journey we all have on this earth, to the heart of our faith, our true nature, and this passage calls out to be read again. “So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being more»
  •  Today is Trinity Sunday the only Sunday in our church calendar dedicated to a doctrine. It has been suggested by some that a better name for Trinity Sunday would be Heretic Sunday as most attempts to speak on the Trinity dissolve into misunderstanding and incorrect teaching on the subject. I have spoken on this particular point before and drew attention to the particular misunderstandings that are found throughout the church regarding the idea of the Trinity. I have spoken on how more»
  • “To choose one's victims, to prepare one's plan minutely…and then go to bed….there is nothing sweeter in the world.”   - Josef Stalin Whether we like it or not, there is something tantalizing about the notion of revenge.  Just think of the many stories of revenge found throughout the world.  Many of you will be familiar with revenge stories such as The Count of Monte Cristo or Hamlet.  You may not be so aware of the television series more»
  • Once upon a time there was a great king whose wife bore him a son.  The king decided that he never wanted his son to experience hardship of any kind.  For this reason the prince was raised within the walls of a palace where he was served by only the youngest and most beautiful servants.  He was surrounded by the most luxurious things and was never permitted to leave the palace. As the prince grew older he became curious about life beyond the palace walls.  He more»
  • Today is known as the 'Sunday after Ascension Day.'  It's easy to miss, but in case you did, this past Thursday was the feast of the Ascension, that bridge in the narrative that lies between Easter and Pentecost.  It's the part of the story where Jesus is literally lifted up and disappears in the clouds.  Not surprisingly, many prefer not to have to deal with the scientific complexities of this divine feat and I imagine that many clergy (in particular) are quite relieved that the more»
  •  “Love, love is a verb. Love is a doing word.” [1]   That superb piece of insight does not come from scripture or from a great figure of history. It is the opening line from a song performed by the English band Massive Attack.   Love is a word that carries a huge amount of meaning. Typically it is associated with flowers, romance and intimacy not to mention mothers day, but that is too narrow an understanding of love. How might our view of love change if, more»
  • There once was a pig. He was an ordinary pig in all ways, but one thing did set him apart. This thing was his distaste for the mumbling and grumbling that is the natural way with pigs. “I know,” thought the pig, “I shall do something extraordinary. From now on I will stand for everything that is true and wonderful. I will see the best in everyone and everything. I will be the Pig of Happiness!” The next day when Pig A complained about the weather, the Pig of more»
  • As I cleaned up my office earlier this week I came across a cartoon someone had given to me. It showed a parishioner being greeted by a priest following a church service.   The caption read, “Vicar, you're in a rut. Every time I come to church you preach about the resurrection.” In this season of Eastertide the resurrection is certainly a central focus, so much so that I'm sure I'm not the only Vicar who begins to feel that they are in something of a rut. Eastertide more»
  • I wonder how you felt at the start of this Holy Week?  For me, this year Holy Week has brought with some unexpected and unanticipated feelings and experiences.   The daffodils and Spring blossom, the lengthening days are not there.  Instead, a chilly wind and signs of Autumn.  But more than that, last Sunday I found myself in the midst of the tangi for a former colleague at St John's, Hone Kaa.   Hone was a man of strong opinions, but also a man of deep Christian more»
  • What I like about Easter is how it doesn't all piece together. It's like a jigsaw puzzle with extra bits and missing bits, and where the two don't match to provide a clear-cut result. There are superfluous pieces, and there are gaping holes. It's a puzzle unlike any other I know. It's what you get when you take a bunch of ancient fertility rites marking the start of spring. That's where the goddess Eostre comes in. You merge those rites with the execution of a Galilean political-religious more»
  • The following is my report to the parish on the year 2011. I find with each year that my report grows longer and longer. Given that there are a lot to get through I'd like to begin with a number of honourable mentions. Firstly I'd like to acknowledge Joy Brown. Joy stepped down from the flower guild at the end of last year following many years of faithful service. Joy thank you for all you have done for the flower guild. Your efforts have certainly been a labour of love and a wonderful more»
  •  When I was at primary school each Wednesday afternoon was spent doing one of three things, sewing, cooking or woodwork. Not only did we learn basic skills in these areas, we produced some great products. In sewing we made pillowcases and aprons, in cooking we made cakes and other treats and in woodwork we made small chests and pencil boxes, to name but a few things. One morning my best friend was taking his new wooden pencil box around the class and was asking everyone to write more»
  • For those of you who were not able to be with us last Sunday, you missed out on an excellent sermon from the Reverend Barry Graves. I've thought a great deal about his words to us over the last week.  In particular Barry talked about the use of the words “…through Jesus Christ”.  It's a phrase that is tacked on to the end of prayers so often that we don't necessarily think through the implications of what they mean.  It is through being baptised that we more»
  •  It's hard to believe I know, but once I was a Boy Scout. Many and varied were the things I learnt. Some were useful some not, some of a rather dubious nature. One thing we had to learn was First Aid. A rather severe looking woman in a St John uniform used to come and teach us. She didn't suffer fools gladly, and being who we were, we always tried to have fun at whatever we did. But First Aid was a serious business and not a time for fun, we quickly learnt. One day we had to pretend we more»
  •  A class mate of mine, at school in the US, was always happy to discuss God, Christianity, religion and spiritual issues with me.  We went to schools, and grew up in communities that encouraged us to talk about spiritual Issues. We came from Christian backgrounds that encouraged us to debate and dive deeper into the many layers of Christian meaning in our lives. The interesting thing about my old schoolmate, is that even though he had instilled in him, Christian values, and acted more»
  •  Many years ago I was visiting family in the UK. At that point in time I was struggling to make the transition from being a teenager to early adulthood. I was still at that stage where I believed sarcasm to be the height of wit, much to the displeasure of those around me. I was fortunate that on this particular trip to the UK I got to spend a great deal of time with an uncle who was extremely patient when it came to nihilistic, sarcastic young men. One day we took a drive out to this more»
  • Most of us know that the Bible is the most published book in human history and that it is closely followed by the works of William Shakespeare. Are you able to name the third most published collection of writings of all time? The answer is the novels of Agatha Christie who is arguably the most published novelist of all time. Agatha Christie's literary creations of Miss Marple and Poirot have been brought to life on stage and screen so many times it's hard to keep count of the legions of more»
  • As a child, I sang in the National Cathedral Choir, in Washington D.C. in the U.S.  We were earnest, devout, at times a bit cheeky, yet we would faithfully practice and sing, for up to 30 hours a week depending on the liturgical calendar.  It was a joy, but more importantly, it was a spiritual journey where the choir boys felt a connection to God's presence. Each day, month and year, God's presence pervaded every hymn, anthem, chant and song. A favourite service was evensong. more»