Sermons 2013

  • Lucky me being the person who gets to preach on this awful reading from Matthew of a family on the run, the murder of innocent children and a brutal tyrant on the rampage on the day we have a baptism!   Now I know why our vicar is having a Sunday off! I can assure you that we won't be dispatching any children today. But seriously, why such a difficult reading only a few days after Christmas? What's going on? What's Matthew trying to say? Well the first thing I'd say is that often more»
  •  Now I'm sure you would like to know about the pictures you were given this morning. On the extra sheet are a number of pictures of Segrada Familia the famous basilica designed by Gaudi.  It is located in Barcelona and after more than 100 years it is still under construction.   Ground was broken on the site in 1882.   The following year Gaudi took over the project and expanded it beyond recognition. When Gaudi died in 1926 only 25% of the building was complete. It is more»
  •  Although we have just lit the joy advent candle today, the reality is that Christmas for some people feels more like the opposite of joy. I think of a friend of mine who at this time many years ago lost her husband to cancer. Although she is an incredibly generous and loving person and who has a faith in Christ, she admits that she finds this time of year extremely difficult. I caught up with a friend who lives overseas the other day and was deeply saddened to hear that his marriage more»
  •  A Poem by Sylvia Sands.  Here I go again, carefully unpacking the figures of the crib, tenderly wiping dust from Mary's eyes and Joseph's beard, all the while practising my contemplative skills.   Here I am, duster in hand, seeking to emulate the shepherd's enthusiasm and openness, (wipe, wipe). The wise men's courage and generosity (dust, dust). Mary's mysticism, Joseph's humility, the Christ Child's vulnerability.   Who am I kidding? It is the absent figure that haunts more»
  • Last week a friend of mine sent me an article along with a note asking me to explain myself.   The article referenced a book by Kevin Dutton titled The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies and Serial Killers can teach us about success.   In this book the author attempts to dispel some of the myths about psychopaths as they are often portrayed in Hollywood movies.   It is his contention that while psychopaths can be extremely dangerous there are many highly functioning more»
  •  I heard an amazing quote the other day – “Power is like fire – you can use it to cook a meal or burn a house down.” I'm not sure what comes to mind when you hear the word king, queen or ruler, but for me it's the word power. Maybe examples of harsh rulers or dictators like Bashar al-Assadin of Syria spring to mind. It's crazy to think he used to be an ophthalmologist. Or maybe you're thinking of another example such as the Royal Family. Just think about the more»
  • If we consider the text of Luke 21:5-19 as we look closely at today's gospel…..We see that Jesus is with his disciples and that his disciples are talking about the beauty of the temple and how the temple is adorned with beautiful stones.We can imagine lots of other beautiful temple imagery and architecture; and we can imagine the temple's largeness and its spiritual value for many of Christ's disciples; and how it's filled with holy and sacred gifts brought by worshipers from all over more»
  • Children can say the most interesting things when asked about heaven. One child asked, “Is it true my father won't get in Heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house?”  Another child called Jane asked, “Instead of letting people die and having to make new ones why doesn't God just keep the ones you got now?”  Another child, Susan, wrote a letter to God that said, “Dear God, I know all about where ladies come from I think. They come from inside more»
  • If there is one experience that causes me great distress, it is the experience of being wrong.  (Fortunately that doesn't happen very often), but on those occasions when I am faced with the limitations of my own thoughts, it takes a great deal of effort to accept that yes, sometimes I am wrong. When we studied the enneagram a few years ago I discovered that my inability to accept that I am wrong is typical of those with my personality type. When I am wrong, I will typically exert a more»
  • It's amazing how when it comes to decorating an automobile, that even seemingly rational people are willing to abandon all taste.  I'm talking specifically about bumper stickers.  Apparently any opinion worth having, can be printed on a small sticky piece of plastic and fixed to the back of your car for all to see.  I appreciate I'm in dangerous waters here as some of you, proudly display things in this manner.  I too have stuck, what I believed to be a witty or even more»
  •  There are times when I've cried out,“God, give me back my heart of stoneand a ladder so that I can climbup to my head and live therewith doors and windows shut on feeling.God, God, I'm tired of all the hurt.For a little while, let me livea second-hand life.   Let me treadthe safe path of other people's ideas.Just let me drop this awesome responsibilityyou have given me, to growthrough love and pain.” Then I remember what it's liketo exist with a heart of stone.How more»
  •  Two weeks ago, Matt, Emily and I were away with 25 young people who are part of the St Andrew ' s community.  This was our annual youth camp and to be honest it was one of the best camps I've ever been to, and I've been to a lot of youth camps.   The theme of the camp was, “Finding Thin Places.”  Now I appreciate that some of you may hear that and instantly think about weight loss.   If that is the case, you are taking things far too more»
  •  If you are feeling a bit bewildered by our Gospel passage today don't worry you are in good company. The parable of the dishonest manager, found only in Luke, has puzzled many for centuries and possibly caused more confusion than any other parable in the gospels. To start, there are four interpretations or applications offered immediately after the parable proper ends in verse 8 where it says, “and the master praised the dishonest steward because he had acted wisely”:1. more»
  • How many of you remember the TV show called Lost that was on a few years back? For those of you who haven't heard of Lost followed the survivors of a plane crash on a South Pacific island. Over 6 seasons, of which I only managed to get through two, it depicts not only what happens to survivors after they are “lost” because of the crash, but also as past events surface to haunt the characters' lives. So in this sense the word lost carries with it a double meaning - not only more»
  •  It is a rare thing in a young nation like New Zealand to have the opportunity to celebrate the bicentenary of a significant event in our European and church history.   But next year we will have the opportunity to do so.  Christmas Day 2014 will mark 200 years since The Reverend Samuel Marsden first proclaimed the Christian gospel in a sermon at Oihi in the Bay of Islands. I will be speaking about that historic day and some of the events that came before and after it. more»
  •  Come dine with me?  God of hospitality, who is made known to us in the breaking of the bread, receive these words as a hopeful sign of your kingdom here on earth, a world you knew through your Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.  Have you ever been to a dinner party that you'd place more in the 'awkward' category than the 'alleluia (that was great!)' category?   Maybe you were seated next to the one person you hoped you would not have to sit next to; perhaps the more»
  •  “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!” This morning I have something of a dilemma in speaking about this particular Gospel reading.  I am reluctant to describe any part of scripture in a negative way, which means the best way to describe this passage is to say that it is one that I do not enjoy.  Having spent the first part of this week with a group of clergy who are also needing to preach on this more»
  •  For Jessica and Peter, getting by on a daily basis was challenging. Peter worked shifts at a local factory and Jessica was a part-time cashier and full-time mum. Although things weren't exactly easy for the family they were getting by and never had to ask for help, until an unexpected event turned their lives upside down. On his way home from school one evening, Jessica and Peter's eldest son was knocked down by a car. Isaiah suffered serious head injuries and was in a coma for 14 more»
  •  There's always been something about the story of Mary and Martha that hasn't sat right with me. While I can't put my finger on exactly what I feel is off about it, I can come up with a couple of options. Firstly, it's just really boring. I know its kind of Jesus' thing to use stories of the everyday to make deeper, spiritual points, but this one… it just feels so mundane. Second, and probably more off putting for me, Jesus comes off looking pretty rude. This is after all the one more»
  •  Do you know what your first word was? In most cases a baby's first utterance is something along the lines of mama. That makes a whole lot of sense given how important mother's are to an infants survival. Often what families remember as a child's first word is the word that is latched onto after names such as mama and daddy have been established. Our young adults group had a discussion about this earlier in the year around the time that Maika's vocabulary was beginning to more»
  • When writers of a television show decide it is time to get rid of a character they typically have two options. The first is that the character is written out, that way it is possible to bring the character back at a later date. This option typically takes the form of the character moving out of town. The other option, as you followers of Downton Abby are all too aware, is to kill the character off.   Now I say there are typically two options of how to deal with the problem of getting more»
  •  When I lived in London 13 years ago, I remember getting off at my local tube station of Kennington one night. It was about 10pm as I began the 650m walk towards my flat. About halfway home I looked up a short distance ahead there was a group of young guys - about 8 or so of them - approaching me. I was filled with a sense of dread and my mind and body went into full alert mode. I quickly realised that it was too late to cross the road and I couldn't turn around and get back to the tube more»
  •  When I was fifteen I was popular kid with a big mouth. One day that big mouth got me into trouble and I got beaten up at school and publically humiliated. Not so popular anymore. Experiences like this are not uncommon, but I was left with an enduring sense of shame, self-condemnation and unworthiness. It took many years to realise this and has taken much of my adult life to re-learn how to be vulnerable, how to allow myself to love and be loved. Clinical psychologist Gershen Kaufman says more»
  • The Teacher sat around a blazing fire with a small number of students late at night. Their meandering conversation was broken by periods of silence when they all gazed at the stars and the moon. Following one of these periods when no one spoke the Teacher asked a question. “How can we know when the night has ended and the day has begun?”   Eagerly one young man answered. “You know the night is over and the day has begun when you can look off in the distance and determine more»
  • In February of 2010 I embarked on a Hikoi to the far north with the faculty and students at St Johns College. I was immediately struck by the immense hospitality by our hosts at Whaka/maha/ratanga marae in the Hokianga. However, one thing I struggled to adjust to was the marae style sleeping arrangements. I ended up having to drag my mattress outside to sleep under the stars because a particular group of snorers - whom I dubbed “the elephant seal colony” – had the ability when more»
  • On December 24, 1968, there was a live television broadcast that was watched by more people than anything that had gone before. The broadcast was made from the Apollo 8 spacecraft that was a quarter of a million miles away, orbiting the moon. The three astronauts onboard the Apollo 8 were the first human-beings to see the dark side of the moon.  What I think is more significant than that, is that they were the first people ever to see the earth appear on the horizon of a different world. more»
  • Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Twelve Apostles and today upon all followers of Jesus. Pentecost is sometimes described by Christians as the "Birthday of the Church." This is because the Holy Spirit enlivens the mission of the Church in the world, and the life of Christ within our own lives. The Holy Spirit revitalizes our faith in Christ, Christ's ministry, and our love for God and neighbor. If we consider today's Gospel in the light of this more»
  •  In the weeks following Easter our lectionary has been following New Testament readings from the Book of Revelation. What I have noticed is that while we have been hearing from John's apocalypse each Sunday for six weeks, none of our preachers have spoken in detail about them. I wouldn't go as far as to suggest that we have been ignoring them, more that the imagery and theology of the Book of Revelation doesn't fit easily into a typical Sunday sermon.   The Book of Revelation is more»
  •  If you knew that you were about to die and only had a few moments to say something to your loved ones what would it be? Whatever you choose to say, whether wise, eloquent, from the heart or downright raw and honest, your last words will stay with them for the rest of their lives. It would be an understatement to say that this is an important life moment. This was the situation Jesus was in in our Gospel today. As this particular section of John commences, Jesus has already washed the more»
  • Some weeks it doesn't matter how much preparation goes in to writing a sermon, something so significant happens in the wider world that one would be remiss to not speak about it. This week a significant piece of legislation was passed by our parliament that has considerable implications for all of us. Mondayisation. Firstly the word itself is an assault on the English language. Secondly… sorry everyone but I needed to get that out of my system. Now it's time to be honest. The more»
  •  The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”  There is real truth to those words.  As far as we can tell, there has never been a time when music was not part of the human experience.  For example there are a number of flutes made from bones that have been discovered in parts of Germany and China.  Carbon dating suggests that these simple woodwind instruments are over 40,000 years old.  Given that there is more»
  • Saul, or as we know him now, Paul's experience on the road to Damascus has long held huge interest in any study of conversion. This is because of its highly dramatic nature, but also because many Christians have presented it as the ideal model of the life reborn. As a result many faithful people measure their own conversion against this model and feel either reassured or disturbed by the comparison. I had what I would call a dramatic conversion experience when I was sixteen. So I relate to more»
  • Today is defined in the church calendar as 'Low Sunday'.  Explanations of this term vary, but it is thought to primarily point to a day that's a bit less over-the-top festive in comparison to Easter Sunday. Now of course, we are passionately cool, generously orthodox Anglicans. We are measured in our ecclesiastical excitement, so to say we are 'over-the-top' just might be over-stating it? But still, here we are, and our church calendar is telling us to chill out a bit! I believe in an more»
  •  When it comes down to it, there is not a lot we can say with certainty about the founding figure of Christianity. We cannot be sure just where he was born.   It may have been Bethlehem, but it could have been in a rural town near the Sea of Galilee. Of all the details surrounding his birth, the only one we can be sure of, was that there was a scandal regarding his parents and certainly a question of who his father actually was. Despite all the speculation surrounding his more»
  • My more recent memories of Palm Sunday are located in the two churches in the diocese of Oxford in which I served as curate.  Palm Sunday in the village of Wheatley is very much a community event.  It begins with a large gathering in the Village Hall and following the blessing of the Palms, a procession up to the church.  By the time the procession reaches the church the front of the procession is at least a verse ahead in its rendition of 'All Glory, Laud, and Honour' than the more»
  • “Why was it that so few understood Jesus?” the student asked the Teacher. “The Pharisees and scribes constantly opposed him. His disciples often seemed confused by his teaching, and still others suggested that he was possessed with demons. Even his own family feared for his mental health.” The Teacher replied, “Once there was a wedding couple who brought in the finest fiddlers and banjo players to entertain their guests immediately after the ceremony. The music more»
  • In beginning my report this year I wish to make a number of acknowledgements. As we move into this year's AGM you will note that we are in a year of transition regarding the makeup of our parish leadership.  There are a number of retirements this year of people who have served this parish as wardens or vestry members. Firstly I acknowledge Beverley Ford who has served for many years as a vestry member with particular responsibility for the 8am congregation and also as a parish more»
  • Have you ever heard of people attending funeral services where a relative of the deceased says “the Lord took him/her home. He must have had some purpose…thank you Lord.” Have you been with a sick person who agonises over the question “perhaps God is trying to teach me something?” Have you ever experienced someone say to   someone suffering from a serious illness or condition “if you had more faith you would be healed.” At times it seems the way more»
  • At the dawn of the day, in the great Southern Ocean Where the world's greatest fish was being landed And the boat they were pulling it into was sinking And the boys called out “Maui, ya clown, let it go” In the noise he reached down for his grandmother's jawbone and he winked at his mates and he said “Boys, we don't know how lucky we are!”  John Clarke's character Fred Dagg, really summed up something significant about the New Zealand Psyche in his song, “We more»
  • There's a story of a mother who approached a wise Teacher for assistance with a domestic matter. “My son has horrible eating habits,” she said. “Please, he will listen to you if you tell him to stop eating foods with so much sugar.”   The Teacher listened sympathetically. “I ask that you come back next week and make the request again.” The mother agreed and returned seven days later. “My son's problem continues,” she said. “I am more»
  • I invite us to consider that today's Gospel cannot be fully appreciated without referencing last week's gospel reading, regarding the jubilee celebrations in Nazareth, that include the synagogue reading by Jesus, and the initial positive reaction to Jesus's words by the people of Nazareth, that Reverend Matt unwrapped for us, so well last week. Last week's gospel was a message of hope and vindication to the marginalized and to the disadvantaged, where Jesus declared that he was a Messiah more»
  • Some words matter more than others. The words we used to apologize as opposed to the words we used to hurt. The words we use to say goodbye to a loved one for the last time in contrast with the thousand other goodbyes we said; or the words used when we ask someone to marry us compared to the time we ask them out on a first date. Some words matter more than others and in this week's Gospel reading, we are treated to these kinds of words. Jesus's first public words and act of ministry has more»
  •  I'm sure over the years many of you have been to your fair share of weddings. Some you'll hold in fond memory for a variety of reasons: a beautiful celebration, a significant point in your or a loved one's life, moving speeches, generous gifts etc... On the other hand, I'm sure if you turned to the person next to you asked each other what was the worst wedding you've ever experienced and why, my bet is that many of you could recall countless humorous, embarrassing and downright more»
  • “Hello, Lady,” said the Chocolate.  “Hello, Chocolate,” said the Lady.  “You want me, Lady, don't you?” said the Chocolate. “You want me! YOU WANT ME!”  “No Chocolate,” said the Lady, “I do not want you for I am STRONG.   I can resist my fickle urges and my frivolous desires.”  “But you need me, Lady,” said the Chocolate. “You know you more»
  • The story of the Magi coming from the East to bring gifts to the infant Jesus fits more appropriately with Epiphany than a Christmas service or pageant, because it signifies the opening of the gospel beyond Jewish boundaries reminding us of the worldwide mission of the church. Salvation comes through Jesus the Jew, but reaches far beyond, to strangers from the East, to a Roman centurion, to a Canaanite woman. By the end of Matthew's account we no longer see non-Jews coming to Bethlehem, but more»