Sermons 2014

  • It’s the middle of the day, you are busy working away at something when suddenly the phone rings.  Someone answers!  As they pass you the phone they say to you, “It’s the boss!”  As you hear those three words, “It’s the boss,” what thoughts pass through your head?  For many of us our first reaction is one of blinding panic as we think, what have I done wrong?  In fact, just thinking about the bishop calling me out of nowhere, is more»
  • In 1958 New Yorker Robert Lane named his baby son Winner. How could he fail with a name like that? Three years later the Lanes had another baby boy, their seventh and last child. For reasons no one can quite figure out, Robert decided to name this boy Loser. If Winner Lane could hardly be expected to fail, could Loser Lane possibly succeed? Actually, Loser Lane did in fact succeed. He went to prep school on a scholarship, graduated from college and joined the NY police department where he more»
  • During the Eucharist when we say “Christ has died,” “Christ is risen,” “Christ will come again;” and during the creed when we say, “He will come again to judge the living and the dead;” and during Advent when we say “Alleluia! Come Lord Jesus;” have you ever wondered what this actually means?”[1] When people ask about the relevance of so much biblical talk of the return of Jesus, what do we say? If it’s not a matter of more»
  • Last year during the Living the Questions study series, we had a session entitled Debunking the Rapture.  Given that I’m interested in the Rapture as a religious phenomena I was looking forward to our community having some robust discussion on the topic.  However, what I soon discovered was that no one in that study group had even heard of the Rapture. That meant instead of the debate I was looking forward to, we first had to talk about what the Rapture is all about before we more»
  • I’m not sure what you make of Halloween or what your experience of it was growing up.  But what’s become clear to me over the last couple of weeks as I’ve read various blogs and articles, and had quite a few conversations with people, is that there are a lot of different opinions about it. So I thought today we could explore it a bit more and see if we can shed some more light on the matter. Some Christians feel concerned about the modern celebration of Halloween more»
  • Last Sunday when speaking about Youth Ministry here at St Andrew’s I made a comment about my discomfort with using too much jargon.  Church life is full of jargon, and for someone like myself who has been coming to church every week since I was 8 days old, it is easy to be blissfully unaware just how much we use it.  The problem with jargon words, is that they often exclude people, which is the last thing we want to do as a church. Almost every area of human life has more»
  • In just a few minutes I’m going to show you a video of some highlights from our youth camp two weeks ago.  But before I do that I want to take the opportunity to say just a little bit more about the shape of St Andrew’s Youth Ministry. Over the last six years we have developed and maintained a strong youth group and now as a result of that we also have a growing young adults ministry.  Along the way we have learnt a number of things, some of which I’m going to more»
  • Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. Moses is at the top of Mount Sinai where he is just about to conclude a period of forty days and forty nights which he has spent receiving instructions from God; and the Israelites are at the base of the mountain becoming restless, having begun to doubt that Moses will ever return. Three months prior God had delivered the Israelites out slavery, afflicted the Egyptians with ten plagues, parted the red sea ensuring the Israelites more»
  • In Japan there is a well known story from the 18th Century which has become something of an allegory for how people should live in the world.  It is a story of sacrifice and honour which is popular throughout Japan to this day.  As this true story has been retold and embellished it has developed into a complex expression of Japanese identity. The story is about a group of Samurai.  Samurai were sworn protectors of a feudal lord.  These armoured, sword welding guardians more»
  • The readings we had this morning are a break from the usual pattern of readings as today is a day of special commemoration for one of the apostles, St Bartholomew.  We actually know very little about St Bartholomew.  In fact his very existence is shrouded in mystery due to the fact that he only appears in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) whereas a disciple named Nathanael seems to occupy his spot in the Gospel of John.  It could be that these different names refer to more»
  • One of the best loved characters in children’s stories is Winnie the Pooh. In one adventure Pooh tries to trap a Heffalump.  Pooh digs a hole to catch the Heffalump and decides to bait the trap with honey. But, fond as he is of honey, he can’t bear to leave the whole jar of it in the trap, and so begins to eat some himself, justifying himself with the thought that it’s important to make sure it really is honey,  all the way down. After all, it wouldn’t do to more»
  • It is a dark and stormy night...the wind howls, the waves heave, and the disciples huddle fearfully in their boat. Then suddenly they see Jesus walking towards them...and they are reassured.  But when they see he is walking on water...they are fearful all over again.  Is this a man or a ghost? Sensible Peter knows how to test the vision: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” says Jesus...and Peter, an earthly man not a more»
  •  Many of the great conflicts in church history began with differences in biblical interpretation.  There are many different ways to engage with scripture and those different approaches can lead to very different outcomes.  This is not surprising given that any two people can read the same text and find utterly different meanings in what has been written.   This is because each person brings different questions, experiences and wisdom to the way they read more»
  • “Perhaps more than any other Gospel, Matthew deals with practical human problems, the kinds of problems confronted everyday by individual Christians and by local communities. Matters like anger, sexual behaviour, divorce, hypocrisy, taxes, church discipline, and the power of possessions figure prominently in the narrative. Whether or not you like what the text says, we cannot argue that Matthew is abstract or that the Gospel avoids routine down to earth issues. Such is the case with more»
  • A few years ago a friend shared with me about her struggle with alcohol. She said what started out as a couple of glasses of wine a week soon turned into a couple of glasses every night, and before she knew it she found herself drinking a bottle of wine a night in order to cope or sleep. Waking up each day with a massive hangover, experiencing the withdrawals when she tried to cut back, and seeing the impact on her family and her career made her realise that things had got completely out of more»
  •  Last week at our All Ages service we imagined what it would be like to journey on a pilgrimage.  This followed a fantastic parish dinner when we shared some of the food of northern Spain that you might eat when walking the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.  I've already said a great deal about the significance of that particular pilgrimage in Christian history and now refer to it only because of one small point I have not made previously.  Given the long and more»
  • The last time I preached here, the world was due to end.  Good news. It didn't. Today I greet you on the morning after the winter solstice, marking the miniscule but incremental movement towards longer, lighter and warmer days. We are one week away from Matariki the Maori New Year, and pretty well smack bang in the middle of 2014. For Anglicans, this is not just any old year. It is a significant year for our church and our nation; in which we commemorate 200 years since Marsden more»
  •  “I think God might be a little prejudiced.For once He asked me to join Him on a walkthrough this world,and we gazed into every heart on this earth,and I noticed He lingered a bit longerbefore any face that was weeping,and before any eyes that were laughing.And sometimes when we passed a soul in worshipGod too would kneel down.I have come to learn:God adores His creation.-        Francis of Assisi For many St Francis is remembered for such things as more»
  • Your own personal Jesus Someone to hear your prayers  Someone who cares  Your own personal Jesus  Someone to hear your prayers  Someone who's there  Feeling unknown And you're all alone Flesh and bone By the telephone Lift up the receiver I'll make you a believer  Take second bestPut me to the testThings on your chestYou need to confessI will deliverYou know i'm a forgiver Reach out and touch faith- Personal Jesus by Depeche ModeWhat you just listened to was a more»
  • A favourite picture book of mine is this one; You are Special, by Max Lucado. In it each wooden person has stickers of stars or black dots stuck to them by others depending on whether they are good or not. There is one particular one, Punchinello who is covered in spots (for bad behaviour). He meets someone without any stickers who suggests that he should go and see Eli. So he goes to see Eli, their creator, and this is what happens: “Every day I've been hoping you'd come,” Eli more»
  • The concept of resurrection is not unique to Christianity.   In fact there was a religious cult built upon the concept of resurrection that existed thousands of years before Jesus lived.   Egyptians in the ancient world, who belonged to the cult of Osiris believed that their God had passed through death and entered a radical new form of life. There are different versions of the story, but most agree that that Osiris was convinced by one of his rivals to lie down inside a box. more»
  • Someone once said that, “The death of Jesus…is either the most stupid, senseless waste and misunderstanding the world has ever seen, or it is the fulcrum around which world history turns.” (Simply Christian, Tom Wright, pg. 95).   H.G. Wells once said:   “I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very centre of history.”  Another writer says that Jesus more»
  •  I have a good friend who makes her living in the movie industry. One day I commented to her how I always avoid seeing previews to movies because these days previews tend to give away too much of the story.  When I see a movie, I like to be taken on a journey without knowing the destination. My friend told me, that this preference of mine is very much a minority viewpoint. She told me that all the market research demonstrates, time and again, that most movie goers want to know more»
  •  As our journey through Lent draws near to Easter we hear one of the most imaginatively dramatic readings in all Scripture: Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones. The vision is for a people who have lost heart, who are suffering a death of spirit, a living death in exile in a foreign land. Their temple has been destroyed, their holy city plundered, their leaders maimed and put in chains, their soldiers put to the sword, their young men and women either killed or dragged off into a more»
  • If you're ever stuck in the wilderness, remember what survival experts call 'the Rule of Threes'. You can live 3 minutes without air, though they don't recommend trying. In a harsh environment — say it's snowing — you have 3 hours to survive without shelter. You can make it 3 weeks without food, though they promise you that won't be fun. After 3 days, you need water or you'll perish. Despite this possibly helpful rule, some people have survived 8 to 10 days without water. However, more»
  •  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that preparing my report this year was much easier than the report I prepared a year ago.   This time last year I spoke of a number of challenges that had occurred over the preceding year.   It's nice to reflect that this past year has seen many of the challenges of the previous year resolved in one form or another.   But before I report on some of the great successes of the last year let me first speak of our financial more»
  • Have you ever heard the following saying, “The greatest trick the devil ever played was to make the world believe he doesn't exist.” This is the premise of the neo-noir film The Usual Suspects. It's a story of five career criminals wrongly interrogated for a crime, who then join forces to pull off the ultimate heist which leaves 27 dead, 91 million dollars' worth of drug money missing, and two dark questions lurking: who is the mysterious Keyser Soze who put these crimes in motion more»
  • Author of the book Status Anxiety Alain De Botton records the following incident: “In July 1989, the American vice President, Richard Nixon, travelled to Moscow to open an exhibition showcasing some of his countries technological and material achievements. The highlight of the exhibition was a full scale replica of the home of an average member of America's working class, equipped with fitted carpets, a TV in the living room, two ensuite bathrooms, central heating and a kitchen with more»
  •  At the end of last year I picked up a copy of a slightly unusual children's bible. It is called Awkward Moments (not found in your average) Children's Bible.   In it we find a selection of the less than savoury stories that exist within our bible, complete with illustrations.  For example, it contains the story of Elisha, who having been mocked by a group of children for having a baldhead, called two bears out of the forest.  And the bears, well, they eat the children. more»
  • Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche community (that helps people who have intellectual disabilities), suggests that we all carry a deep wound of loneliness that's not easily overcome, and that this wound is so much a part of our human condition that we cannot escape it, try as we might. We want to belong in the worst way, Vanier says, and so we join communities, but they always tend to disappoint us. He further claims that we have carried these wounds since childhood (Feasting on the Word Year more»
  • The Elephant in the Room by Terry Kettering  There's an elephant in the room.It is large and squatting,so it is hard to get around it. Yet we squeeze by with,“How are you?” and, “I'm fine,”and a thousand other forms of trivial chatter. We talk about the weather;we talk about work;we talk about everything else—except the elephant in the room. There's an elephant in the room.We all know it is there.We are thinking about the elephantas we talk more»
  • The second Jewish temple was one of the great wonders of the ancient world.  Built on the same site as Solomon's temple which had been destroyed by Babylonians, the second temple dwarfed the original.   By the time of Jesus the temple had been expanded and rebuilt many times evolving into a building that was truly something to behold. The temple's vast outer court, was lined with enormous Roman columns, many of which were decorated in gold.  But more than being an amazing more»
  •  Having finally had time to catch up on some television in the last few weeks I find that I'm now in the unusual position of not really having anything left to watch.  The other evening I found that a brief survey of programs I turned the box off altogether in favour of a new more»