Sermons 2015

  • We are shaped and we are changed by what we do. Often by the choices we make and by significant life events that happen to us.  These events take us on interesting and challenging life journeys where we cannot predict the outcomes.  We discover that we are like small boats on a river where we believe that we are skilfully navigating the river by avoiding the rocks and other obstacles. But in truth the river is sometimes navigating us. We conform to its twists and turns and more»
  • It turns out that just when we think we know what Christmas is all about it still has a few things that can surprise us.  That is because more than any other day of the year, Christmas is a glorious mishmash of traditions.  Christmas trees, snowflakes, boogie boards, mangers, fruit cake, steamed puddings, reindeer, presents, ham off the bone, Santa Claus (or if you prefer Father Christmas), shepherds, angels, brandysnaps and tinsel all have their place as part of our Christmas more»
  • What is the one gift you are hoping for this Christmas?  What is the item you have been coveting that you hope to find under the tree in the morning?  A new iPod, a particular book, a set of golf clubs or perhaps a selection of Star Wars Merchandise?  I know what I’m hoping for but will be unlikely to find.  For me the object of desire is the Ready America Doomsday Survival Bag, complete with 21 days food, a machete and gasmask. It’s at this point that a more»
  •  When I was thinking about beginning with this song I couldn’t resist playing this version rather than the original Judy Garland version from the Wizard of Oz.  I’m not a huge fan of the song, largely because I find the version found in the Wizard of Oz to be mournful rather than hopeful, although I accept that for most that is not the case.  It is a song that has received great critical acclaim and is regarded as one of the best, if not the best theatrical song of more»
  • I have spoken before about the challenges of mental health and have openly acknowledged my own experience in this area.  Today rather than simply acknowledging the existence of mental illness I want to begin by talking about some of the ways we can maintain good mental health as a way of  preventing serious mental illness. A key indicator of whether a person is susceptible to illnesses such as depression, is what is known as self esteem.  Self esteem describes the feelings more»
  • One of my favourite writers once said: “In our lives together, we all act upon, and are acted upon by forces that we don't understand. And then suddenly those forces crystallize into an event or a person that "de-randomizes" those mysterious forces. And that person who makes ‘sense of’ those life shaping forces that act upon us often embodies the spirit of a peoples or the coming of an age and that person changes history forever.”For example: In 1955 during more»
  • In the last decade Superheroes have taken over the movie business.  There have been many films based on comic books since the 1960’s, but in recent years their popularity has grown to the point that superheroes now dominate the film industry.  In the next five years more than 35 major motion pictures will be released, which is basically a new multimillion dollar superhero film every two months.  Superheroes have become big business.  It was not that long ago that more»
  • I enjoy a good conspiracy theory.  When I was younger I often gravitated to fantastic claims, largely because conspiracy theories make the world seem to be a more exciting than it probably is.  What if aliens really did crash-land in Roswell New Mexico in 1947?  Just quietly I still sort of hope there is some truth to that one.  What would it mean for the world if bigfoot really was roaming in wilderness areas throughout America?  And having watched a certain Oliver more»
  • We are coming to the end of the church year.  Next week we celebrate the Reign of Christ before starting the new Christian year with the season of Advent.  But before we move on to the season of preparation which takes us to Christmas, we finish the Christian year by reflecting on the end of all things.  That is how each year in church progresses.  We begin with the anticipation of the birth of Christ and finish by reflecting on how things will be when all of creation has more»
  • This morning's readings from the Old Testament and the Gospel are united by the theme of justice.  Whereas these two stories have been used to speak of fidelity and generosity, such interpretations overlook the more challenging issue of poverty and the truly awful situations faced by those in financial hardship.In the story of Ruth it is easy for us to romanticise Ruth’s role in caring for Naomi.  In their story Naomi’s Son has died.  What this means in the more»
  • None of us know the whole truthabout what lies beyond death.Many of the faith traditions throughout our worldhold that as we journey between life and death,we are in the hands of an infinitely gracious presence.Some believe that death invites us into total awarenessand to know with truthwhether what we have valued in ourselves has eternal value.The love that surrounds us in that momentis the same eternal lovethat has been with us through every struggle and every joy of our lives.It is that love more»
  • Here last Sunday, as the dogs yapped and the fish swished, I remembered another Blessing of the Animals Service some years ago.  It was at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. Lynn and I were living in New York at the time but we hadn’t gone to the service. Reading about it the next morning in the New York Times, we wished we had. The reporter dwelled at length on one man and his glass jar. The man held it reverently in front of him as he processed up the more»
  • In 1967, an historian by the name of Lynn White Jr. published an article entitled ‘The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crisis’.[1] In this paper White suggested that Western Christianity bears responsibility for the contemporary ecological crisis. Christianity, he argued, ‘is the most anthropocentric religion the world has ever seen’.[2] White points to the first creation story in Genesis to support his argument. According to Genesis 1, humans are created in the more»
  • When we talk about saints we often step into the murky waters where fact, fiction and mythology all swirl together.  For some the lack of clarity regarding the lives of particular saints is a sticking point.  Did it happen this way or not, is a question that leaps to many critically minded people.  As a result, the difficulties in sifting fact from fiction has meant that for many the lives of the saints don’t really seem to have a place in our modern world. Our sources more»
  • Whether you count yourself a fan or not most accept that Bruce Springsteen is a gifted songwriter.  I am certainly not his biggest fan by any stretch, but I certainly respect his body of work.  One of his lesser-known hits is a song titled, 57 channels and nothing on.  The song tells the story of a person who, when watching television becomes so frustrated with the lack of any real entertainment that he picks up a gun and uses it to destroy the television.  When the judge more»
  • Every time I get in the car to go somewhere these days there is a discussion that promptly ensues.  Whose music is going to get played in the car, daddy’s music or Maika’s music.  I don’t often win that one and as I result I end up with a strew of children’s songs stuck in my head for the rest of the day.  One of the worst offending songs is called, We want everybody happy. The lyrics are:We want everybody happy, we want everybody happy, we more»
  • Within the body of Christianity beats a revolutionary heart.  When we think about the concept of revolution we often imagine scenes of violence and struggle.  While some have romanticised the concept of revolution, such as the paintings of French revolutionaries climbing the barricades, even those images carry subtle messages about the use of violence when one regime overcomes another.  Even so-called peaceful demonstrations often involve violence in some form.  For more»
  • It was the Greek philosopher Epicurus who is credited for first articulating the problem of suffering.  The problem of suffering is summed up by the question, if God is good, why do bad things happen to good people.  Earlier this year Stephen Fry gave an interview in which he shared that his convictions as an atheist are largely based on this problem.  How can Christians uphold the idea that God is loving in the face of famine, cancer, disability and war?Like many great more»
  • We all have blind spots when it comes to the things we enjoy.  For those of us who enjoy music, there is always the song or album which sits to one side of our music collection and is regarded as something of a guilty pleasure.  For example, here I have a vinyl copy of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s classic album, Welcome to the Pleasuredome.  This is something I cringe about, while simultaneously believing that this album is the unrivalled highpoint of 80’s pop more»
  • There is a game that we sometimes play at youth group called, “Would you rather?”  The way the game works is that you pose two different, possibly conflicting ideas, and then ask members of the group to choose one side or the other and then justify their choice.  Typically the dilemmas start out as fairly simple choices, such as would you rather have marmite or vegemite.  But as time goes on the choices become more difficult, or bizarre.  Questions such as, would more»
  • I have recently been reading an account of the Dreyfus Affair, a political scandal that took place in France at the beginning of last century.   The affair centered on Alfred Dreyfus, an artillery officer in the French army.  In 1894 Dreyfus was convicted of treason for passing military secrets to the Germans and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island.  However, Dreyfus had not committed this crime and was actually the victim of a conspiracy.  Despite more»
  • We New Zealanders know all too well about the dangers and tragedy of drowning. Whether boating, swimming, or surfing in and around New Zealand waters, it’s our powerful storms, high winds, and buffeting waves that can turn a pleasant outing into a life and death situation. So we might be able to relate to life in Galilee 2000 years ago, where Jesus’s disciples would have also known all too well about the dangers of drowning. They worked in a thriving fishing industry with 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 do!” “No Chocolate,” said more»
  • Many years ago, according to the stories told by the people of ancient Greece, there lived two brothers.  The name of the elder of these brothers was Prometheus (which means Forethought).  The younger was called Epimetheus (which means Afterthought). Prometheus did not want to live amongst the clouds on Mount Olympus. While the gods were spending their time in idleness, drinking nectar and eating ambrosia, he was planning how to make the world wiser and better than it had more»
  • Two years ago at the first of the soapbox lectures we had here at St Andrew’s I briefly touched on a social movement that influenced me when I was younger.  The straight edge movement began in the early 80’s with a song from a little know punk rock band.  The song, called Straight Edge, was one young person’s tirade against the drinking and drug taking excesses of the punk rock movement at that time.  While the song was far from ever being a hit, it did become a more»
  • At the 1988 Lambeth Conference, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, told the story of a young British couple who had gone out on colonial service to Africa. In their first letter home they wrote: from our house on the hill we look down on a valley filled with dozens of African families, all living in grass thatched-roof huts. Our nearest neighbours are 200 miles away at the next British post. This is a Pentecost story, one that asks who are our neighbours, and pushes us to more»
  • One of the deceptive things about looking back down the path of history is that we fool ourselves into thinking that the road that led us here is a straight one.  But that is not how history works.  There are many crossroads, roundabouts and even the occasional dead end that have brought us to this point in time.  The one thing we can say with truth about the past is that given a long enough timeline all things change.   We have no power over this simple reality, but we more»
  • Anzac day commemorations have played an important part in the history of St Andrew’s.  In the archives there are pictures from the 1920’s of the memorial chapel, here on my left, overflowing with flowers and wreaths.  In those years following the First World War those commemorations were incredibly important to this community, because like so much of New Zealand society, young men left this church never to return home.  Some like Harry Northcroft and Maurice Huggett more»
  • In a dark, dark wood there was a dark, dark house; And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room; And in the dark, dark room there was a dark, dark cupboard; And in the dark, dark cupboard there was a dark, dark box; And in the dark, dark box there was a....ghost! I can remember reading that story when I was about seven years old.  If you had asked me at that age about the existence of Ghosts, my answer would have been unequivocal…of course I believe in ghosts.  more»
  • I was recently complaining to a good friend of mine about how I go out of my way to avoid watching movie previews.  I’m one of those people who hates watching a movie or television program, or even reading a book if I already know what the ending is.  In saying this to my friend she quickly pointed out that this preference of mine places me in the minority.  You see, this particular friend works in the movie industry and was able to tell me how all the market research shows more»
  • In preparing this report the challenge I have faced is trying to keep things succinct.  2014 was an incredibly busy and fulfilling year in the life of this parish.  There is a huge amount for me to comment on today so I will be doing my best to mention all that need to be covered while keeping things within a decent timeframe. Finance Firstly let me acknowledge that for a number of reasons we are unable to present a full accounting of the parish finances today, and we will more»
  • I was saddened by the news earlier this year of the passing of Marcus Borg.  For me Marcus has been an important influence on my spiritual journey through his various writings.  His great strength as a biblical scholar was his ability to cut through pretence and jargon and get right to the heart of things.  The great joy that many of us found through his work was the assurance that there are other Christians out there who engage with their faith critically and openly. Marcus is a more»
  • Mark 8:31-3831 Then [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’ 34 He more»
  • A few years ago I was given this copy of the prose poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.  Some of you will be familiar with this work which is best described as a collection of wisdom statements for our time.  The poem was largely unknown in the writer’s lifetime, which is not surprising given that that he wrote these thoughts for himself to encourage the virtues he felt most in need of. The second line of the poem is one that has taken on greater meaning for me in recent more»
  • One hit wonders!  A one hit wonder is a person or a group who are only remembered for a single shining success.  Often the phrase is applied to those in the music industry, where pop acts can come and go in the blink of an eye.  Some one hit wonders are remembered with great fondness as their shining moment has stood the test of time.  Others, such as Billy Ray Cyrus, simply send shivers down the spine. One hit wonders are not simply confined to music, they are found more»
  • In the book Living Jesus John Pritchard records what someone says about being a Christian: The more I try to understand what Jesus was really all about, the more he has the audacity to come into my life and totally screw it up. He makes me think about every dollar I spend – who is benefiting from it and how? He makes me reflect on the kind of car I drive and how it affects God’s creation. He challenges me to make my children into risk-taking disciples, instead of neat, middle more»