Sermons 2016

  •  “It’s a dangerous business, going out of your door.  You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”[1] Many of us find that at times we yearn to travel.  To go somewhere we have never been before, to experience new things, to meet new people, and maybe even have a modest adventure or two.  Sometimes this feeling can be felt very powerfully and can result in us being swept off more»
  • Only one week to go!  I’m sure all your plans for next week’s celebration are coming together.  This week, aside from writing Christmas sermons, a staff lunch and generally finishing up work, I will be glazing the ham, filling the brandy snaps, and trialling another experimental and hopefully utterly decadent dessert.  All of this I am optimistically referring to as a laid back Christmas. No matter how hard we try, Christmas comes with many expectations.  more»
  • That year on Christmas day a pretty random bunch of people gathered together in a barn on the outskirts of a small rural town. We know that there were at least a couple of wise people who thought deeply about the world we live in. And there was a crowd of shepherds who also came in from shearing the sheep. Oh yeah and there was that group of messengers who seemed to get around the place with lightening speed. And from all accounts they had a pretty great night!  Oh and one more thing. That more»
  • This week has been a busy one. Like many of you, I am experiencing that sudden rush that seems to come at the end of the year. For me that includes preparing services, sermons, billboards, ordering Christmas trees and the big job of this last week, writing a pageant so that our young ones are able to have their first practice today. That’s a really fun part of my job, but it definitely takes a lot of time. Creativity requires a particular kind of energy. When I finished putting more»
  • When life is stressful do something to lift your spirits.  Go for a drive.  Drive say two or three thousand kilometres.  Maybe change your name? That was some unhelpful advice I received this week, which I couldn’t resist passing on.  It does leave me wondering if anyone here has considered a name change, or may have changed their name at some point?  Maika Bonifant is currently going through a phase where she announces almost daily what her name has changed more»
  • A few weeks ago I spoke about the biblical theme of exile and return.  This is because over the last few weeks our old Testament readings have been focussing on the period of exile that followed the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem and the destruction of the first temple.  Today’s reading from the book of Haggai is a prophecy made at the end of the exile period when those Jewish people held captive in Babylon were permitted to return to Jerusalem.  Haggai is one of the more»
  • In previous years on All Saints day I have spoken about the development of Saints within the Christian tradition.  It is an aspect of popular religion that has grown over two thousand years and in many ways seems anachronistic, particularly when considering some of the more obscure Saints who have found their way into Christian history.   While the original use of the word Saint within Christianity actually referred to all people of Christian faith, it soon came to refer to more»
  • If you had to make a choice, which character in this story would you say is more like Jesus?  Linda or Steve?  On the one hand, maybe Linda is more like Jesus.  Linda in her few words expresses delight about something, and then chastises Steve for his strange rant.  Much as we might not like to think of Jesus as chastising people, that is actually something he did a great deal.  Certainly today’s reading demonstrates pointed words aimed directly at the more»
  • I was speaking to a friend this week who has just started a new job.  In particular, this person told me of the hassles of packing up their office in order to move to another very similar place, only to have the daunting task of unpacking everything again.  I remember setting up my office here at St Andrew’s and the many little decisions about what should go where, what I should keep and what I should throw away.  Part of that process required me to think about the more»
  • How many people here were born outside of Auckland?  How many of you were born here but have spent a significant amount of time living somewhere other than Auckland?  Finally how many of you, regardless of where you are from, are happy to call Auckland home? Life does not always take us in the direction we expect.  As a Wellingtonian I never dreamed that I would call Auckland home, and yet here I am, and this certainly is my home even if it is not my hometown.  The more»
  • Would anyone here like a little fire and brimstone with this morning’s sermon? Go on be honest, if you’d like to hear about the dangers of eternal damnation just put you hand up now.  I have read Dante’s inferno a number of times, I’m quite keen to launch into the description of the many different torments found in hell!  No takers?  Are you sure, this could end up being a very short sermon. Well, I think that speaks for itself.  One of the great more»
  • How do we know if something is good or if it is bad?  Some years ago, Wellington City Mission received a gift of several thousand bottles of shampoo.  A large company had accidentally built up a large surplus, so donated the extra product to be given to those in need.  News soon spread throughout the community that shampoo being given away to anyone who needed it.  Sure enough some people came and took several bottles which they were later found to be selling to other people more»
  • I have heard many different stories of how people came to faith.  Often these stories are remarkable like the story of Saint Paul, a terrible person who after a single life changing moment goes from a persecutor of Christians to spreading their religion to the ends of the earth.  Some stories are more humble.  One such story goes like this:   "You must picture me alone in a room… night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my more»
  • As many of you know, car travel with children can be something to be endured rather than enjoyed.  Many of you will know what it’s like to have a screaming newborn in the back, or children who keep bickering.  In fact some of you may remember what it was like to be one of the bickering children.  I can remember as a child that there would often be great debates over what cassette would be listened to.  To younger members of the congregation, if you don’t more»
  • There is nothing so helpful as a good story to help bring a sermon to life.  Almost all of the preachers that I enjoy listening to, tend to be good storytellers.  In order to be a good storyteller, you need good stories.  Hence, I always try to keep my ears open for a good story, because one day I might get to use that story. There is a sermon illustration I’ve heard a few times, which I have used on occasion.  You may well be familiar with it.  In fact I more»
  • In a good week, I am able to cast my eyes over the readings for the coming Sunday and discover that numerous ideas for a sermon are already beginning to form.  Last week was a good example of that.  I had more ideas for those readings than I could pack into a single sermon.  Then there are weeks like this one.  These readings were a bit more of a challenge, and not just for me.  On various social media, preaching forums and even in a few conversations I discovered that more»
  • Having just spent two and a half weeks in the Holy Land it was inevitable that on my first Sunday back I would end up saying something about this recent experience. That said, I promise to only touch on a couple of ideas rather than give a full account of what I did on my pilgrimage. Fortunately, I do have some reflections on the Holy Land which relate closely to this mornings reading from the book of Genesis. This particular reading just happens to be one of the key scriptural passages more»
  • Where did the stars come from? Long long ago, at the beginning of creation, God sent forth ten vessels, like a fleet of ships, each carrying a cargo of light.  If those vessels had reached their destination the world would have been perfect.  But the further they travelled, the more fragile they became.  Finally the vessels shattered, scattering sparks of light throughout the heavens.  And that is how the stars came into being. But the sparks did not only cover the more»
  • 2015 took off with a hiss and a roar.  We farewelled Matt Bruns and family as he completed his curacy and shifted to St Helliers to take up his new roll as the vicar of St Phillips.  I continue to stay in touch with Matt as he settles into this new phase of his ministry.  As I commented in my last report, we can feel proud of all we did in supporting Matt as a newly ordained person.   Parish PilgrimageIt was also in January last year that we had our parish pilgrimage to more»
  • “A parable – whether it is short, medium-length, or long – is a metaphor expanded into a story, or, more simply, a parable is a metaphorical story.”[1]  Jesus loved to speak in parables. His genius in using this form of storytelling was that the parable does more than simply engage the listener in a story.  Most stories we engage with, be it a news item a novel or a film, seek to draw us into the story itself.  And we tend to like that.  Expressions more»
  • You may have already noticed in the pew sheet that I am reviving our St Andrew’s movie nights this year.  The idea behind these evenings is to gather, share some food and then watch and reflect on a movie that might be a little off the beaten track.  In preparation for this I have been trawling through my modest film collection in the hope of finding some interesting viewing options. In doing so I came across a remarkable film that screened in film festivals a few years more»
  • Do you believe in angels and demons?  I think it’s fair to say that belief in such spiritual beings has lost some of it’s status within Christianity, despite the fact that both appear within scripture.  In Islam, however the status of angels and demons (or rather what Muslims refer to as Jinn) is a tenant of faith.  Muslims believe that every one of us is assigned an angel and a Jinn, with the angel influencing us towards good and the Jinn influencing us towards more»
  • The flowers are gone, the hangings are purple and we began today by singing Forty Days and Forty Nights.  These signs and more besides are a pretty good indication that this is the first Sunday in the season of Lent.   On Christmas day, I spoke about the great mishmass of traditions that mark the celebration of Christ’s birth.  Lent is no different. Lent is also a great mishmash of traditions.  This season of the church is in part a reminder of the forty days and more»
  • Seven years ago, in the same week as I started here at St Andrew’s, I took Emily to a rock concert.  Together we saw a band I have followed for a number of years down at vector arena.  It was the first time I ever took Emily to see a band I like, it’s fair to say it was probably the last time I will take Emily to see a band I like.  As Emily pointed out after the event, the stadium was full of strange people.  It was a wash of black t-shirts, piercings and more»
  • Since the dawn of humanity, over tens of thousands of years, across cultures, dynasties, on voyages, during pilgrimages, around camp fires, in temple halls, in quiet moments from the tops of mountains, people have gathered to talk about what enriches life and makes life meaningful.  Major figures in history and philosophy have also sought to provide the answer to the question of: “What, if anything, makes life meaningful?” Consider, for instance, Aristotle on the more»
  • Our universe is 13.7 billion years old.  And as we peer deeper into its history, humanity is growing a greater understanding of how the first stars formed and how the earliest galaxies came together.  God’s universe, filled with stars, galaxies, and planets - plus a veritable buffet of that invisible stuff called dark matter - is always moving forward in a creative process. It never holds back and it never gets stuck. Since its formation planet earth has constantly moved more»
  • “A parable – whether it is short, medium-length, or long – is a metaphor expanded into a story, or, more simply, a parable is a metaphorical story.”[1]  Jesus loved to speak in parables. His genius in using this form of storytelling was that the parable does more than simply engage the listener in a story.  Most stories we engage with, be it a news item a novel or a film, seek to draw us into the story itself.  And we tend to like that.  Expressions more»