New Beginnings

Sermon Jan 12 2020 St Ambrose Aranui

Today we are commemorating the baptism of Jesus. It was a watershed moment – in both senses of the word. It was the beginning of his ministry, as we heard in the reading from Acts, throughout Judea.

There is very little known about what happened between the events of the Nativity and the Epiphany, and Jesus’ baptism. There is the story of Jesus being left behind in the temple when he was twelve, but that is all we have from the intervening years.

Let’s imagine the scene. Continue reading


A story for Christmas, 2019


My name is Rebecca. I am ten years old, and I live in Judaea, in a town called Bethlehem. It’s usually a very quiet sort of place, but last night it was anything but! First, there were lots of extra people in town – Dad said the Romans wanted everyone to go back to where they were born so they could be counted up for tax. Typical Romans, he said, always wanting our money.

Lots of our cousins were visiting, and the house was packed! The guest room was full and there were people sleeping on the roof, and I had to share my bed with my little cousin, who snores! It was really hard to get to sleep, and there seemed to be some sort of star outside that stopped it getting properly dark. Continue reading

What is a king?

St Ambrose 24 Nov 2019


What is a King? It’s not part of our normal day-to-day experience to see a king ruling over us. If we lived in the UK we might see members of the Royal Family from time to time going about their duties, and some of you may have seen Prince Charles in Friday as he and the Duchess visited Christchurch.

But the idea of a King doesn’t have a lot of influence on our daily lives. Let’s turn back the clock to the early days, to the days when Jeremiah was writing – about 2 and a half thousand years ago. Israel had had judges ruling over them, and they wanted a king like the surrounding nations. They got used to kings, with Saul, then David, and so on down the line. the role of the king was to look after the people, to keep them safe and provided for. This is why Jeremiah speaks of shepherds – “ I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.’ Continue reading

Don’t prepare your defence in advance

Sermon 17 Nov St Ambrose

Make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance.’ This goes against all of our wordly wisdom about getting our story straight, doesn’t it? It should come as no surprise though, because with Jesus things are always backward to the wordly way of doing things.

Imagine you receive a message to come to the boss’s office. Your mind would be whirling, wondering what you’re going to be hauled over the coals for. The various options would surface, and for each you might prepare an explanation, one that shows you and your motives in the best light. You would be sweating and nervous, – depending on your conscience – hoping that you would say the right thing, and trying different explanations in your head to find the best one. Continue reading


Sermon 3 Nov 2019 St Ambrose Aranui

St Paul said, ‘I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all saints.’

What is a saint? Those of us who have grown up around Catholic churches may remember statues of the Virgin Mary, a plaster saint in a blue-painted robe. Or how about a stained-glass picture of St Ambrose, carrying a beehive? Often depictions of saints have their props with them, to remind people who they are and what they are famous for.

We can think of saints as people who lived a really long time ago, who were so holy that they didn’t seem to be like real people. Continue reading

The Pharisee and the tax collector

Sermon October 27 2019 St Chad’s and Lyttelton.

The parable we have heard about the Pharisee and the tax collector is a well-known one. Even the word Pharisee has come to be part of our language, describing anyone who is a hypocrite, following the tiny details of so-called righteousness and the law, while ignoring the greater truth behind the law, and ignoring God’s injunctions to love one another. This Pharisee is so busy telling God about how wonderful he is, that he fails to notice that he is judgmental and unkind. Continue reading

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

Sermon St Annes 13 Oct 2019

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. We heard this line in our Psalm today, and it’s so familiar that maybe you heard it and thought, oh, that’s where that line comes from.

Let’s have a look at what it might mean for us, both on its own and when we put it with our readings about healing that we have heard.

The fear of the Lord – does that mean fear like being terrified? Is it like the fear some of us experience when we go into enclosed buildings that hold bad earthquake memories? Or is it like the fear of the unknown – starting a new job, or when you receive a diagnosis of a health journey no one wants to go on? Or is it like the fear that grips you when you are out in the mall, and you do a head count of your kids and realise that you’re one short? No, those are all fear as in being afraid. Continue reading

Life and Dignity

Sermon 22 Sept 19

Today’s Gospel about the dishonest manager is such a puzzle. When I sat down to write this sermon, nothing seemed to jump out of it to preach about today, so I am going to concentrate on the other two readings, which are connected in a way that is helpful to understanding them, and for us today.

First, we hear from the prophet Jeremiah. He is crying for his people, that they are hurt, and abandoned. Where is their king? The prophet asks. Where is their leadership? Who is in charge here?

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.’ Continue reading



Reverend Felicity O’Brien August 11 2019 St Chad’s Linwood

Faith is a strange thing isn’t it? In our times, everything needs to be proved to be believed. That’s the empirical method, which became popular during the Enlightenment. People started to understand more about the natural world, more about science – forces, biology, chemistry, weather, what is natural even though it seems supernatural. People don’t believe something they can’t see in front of their eyes. Continue reading

Who is my neighbour?

Sermon Luke 10:25-37

Who is my neighbour?

The story of the good Samaritan is really well known. It’s probably one of the Bible stories that people who know nothing else about Jesus have heard the gist of. We have a help-line called the Samaritans, where you can ring if you’re really at the end of your tether, and know that there will be someone kind and helpful on the other end of the phone. The phrase ‘a Good Samaritan’ crops up in the local paper regularly – it usually refers to someone who anonymously acted kindly, and often people are trying to find out who they are so they can thank them in person. Continue reading