Sermon: Social Services Sunday

Sermon July 27 2014 Social Services Sunday
St Mary’s Whitby
Felicity O’Brien

Micah 6:8-12, James 2:14-17, Matt 25:31-45

Today is social services Sunday. This is a staid and somewhat self-righteous-sounding description of what is truly our duty every Sunday, every day of our lives, as Christians. What is social service? It must surely mean serving people. That can never be a dull thing to do. Serving others can led you to all sorts of places you may not have been – wonderful exotic locations like hospitals, mental health care facilities, hospices, rest homes – and these are some I have been in just this last week! You may even be fortunate enough to visit prisons, and private homes!
But hang on, you may be saying. Surely it’s not about the place, it’s about the people! Yes, exactly. We are called to love and serve people, no matter where they are. Whether they are in the most derelict accommodation, or in the swankiest hotel. We tend to focus on the former rather than the latter, but everyone is in need of Christ. Continue reading

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Child poverty? Debt Menace?

Loan Shark Flyer

Loan Shark Flyer (Contact details hidden.)

There has been a lot of hand-wringing recently here in New Zealand about child poverty, citing the numbers of kids who go to school hungry, or with no lunch. The Opposition and the Church have joined an internationally driven campaign for higher wages, a ‘living wage’. But this campaign has some serious flaws in its New Zealand setting. Kev has already commented on this.

Children in themselves have no power to earn, so child poverty always should point to the adults who have left the child in this position. As local Mayor Michael Laws calls it, ‘piss-poor parenting’. Here I agree with him whole-heartedly. People who call themselves parents should have the brains and the drive, as well as the sense of responsibiity for their offspring to feed them properly, and provide the bare necessities at least. No, it’s not a matter of too little money on the benefit. We are on National Superannuation with little extra, and we manage to feed and clothe everyone adequately.

But this is because we do not waste our resources.

I believe that much of the ‘child poverty’ in New Zealand is because of terrible choices made by parents – choices that involve spending scarce money on cigarettes, alcohol and gambling. This country has a really bad record for the normalisation of gambling, even in the kindergartens where the fund-raising raffle is an annual fixture.

But there is another menace in the neighbourhood, that even further preys on poor families, this time targetting the Polynesian community in particular. There was a flyer put in our letter box yesterday, advertising loans –  $1000, to be repaid at $50 per week, for 8 months. Continue reading