Where is the kingdom?

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Where is the Kingdom?

Jesus needed help. He could not be everywhere at once, and needed others to go and prepare the ground for him. Just like Moses appointed seventy elders to help him, Jesus appoints seventy to go before him. He paired them up, and sent them out to all the places he intended to visit. He had a list of thirty-five towns therefore that were on his itinerary.

Can you feel the sense of urgency here? Jesus needs to get the word out, fast, that the kingdom of heaven is near, and that it is a kingdom of peace. Continue reading

Advertisements

Sermon: The Ten Lepers

Luke 17:11-19

What a simple, pithy story. Ten lepers are healed, and only one gives thanks. As a mum I’m often hissing ‘what do you say? ‘ to my kids when we are out shopping. Failure to say thank you goes against the grain of basic good manners. Did you notice that the one who did thank Jesus was a Samaritan?

During October the Anglican church throughout the whole country focused on penal reform, on praying for the justice system, for prisoners, their families, their victims, and those otherwise involved with the care and rehabilitation of prisoners. It’s easy to think of people in prison as being somehow not like us. To regard the prison population as being largely of another race, another social grouping, and not to truly regard their humanity. Today’s story about the lepers brings out the theme of challenging the listener to regard the outsider, in this case the Samaritan, who is from the hated next-door country, as a real person, and not less-than-human.

It’s easy to be scared of people who are not like us.

Last year I was running a sausage sizzle with my daughter, who was about eleven, as we fundraised for her to go to Girl Guides Jamboree. Lots of people came and bought sausages – they were your usual crowd outside Harvey-Norman. Families, different races, all having a leisurely Saturday. But then a patched gang member came up. My daughter got really frightened, as she had never met a gang member before. This fellow asked for his sausage, he said, please and thank you, and was really polite! In fact he was our most polite customer of the day. He spoke so respectfully as he requested his sauces and onions. It was quite a surprise to my daughter, who had expected him to be rough and scary.

The shock she got was probably just like the shock Jesus’ audience got when they heard that the only person who had behaved appropriately, in gratitude for his healing, was one of that lot over there, the hated other.

For many of us the prison population are like the hated other – in prison because of what they have done, that they deserve to be there.

I’m not for a minute suggesting that no one needs to be in prison, just that we as Christians need to take up the challenge Jesus offers us in the Gospel, and see the Other as fully human, loving all prisoners, their families, their victims, and praying for a godly system of justice and rehabilitation for our society. We can all do that.

Sermon: Jesus sends the seventy-two disciples.

St Christopher’s Tawa

Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

When I have been at post-ordination training sessions, our teacher Tony Gerritsen has an interesting way of encouraging us to listen to the scripture readings. He says, “Notice when you stop listening.’ In other words, when something strikes you, and you think  -oh. I haven’t noticed that before. Have you had those moments? Well I had a moment like that when I was reading through today’s gospel during the week. Did you notice in the first verse, Jesus sent his people to places where he himself intended to go? Continue reading

A miracle has occurred

josiah-web-10pm_1Nov2012-Healed

Josiah, home after healing

Guest post by Kevin O'Brien.

I need to speak out too after last night 1 November 2012. Josiah O’Brien, Felicity’s and my son, pushed his wheelchair from behind out of the Salvation Army Church hall and down the road to the car then after a short trip walked into Subway to get a late snack.

Since July Josiah has had to use crutches as his left leg has had a muscle causing a constant kick on awakening, about three tics every two seconds.  For the past three weeks his right leg also has become unusable and very painful to touch. When not in a wheel chair, he has got around on his side, with one leg up in the air to keep it from being touched. Despite that he has remained cheerful although a bit agitated at times.

Hospital experts from throughout New Zealand have examined him either directly or remotely. The consensus view being, that whatever it was he had, it was extreme and that there was no way he could control it. It was thought on balance to be probably of neurological origin but nothing was proven. Tuesday this week Josiah had an MRI scan under general anesthetic and results are still awaited. However the recovery nurse observed and recorded tremors while he was still unconscious tending to prove the neurological origin.

Last night Evangelist Ram Babu was ministering in Tawa and I took my boy along with expectation. Ram Babu is from India and was here for the one night before returning to India next week. Ethnically, white NZedder’s there were a small minority: God’s family has no colour.

The meeting was typical of healing meetings with praise and worship loud enough to shake the heavens. Miraculous healing took place through prayer based on words of knowledge. We all watched in awe as a woman had an arm restored to its proper place and length.

Ram Babu preached on the Corinthians text about being a new creation in Christ and that Christ does not fix or repair but makes new those who come to him.

Josiah was getting tired and I thought of taking him out but he would not go and later told me that he just blocked out the loud sounds to “wait for the healing”. Josiah responded to the altar call and I was surprised to see his little hand raised gently up without any influence from me. Indeed I had my eyes closed too most of the time. I wheeled him up to the front and Ram Babu laid hands on him and prayed for healing then continued on to pray for others.

In a minute or two an assistant came and asked Josiah to stand up and get out of his wheel chair. Josiah responded cautiously and he slowly put both feet fully on the ground and was self supporting. He then was asked to come up onto the platform and the whole church was excited watching this miracle. Josiah was running around on the platform mostly on tip toes (he had been unable previously to put either foot fully on the floor) and began to walk and run properly as he once did. He was obviously tired and appeared as though he might  be crying and I was a little concerned that he was being asked to do so much.

I was then invited to come up onto the platform too to be with him. The first thing I did after hugging him was to pinch his right leg in several places knowing that he could not previously tolerate it being touched. I touched it severely. There was no pain response. Josiah was healed!

Ram Babu encouraged him some more and sat with him a while. The whole church were in amazement. We left at the close with everyone else with Josiah asking me to return the wheelchair that very evening. I had to remind him that shops were not open at 9pm. The wheelchair coincidentally was due to be returned or rehired the following day so God’s timing was impeccable.

To God alone be the Glory.

I know that my redeemer lives.