Sermon: Moses, the truth and following God

Moses, the truth, and following God.

St Anne’s Porirua 24 August 2014
Exodus 1:8-2:10
Rom 12:1-8
Matt 16:13-20
The story of Moses in the bulrushes is a favourite from Sunday school isn’t it? The little baby, vulnerable in his cradle of reeds, set afloat on the river. It’s got all the features of a good story – there is tension and resolution. We worry about the child, but we know he will be ok.
But let’s back up the story a bit, to look at why this wee fellow was set afloat.
The Hebrew people were growing strong in the land. This is the same group of people that we heard about in readings from the last two weeks – Joseph’s family. Remember how they came out of famine into Egypt, to survive because of Joseph’s prudence. But we come forward a few generations, till the ruler in charge of Egypt no longer remembers Joseph and what he did for Egypt. Now there is just an annoying racial minority group in the land, who seem to pose a threat to the Egyptians. Continue reading

Ten thousand reasons

Today my blog received its ten thousandth visitor – someone form the United States was looking at my essay on the New Zealand prayer Book.

Ten thousand reasons is a great song to sing in worship too – meditate on the words as you sing it.

Thank you to all of you who read my blog – you may have noticed that the content has changed a bit as I have now finished studying, and most of what I am writing is for sermons, either at our Sunday morning services in Whitby and Porirua, or at our local rest home.

What else am I doing? Working as a deacon in Whitby, and our priest-in-charge is leaving soon, so I may be getting busier. I have also had problems with sick children. My daughter Rachel has been struggling with anxiety recently, and as part of helping her to recover we have acquired two new feline members of the family – Jacko is Rachel’s cat. He is a young, playful boy, black with white markings and lovely green eyes. Sylvia is the family cat – a mature lady, with torotiseshell markings, and the softest fur you ever felt. She sits on knees and purrs.

it’s been a few years since our last cat died, and I had forgotten about their capacity for food. Don’t you love the way a cat will you plaintively up at you, from its empty bowl on the kitchen floor, and makes the faintest, most pathetic miaow, as if it’s too starving to even miaow properly? And how about the way the next sucker to go into the kitchen gets the same treatment? Several times I have been about to feed a poor starving creature, too faint to miaow loudly, when Kevin hears the cat biscuits box rattling, and calls out – I’ve already fed him!

I think we should be like cats too, not hungry for excessive food, because that would not be good, but hungry for God’s Word, and for God’s justice, and for God’s love. If we were like cats, we would take advantage of every possibility that we might be fed – whenever we have time to read the Word, or to talk abut God, or to pray, if we could be hungry always, just like a cat. And when we have had enough of one sort of food, there’s always room for something else. Just like the cat who wants a drink of milk is quick to let you know, we too can seek after more nourishment.

Jesus said, ” My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.” (John 4:34) May this be our food too.

 

Sermon: Resurrection!

Easter Sunday April 20 2014

Acts 10:34-43, Col 3:1-4 Mat 28:1-10

The last few weeks have been quite a journey, haven’t they?We have followed Jesus and the disciples as he preached and healed around Judea, and we have heard about the murmurings of the establishment, as they grew into a tsunami of opposition. The tension has increased, with or without background music – as on the one hand here was a man claiming to be the very Messiah they longed for, but on the other hand, here was a man claiming to be the Messiah! The people in ancient Israel had a dilemma to face. Was Jesus really who he  said he was?

In our readings over the last few weeks, we have seen more and more clearly that he truly did have the power of God with him, the Holy Spirit that could set people free, forgive, heal, and even raise the dead to life! Surely it should have been obvious to the crowds that Jesus really was the Messiah? Continue reading

Greenpeace co-founder recants to U.S. Senate on climate change

Re blogged from wattsupwiththat.com 26 February 2014.

…Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, went before the U.S. Senate yesterday to tell his story as it relates to global warming/climate change. It is well worth your time to read. WUWT readers may recall that since Dr. Moore has decided to speak out against global warming and for Golden Rice, Greenpeace is trying to disappear his status with the organization, much like people were disappeared in Soviet Russia. (Update: Feb 27, 3PM PST Dr. Moore leaves a comment, see at end.)

Statement of Patrick Moore, Ph.D. Before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Subcommittee on Oversight

February 25, 2014

“Natural Resource Adaptation: Protecting ecosystems and economies”

Chairman Whitehouse, Ranking Member Inhofe, and members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify at today’s hearing.

In 1971, as a PhD student in ecology I joined an activist group in a church basement in Vancouver Canada and sailed on a small boat across the Pacific to protest US Hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska. We became Greenpeace.

After 15 years in the top committee I had to leave as Greenpeace took a sharp turn to the political left, and began to adopt policies that I could not accept from my scientific perspective. Climate change was not an issue when I abandoned Greenpeace, but it certainly is now.

There is no scientific proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are the dominant cause of the minor warming of the Earth’s atmosphere over the past 100 years. If there were such a proof it would be written down for all to see. No actual proof, as it is understood in science, exists. Continue reading

Love

Love seems a sweet and gentle idea. When we think of love, romantic visions of fluffy angels and love-hearts float in our heads, young couples running towards each other in slow motion through a field…but love comes at a cost. It involves pain and sacrifice. Have you ever loved someone so deeply that you would do anything for them? I imagine that anyone with children would be in that category. Well, that’s how much God loves us. So much that he would do anything for us, to save us from an eternity without him. That’s why he made the huge and amazing sacrifice of his own Son, sent to earth to teach, preach, heal and die, conquering death for our sakes.

What does it mean that God loves us so much? God always wants the very best for us. And that means God wants it for all people too. I know how much it pains me as a parent when two children I love are being awful to each other – how much more must it pain God when his children treat each other badly? If we accept God’s great love for us, we have a responsibility to love everyone else with that same love – as it flows out from us, the supply is always replenished from the depths of God’s love. As we model this love, we can encourage others also to love. We can get involved with our communities and our world, transforming unjust and unloving structures. We cannot refuse to love anyone, no matter how much we may not like them, how much we may not approve of them or their lifestyle, how much they have hurt us or someone we love. Love isn’t so easy is it?

The only way we can truly love as God wants us to love, is to see others as God sees them – worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Sermon: Upside-down blessings

Matthew 5:1-12

These Beatitudes seem really upside down , don’t they?

How can someone be considered blessed, when they are poor in spirit, or mourning, or meek? These are the people the world ignores, those who are too quiet to make a wave, known only to God.

Some of the other ones are more obvious – Blessed are the peacemakers. Yes, that makes sense. And we certainly could do with many more of these peacemakers, in the middle east and in governments all  around the world. Continue reading

Jabez re-written

1 Chronicles 4:10-“O that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!”

This is known as the Prayer of Jabez, and some years ago it was very popular. I came across it again recently when a visiting preacher spoke – Dr Charly Tom from Mercy Mission in India. He was very interesting, and brought up this idea of praying that God would enlarge our borders.

I started thinking about this – it’s easy to ask for God to enlarge our borders, but are we prepared for what may follow? Dr Charly has been running an oprhanage and school for many years, and is constantly relying on God’s provision to support his work.

But if we are really asking God to enlarge our borders – maybe for more ministry, or more to do to usher in the kingdom, we must not forget the next bit -“and  that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!” If we are prepared to ask God for more ministry, we must also ask God for the support we need to back that up. God’s hand with us – that will open doors and provide our needs. Keeping us from hurt and harm is physical safety, but also spiritual protection.

If we only ask for God to enlarge our borders – or stretch the pegs of our tent, as another version has it- without asking for God’s provision and protection, we will be like bread dough, which we are trying to fit across the pizza pan. If we stretch it without first kneading it properly, it tears and gaps form, which let the sauce seep through. The pizza will stick to the pan and burn. We can be like that too – if we let ourselves be stretched without God’s provision, we too can break apart and burn out.

Perhaps we could reverse Jabez’ prayer – “God, let your hand be upon me, and keep me from hurt and harm, so that when you bless me and enlarge my borders I can work for your kingdom in the world.”

Sylvia rethinks Lent.

Sylvia rethinks Lent.

Sylvia sat in church the week after Ash Wednesday. She was feeling a bit disconnected, not really able to get into the stories about ashes, and pancakes, that had been part of the week. She wondered, why make pancakes and eat up all the eggs and milk, when you just had to go to the supermarket and get some more. What a silly tradition. And what if her grandchildren asked her to make her special blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes for them when they stayed the night with her? She felt that giving things up like pancakes just seemed artificial and irrelevant.

Sylvia started to wonder about Lent. The words of the opening hymn were sticking in her mind – ‘forty days and forty nights, thou wast fasting in the wild’. Well, fasting for forty days was obviously not going to work, not when she had to take her pills with food, and keep her carbohydrate intake even.

But the idea of being ‘in the wild’ for forty days, now that was appealing! Imagine a time of having none of the usual distractions, none of the shopping and the housework, or those phone calls where they said there was something wrong with the computer she didn’t have, or the noisy kids next door, none of the worry about the bills that kept coming through the letterbox, none of the doctor’s visits… Sylvia started to contemplate how she could find a wilderness to escape from her daily grind.

Well, she thought, I can get rid of the distractions. And the weather seems to be helping there – it’s getting darker in the mornings, it’s not so appealing to rush into the garden. Even the garden was winding down for autumn, flowers were finishing, leaves starting to turn..

Yes, thought Sylvia, that’s it! I’ll copy my garden! I’ll drop my leaves – get rid of what I don’t need in my life, like, like,… like chasing after friends who never call me back, and who seem content to go through their list of woes without once asking after mine. I’ll give up reading the junk mail from the shops where I never go, looking at things I don’t even want, and couldn’t afford if I did!

Yes, I’ll drop my leaves.

And then, she thought, maybe I’ll  tend myself as I tend the garden – after taking away the dead and finished  stems, I’ll mulch and compost.

How can I compost myself? She started to giggle as she thought about the last time she had turned the compost, and a shovelful had flung over her head. She remembered the worm that was still in her hair two hours later which had given her granddaughter such a fright.

Shh! Glared the couple in front of her at church.

Well, let them, Sylvia thought. They’re listening to the sermon, but I can’t really concentrate.

Yes, compost , that was it. I’ll feed my soul. I’ll read things that make me grow, I’ll listen to music that will build my faith, I’ll stop and let my roots grow deep and let God feed me. And then, maybe I’ll be like my apple tree, looking barren and lifeless but knowing that deep inside life is there, gaining strength, waiting to bring beauty and fruit.

Good news for all the people…

“The angel said, Do not be afraid – I am bring you good news of great joy for all the people.” This text from Luke 2:10 is very familiar – we hear it as part of the Christmas story.

But what good news do we as a church bring to all the people? Do we tell them the Gospel, that God loves them, that Jesus is real and cares, that the Holy Spirit is an ever-present helper, or do Christians jump on the latest band-wagon of political correctness, that is, the Green movement.

This youtube extract, from a BBC documentary about Papua New Guinea, is a brilliant example of how the green concerns for conservation are putting trees first and people second. There is no good news for the people. Here we see a worried young mother, whose little baby has malaria. Fortunately, the medics attached to the documentary team are able to give the child some medicine, without which we are told that it would definitely die. The local tribe explain to the scientists that even though they own vast tracts of land and trees, they need to log them so they can afford education and medicine for their children. The Greenies leave us with the question hanging in the air – should these people be allowed to sell their trees? Or rather, are their little black babies worth less somehow than our cosy white city babies, who have access to medicine?

The church should be about the business of saving people – spiritually, physically, whatever it takes. But whenever a church leader urges us to plant trees for the sake of the planet, my thoughts go back to the worried young mother in Papua New Guinea, and her baby.

The tree-planting ideas are based on bad science too, that has been discredited. We are learning more and more about the sun’s role in climate, and people cannot change that. At least if we’re going to plant trees, let them be food-bearing trees, like our local (secular) city council.

Recycled sago muffins?!

I am a very frugal home manager. So much so that I cannot bear to have food wasted. While this has led me to eat up the leftovers myself at times, my waistline doens’t thank me, so I have been learning ways to recycle food.

The other day I made sago for pudding. Actually this was recycled too because I used the syrup left over from candying orange peel, and added sago and frozen cranberries. It sounds yummy doesn’t it? Well I thought so, but my kids all turned up their noses and refused to touch it.

I saw this pot of sago sitting forlornly on the bench, and thought, how can I recycle it?

So I added cocoa, baking powder, flour, an egg and some yoghurt and milk, and mixed up a batch of muffins. It only used half the mixture, but I wanted to see how they went down before making more.

Would you believe it? “I love this stuff” said my son, thickly, through a large mouthful, as he reached for another handful of muffins.

Success! They scoffed 25 of them in one day, so I made another tray, which also disappeared down teenage throats.

I got to thinking about this. Maybe God can use us like this. The things in our lives which the world rejects can have a new life in God. God can add the ingredients to recycle us, to make us useful for the kingdom, to be a blessing for others.

I think about my own life story, with an unhappy first marriage, subsequent divorce, and lots of legal struggles to gain custody of my two older boys. This wasn’t easy, but God added patience to me, and faith, and a whole lot of other things that meant I can now reach out to those people going through similar situaitons, and minister to them with compassion.

God has taken what the world rejects – no one likes divorce. And God has mixed it up to be a blessing.

And just as my recycled sago muffins made so many, God will bless us and give us increase, as we work for the kingdom, allowing God to use us.

“The stone that the builders rejected has becme the very head of the corner.” 1Peter 2:7