Nowhere to stay

I was listening to Luke 2 today, describing the journey Joseph and Mary made to Bethlehem. Several things struck me – and one may be the result of the other. They were going to his own town, his ancestral town. Surely there would have been relatives in Bethlehem who could have given Joseph and his pregnant fiancée a bed? What had gone wrong in his family so that the important codes of hospitality were not being observed? Maybe all Joseph’s relatives were no longer alive, or had moved elsewhere, and like Mary and Joseph were looking for accommodation too. Or maybe there had been some terrible disrupt in the family – many families today have problems where one person is seen as the ‘black sheep’, where no one will give them the time of day, let alone open their house. I urge you, if there is a problem like that in your family – and many families have issues – please try to forgive, and to let yourself be forgiven, and open your heart to your own family, no matter how awful they have been.

It’s entirely possible that Joseph and Mary were rejected by their own relatives. Why? Another part of Luke 2 gives a hint – Joseph was engaged to Mary, who was heavily pregnant. They were not yet married. There had been rumours about the coming baby which would float around for years, and maybe the relatives just couldn’t bear the thought of an unmarried couple with a baby nearly there contaminating their house.

As Christians we must guard against this attitude. Many Christians are very judgemental about people who live together, have their families, buy a house, a dog, a trampoline – in short, set up a family, without the legal status of marriage. Is it any of our business? A resounding NO! If it’s good enough for God to be born to an irregular couple, it’s good enough for us to accept those as a couple who regard themselves as one. The Bible continues to surprise us with the sort of people God uses to further the Truth, and human judgementalism and rule-making, which is unfortunately very noticeable in the church, can get in the way of God’s work.

This Christmas, let us welcome those we have rejected, and those who have rejected us. And let’s give thanks for families of all shapes and sizes – if they love each other, that’s a God-thing!

Sermon: What is Anglicanism?

CHC2051-4

What is Anglicanism?

Felicity O’Brien  2013

Thank you for asking me to come and talk to the U3A group today. My name is Felicity O’Brien, and I am a deacon in the Tawa Anglican Parish. Today’s talk is on the topic “What is Anglicanism?” We will start by looking briefly at the history of the Anglican Church, both in the UK and here in NZ, then we will look at the doctrines and liturgy that underpin it, noting the way doctrine is treated. We will look at what holds it all together, and then consider the way Anglicanism accords authority to Scripture, tradition and reason, the three ‘pillars’ of Anglicanism. Finally we’ll have a brief look at some of the new ways Anglicanism is responding to our times.

What is Anglicanism?  To put it in context, we will have a quick lesson in English history -‘Anglican’ comes from the Latin word for English.[1] There had been Christians in Great Britain since Roman times[2] but after 1066 England was more integrated with Europe[3] and the church was ubiquitous[4] and powerful.[5] In the fourteenth century John Wyclif[6] started to distribute an English-language version of the Bible to his followers.[7] Many people had little respect for the church,[8] which required heavy taxes, and rulers throughout Europe resented the money going to Rome. King Henry VIII, a very devout man,[9] had a problem. His wife was not able to give him a son, and he wanted the Pope to allow a divorce so he could marry again.[10] He had an Act of Parliament[11] written severing all ties with Rome, setting up what was in effect a new church, with himself as head.[12] [13] Continue reading

Essay: Islam, Politics and why it matters.

Islam, Politics and why it matters for us.

Reverend Felicity O’Brien November 2013

View as PDF                 Discussion Notes PDF

Supplementary Power Point

Introduction

This talk is about the religion that is called Islam. First we look at its beginnings with a brief historical overview, noting the great divide between two parts of Islam, Sunni and Shi’a, and some of the consequences of that split. We will explore briefly the spread of Islam and Muslim peoples throughout the world, both in ancient and modern times. We will look more closely at some of the groups in both Sunni and Shi’a, and how this plays out both religiously and politically, especially the more radical sector. Then we will explore the interaction of other countries with Islamic nations, the geopolitical scene, where differences between Islamic factions have been exploited by outsiders, in particular the U.S.

Finally, we will consider why this matters to us in New Zealand, especially to Christians, and I apologise to members of the audience who are not included in this group, but that is where my perspective comes from, as a minister in the Anglican Church.[1]

 Part 1: History of Islam

Fourteen hundred years ago, in a mountain cave, an Arab businessman was praying, worried about how his society was deteriorating. Money-making was becoming all-important, and the poor were getting poorer. People were restless, and knew that other surrounding countries practised more sophisticated religions than the Arab paganism. Some believed that their own highest God, Al-Lah (which means ‘God’) was the same deity as that worshipped by the Jews and Christians. But there had as yet been no prophet and no revelation to the Arabs in their own language. The man in the cave, Muhammad ibn Abdallah, woke one night overpowered by a mighty presence of the Angel Gabriel, and then he heard words of poetry pouring from his mouth. Tradition has it that he was illiterate, so therefore the elegant words must have come supernaturally.[2] Continue reading

Essay: A New Zealand Prayer Book

CHC 2051 Anglican Studies Essay 3

Felicity O’Brien

 

What seem to you to be the most significant features of A New Zealand Prayer Book /He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa as an expression of Anglican worship, especially when compared with the Book of Common Prayer (1662)?

This essay seeks to discover the significant features of ANZPB/HKMOA, looking first at the BCP and the developing needs of the Anglican Communion to find appropriate ways to worship in a changing world. It notes the similarities of the two prayer books both in intention and in content, and some of the challenges of developing ANZPB/HKMOA. Major features of note are changing theology around initiation rites, changing use of gendered language both in regard to human beings and how to address God, and the very ‘New Zealand’ language, both in use of Maori and Pacific languages and in local imagery and poetry.

In many ways ANZPB/HKMOA stands in continuity with the BCP, Continue reading

Abducted children killed by al Qaeda?

Guest post by Kevin O’Brien

Evidence is strongly pointing to Al Qaeda having abducted the children and set them up as claimed gas attack victims of the Syrian Assad Alawite forces.

Ghouta chemic attackRead the rest of this here and here. The report to the UN is here (it’s a long PDF download, very graphic and distressing.)

ScreenShot242-cropThis appears to be video of the abduction and the children being put to sleep.

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Sermon: Lost sheep

Sermon for Longview 19 September 2013

Luke 15:1-10

This is very well-known parable,- we can see a picture of a little lost lamb, bleating in the wilderness, away from the rest of the flock. Jesus, the shepherd, leaves the others all together – they like being together, because sheep follow a leader and huddle up together for safety. Then the shepherd goes away, in search of the lost one.

What can that mean for people? Continue reading

God in climate change

Guest post by Kevin O’Brien

Christians worry too much, relying on their own understandings and accepting the misinformation barrage.God has a simple logical proof as well as his word that disproves the reality of the whole of the climate alarmism.

The latest leaked draft IPCC report AR5 attempts to cover over their previous failed scary projections by offering “trust me it will get worse”. Unfortunately science in the climate arena has largely abandoned truth for advocacy and PhD student models. This is no comfort to those who have come to believe their island homes will swamped or other speculative alarmist scenarios.

God has his answers:

Firstly for us to try to reduce the global temperature by only 1/20 of a degree would cost 4/5ths of the worlds productive output. What sort  of God do we have that would put us in that position? This chart is based on accepted science referred to on the 50 to 1 site:

Claymore_1_edge

Secondly we don’t have the world-wide productive capacity or land to enable a switch to biofuels, nor are wind farms or solar panels sufficient. Renewable energy is more aspirational than real. Here it is described as a disaster: it should be described as totally impossible on a global scale. Can we trade topsoil for fuel oil? Where do we get scarce phosphorus for future food crops? God does not expect us to beggar ourselves or our neighbours to produce motor fuel.

Thirdly the switch to renewable energy brings great injustice. Who is to bear the rising food prices and resulting famines? Our God is a God of justice so this is against Gods’ will.

The solution that fits all this: we will adapt to the natural climate changes, the islands will not sink unless supporting water reservoirs are used up, coral will still grow up to sea level; the earth has an unmeasurable equilibrium which each of us will find different in our own lifetimes.

There is energy. God hasn’t abandoned His every growing people to a world without adequate agreeable energy. Nuclear fuel has got a bad reputation because the electric power industry preferred to use uranium to provide a by-product for atomic weapons.

Thorium is no use for bomb making nor popular with terrorists but does make good heat and hence electricity. While it is radioactive, you can hold it safely in your hand. It is now being used in low temperature reactors which cannot explode or do a Chernobyl. The reactors have the potential for factory assembly for neighbourhood use and the fuel is plentiful. Trust God to have provided even before we were aware of our needs.