At St Andrew's we enjoy conversations on the implications of;
our values, attitudes and beliefs. [often in the middle of a service]
please join in.
if you want to comment on our reflections do send us
an e'mail to st.andrews?.blenheim@?gmail.com
15/11/15 for the first Sunday after Armistice Day our overhead screen showed “ FREEDOM HAS A COST ”.
The RSA and friends were on Church Parade with us at St Andrew's, following which, their Colour Party lead us to the hall for Wreath Laying Ceremony.
For today”s service our choir sang : “Is this the end of my world?“
Before hearing of yesterday's Paris killings Johanna had picked that song to open her address.
It is the question we ask when great horror hits.
We remember all who have, and are now asking
“Is this the end of my world?“
Our readings today were John 20: 19-23 with the message from Jesus
“Peace be with you”
and in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 “He has committed to us the message of reconciliation”
Many questions, hard answers in this service.
At "Family Time" about:
The Ark that held the Torah. What was it? A Box covered in gold. Why? And the cherubim on it, what are they? No-one knows.
The Philistines knew of it. That it had the presence of the fearsome God who defeated the Egyptians. And they were very frightened on hearing the Israelites were carrying it into battle against them.
So who won the battle? ...
No, The people of God were massacred, and the ark of God was captured.
How would the Israelites feel?
Later we had the Reading of:1 Samuel 4 v 1-11 with details of that terrible battle.
Johanna continued the story. Of how the priest Eli fell breaking his neck on hearing that the ark of God had been captured. How when his daughter-in-law heard the terrible news, of the ark and the deaths of her father-in-law and husband, She went into labour. Women attending her said "Don't despair, you have born a son"
But she did not heed them.
She named the boy "Ichabod" [meaning 'No Glory'] saying;
"The glory has departed Israel, the for ark of God had been captured."
Johanna pointed out how no-one wants to hear terrible news. To hear it hurts. Like the midwives we want to put positive spin on things. But that, is no use to those left desolate.
When we have no explanation. But know the Glory has left. It feels all hope is lost
Truth tellers are needed.
And hearers, of the hurting stories.
i am often confused by Old Testament [and modern] descriptions of relationships between Israel and the surrounding peoples. But during church "Family Time" watching children play with Johanna using mats to represent countries and toys to show Israelite and Philistine population movements and the resulting battles, i [WE] thought "That's a lot clearer" [after the service the children were having sword fights with cardboard tubes]
Readings 2 Samuel 2: 1-11
2 Samuel 5: 1-10
are now very non-P.C... they are filled with my hero, David killing people.
On the first reading from 2 Samuel, Johanna focussed on the realpolitic of those times. A murky world of devious politics, with kings conspiring and manipulating each other for their own survival or that of their many city states, amid conflicting ethnicities.
And yet this is an example of God working with David.
A subplot of the story is the gruesome concept of 'Bloodguilt' with the old Testament writers emphasising how David avoided it [and so reduced the family vendettas that often follow killings].
With the second reading, the taking of Jerusalem, with slaughter of the Jebusites... i often think of how one translation for Jerusalem; is 'Foundation of Peace'
Johanna's take on the establishment of the Holy City is that, it marked a new start for Israel.
We too, need to make new start when our old patterns are not what God wants.
And we must be sure of steering clear of guilty actions that cause ongoing conflict.
28 June 2015
God has given us many different voices, we need them.
Johanna started by reading from our Moderator's White Paper:
Loss of Voice: A Deafening Silence: "Once upon a time our Church was a voice to the nation. Social reform in the history of New Zealand was led by Presbyterians! Once upon a time we were not afraid to speak out on public issues and give prophetic leadership to our country. We have largely become silent.... "
Then continued reading from the encyclical of Papa Francesco:
"Laudato Si, mi Signore –
Praise be to you my Lord.
In the words of this beautiful canticle Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life
and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us.
....This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.
We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.
... This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she "groans in travail" (Rom 8:22).
We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters...."
Pope Francis quotes Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew on how we have sinned against the world, and yet the creator does not abandon us.
And then Johanna reminded us of Fukushima, "Beautiful" in Japanese.
But then, earthquakes, and tidal waves.
The nuclear reactors designed to be safe in a country used to those things. They are still unsafe, on scale I can't comprehend.
After Fukushima, reading from Genesis 11 of the tower of Babylon, an R.C. priest Komiko Kato wrote
"But the Creator thwarted the plans of the people of Babel, not by force, but by multiplying their form of self expression. I am convinced that in present day Japan we too need a multiplication of languages."
Johanna added that this "Tower" represented the strongest defensive works of man. Technology we have used, thinking it would keep us safe from the 'Acts of God'. But now, we too need a multiplication of languages. We need many voices to speak out against the single voice of the System.
When she asked the congregation what we thought of this, David spoke up for us. For too long we have listened to the voice of selfishness. We need to change so that the next generations can have Hope for the future.
a quick summary of the scientific aspects of the encyclical of Papa Francesco, is in
but there is much more on Social Justice and Spiritual action that Francis and our own moderator ask us, as Christians, to do. So I am hoping Johanna will continue to reflect on how we should do so.
deals with many of the local problems Presbyterians struggle with. it is very readable, provided you do so in small chunks.
1. A matter of faith: The spiritual vitality of the Church
2. Disengagement: Individualism and congregationalism
3. Disunity: the woundedness of our Church
4. Loss of voice: A deafening silence
5. Professionalism: Raising the bar
6. The ethics of mission: Checking our motives for mission
7. Busyness: A sickness of the soul
8. Stewardship: Giving an account
21 June 2015
Mark 4: 35-41 and from 1 Samuel 16 & 17
After Ian Crumpton's challenging sermons on how we need to respond to the dramatic global changes that are impacting on us, this day's Reading; Mark 4 v26-34 of Jesus calming the storm sounded hopeful. And it is, though Johanna continued on Ian's theme of major frightening changes.
She set the scene of beginning as if it were a dry history essay. How many disciples were there? a lot more than 12. several boat loads. Then linking the disciples following Jesus on earth, to them, many years later when the Gospels were compiled by them, remembering Him, and their failures in response to His challenges. Then:
Peter's fearful cry: "DON'T YOU CARE, THAT WE ARE DROWNING!"
We are allowed to call out to God, just like Peter did, when we are frightened.
It is hard to discern His purpose, when all we hear, is the screaming wind and crashing waves .
Listening for answers is best not done on your own. Together, we can understand.
And when we are in God's Church, it is He that will move us forward, but not on my preconceived ideas on what looks right.
Johanna gave herself as an example of getting it wrong and being corrected. As its interim moderator of the new Parish of Whakatu, she thought she knew what they needed to keep on track, but its leaders together saw the time had come to take a very different path. She compared this to the selection of David where Samuel wanted to pick one of his brothers but God told him no: "The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance"
Johanna concluded with the encouragement of David: "The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”
14 June 2015
Ian continued from last week, on the subject of Deep Change, with todays theme "
: As we transition from an industrial growth society, to a life sustaining one. Our call, as people of faith, is to help negotiate that transition."
He began with a quote from Joanna Macy:The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world - we've actually been on that way for quite a while.
It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millenia long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world , to ourselves and each other.
and an illustraton from M. C. Escher: Three Worlds.
Actually we are not looking at the world of the trees. Nor at the world of the fish. But stare at the trees' reflection in, and the fish's refraction through the world of the of the water's surface. This water we don't see at all, though we know it is there because we see leaves floating on it.
Similarly we don't see Justice, only its effects.
As with: faith and hope and love
in the Readings: 1 Samuel 15: 34-16, 13 : Samuel anoints David
Mark 4: 26-34 seeds- and a mustard bush
Ian had us look at the roots of early Christianity, prior to its makeover by Greek thinking, when it aquired all the classic creeds and doctrines: then its total transformation by Constantine, who turned it into a tool of the Roman emperor - a tool for power and control.
Ian says our Gospel readings describe Christianity in its establishment phase... full of youthful exuberance, whereas now it it is 2,000 years mature.
With maturity should come the recognition of our need to cooperate with others. But....
Read the details of Ian's conclusions in his
7 June 2015
Rev. Ian Crumpton's sermon was on "The times, they are a changing"
After I obtained Ian's notes several people asked me for them, but i want to keep them, so read and then reread them on the pdf.
They really merited his trumpet fanfare for the service[the bulletin described it as 'Prelude: “Aria” from Anna Magdalena’s Notebook: J S Bach' (trumpet and organ) as The Bible was brought in.]
I [W.E.] enjoyed all the images of boats, Ian used in family time as a metaphor for the Church and our response to it. I had been thinking of how, Western power hungry people used, medieval and 17th century Creeds to justify; murder and looting people of every faith. So was struck by Ian's first Image, a medieval icon with the question "Who's in the boat?" And value his historical explanation of Three Big changes, in terms of the power structures used to cope with changes found in theReadings:
First: from Nomadic to settled life 1 Samuel 15: 34-16 & 13 : Samuel anoints David.
Then Mark 4: 26-34 seeds- and a mustard bush
Second: when the first Christians were disappointed in their expectation of an immanent return of Jesus they had to restructure as they did again after the 16th century hope of "Renaissance" and "Enlightenment"
Dwarfing these often violent and blood stained changes will be the Third change he described.
Climate Change is now well under way.
Ian's details of these changes are compelling,Do read his Notes and follow up on the quotes he used: "Christians are not supposed to merely to endure change ... but to cause it" [H E Fosdick]
"That's why the faith we inherited is going to be so vital. At its best, it can promote a real concern for the welfare of all. At its worst, it retreats into the "we are the chosen few" mentality.
31 May 2015 was Trinity Sunday,
After unsuccessfully asking if any of us understood the Trinity, Johanna gave us a really good analogy from how we look at mountains.
She started by reading from 1st Thessalonians and Titus ch3. then asking us to if we heard assosciations with The Trinity in them. While The Bible never explicitly names or defines, The Trinity, Christians often find in It various aspects of God that can be thought of as The Trinity. after a pause for us to think of this, she displayed the 17th century version of The Apostles' Creed and commented on how the meaning of words in it had changed. like say 'quick' and people now think 'fast' rather than 'living'. Say 'Ghost' and people think of 'ghost busters' After a few other comments
Tom called out that this creed is anchored in history, he preferred a modern Canadian affirmation of faith.
Another comment from the congregation not liking the Apostles' Creed on : was that the entire life of Jesus while on earth, in between "born of the Virgin Mary" and "suffered under Pontius Pilate" was described with only a comma.
Johanna said that while the Apostles' Creed is based on ideas believed to be implicit in the writings of the Apostles, it was probably compiled much later by people who had never seen Jesus before his death. [and probably several generations after the first Apostles were dead.
And suggested that, our expression,"The Holy Trinity" is a result of our need to find words to explain what happens when we meet God through the risen Jesus.
The example of how this works that Johanna gave us was: The biggest thing she could imagine seeing on earth is Mount Everest, "Has anyone seen it?" some one answered "Yes"... "All of it?" ..."Yes"... "So were you a long way from It?" ..."In India"... so some one in Tibet would have Had a different view of it. and someone else on Everest, would have had quite a different experience of it.
At the close of the service some stayed talking of our favorite views of mountains.
My [W.E.] favourate views are of our local Mount Tapuae-o-Uenuku, [the sacred steps of the Rainbow] as long as we only see it in the distance, we don't need to worry that it can be dangerous if you treat it with contempt.
I have always been comfortable with using 17th century language in the creed, what does worry me is that in the last century, comfortable Western church-goers have lost the meaning of many concepts our forefathers valued, e.g.; "the Fear of God" . Many, perhaps a majority of, non-church goers may still think "God fearing" indicates a way of life we should follow. But post-modern-christians seem embarrassed by the phrase.
24 May 2015
Johanna started our combined service by showing the children a world globe,
an impromptu singing of "He's got the whole world in his hands" occupied time they spent finding where on the globe they came from.
Later this made the setting for Acts 2 where it described people who had come from all over the known world for the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem:
Reading in Samoan: Acts 2: 1-21
Reading in English: Acts 2: 1-21
For Johanna the exciting part of this was in Peter's explanation, verse 21: "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
But first she pointed out that while we expect The Holy Spirit to always be Dramatic with thunder, violent wind and fire. It is not always like that.
Even on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, many of those there missed what was happening.
while many of the foreigners were Amazed and perplexed, at hearing Galileans : "declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues" Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”
17 May 2015
After the Readings John 13: 31-14:14
John 14: 15- 31
Examples are helpful to explainideas, so: Johanna asked us to talk with our
neighbours of illustrations for how we think of "The Way" .
The one she had thought of was the song "Good King Wenceslas" where the page is able to keep going by walking in the king's footsteps.
I enjoy thinking of navigation, so was was delighted when one of our group said "It is a map" and Johanna commented that following a map can take you to places you never expected.
Another example was given by a Vanuatuan who said "The Way" is his passport. Without it he could never have come here.
'Passport' was the word Johanna happily used in other ideas on "The Way".
But she did add that, following the road of Jesus leads to the Cross,
and so, looking again at the day's readings i think the central theme was in:
13v34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Johanna's comment on this was; Love is costly. It requires commitment. A readiness to give time. And to make a start when noone else sees a need to.
John 14v21 "Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me..."
10 May 2015
in the day's Reading: Matthew 8: 1-3 & 14-16; Jesus healed: a leper, a woman's fever and "many who were demon possessed"
John Buchanan opened his sermon with a quote from William Barclay: how Christ is safe as long as He is shut up in churches.
But Jesus is dangerous if we take Him out of comfortable religious seclusion.
There are many examples of how, by touching people seen as "unclean" or untouchable,
Jesus upset both his own friends and also the enforcers of religious tradition.
He rejected their fears and prejudices to help people shunned by their neighbours.
An example John gave was the Samaritan woman by the well. Jesus was aware, that her illicit marital status, made her a person to stay away from. Instead he astonished her by asking her to give him a drink, which she knew to be forbidden for him, perhaps because the Samaritans worshiped God on their mountain instead of the Jewish temple. Jesus's disciples also thought his behaviour contradicted what they knew about "Clean and Unclean"
i think this links with 1 Corinthians 8-13 about Faith and "food sacrificed to idols"
John reminded us of how recently a NZ parish decided to refuse entry to Tai Chi classes; because of a perceived link to idols.
He [like most people thought this link absurd] and was not how Jesus would have acted.
3 May 2015
During our 'Family time': Jennifer Willis introduced the theme as "the Wind of The Spirit" and then introduced us to her own large family of the Woodwinds. Grandad Bass was up in Auckland but she showed and played us: father Tenor along with mum Treble and another 5 smaller children and grandchildren recorders. Then Grant Wright blew us a tune on another Woodwind, a silver flute, and described more of the very extended family of wind instruments before delighting us on his bass trombone.
Then in the hymn "With a hoot and a toot" many of us tried to play various homemade instruments .
In the reflection on the theme, Linda referred to the day of Pentecost with its "sound like the blowing of a violent wind" where the Spirit enabled us to speak in other tongues. [ Apt for us as many of our congregation need to be multilingual to work here]
After reading John 20 v19 : 'On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” '
Johanna's reflections on this.
As many different instruments making very different sounds, are needed to show a complex musical composition, so God gives his Spirit to many different people with many different voices, for them to show what God is doing.
What particularly hit me were her comments on 'living with forgiveness'. Johanna told us how sometimes she wakes in the wee hours and remembers something that is not right. And then thinks; "This is The Holy Spirit reminding me, of the need for forgiveness." Without forgiveness there will be a barrier stopping her moving on. Vital relationships will be blocked.
I [wally] find the idea that; "If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven" very comforting. But if i don't, the statement "if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." is terrible, although it to explains many of the senseless problems of the world as it is.
26 April 2015
Readings: Luke 24 selected verses
Acts 9: 1- 6
From the readings John Buchanan considered three very different stories of meeting and reacting to the resurrected Jesus.
In Luke 24, Two men, on the road to Emmaus and then among his frightened disciples fearing horrible deaths, and then startled and frightened thinking they saw a ghost. When Jesus asked them to touch Him to show he was not a ghost, "they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement"
And in Acts 9: to Saul converting from being a violently angry persecutor of offensive Christians .
John asked us, Do we cling to our old fears and misconceptions, or do we Believe in our Risen Lord.
Lord, ... help my unbelief.
19 April 2015
Johanna started this service by telling our Kidz @ Andrews the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. On their being asked; What was the best part of the story? Several of the children agreed that it was people being fed. One child added that she liked hearing that Jesus cared for the people.
After the Readings: John 6: 1-21 & John 6: 22-34
Johanna asked the congregation what in them caught our attention. One of us called out; that it was how Jesus had tested Philip, asking "Where shall we buy bread ...?" when Jesus already knew what He would do. Most of us are very uncomfortable at being put to the test. After thinking of this Johanna remembered how at age 6 0r 7, she had learned to add 3+4=?. In her class the kids were put in pairs to test each other until they knew, and now she does not need to calculate, she just knows 3+4=7. She suggested this drilling of how things are, is also what we do in church with songs like "Don't be afraid... Your Love is stronger... Your Love is stronger is than my fear" So that when we do feel afraid these lines come to us without thinking, like 3+4=7.
What had interested Johanna in the readings was: Not to focus on a sign, but on The One who sent it.
in v 30-32 when the people asked for a miraculous sign so that they could believe him as their ancestors believed Moses, Jesus answered that it was not Moses who had given them the bread from heaven, but His Father Who gives the true bread from heaven.
12 March 2015
We enjoyed Marion starting this morn's service with Kidz @ Andrews. She handed out party poppers to celebrate the New Year.
Jesus rising from the Tomb on Easter Morning means we can start again with new life and so celebrate the New Year at Easter.
After the Readings: Luke 24v36-49 about Jesus appearing to his Disciples when they thought he was a ghost.
And then Psalm 100 "SHOUT for JOY to the LORD ....."
Marion's reflected on the extremely different Interpretations people have put on the Easter story.
She started with Dan Brown, Opus Dei and The mortification of the flesh... Not my cup of tea.
However Marion pointed out that we can not ignore, and must remember: the suffering Jesus endured.
That during Jesus's time on earth, people understood that when any relationship is broken, there is a cost that must be paid before it can be restored. And so Jesus sacrificed himself as payment for us, so that we can have new life in a relationship with GOD.
So we should celebrate. And "SHOUT for JOY to the LORD ......"
Marion finished her reflection with a challenge to herself, and us. She quoted examples of people declaring themselves Christian churchgoers to neighbours they did not know. Not something many of us are comfortable with. But we should be prepared to risk it. and own the fact that we are followers of Christ together with making a ‘New Years’ resolution to reflect that.
1st March 2015
On this theme Johanna asked us to break into small groups and talk about memorable weddings [good or disasterous] that we had attended. I think many of the congregation, [like John and me] got a bit lost in our happy memories of our own weddings as Johanna had trouble stopping us, to listen to the:
Reading: John 2: 1-12
the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed the first of his miraculous signs.
In her Reflection on this Reading, Johanna reminded us that this flowed on from the previous chapter of the calling of the disciples. But her emphasis was on the extravagant scale of the provision of wine, and the Joy that should be at a Wedding feast. This being how it is when we are united with the Lord. She linked this to Amos 9 v13-15 where the restoration of Israel is described with new wine dripping from mountains and flowing from all the hills.
Johanna's conclusion from this is: in His harvests; God is over the top, Ridiculously generous and this should be the pattern for us to follow.
8 February 2015
John Buchanan opened our service reminding us of our Waitangi Treaty; by reading the speech of our Moderator, the Rt Rev Norton at the 2015 Treaty Celebration.
I [Wally] have recently enjoyed the reality of the Maori customs concerning hospitality, so was particularly interested in his understanding of:
“While this word is used in the context of offering hospitality it is far more than that. Manaakitanga is the mutual activity of honouring one another through kindness, generosity, respect and hospitality and it goes both ways!
“This is not trading lunches but the intention and action of showing honour to another. This is what I call the spirit of the Treaty. If there is no honour there is no Treaty. What comes after honouring are the details of the Treaty.
“We can talk at one another over a tribunal table to settle outstanding grievances, but we must share manaakitanga at all our tables in this land for the Treaty to become a living document,”
Readings Luke 6 v27-31 & 35-38
Like most Christians Jews and Moslems, I have been very saddened by the Paris terrorism with its sequels.
So after the readings from the Sermon on the Mount
I was stirred by John opening his reflection: by talking about the causes of that terrorism, and the several opposing viewpoints we have of the “je suis charlie” anger.
after that, I enjoyed Johns dramatic demonstration with the picture: where some of us saw an old woman and most saw a young woman... his point: “You are both right, but neither of you are exclusively right.”
John’s notes for the reflection on 8 February 2015
Last month we saw from afar, one of the consequences when the boundaries of free speech are crossed. That there was a consequence should not be of surprise and what surprised me was the length of time before it happened.
We have seen lives lost needlessly, a huge turnout opposing what happened and a stated intent on the part of one of the perpetrators to continue on its way unrepentant.
We all know what happened in Paris, it was lead story across all our media. We know that an extremist eliminated several people directly involved in the French satirical Journal as well as others who had no involvement whatsoever.
We know that the general public turned out en masse, but saying what? Well there were several strands to what they were saying; some were saying they were behind Charlie Hebdo; some were protesting the needless killings; others were saying to the extremists – well you think you have eliminated your adversaries, look at us, there are far more opposing you than you can cope with, you thought you only had a few infidels and you had eliminated them, think again, the whole nation, even the whole world is united against you. You are outnumbered, you will never succeed.
So what is this thing called free speech? Is it as free as some think? One thing freedom of speech is not: it is never a licence to blaspheme. Another thing, it is not a synonym for open slather or no holds barred. Properly used, freedom of speech is a very precious and valuable tool, one which we can ill afford to have abused by some in pursuit of their own twisted version of reality.
Like anything in life, free speech has boundaries, cross them and do not be surprised when repercussions ensue, regardless of the form they may take.
We know from experience now, or should know; that within society at large, there are those who only know one way of dealing with dissenting views and that is to eliminate all who do not hold to any twisted extremist ideology. Those killings may take the form of being blown to smithereens by suicide bombers, knifings, killings like we have seen in Sydney and Paris, hijacking airplanes and flying them into buildings and on and on the list goes.
Of course, the killings can never be condoned, there can never be any justification for the taking of a life, regardless of the degree of provocation. Just because you see things in a different light to me does not give me the right to remove you from this planet for ever. That you see something in a different way to me may well enlighten the both of us, and in this respect I am reminded of the picture which is really two pictures in one.
It is a picture of both an old woman and a young woman. Some see the young woman immediately, others see the old woman immediately. Having seen the one, then you really have to work hard at seeing the other woman. It is an interesting exercise which reflects the fact that two people looking at the same thing see different things and often do not see that there is more than one way of seeing things.
We have seen a French satirical journal follow what it perceives as freedom of speech and even after having one would have thought, been brought up with a round turn, unashamedly saying it would continue its approach without deviation. It would not budge for anyone, let alone extremists seeking to foist their warped deviations on society.
Is this the only way? Is there nothing better that would result in a more peaceful co-existence of the differing world perspectives that exist?
I say resoundingly, yes there is a better way and that way is the Christian way, the way that you heard read earlier from Luke’s gospel.
We all know the golden rule do unto others as you would have them do unto you. When free speech operates under this rule, within these parameters, then everyone is happy. No lives are lost needlessly, no one feels impelled to go out and kill, loved ones come home from work and the greater good of society at large is served.
It is not easy to turn the other cheek, to love your enemies and do good to those who hate you. At times is may seem hard to bless those who curse us and to pray for those who abuse us.
With God’s help, we can love our enemies and as Christians we are called to be merciful just as God is merciful. Then comes the really hard bit; do not judge and do not condemn.
Yes these may be hard,but if we do unto others as we would have them do unto us then we’d better get on and learn how to follow Jesus’ teachings.
There is also a need to keep in mind that religious faith of any type is capable of being distorted thereby resulting in any number of atrocities being committed in the name of God. Christians have been and continue to be capable of acts of violence and judgement against others This needs to be unreservedly condemned.
True religion however values all people and does not divide people by race, creed, class or identity. As Paul wrote, there is no longer Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female. for Christ is all and Christ is in all.
True religion seeks mercy and justice; true religion seeks peace and reconciliation through dialogue, understanding, repentance, forgiveness and restoration.
And over and above all, true religion is life giving rather than life taking. This is what sets or what should sets our faith apart as being the real deal,something worth having and cherishing.
In the words of our Moderator (Rt Rev Andrew Norton) We need to constantly on our guard to make sure that fear driven ideology and faith do not divide we into us and them. For this is what God requires of us “to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)
Value free speech highly, cherish it, do not abuse it and if you follow the golden rule you will never stray from doing to others what you want them to do to you. Amen.
this was the Centenary of the Birth of Thomas Merton " one of the most-influential spiritual writers of recent times. He was born in Prades, France, of a Kiwi father and American mother. A particularly famous prayer that Thomas Merton himself wrote is:"
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and will never leave me to face my perils alone.
200 Years Proclaiming the Gospel in New Zealand
at an Ecumenical Event at at the Ironside Cairn Site (‘Ngakuta Bay’) on 31/1/15
Locals, know that in our Sounds “extreme scenic drive” is a euphemism for twisting and very big drops. So with a rainy start to the day I didn’t expect to see many willing to risk the long drive to the Ecumenical Event at ‘Ngakuta Bay’ via Tumbledown Bay Rd.
But by 11am, a good mix of liberals and conservatives was there, with most denominations in Marlborough well represented.
The format was anyone who wanted had 200 seconds to share inspiration and proclaim 2000
and 200 years of the Good News of Jesus. Interspersed with songs backed by a piano accordian.
Ian, a Methodist, started by providing us fun analogues for the Winds of the Spirit with an inflatable beach ball, whose bouncing some thought was an example of the pioneers resilliance to
And two kites, [ these i enjoyed having recently read how Waitaha used kites for navigation. Sea stories
were a major thread for this celebration. Playing with the kites took more than
the allotted 200 seconds,
as did the next proclamation:]
for the Presbyterians, Johanna had people spell: “GOD is Love” using flowers.
Probably getting within their 200 seconds were: The Union Parish of Picton, who read 2 seafaring tales from the Bible, and Maureen Joyce who spoke to represent the locals of Port Underwood.
[Richard Dyer , Picton C. of E. minister claimed he would go 200 minutes not seconds, and seemed to accept the loud accusation ofhis having Pentecostal traits].
Baptist and Anglican ministers paid tribute to the pioneering missionaries of all denominations with stories of their hardships and also of the essential role of their wives in their endurance.
A descendent of the early whalers added his prayers of thanks for them, and a reminder of the need to know the practical skills they showed, remembering how he had to rise early so his Mother could prove the dough for bread each day in his warm vacated bed.
The sound of the Shofar preceded two Pentecostals. I think their proclamations were a fitting end to the formal part of the service, a missionary read the stirring prophecy of Isaiah 62 for Zion substituting the name “New Zealand” for “Jerusalem.” The Picton A.O.G. minister continued this theme with all of us ending by singing ALL the verses of “GOD of nations, at thy feet...” [for those like me, with short memories, she had provided waterproof copies of ALL the verses]
Most of us stayed for a picnic lunch, and contemplated the winds,
[ ie we played a bit more with the kites.]
Sunday, 28 September 2014
Johanna started her Reflection with a favourite Hymn whose words:
“O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed”
are based on our Reading: Psalm 8. All about worshiping God for the wonder of
Creation as detailed in Genesis One. This does refer to man having “dominion” over the earth. Johanna’s view of this; is people have incredible power for both good and evil. Genesis makes clear to us that humans need to be inside God’s framework. When people do not have that understanding, they get too big for their boots, and disaster often results.
We need to come together for worship and to let God speak to us and frame our lives.
Sunday, 14 September 2014
Johanna’s theme was Creation
Once again my [wal e's] mind kept wandering.
At first I had an excuse: at the back I couldn’t see the beautiful pictures of the Creation that Johanna was showing the children. And so, when she said the book started with pages of text from Genesis chapter one, this reminded me I want to recommend the book
“The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate” by John H. Walton
Walton explains how Christians have a different understanding of Genesis than the Hebrews who first heard it read to them.
When Johanna read the Psalm extolling the Glory of Creation and showed photos of how beautiful our world is: I thought how, I often read claims, that Christians believe Genesis gives them authority to exploit Creation.
I am sure very few at St Andrew’s believe that.
So, when Johanna said that for several hundred years scientists have been discovering more wonderful things about the world we live on, I remembered how as a child in the 1950s my parents saw no conflict between the scientific theories of the world’s origins and their belief in the Bible’s Genesis.
But now, many people seem convinced they cannot believe the Bible and still rely on scientist’s findings about climate change as a basis for planning for the future of our children.
In contrast Walton claims, that to take Genesis seriously you need realize that by the time of the first Christian translations of the O.T., the meaning and context of the key Hebrew words and concepts of the significance “Creation” had changed or been lost.
In particular he says, 6,000 years ago, the Middle Eastern view of the world was based on concepts of relationship whereas for 2,000 years Western world views are increasingly based on materialist concepts. He believes that, archaeological and linguistic discoveries have revealed now much that was unavailable to the King James VI scholars. If these recent findings are considered carefully, Walton writes: there should be no conflict between rational scientific view of our material world and the hope for our future that strong Genesis believers should have.
The lost world of Genesis One : ancient cosmology and the origins debate
Walton, John H., 1952-
Publication Date 2009
Held at Marlborough District Library Call Number 231.765 WAL
if this is On Loan try
The wandering mind : what the brain does when you're not looking
Corballis, Michael C., . Publication Date 2014
Available at Marlborough District Library Call Number 612.82 COR
Some notes on 1 Peter, the text we concentrated on during May.
This letter may have been written by the apostle Peter and may have been written by a Christian leader of the next generation, using Peter's name, as was considered quite appropriate at that time. Babylon, in the letter refers to Rome. The letter is written to encourage Christians who are living in a non-Christian society.
Their Christian belief marks them off as different and possibly causes them serious problems with masters, husbands and other people around them.
Although it is likely that many of the recipients were not Jews by birth the writer considers their conversion to Christianity has made them heirs of all the blessings, promises and history of Israel.
The writer expresses their identity in terms drawn from Judaism. The letter contains many quotations and references to scripture from the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament.
1 Peter 2:21-25 tells the story of Jesus’ death in terms drawn from Isaiah 53 to give the Christians confidence as they face derision or worse in a society where the Christian concept of One God, and that a God who has been killed was bizarre.
The other problem that these Christians face is that they are turning away from the ancestral gods, and from obediently worshipping as the head of the household does. The husband or master of the women and slaves who make up the majority of this church may have felt threatened by their new religion and prevented them gathering to worship with other Christians. That is partly why emphasis is put on Israel's story being important for these non-Jews.
As Christians we are brought into God's household, God's family.God is our head of household. The letter encourages the members of this Christian family to provide support and care for one another as part of God's household.
The advice to slaves and wives to put up with harsh treatment jars us. It may be included because there is no safety net outside the household for women or slaves. If they leave or are turned out, they will be destitute.
It may also be an example of someone who is thinking about what their faith in God, through Jesus Christ means for daily living, but not yet begun to question all of their cultural environment.
We all tend to take the situation that we are brought up in as normal. It is very difficult to learn new attitudes and the basic attitude that slavery is ok, that women are weaker vessels is learnt very early on. In the society of the Middle East and Mediterranean it was believed that the family could be shamed through their behaviour of the women in the family. Just recently our news told of a woman stoned and killed by her father and brothers, because she had married without her father's consent. This is an example of this cultural value of honour and shame driving the treatment of family members. This woman had shamed her family by her independence.
The challenge for us, is to read these letters with an awareness of the cultural blinkers that we wear, to be willing not too quickly to dismiss what we do not like or understand, but not to accept every phrase as an order from God either.
Just as the writer urges, we need to read, to develop our understandings and our faith together, as brothers and sisters guided by the Holy Spirit and held together by our trust in Jesus Christ.
9/3/14 Communion & Flower Sunday
Kidz@Andrew’s were to make cards to go with the posies, delivered after our service, to those unable to join us in church. But no pencils were laid out for them to do so. Someone noticed and quietly ducked out to find them. No problem, but Johanna was able to use this as an example in her reflection Genesis 2 and how the Garden we are in, works when people work for harmony.
Readings: Genesis 2: 15-17, 3: 1-7, & Matthew 4: 1-11
The theme in these readings, that Johanna asked us to reflect on was; Harmony. My interpretation of what she said was:
The task given to us had been finding our place in caring for the harmony of God’s work. However the snake caused discord; And Eve and Adam went off limits. They found they were naked, which made them vulnerable, so they sewed leaves for protection, instead of trusting G.d to protect them.
Thinking they could see more ; caused them to have a narrower vision of their role, which led them to steal from, and exploit creation instead of caring for it.
The temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4: 1-11 is often linked to the ‘Fall’ of Adam in Genesis 3. This time Johanna concentrated on how Jesus recognised it as a test, and how He put aside the common desire for material wealth and power to seek the harmony GOD requires. And He did so by focusing on What is written in Torah.
Before I started listening to the reading; I’d been thinking of the many interpretations people put on Genesis. And how most non-Christians only hear the bizarre and extremely irrational ones.
So I was intrigued by: Johanna’s aside on Genesis 3 v3. In trying to argue with the snake, Eve added [“neither shall you touch it”] to what God had said. Johanna described this as like “building a hedge around The Torah”.
But that add-on of Eve made the argument bigger [and different] than needed .
Mostly I think building a protective fence for our valuables is playing it safe, but the many erroneous arguments around, show how damaging add-ons to the Truth can be.
Genesis 2:15-17 & 3:1-7
English Standard Version (ESV)
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you shall surely die.”…
3: 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV)
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
on 23/2; For Kidz@Andrews; Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth" Johanna said she really liked the taste of salt on chips. They then continued working on making a model city to shine on a hill as part of our reflections of the sermon on the Mount
From the Reading; Matthew 5:33-48. Our reflections;
The last verse of this reading : 48 ”You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Seems too hard. Much easier to start with v33 on vows; “let your yes be yes” but then comes: “if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Johanna said she hoped we don’t use this as a unthinking blanket rule that would justify violence and injustice. Rather it is a call to think about how we react. By thinking of the consequences of personal violence, we will be motivated to seek justice for all.
Which leads to: “48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Johanna pointed out that a definition of “perfect” involves being complete, and whole. This links to Galatians 3:28 (ESV) 28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is how it is in heaven. We can choose to live in heaven, NOW.
Two comments on her reflection, that I barely heard but Johanna repeated over the microphone:
[David] has come to think “if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other” is a metaphor for our becoming able to listen.
[Jennifer] had heard of “if anyone forces you to go one mile,” being an example of someone able to take authority over you. By going “with him two miles “ you reclaim your own authority.
English Standard Version (ESV)
33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[b] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[c] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Reading; Matthew 5:21-37 at our 16th Feb service
Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)
21 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24 leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29 And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30 And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 but I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.
Johanna had opened the service with Children’s time. Their theme was letting their light shine, starting with fun with a candle in a bucket. Before the children headed off for a craft session she asked: “What is the light like to see?” Johanna suggested part of this is the warm happy glow we feel with our families.
After the reading from Matthew 5; Johanna told us how on Saturday she was asked to say words of challenge and encouragement at a wedding. She asked us what we would say. Lots of advice was offered, particularly on honesty, communication and needing to talk, and, talk… was loudly interrupted by one old chap calling out “and being able to stop talking…” Why he is right, required a bit of a rethink.
Then Johanna asked us to consider the difficult demands Jesus adds to the legal requirements in His Sermon on the Mount, as good advice on how we should try to behave with our families.
26 January Regional combined Service-10am at St Andrew’s followed by lunch.
We are delighted to welcome our neighbours and friends from Wesley and Picton to this service.
Our relationship with Methodists has a long history in Blenheim.
In March 1872 the St Andrew’s Secretary of the Committee of Management permitted the Wesley Choir to use the church to practice their anthems to be sung at their anniversary meeting.The Committee of Management resolved that the secretary did wrong to permit the St Andrew’s to be used for that purpose.
The minister then reported that he had allowed the church to be used, his authority being The Ancient Order of Rechabites.....[Jeremiah 35 ]..Some things have changed since then, but ecumenicalism is still a hot topic with us...
Reflections Sunday 29/12/13
What use is Prophecy?
Ian [from Wesley] welcomed us to a Combined Service twixt Christmas and New Year. Then he showed a variety of materials and devices to look in or through to see different views. This lead on to how do we prepare for the next year. For this we want to know the future. More reliable than crystal ball gazing, he showed us a big mirror that reflected: ourselves, and what is behind us.
In the Bible Reading reflection Johanna started by asking us all; what we understand by the word “prophecy.” Is it understanding; where we come from, and what we are doing, and the consequence of these? Or is it someone watching her walking towards the edge and an inevitable fall?
After enthusiastic private discussions, Johanna asked us about how we remember events, she used to see memories like film reel that could be rolled back chronologically. But science has showed memories to be more a kaleidoscope of clips linked by associations with other clips.
All our scriptures were written down many years after the events described. To make sense of what happened the Jews and early Christians linked; their experiences, with much earlier prophecies. In the New Testament, writers sometimes used quotes from Greek translations other times from Hebrew or Aramaic. And the sense of key words in them may have changed. So she read two different translations of the Torah for the prophecy of Isaiah 7:1-16 quoted in Matthew 1:23 on the birth of a child, in one version the mother is a ‘virgin’, the other a ‘maiden’. The question here is not the Virgin Birth but; what did Ahaz do wrong? He saw himself and Judah facing a political problem needing a political solution. And so he; refused to ask for a sign to confirm the LORD’s message.
Johanna’s conclusion; like the good Jews who gave us our scriptures we should interpret them in the context of where we are today.
I found many different translations of the reading and its political setting inWikipedia:
Prelude - Isaiah 7:1-10
Judah is faced with invasion by its northern neighbours, Israel (also called Ephraim) and Aram-Damascus (Syria), but God instructs the prophet Isaiah to tell king Ahaz that God will destroy Judah's enemies (Isaiah 7:1-10): When Ahaz ... was king of Judah, Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah ... king of Israel, marched on Jerusalem, they were unable to prevail against it. When the House of David was told that Syria had allied itself with Ephraim, their hearts and the hearts of their people trembled ... But the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out to meet Ahaz, you and Shearjushab your son, ... and say to him, 'Be firm and keep calm, ... The Lord has said, 'It will not happen...' 
The prophecy - Isaiah 7:11-16
Isaiah delivers God's message to Ahaz and tells him to ask for a sign to confirm that this is a true prophesy (verse7:11). Ahaz refuses, saying he will not test God (7:12). Isaiah replies that Ahaz will have a sign whether he asks for it or not, and the sign will be the birth of a child, and the child's mother will call it Immanuel, meaning "God-with-us" (7:13-14); by the time the infant "learns to reject the bad and choose the good" (i.e., is old enough to know right from wrong) he will be eating curds and honey, and Ephraim and Syria will be destroyed (7:15-16):
Communion Sunday 8/12/13
Readings: Romans 15:1-13 & Matthew 3: 1-12
Matthew 3: 1-12, especially of John the Baptist: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. ….” was still resonating, when Johanna began quietly explaining how, these passages set the Gospel firmly in the Torah the first Christians knew. She went on to say this fits well with how we need to be a welcoming family, a major theme in Romans, … so I was startled by her sudden loud accusation:
"Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand." [ESV Romans 14v4]
On this she commented: how as the oldest child she had clear ideas on how her sisters should behave. And told them so. Then her mum told her: “ I can not correct your sisters, if you have already told them off”
The chapters in Romans are for people experiencing enormous change. As Jews, the first Christians had difficulty with the Gentiles’ disregarding their prohibitions. They should not give up the Torah they know to be true. But quotes from Isaiah make clear that all of us belong to the Lord’s family.
To be true to our Lord, we must welcome people that the Lord has also claimed for his own, even when they accept things we don’t like.
Johanna then asked if any remembered having to wear hats? Back then, she [a woman] would not have been standing up the front. Has not wearing hats made our faith weaker? There will be many more things that will go, and some will come back, perhaps including hats & gloves.
Johanna’s notes for the reflection on
November 24th 2013
As a general rule, here at St Andrew’s, we follow the Revised Common Lectionary Sunday by Sunday, through the Liturgical Year. The year begins in Advent as we recognise our need for grace and look forward to God’s promised salvation. It then follows the story of the Good news as seen in Jesus Christ with the seasons of Christmas, Epiphany Lent, Easter and Pentecost.
At the end of this Liturgical year, today, we come to the Sunday called the Reign of Christ. The readings the lectionary gives us are: Jeremiah 23:1-6 Luke 1: 68-79 Colossians 1:11-20 and Luke 23:33-43.
The reading from Luke 1 is our Psalm or song for the day, it is the song Luke puts into Zechariah’s mouth when John is born, a song of praise for the God of Israel which picks up Old Testament themes of God our Redeemer. The second reading from Luke tells how Jesus on the cross, is recognised as a king by one of the criminals crucified beside him, while the other mocks him. Jesus’ response to the one who sees and knows him and asks for forgiveness is to say “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Salvation is immediate, it happens today. Paradise is the renewed garden of Eden, the sign that creation is fully redeemed through Jesus.
The reading from Colossians is part of the opening prayer of thanks giving and introduction to the letter. Paul prays that the church in Colossae may grow in strength through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The prayer leads into a song of praise for Jesus. Jesus is fully divine, was involved in creation and still holds the universe together, and is also the risen crucified one who leads us into a new life, a new realm of living and belonging, where we can know God through him. The word paradise is not used but we are reminded that Jesus the Messiah has transferred us into his own realm, which is paradise. You will find that this is so full of images and ideas that it is helpful to read it aloud a couple of times.
The passage from Jeremiah is the last part of a section in which God is speaking to the kings of Israel about their failure to live up to their responsibility. Look back to Jeremiah 21:11-12. Here, at the start of this section, the kings are told that their task is to see that justice is done and the people can live in true peace where they have recourse against any injustice or oppression. If you read on you will see that more than one king is named, the whole dynasty has failed. Because of this failure Jerusalem will fall and the people are scattered. Yet there is a huge ‘but’, a promise of deliverance and restoration. God will raise another king and will bring the people back to Jerusalem.
All these readings pick up the theme of kingship as God calls it and sees it. This kingship leads to the wellbeing of the people, and is exercised humbly from the cross and grave. This kingship is thoroughly in tune with God’s will and God’s love for the people, all of them, particularly the poor or oppressed.
We are invited to see ourselves brought into this peculiar world where Jesus who was taken and killed is also the divine presence without whom there would be no particle of dirt in our garden, no leaf on the tree, no breath in our body, but with whom we also have a life that springs stronger than death, a grace and a strength that will flow into the church as it gathers, so that we become both the rescued refugees, people drawn into the realm of God, and those who have are given the responsibilities and strength of the king to care for others around us.
Above are Johanna’s notes for the reflection on November 24th 2013. This was the day everyone at the 10am service was asked to join in stirring our Church Christmas cake. Johanna started her reflection with making the analogy between the liturgy's readings and our cake mixture: like most family recipes they fit our cganging circumstances, we are often unaware of some of the ingredients in the mix, but they are all part of our recipe.
the first Sunday after Armistice Day, when the RSA join us at 10,
following the service, a Colour party lead us to the hall for wreath laying ceremony. Prior to Johanna’s readings, a RSA spokesman reminded us that we not only remember the dead of WWI, but all the casualties, both Services and civilian in all conflicts.
Johanna added to this, a story from a recent funeral, of the price paid by those left behind, of a mother writing weekly to 3 sons overseas.
Johanna’s notes for the reflection
The Revised Common lectionary which we generally follow always provides four texts, usually a Reading from the Old Testament, a Psalm, a Gospel reading and one other New Testament text.
Today Isaiah 12 is offered as the Psalm. There are psalms prayers and songs scattered through the books of the Bible, in response to God’s activity.
This is a song to sing of our hope in God. It is also a promise of God. The previous chapters have told of God’s disappointment in Israel as people of the covenant.They have been disobedient and rebellious. God is angry and will vent that anger against them, but they are also promised a hope that the temple and the mountain will again be God’s dwelling place and a place of safety, hope and love, not only for the descendents of Jacob but for all nations. This chapter is a small climax in the book of Isaiah. You will see that the next chapter begins oracles which look quite different to the preceding chapters.
Here is just a taste of the earlier chapters that are the context for this psalm.
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: "Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. Isaiah 1:2 ESV
Therefore the Lord declares, the LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: "Ah, I will get relief from my enemies and avenge myself on my foes. I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy. And I will restore your judges as at the first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city." Isaiah 1:24-25 ESV
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths." For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Isaiah 2:2-3
For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply, all support of bread, and all support of water; the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, Isaiah 3:1-2 ESV
In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. Isaiah 10:20-21 ESV
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. Isaiah 11:1-2 ESV
The reading for 17/11/13: Isaiah 12 NIV
In that day you will say: “I will praise you, Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.
2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord Himself, is my strength and my defence; He has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
4 In that day you will say: “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
With verse 3 “water from the wells of salvation”: Johanna spoke of the heat we experienced earlier in the week, and the joy of playing under a garden hose.
From that she spoke of the joy of salvation. And how just as in the Psalms we look to Zion to see God, as Christians look to Jesus to see God.
For me [Wally]: Isaiah is a favourite prophet. So I particularly liked Johanna’s explanation for what some critics think are chronological anomalies in his book.
For perhaps 200 years before his words were written in their present form, his people remembered them and saw how they applied to the times they were in.
These are Johanna’s notes written for her reflection on:
Luke 20:27-40 for November 10th 2013
This is one of a series of confrontational stories in which powerful cliques within Jerusalem challenge Jesus. The Sadducees are little known and did not remain influential after the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple in 70 CE. It seems that as a group they based their faith on the written Torah and did not accept the authority of oral interpretation as the Pharisees did.
Many of us find this story hard to read because of the over the top nature of the question. Of course because this is a confrontation the Sadducees have deliberately phrased their question this way. We may also be reacting to the implication in this question that women, wives are possessions, not people in relationship with their husband and family but things to be owned and controlled.
Let us learn something from how Jesus answers. The Sadducees are by the book believers so Jesus turns to the book, to Exodus 3:16 in a foundational story for Judaism. Can we learn to take notice of what matters to those who challenge and question us, of what they have already seen and understood, and what examples of approaches might make most sense to them when we answer, and also of what is clear and true to us. If we do not know or understand then we can say that too.
Jesus says that God says to Moses, I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, three ancestors who are long dead, but who to God are alive. God is the God of the living.
Jesus also affirms the resurrection, and indicates that in resurrection there is also change. In the resurrection, in that age, we no longer will die, sex and procreation will no longer be important.
Jesus does not really say much more, but let us also look at the stories of his resurrection. What we know of it is the stories of how his disciples met him afterwards. He came to them on the road, the beach in a locked room. He was in a body, and it was his crucified body, but he had also changed so that they were slower to recognise him. He spoke to them, building on the relationship they already had with him, knowing them and helping them understand and be encouraged to take the first steps of belief and of celebration that are the birth of our church and the roots of our own faith.
Paul writes of us seeing now in a limited way but then seeing fully and being known as we are. If you think of yourself, your body is part of who you are and has helped shape your life and your relationships. The people you have loved and who have loved you, have helped shape you, this ‘you’ this person is who is known and sees fully after resurrection. So I am sure there is some kind of bodily resurrection, a complete resurrection of the whole person, spirit, body and mind, as it were, and we will know one another, but in some way we are also changed.
I also believe that the web of relationships we live within now is an important aspect of who we are and of how we are to live out the faith of Jesus. that our ethical standards, our ability to love and receive love, our honesty and mercy and kindness are an essential beginning for our resurrection.
I also believe and hope that all those we have loved who have died, are not dead to God, but alive in God’s heart and life in some way I cannot express more clearly, yet.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Those were Johanna’s notes written for the reading on 10/11/13
After Johanna finished her reflections on Luke 20, v 27-4.. she asked us to challenge her; on her interpretation of them.
Unfortunately I [Wally] had not been fully listening.
I think I got that the central part of the readings was the statement of Moses’: about our God; being the God of living, not the dead. And this is one of the bases of our HOPE for resurrection in a form we cannot understand, but expect to be glorious.
And was challenged by Johanna’s conclusion: that this great HOPE affects our actions now, so we want to strive for ethical behaviour, seeking mercy and justice for all.
But I was still mired down thinking of my own interpretation of the opening verses and Johanna’s comment that she had difficulty with them and asked if anyone else did.
Someone said that for one woman to have a succession of seven brothers as her husband; is excessive.
Johanna agreed, pointing out that the Sadducees meant this example to be over the top, extreme, intended to discredit Jesus..
However Johanna then added that she dislikes some of the old attitudes to marriage that treated women as property, which is shown in the OT law that this particular argument depends on.
My own response to that is: men and women need to cooperate with each other to survive, and most societies see marriage as a survival tool for both men and women doing so.
When accepted customary access to basic resources depends on inheritance through the male line, the law needs to make provision to ensure that, the inheritance was agreed to. And also that a childless widow does not starve as a result of that custom.
The OT has many such laws, but this particular one (Deuteronomy 25:5-10) is probably of particular interest to descendants of Aaron, including the Sadducees who inherited their privileged position as Temple priests through their Y- chromosome . That’s where I got lost, in thinking about the exciting modern genetic findings, concerning the Cohen inheritance (Cohen modal haplotype) traced back over about 3,300 years.
on November 3Luke 19: 1-10
On October 20
Let’s start with the parable.
We don’t see Tax collectors in the same way as those listening to Jesus did because we know about Zacchaeus. In Palestine at this time the tax collectors bought the right to administer the taxation in a certain area from the Roman Empire. All Rome cared about was getting the correct payment. How the tax collector raised the payment was up to them. Tax collectors therefore were often foreigners, were colluding with an oppressor and usually made a large profit.
Just as we have different styles of Christian, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Mainline Protestant etc, in Palestine there were varieties of Judaism. Pharisees were very observant, and because they lived in a society that was not all observant about food preparation etc they had devised regulations to help families keep the Torah regulations. Their rules were for Pharisees, not intended to oppress other members of society who turned away from Torah observance.
So in the parable we have a religious faithful man who sees many others as contemptuous of God and tradition praying. But unfortunately he now knows that he s doing so many things right, he has forgotten that God gives the gift of Torah, of righteousness and is so busy being proud of himself and contemptuous of others he no longer sees and acknowledges God.
And in the parable we have another man who is seeing God, but also sees himself so clearly he cannot lift up his head, but bows down acknowledging his weakness and need for grace.
As we try, like the Pharisees, to live lives that are true to God, we will set up patterns, make little rules to help us develop practices and habits that shape our life in a Jesus shaped way. Practices such as reading a daily devotion, praying, offering time or money to some need in our society are important.
But there will always come a time when we are tempted to focus on those practices and on our success in maintaining them, rather than on God, and we will no longer quite recognise our need for God’s love, grace and gifts in our life. Then we move into the place of the Pharisee in this story, and we need someone to tell the story to us again!
Which brings us to children. In the patriarchal society Jesus grew up in women and children don’t count. Undoubtedly they were loved and cared for within their families. But in terms of social status they had no standing at all. They are ‘worthless.’
So what does it mean to become as little child to receive the kingdom? What does it mean to receive a little one?
It means that there are two reversals of attitude we make as we join Jesus on the Christian way. We turn from our quest for independence and control of our life to n all-embracing trust of God. Most of us struggle with this all our lives, as in fact we do need to make decisions and plan ahead, but at the same time we are invited to turn our whole lives over to God.
The other reversal is in our acceptance of others. The worthless, the needy, the weird and wonderful, scary and horrible all have a place at God’s table. Helpless children, alcoholic beggars, brain damaged infants, and demented adults are all included, along with us the irascible, arrogant, timid , clever, smart, proud, angry, lovely and difficult who make up God’s family. Each of us must continue to care for this family and every member of it and each newcomer; putting these worthless little ones in the centre where they are loved, and safe.
On October 20
Social Justice, our focus being Israel and Palestine
on our Church readings of October 13:
A book of five poems, one in each chapter. The first four poems are acrostics, each verse begins with a sequential letter of the alphabet.
It is most likely that it was composed at the time when Babylon had conquered Israel, the king had been taken into captivity and the temple treasure stolen in 587 BCE. For biblical accounts of the invasion see 2 Kings 24:18- 25:26 or Jeremiah 39:1-10 and 52:1-30.
The poems confront us with the pain and grief of the nation, the city, and the individual people.
Chapter one sets the scene. In the first eleven verses a narrator tells us how lonely the broken city is.
This is how Eugene Peterson in the Message translates verse one:
Oh, oh, oh . . .
How empty the city, once teeming with people.
A widow, this city, once in the front rank of nations,
once queen of the ball, she’s now a drudge in the kitchen.
The poem begins with an exclamation, and then fills in the detail. The city is portrayed as a woman, a widow, an orphaned abandoned daughter. In the ancient world these women were the most vulnerable in all society. Jerusalem and the nation have become utterly helpless.
The narration is interrupted by the voice of the personified city Jerusalem at the end of verse 9. She calls out to God:
‘O Lord, look at my affliction,
for the enemy has triumphed!’
Then in verse 12 we hear the prayer of Daughter Jerusalem as she asks God, who remains silent to see and hear her. The narrator interrupts at the end of verse 15 and in verse 17 so the two voices are interlinked in the poem.
It is a very hard poem to read, because we prefer not to face up to such raw pain. The book is unrelenting in spelling out the depth of tragedy, of degradation the city and her people are suffering.
The prayer remains for God and neighbours to see, to look and see.
How many times do we find a way to avoid seeing truly the terrible situations around us? How many times is some vulnerable sector of our society seeking for the courage and voice to make this same prayer audible?
Perhaps sometimes we need to let this poem speak to us in the voice of abused children, refugees, battered women, or victims of famine who are forgotten by the rich world.
Sunday, November 17
Sunday Concert. 2.30pm
A small but appreciative audience gathered in the church on Sunday 17 November to hear a recital by Californian pianist and composer Dwight Stone augmented byFella Voce (Marlborough Boys College) and local freelance organist Malcolm Tomes.
The concert was one of a number of fund raisers being held as the parish seeks to raise funds to strengthen the hall in line with earthquake strengthening requirements.
Mr Stone presented 9 of his compositions in three brackets. There were pieces commissioned for specific events, pieces inspired by his time in Austria and general works.
The Marlborough Music Society’s Steinway proved an excellent vehicle to showcase the music all of which was very well received.
Fella Voce sang (possibly for the last time as they go either to Canterbury or Victoria universities next year) to their usual high standard under their conductor Con O’Brien. It is to be hoped that they will continue their singing in the future.
Organist Malcolm Tomes provided a contrast in sound with four short pieces (one of which, C S Lang’s Tuba Tune, was from a New Zealand composer).
All in all a most enjoyable afternoon’s entertainment.
A CONGREGATIONAL MEETING was held on Sunday October
27th 2013. to consider the following two motions relating to strengthening
the Hall. Both were agreed, unanimously.
1.“That we proceed with strengthening the hall by installing three
portal frames, connecting beams and bracing and replacing the
stone cladding of the East and West gables with a timber construction
and lighter weight cladding. All other gables will be strengthened.”
2. “That we make application to PCANZ to use the $95,126.37 from
the PCANZ Property Sale Capital Account for the strengthening of
the church hall.”
HALL AND CHURCH UPDATE 22.7.13
The coating on the upper walls and ceiling of the hall contained asbestos and so had to be cleaned before work of any sort could be undertaken. Barnes’ have been doing that this week and currently air quality testing is proceeding by another firm. If all is okay then use of kitchen and hall will be available by next weekend. The cost escalated because Barnes’ omitted to factor in cost of high scaffolding required for over 5m high jobs.
Some good news: No strengthening required in the toilet block. The plans and designs for the hall work are on the way so will soon be able to obtain some cost quotes.
Not good news: Because we congregate 100 people or more, we need to install a modern fire alarm system which means heaps of new wiring, connecting to the Fire Brigade, emergency lighting, some door changes and
annual testing. This is because of higher compliance codes and will need to be addressed before Council will issue building permits for any strengthening work. The complex is considered to be one building. All it needs is more money!
Some better news: Because of the earthquakes during the weekend, Tom and I inspected all the buildings before Monday work and did not find anything untoward or changed in any fashion - even the flower arrangements were still standing. We were not able to access the hall room but the end rooms, kitchen, etc., are unchanged.
The Music Society’s
is now at StA's
Location of NZ 's Top of the South Presbyterian Church Parish Records
An Asterisk * indicates records held in a Regional Repository, the address for which will appear under the Presbytery heading.
Hash # indicates records held by the Presbyterian Archives in Dunedin (address appears under "Otago & Southland below).
An exclamation mark ! indicates records still held by the Parish or another institution and a contact address will be given if available.
Presbytery of Nelson - Marlborough :
Marlborough Historical Society Archives and Museum , PO Box 308, Blenheim 7301 Ph (03) 578 1712 [hold records for:]
Awatere/Flaxmere * St Andrew's Church, Blenheim * St Paul's Kaikoura * (excluding Marriage Registers - refer "Lost Archives" page. [ have a look at this site
Nelson Provincial Museum, P0 Box 645, Nelson 7015, Ph (03) 547 9740 [hold records for:]
Moutere Hills Co-operating Parish * Motueka-Riwaka Uniting Church, Motueka * Presbytery of Nelson-Marlborough * St David's Church, Richmond * St Luke's Church, Nelson * St Paul's Church, Picton * Tasman (refer Moutere Hills) * Trinity Church, Nelson # (Marriage registers still in the Nelson Museum)