- Thursday, 09 September 2021
Malo e lelei and Greetings to you all my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope each one of you, feel peace and comfort because the name of Jesus Christ. I know this time is are very difficult time because the Covid. But may our faith continue to be strengthened, and may we continue to pray for one another and our world.
MARK 8: 27-38
Our message for today is taken from the Gospel of Mark, 8: 27 – 38. In chapters 1 – 7 of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus did not tell people or his disciples directly who he was. This is because Jesus didn’t want to tell others who he is through his words, but he wanted to show them who he is through his work, his actions, and his lifestyle. He wanted his actions to speak louder than any words he could say.
In gospel of Mark, it shows us that Jesus is a servant, he is a working man, for example he preached the Kingdom of God, he healed the sick people, he cast out unclean spirits, and he raised the dead back to life, and so on. According to Mark, Jesus was a man of action, a man always working as a servant for others.
Jesus performed many wonderful works and miracles in front of people because he wanted them to recognize him for the power and authority he had.
That is why Jesus in our scripture reading of today asked the question to his disciple, “Tell me who people say I am?”. His disciple answered him, some say that you are John the Baptist and others say that you Elijah or you are the one of the prophets. Jesus here ignored the answers from the people about who he is, instead, he wanted to know what his disciples says he is.
Therefore, Jesus asked the same question to his disciples “What about you? Who do you say I am?”.
Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah”. The answer from Peter was very short but it is the correct answer because Jesus is the Messiah. The word Messiah in Hebrew is “Christ” in Greek. The meaning of the word Messiah in Hebrew is "the anointed one".
One of the biblical commentators Don Fleming said if a person was anointed by pouring of oil over his head, it is a sign that he had the right and the responsibility to perform the duties that his position required.
Consequently, Jesus is the Messiah so the prophecy from the Old Testament was fulfilled in him. He was anointed from God as a Messiah, his role and his responsibility are to reveal through in him the love of God to us.
God gives him all authorities and power to bring through him the salvation of God for mankind.
In the beginning, man had a perfect relationship with God, but this relationship became broken and disconnected because of our sins. But through God’s grace he sent his son Jesus Christ to become our Messiah and return us back to God.
I want to ask this question, who is Jesus to me or you?
I have faith that everyone who is watching today believes that Jesus is our Messiah, and we all accept that Jesus is the Son of God, and our salvation.
It is very important for us to make sure we receive our salvation through faith only in Jesus, our Lord and Messiah.
I believe we are the disciples and followers of Christ today, and our role and our duties are to demonstrate to the world that Jesus is our Messiah. Jesus wants us to witness for him to the ends of the earth.
I remember a few months ago, we were feeding the homeless people here in our church. This is one way we display and practice the love of Christ the Messiah to others in our community. We also send flowers from our church to our neighbours in K-Road, to show our love and that we want to stand together with them. It was amazing because we represent the body of Christ, and our responsibility is to portray the image of our Messiah, who is Love, to everyone.
In our community today, our society is faced with many difficult situations like the current Delta outbreak and social issues like domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, murder, suicide and so on. These kinds of problems are increasing. People in our community need our love, our help, and prayers. Many people in our world like those in Afghanistan need our prayers and our support. We have a responsibility to show Jesus the Messiah through our love, care, help and prayers for others.
We already understand from Gospel the lifestyle and character of Christ. He is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, humility and so on. These same characters should also be reflected from us as Christians, in our families, our workplace, school, church and everywhere.
I want to remind us, however, without the Holy Spirit, we cannot demonstrate Jesus the Messiah from within us. May God’s Holy Spirit to guide us, fellowship with us and empower us to carry our cross and so that we can continue to witness for Jesus Christ our Messiah. AMEN.
- Saturday, 28 August 2021
29 August 2021
Song of Songs 2: 8 – 13
Very occasionally the Lectionary surprises me. This has been the case this week, as the chosen reading from the Jewish Scriptures is taken from The Song of Songs. In my bible this book is called The Song of Solomon; and I don’t recall these words being the focus of a preacher’s comments before.
Two writers have captured my attention this week. The first is Rev Elaine James, writing as Assistant Professor of Theology at St Catherine University in St Paul, Minnesota, USA; and the second someone known to some of my hearer’s today, Rev Andrew Gammon, a retired Minister, who is pioneering a fresh expression of Church in the growing community at Waitoki north of Auckland.
- Saturday, 21 August 2021
22 August 2021
Ephesians 6: 10 – 20
We’ve just heard Anne read for us the words from Ephesians 6, verses 10 to 20. I’d be surprised if this is the first time we’ve heard these iconic words. The last two verses shout out with meaning. Recall:
“Always pray in the Spirit, with all your prayers and petitions. Pray constantly and attentively for all God’s holy people. Pray also for me, that God will open my mouth and put words on my lips, that I may boldly make known the mystery of the Good News – that mystery for which I am an ambassador in chains.
Pray that I may have courage to proclaim it as I ought.”
Wow! What a challenge to us all!
Last Monday I had a clear view of what I may say today. Our move to Lockdown Level 4 has caused me to begin to view the whole reading in a somewhat different light. There were three interlocking challenges for me as I prepared. The first was to take a memorable section of scripture … you know those words challenging hearers to ‘put on the full armour of God’. This scripture is set in the first century of the Christian era. How would I place it in the here and now some twenty centuries later? My memory recalls Sunday School lessons accompanied by models of soldiers being dressed according to the words we have heard again this morning. When we see a graphic of the Roman Soldier in all his glory, how we missed the mark with our towels for togas and crude wooden implements. What on earth does all this mean for us now?
My second challenge has been to put aside those mental images of being part of an army, being dressed like a soldier, intending to encourage Christian living. Like several others raised in a Pacifist tradition I have tried to find other images. Over the last few days another image has surfaced with some importance.
The image is that of the front-line hospital worker clad in full PPE gear – Personal Protective Equipment.
These courageous people have certainly put on their full armour. In my view PPE is the full armour of God in their setting. Hospital workers so dressed are protected from this rampant infectious virus. I wonder if I could rephrase the words associated with this modern line of defence. I acknowledge that I haven’t yet been able to put these thoughts into words that would stand the test of even a slight examination. This will be a task for me; and I invite your responses so that together we may have a relevant contemporary set of words to share.
My third challenge has been to put aside the images of religious terrorism and militaristic language that thrive, even in our world, so that I can see past those images and appreciate a contemporary understanding of those words from Ephesians.
In its briefest form the message is simple. Paul is urging his friends in a very young Christian community to fortify themselves against evil and to be in constant prayer. He advises his readers to ‘put on all the armour that God makes available to resist evil. That word is powerful today! Put on the full armour of God!
Paul has a clear view of ‘evil’. We read about it last week. Paul wrote: ‘Be careful how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, because the days are evil’; or to use Eugene Peterson’s The Message paraphrase, “Wake up from your sleep, climb out of your coffins, Christ will show you the light! So, watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!” That word is powerful today! Put on all the armour of God.
We know that Paul was writing this letter in prison: it has been suggested that he was writing while chained to a Roman Soldier, so that he couldn’t escape. Paul knew what a Roman Soldier, clad in his armour, looked like. So, Paul uses this armour as a metaphor to illustrate his message; for Paul, who knew exactly what the might of Rome meant for those living in his world – the image of the soldier was very real. The might of Rome – the evil and oppressive colonial power was ever present. Jewish people looked for liberation from the oppressor. For Paul, Rome represented all that was evil. I wonder how the people of Afghanistan will rate events in their world in the days that are to come; and who they will rate as the liberator and the oppressor.
Amid this … in verse 12 of his letter, Paul writes that the battle was not against human forces, but against sovereignties and powers, the rulers of the world of darkness, and the evil spirits of the heavenly realms. What then are we to make of this as 21st century people? It’s difficult to grasp the concept of sovereignties, the rulers of the world of darkness, and the evil spirits of the heavenly realms. Doesn’t this sound a bit like voodoo? In our world there are those who are comfortable attributing the ills of our age strictly to demonic forces. Others will say that it’s more likely that the modern-day ills that we experience and know well, are related to the social and economic factors that are prevalent in our world. It is easy to find that behind the political and economic forces that bring to our world such evils as genocide, ethnic-cleansing and racial discrimination that there are evil spiritual forces at work. I would rather name these ills for what they are. However, there are times when I can only describe what is around me as evil. Think of the Waikato couple sent to prison two weeks ago for unimaginable acts of child abuse. The emptiness in my stomach can only describe these acts as evil.
Please allow me to conclude with a challenge. That challenge is to find words to express what a concrete image of the armour of God – maybe the full PPE gear that we’re now familiar with, which may yet be even more obvious in our world – and to rewrite the script so that we can voice relevant encouragement for our times. May we know God will be with us as we create meaningful words and images.
Thanks be to God.
- Thursday, 01 October 2020
My reflection this morning is based on Matthew 21: 33 – 42.
This is part two of the events that Matthew places in the Temple Courts shortly after Jesus rode that donkey into the city of Jerusalem, the time he was hailed as being the one to deliver the Jews from the oppression of Rome. The rallying cry ‘Hosanna’ – God save us – was an attention gatherer.
The truth of this is evident only a short time after. Jesus enters the Temple and clears out those buying and selling. We recall his words – “You’ve turned my Father’s house into a den for thieves.” By being hailed by the poor – the underclass – the children; and then disrupting the commercial activities in the Temple, Jesus now has considerable opposition from both the civil authorities of the day and the religious authorities. This grouping is formidable.
When challenged with the question: by whose authority do you do this? Jesus tells parables. The words used in other places: let those with ears hear, are missing from the script, but are very real in practice.
- Friday, 25 September 2020
AMCP 27 September 2020
My reflection for today is based in those words we’ve heard from Matthew 21: 23 – 32
I must begin with a confession. When I first read this passage last Sunday afternoon, my first though was: really … what does this mean for us? My reading and pondering has, however, opened my eyes. This is a word for our times.
My understanding is helped by placing this often-overlooked passage in the context of what precedes it. Just before this, Jesus entered Jerusalem, and was greeted by crowds shouting ‘Hosanna to the Heir to the House of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Most High! Hosanna in the highest!’ We remember that this is not only a greeting to the one being honoured, but that ‘hosanna’ means ‘(God) save us – and from who, the Romans of course. It may be said that this was challenging the authority of Rome.
Then, this is followed by that tumultuous Temple scene, where Jesus rampages in the Temple and drives out those engaged in commerce – selling goods and changing money. This is a challenge to the authority of the Chief Priests and Teachers of the Law.