Monthly Archives: March 2019

The deal – Genesis 15:1-12,17,18

Imagine this. 

You go to sell your car on Trademe.  You take some nice pictures and enter all the details and a guy calls up to come and view it.  He seems a good guy when he knocks at your door and you wander around the car and poke around under the bonnet together.  When you suggest he takes it for a drive he agrees and you give him the keys and sit down to wait.  You can probably guess where this is going. 

Half an hour later and the guy isn’t back and you are beginning to get a little nervous.  He must be a thorough sort of fellow you reassure yourself, but an hour later you aren’t so sure.  You have a look on the street and there is no other car there.  You are nervous.  At the two hour mark you look up the number for the police and report that you think your car has been stolen.  They are very good about it and once they have all the particulars they inform you that they will immediately put out a stolen car report. 

You are in luck.  You car is spotted at Countdown at Ferrymead.  But this is where it gets interesting.  According to the police when they confronted the driver he said you gave him the keys.  According to the police the driver said, “the nice guy gave me the keys to the car and told me to take it for a drive. I thought he was giving me the car.” 

“What!”, you respond.  “But I was selling the car and he didn’t give me any money.”  When the police explained that to the driver and confronted him with the lack of payment he simply replied, “I never thought of that.  What a great idea.”  Which planet was he from?

Yes it is a strange story and there is inherently something fishy because we all know how this sort of deal works.  You examine the product, decide whether you want to buy and then agree on the purchase price.  The cash is handed over or nowadays transferred to your bank account and that’s how the deal is sealed.

You pay your $4.50 at the counter and the barista makes you a nice cup of coffee.  You pull into the petrol station and fill up the car with petrol and then pay the attendant what it says on the pump readout.  You even get a receipt to say you paid.  And if you fail to pay there are legal consequences.  It’s a fundamental part of our culture that all the time we are making contracts and deals, and just about all the time it works sweetly because we all know how it works.  Get on the bus pay the fare, get your ticket, and get to your destination.  Bigger deals may require a signature, or the affixing of a seal of some sort.  I don’t much about really big deals.  But most of the time it happens seamlessly – and if it doesn’t there are ways and means to sort things out. The police, small claims tribunal, lawyers. It can get messy.

That’s now, but what about then.  What about 5,000 years ago when Abraham was alive.  Police, bank transfers, receipts, didn’t exist.  How did people do deals, because it’s simply part of living in human community that deals are done all the time.

There’s a word that is central in this story and central to all deal making.  Covenant. 

In the world of Abraham when you entered into a deal you made a covenant. It’s actually at the heart of what we still do with deals when you think about it.  Small deals I imagine were done much as we do them.  A handshake, or just a word.  But big deals were done differently.  First you’d get an animal, like a cow or a goat or maybe just a bird.  Then you chop them in half and lay out the halves with space between them forming an alleyway.  The parties to the deal would stand side by side and recite the deal or covenant being made as they walked between the halves of the animals and then something like this might be said: “I undertake to purchase 10 bags of your wheat.”  And the other guy says, “ I undertake to provide 10 full bags of top quality grain.”  Both then say, “may I become like these animals if I fail to uphold my end of the covenant.” 

Literally they cut a deal.  Yes the phrases we use come from somewhere.  With a little ritual of cutting an animal in half a covenant is made.  Rituals like this were the glue that held their society together, and if you search the scriptures you’ll find reference to other rituals like taking off a sandal and giving it to the other party.  Sounds strange to us just as our way of doing deals might seem very strange to them.

So that’s a rather long lead in to our reading in Genesis 15.  Cutting a deal. 

Abraham had felt called by this mysterious presence to journey to this new land.  The journey had plenty of ups and downs but Abraham and his wife Sarah had faithfully hung in there.  There was the promise of descendants, but no children came.  There was the promise of new land where Abraham and Sarah would be at home.  But there were others occupying the land and life was perilous as a nomadic herdsman.

Through it all Abraham continued to trust and continued to experience connection with this mysterious presence.  There was a vision and the affirming message to not be afraid for this presence was like a shield.  Abraham had learned that he was finally to be a father, but not with Sarah, but through his slave girl Hagar.  We won’t go into detail of how that could be but Abraham was deeply questioning whether this child was to be the one.  But in the vision Abraham is led out under the clear desert night sky and and in his vision he experiences God doing a deal.  God making a covenant with him  He’s told to  count the millions of stars with the promise that his descendants would come through Sarah and number more than these.  The promise of the new land was also reaffirmed despite the pesky Amorites who already lived there.  To top it off there was a symbolic sealing of the deal and it wasn’t a handshake or a symbolic signature but you guessed it…  a heifer and a goat were cut in half and with the addition of a few birds the carcasses were laid out for this was a very special deal and covenant.

And a smoking firepot and blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces.

These are symbols for God, so where was Abraham in the cutting of this deal.  Both parties should be there to promise their part, to keep the deal.  Is God saying that it’s not conditional, it’s not dependent on the human keeping their end of the covenant….being faithful always.  Even if Abraham fails to do his part, God will not give up.  The deal it turns out is remarkably like the deal I started this little sermon with which isn’t so strange in God’s eyes.

Unconditional love.  We don’t have to be good enough, we don’t have to measure up for the deal to be operative.  God promises to lead to a future, God is for us, God is unrelentingly faithful, even if we make a mess of things God will not give up.

And it’s not just literally about having children, I know that.  It’s about an enduring future and a sense that our lives matter.  We, none of us,  will  disappear into timeless sands of nothingness.  I also know for Jewish folk it’s about a homeland, a piece of dirt called Palestine, but actually the new land is about something much more… new relationships, justice, and a whole new way of being community.  A community where we all belong and there are no insiders and outsiders, members of the club and those who don’t fit.  A community of listening and forgiveness, affirmation and belonging.  A community for everyone.    We’ve been affirming that here in Christchurch but our words and outpouring of love now needs to find roots. 

A community that includes Jews and Muslims, and Sikhs, and Buddhists, and ….the deal is that God wants to shape a new community that encapsulates us all, and maybe our little backwater can show the way.  Too often this deal has been interpreted by those who claim Abraham as their forefather as giving privilege and power.  Some are intrinsically better than others.  Jews, Christians, and Muslims make exclusive claims about their particular faiths.  The better way is to live out our faith with passion but also to respect the journey of others.  Our rivers in this part of the world are braided, but they all travel to the great wide encompassing ocean. 

This was not an exclusive deal.

Abraham forefather of the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths has something to teach us all.  He believed God made a sacred promise, a deal, a covenant.  God promised to keep leading he and Sarah to find life.  This deal, this covenant applies to us.  Trust, know we are held in a love that does not let go.  Trust that God is leading us to find new life:  that forgiveness is important, that honesty and grace and kindness matters, that sorting our relationship issues is important, that justice and caring for creation isn’t a nice afterthought.  God is committed to leading us to a new land, and a new future where the fences are no longer high but where our common humanity is taking down the palings of separation one by one.    

I pray this community and this place of worship will live out this invitation.

Dugald Wilson  24 March 2019

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Sunday 24th March 2019

Welcome Home to 43 St Martins Rd at 10am for our first service back in the church. Please be patient as we may have some teething issues!

Coping in the aftermath of the shooting

 We live in world where we assume safety and order.  We expect people to be mostly kind and to treat one another with basic respect.  We work with assumption that people are inherently good and God has things in hand.  These assumptions have been severely challenged by the actions of the shooter in our midst and to varying amounts we may feel like we are now standing on shaky ground.   It is natural to feel the world has suddenly become unsafe and an insecure place, and we may sleep poorly and feel anxiety.  We may feel other emotions.  Some feel guilt thinking there was something we could have done or that we have let down another group in our midst.  Many cards left with flowers at the scene say ‘sorry’.  Some may feel anger or helplessness.  Tears and sadness are very common.  Some may just feel chaos or intense weariness and have difficulty focusing. 

Trauma ‘experts’ tell us to acknowledge what we feel.  Connect with your body and feelings and know that God is in them.  They are coming from deep places within.  I notice when invited to share what is happening within, many people talk about others.  It is important we acknowledge and talk about ourselves.

It’s also OK to focus on you in other ways.  It is perfectly normal to feel we want to do something to help, but connecting with self and immediate friends and colleagues is  helping.  Read a Psalm like Psalm 121 and anchor your life in God’s presence.   Pray as you are able and know you are valued by God.  Pray and share your deep desires for healing of our community with God.  Be careful how much sensational news you feed yourself.  Remind yourself that one lone gunman hasn’t changed the relationships that surround you each day.  Do not let him take away your trust in others and the power of good alive in our world. 

Know that issues behind this attack are not going to be solved overnight, but that the light always overcomes the darkness.  One of the key messages of the resurrection is that evil will not win.  Notice that many of the Muslim victims have a deep trust in God that things will work out.  In the days ahead there will be plenty of time to address other issues like building better relationships with others in our community, addressing racism in our hearts and midst, and limiting the freedom of social media to disseminate propaganda of hate.  Individually we can not stop all the bad things in the world, but we can live with integrity and hold fast to our values and beliefs about living a good and meaningful life with Jesus as our guide. 

Dugald

Session Report:

  • Our immediate financial crisis has been resolved with the assistance of the Presbytery, with grants from the capital of the St David’s Trust and the Dick Estate. Presbytery has also forwarded money that was allocated for the ongoing pastoral care of people from St James.
  • The church piano has been repaired and tuned and the electric piano connected into the new sound system. Warren is attempting to repair the organ (this may not be possible).
  • We are looking for ideas of social events that will help build up our community. Ideas/offers to run an event are most welcome. Dugald is planning some movie evenings with tea in the winter months.

Thank you to those who helped at the working bee yesterday. In the coming weeks we have a priority to lay concrete paths outside. There is also shelving required in internal store-rooms.

NOTICES:

After the service please come through to the Lounge for a cuppa and a time to talk. Please take time to ask one another ‘how you are’, and listen to what is going on for each other in the aftermath of our shootings.

Official Opening next Sunday: The official opening of the strengthened church will be on Sunday 31st March at 2.30pm. We plan a short simple time to reflect on the journey, celebrate the new look building, and offer a prayer of blessing. Afternoon tea will follow, and we trust there will be a good representation from the wider community.

Inviting friends and neighbours to our opening next Sunday… please do so! You can also assist by delivering invitation fliers either in the immediate neighbourhood of the church (check on map to see which streets need doing, or simply deliver some in your street /neighbourhood.

Parking on St Martins Rd – the Council have advised that you can park on the street outside the church. The bus stops are no longer operational.

Foot Clinic TOMORROW at the church 1-4pm.

Fireside meets this Tuesday 26th March 7.30pm at the church for supper and a catch-up. All women welcome. Allison 332 0554.

Wednesday Walkers: 27th March  

Meet 9.30am in Botanic Gardens by Armagh Street bridge. Coffee at Ilex. All welcome. Sonya 0272533397.

Crafty Crafters: Thursdays 10am-12 noon at 43 St Martins Rd. New faces are always welcome. Bring along an unfinished craft item, or learn a new skill. Cost $3 per session. Contact Lyndsey McKay 388 1264 for more information.

Piano to give away…we have a second piano in the church which needs a new home. It needs tuning and some attention. Please contact

the Office if you know of someone who would like it.

Garage Sale at St Anne’s Anglican Church, NEXT Saturday   30th March 8.30am – 12.30pm.

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Christchurch Terror Attack

Our reading: Luke 10:25-37 – If Jesus were with us today he may make the hero of story the Good Muslim)

We are all reeling from the events that have shaken our city and our nation just two days ago.  49 innocent people, men women, and children shot and killed as they gathered in their sacred spaces to pray to God the merciful.  Numerous others wounded physically and mentally.  Scenes of horror played out before their eyes.  For all of us there are tears, confusion, angers, and a deep feeling of sickness.  How could this happen in our peaceful part of the world?  We are used to hearing of acts of terrorism but they are always out there somewhere, disconnected, happening to faceless others.  It’s easy and actually natural to let that be someone else’s problem.  But now it’s on our doorstep, and I might say with a new twist. 

   We are used to associating radical acts of terror with extremist Islamic groups.  The media have enhanced this.  Recent research in the United States has shown that actually in last 10 or so years the that only about 12% of what may termed terrorist attacks were perpetrated by Islamic extremists, but if Muslims are behind it the news stories increase by over 300%.   I bet most of us thought that if a terrorist attack were to occur in New Zealand it would be Muslim based. How wrong we were – it turns out the victims of the attack were all Muslims.  The very first Muslims in New Zealand were an Indian family living not far from here in Cashmere, and since then numbers living here have increased to I’m guessing about 5,000 people.  Every one of them is deeply affected and will know others who have died or who are injured.  There is a deep sense of being targeted and fear of more killings.  Our niece who is Muslim lives with us and she is now lives in fear to  appear in public wearing her hijab in case she is abused or targeted in some way. 

Our first step must be to reach out to Muslim neighbours friends and workmates and offer love, sympathy, and support.  This is a time to get rid of labels and see common humanity.  Listen to the grief and the hurt.  There are no simple rational explanations.  A deep evil has been unleashed in our midst.  We stand together against all kinds of hatred and we value people as people.  We abhor violence and especially violence perpetrated in the name of superiority and cleansing of our society of any racial or religious group.  There are people and ideologies in our midst that are deeply poisonous and toxic.  These killings are not the work of a mad man, but the result of deeply held beliefs that are evil.  We cannot stand idly by while people make racist remarks and while people drive up immediately after the killings and pronounce they are there to celebrate the deaths.  There is a sickness in our midst that none of us are immune from.  This is a time to celebrate common humanity, compassion, kindness.  This is a time when if you see a Muslim woman wearing hijab to say we stand with you, we feel for you.  This is a time to reach out across whatever boundaries of inherited prejudice and misunderstanding separate us.  We are brothers and sisters under God.

My experience is that every religion and every culture has something to offer us all as we seek to find true and good ways of living.  Islam has been demonised in the popular mind and there are reasons for this.  Radical Islam is not the true teaching of the Prophet. Simplistic demonising of any group is something Jesus stood against.  He engages with a Syro-Phonician woman by a well, a Roman centurion with a sick slave, and even makes a dreaded Samaritan the hero of a story.  If he told that story in our time he may well tell of the Good Muslim.   We could go back into the Old Testament and draw out all sorts of characters who are not part of the chosen religion.  Jethro, Rahab, Ruth, Uriah, and many more outsiders, non Jews, who prove themselves more just and godly than the so called true religious folk.  Jesus accepts people from other religious traditions and commands us  to treat others with the respect we would want from them.  When I explore with people what this might look like in practice and how should we then respond to others as followers of Jesus, typically they say things like “I would want them to respect my faith, show an interest in it and learn about it”.  “I’d like others to look for the positives and points of agreement, and not to try and convert me”.  My advice then as a follower of Jesus is to try and do likewise.

   This requires listening, compassion, and honesty in recognising that we have differences but that these differences do not need to be unscalable walls of division and fear.  We must and can keep looking for the good but also naming the things that divide.  Sometimes we will have to agree to live with the divisions because there is no obvious solution, but we can do that with respect.  One of these divisions when it comes to Islam is the different ways we look at scripture.  Our Bible is written and put together by people who experienced God working in their lives.  In this sense our Bible is a human product written in response to encountering the activity of God.  It is not inerrant. This is a different way of understanding our scriptures from the literal view which is often found in Muslim understanding in which the words of the Quran are literally dictated by God through the prophet Mohammed or the Mormon understanding of the Book of Mormon which was transcribed by Joseph Smith from gold plates he was led to dig up in a field. Clearly this makes dialogue difficult, but never impossible. 

I know Christian friends who will look at me sideways for saying such things.  Didn’t Jesus say he was ‘the way, the truth and the life, and the only way to the Father?’ (John 14:6)  The implication is clear.  If he is the only way, then while we might show respect to others, we inevitably must tell them they are deluded and wrong.  Our path is the best and only way and without Jesus they are doomed. 

John 14:6  of course had nothing to do with other faiths in it’s original setting.  Jesus wasn’t addressing the question of interfaith dialogue.  He was having a private discussion with his own disciples about issues of their own faith.  He’s preparing the disciples for his death and departure and begins the chapter by saying ‘in my Fathers house are many rooms.’  We often take that to be talking about heaven but elsewhere in John’s gospel ‘my Father’s house’ refers to the temple.   Jesus I think is saying that we will find God in many places in our journey of life and not just in one holy site.  John is saying if you want to see God look at Jesus.    If you want to know what matters to God look at Jesus.  If you want to know what a God filled life looks like look at Jesus.  I don’t think we are talking about some creedal statement about Jesus here but we are talking about a way of living.  He is asking us to join him in the way of living that involves loving God, loving others, respecting others, and challenging the powers of evil that seek to destroy the life of our earth. 

Marcus Borg, a theologian, tells of a visiting Buddhist teacher who was invited to preach at his church.  The teacher chose as his text this very verse of John 14:6.  He expounded on the importance of Jesus as the way for us to follow.  He ended however with a little twist.  This is the true way, but it is a way found in other religions and places as well.    

I mentioned earlier we have a Muslim niece who lives with us and whom we value deeply.  In fact I have three nieces and a nephew who are Muslim.  I treasure their presence in our family and the richness they have brought us.  We see many things differently as I would expect, and I believe they are treasured by God.  I have never seen my role as converting them to the faith I hold so dear, but I do hope that I can challenge them to be better Muslims, as they challenge me to be a better Christian. 

Police Commissioner Bush said of the actions and arrests on Friday: let’s not imagine the danger is over.

Rev Dr Keith Rowe active for many years in the promotion of Muslim-Christian relations reminds us the danger continues as long as we live in ignorance of the wisdom, dreams, and values of those who belong to other groups other than our own, and as long as we are content to have our lives shaped by bigotry and hatred.

I invite you to confront your ignorance and to take steps to build relationship with others who may be different.  I urge you to have zero tolerance for any form of bigotry, scapegoating, and hatred.  Silence in the face of evil is as good as feeding a fire with oxygen.  The evil ideologies behind these killings which has been creeping into our society and politics for some time now needs to be named as deeply evil.

I am the way, the life, and the truth.  Believe it – live it.

Dugald Wilson

17 March 2019

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Sunday 17th March 2019

NOTICES:

A very warm welcome to all who worship with us today. Please stay for a cuppa.

Next Sunday 24th March we meet at 43 St Martins Rd at 10am for our first service back in the church. Please be patient as we may have some teething issues!

Working Bee next Saturday 23rd March 8.30 – 11.00am to prepare front garden beds at 43 St Martins Rd. Bring gardening tools.

Official Opening: The official opening of the strengthened church will be on Sunday 31st March at 2.30pm. We plan a short simple time to reflect on the journey, celebrate the new look building, and offer a prayer of blessing. Afternoon tea will follow, and we trust there will be a good representation from the wider community. Invite a friend.

Session meets this Wednesday 20th March 7.30pm at the church.

Wednesday Walkers: 20th March  

Meet 9.30am at our church 43   St Martins Rd and wander around, led by Fern, finishing possibly for coffee at the church but we have a plan B! Ring 332 4725 for additional information. All welcome.

Anna will not be in the Office this Thursday 21st March.

Building Access: Anyone needing

access to the church will need to obtain the keypad number from the

office, and sign the confidentiality statement.  This enables us to keep an accurate list of those who know the number. Please return all old keys to the Office.

Bus Trip this Thursday 21st: please be at the church by 9.15am at the latest. Our estimated arrival in Geraldine is 11.15am. We will stop at Lushington’s on the way back for afternoon tea.

Crafty Crafters: Thursdays 10am-12 noon at 43 St Martins Rd. New faces are always welcome. Bring along an unfinished craft item, or learn a new skill. Cost $3 per session. Contact Lyndsey McKay 388 1264 for more information.

Garage Sale at St Anne’s Anglican Church, Saturday   30th March 8.30am – 12.30pm.

News from the Presbytery…

Esther Sabey is being ordained and inducted as Assistant Minister at Hope Church this morning. This afternoon Charissa Nicol is being ordained and inducted as part time minister at St Luke’s Redwood at 4.30pm to serve in the Prestons New Mission Project.

Piano to give away…we have a second piano in the church which needs a new home. It needs tuning and some attention. Please contact

the Office if you know of someone who would like it.

Te Raranga invites Greater Christchurch churches to join together in prayer and celebration in the newly opened Town Hall on Saturday 11th May 2019 at 7pm.

Celebration ’19 is a Church Wide Event – a rare opportunity to come together to:


Reaffirm our unity as followers of Jesus


Celebrate our diverse expressions of faith


Acknowledge the journey of regeneration in Christchurch

Highlight various contributions to the city


Take up an offering to go towards a pioneering project in the city


Join together to pray for our city


Enjoy corporate worship

Encourage and inspire one another


Contributions from a wide range of groups promises to make this night a celebration of colour and flavour; a chance to give glory to God for the different ways He is working among and through us. We are really hoping you and your church members will join us for an evening of worship, prayer, celebration and challenge.


Tickets are now on sale through Ticketek at $19 per person (plus booking fee). Note: it is cheaper to book multiple tickets. We are encouraging churches to buy a block of tickets and sell on directly to their congregations.

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Sunday 10 March 2019

A very warm welcome to all who worship with us today. Please stay for a cuppa. Many thanks to Rev Hugh Perry for leading today’s service.

Sue has jams, chutneys & relishes for sale today (most $4).

Foot Clinic TOMORROW 1-4pm at Beckenham Methodist Lounge. Lyndsey McKay 388 1264.

Wednesday Walkers: 13th March  – will car pool at 9.30am to drive to West Belt, near Community Centre, Lincoln to complete the historic walk we weren’t able to do in December and go back to the Flaming Rabbitfor $8 Coffee and muffin deal or early lunch if you wish.  Sonya 027 253 3397.

Building Access: Anyone needing access to the church will need to obtain the keypad number from the office, and sign the confidentiality statement.  This enables us to keep an accurate list of those who know the number. Please return all old keys to the Office.

The Urgent Pharmacy in Bealey Ave has now closed. For a pharmacy that’s open weekends and public holidays, go to Unichem or Life in the malls.

Crafty Crafters’ Bus Trip to Geraldine 21st  March: There are 4 more seats available. Please pay $30to Lyndsey before Thursday 14th at the latest. We will leave from the church at 9am. Lyndsey McKay 388 1264.

Crafty Crafters: Thursdays 10am-12 noon at 43 St Martins Rd. New faces are always welcome. Bring along an unfinished craft item, or learn a new skill. Cost $3 per session. Contact Lyndsey McKay 388 1264 for more information.

Garage Sale at St Anne’s Anglican Church, Saturday   30th March 8.30am – 12.30pm.

East Side Multicultural Games Avebury House Sat 23 March 1-3pm

Crossway Community Church, North Avon Baptist and Delta Community Support trust are working together to present this community event.

The games range from relaxing yet stimulating board games such as Mahjong where you can sit, chat and learn to the more physically challenging Kana Mutti. Not only are there fun games for families but there are also games suitable for a wider range of ages. There will be all of this and more with a taste of ethnic food.


With a vibrant multicultural community we want to connect different ethnicities together to bring fun games for the whole community. Nationalities involved in running the East Side Multicultural Games are Sri Lankan, Filipino, Korean, Dutch, Tongan, the Shetlands, and Taiwan with more ethnicities to come.

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