Sermons - News Print E-mail

Our Priest in Charge, the Rev'd Alister Hendery, is making available his sermons via this website.  Here is your opportunity to download a sermon as a Pdf file and read it at your leisure. 

17 June 2018

11th Sunday in Ordinary Sunday (Year B) – Mark 4:26-34
Seeds sown and seeds growing

The seed of the Chinese bamboo tree lies buried in the soil for five years before any seedling or sprout appears above ground … five long years … and all during that time the seed must be watered and fertilised. But when the bamboo seedling finally emerges from the ground it grows to a height of over thirty meters in just six weeks.

Why does it take so long to emerge? Why does it grow so fast once it does emerge? Experts say that during its first five years in the soil, the bamboo seed is busy building an elaborate root system. It’s this root system that enables it to grow over thirty meters in just six weeks. God’s way of working can be like that...

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10 June 2018

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – Mark 3:20-35
Being out of our minds

It’s near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and he’s already starting to have an impact. He’s teaching and healing people, and started to deal with unclean spirits – driving demons out of people. This has got people both excited and worried – so much so that some say he’s out of his mind. So his family try to restrain him. It’s not a very complimentary picture of Jesus’ family. But can you blame them? Who wants a family member with that sort of reputation?

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3 June 2018

9th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 1 Samuel 3:1-20; Psalm 139
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”

The book of 1 Samuel, which takes us into the early life of the nation of Israel, opens in the house of a man named Elkanah. He’s married to two women, and Hannah, his favourite, is barren. Hannah begs God for a child, and during her prayer, she encounters the priest Eli, who is somewhat lacking in pastoral sensitivity. He accuses the praying woman of being drunk. Despite this unhelpful encounter, Eli tells Hannah that her prayer will be answered. Hannah gives birth to her long awaited child and does as she promised. She gives the child, named Samuel, to the Lord. The boy remains with Eli at the holy place in Shiloh, taking on the role of an altar server. Hannah’s action of giving her child over like this may seem odd to us, but she’s affirming, as we do, that our children don’t belong to us, but are given to us by God, and as they grow, they must develop their own relationship with God. And perhaps, there’s a parallel here to baptism, in which we’re called to life-long service, and as we develop in our relationship to God, we seek to discern the ministries God has called us to...

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27 May 2018

Trinity Sunday (Year B) – Isaiah 6:1-8; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17
Love, the Beloved, the Lover

Church festivals usually focus on an event or the life and death of an individual. Today is different as we’re invited to reflect on who God is. ‘A Catechism’ in A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa says about God:

God is eternal, earth maker, pain bearer, life giver; source of all that is
and shall be; father and mother of us all. We learn that God is one, yet
revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – a Holy Trinity.

That’s what we celebrate today: the Holy Trinity. But this isn’t a head exercise. I’m not going to give you a doctrinal lesson explaining how 1 + 1 + 1 = 1, and not 3. We know who God is and what God is like, because God has chosen to act in our lives and get involved in the nitty gritty of human existence...

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20 May 2018

Pentecost (Year B) – Ezekiel 37:1-14; Acts 2:1-21; John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
God’s breath

On the eve of his death Jesus shared a final meal with his disciples at which there was much table talk. In the midst of it, he promised that after he had gone, he would send the Spirit to them.

The Spirit, the Holy Spirit – that’s God at work in the world, at work in us. The Spirit has always been around, for the Spirit is God. The Spirit was present when the world was created, sweeping over the waters of chaos and breathing life into the dust of the earth so that so the earth creature (adam) was formed. In the Hebrew Scriptures we see the Spirit working through special people like prophets and rulers. Then of course, the Spirit was present and active in and through Jesus. But now Jesus promises something new. The Spirit would be poured out on all people – on women and men, old and young – on those like us...

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13 May 2018

Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year B) – Acts 1:15-17, 21-26
Judas Iscariot, Matthias (and Joseph called Barsabbas) and us

For the benefit of those who have missed recent episodes in the drama of God’s never-ending story, I shall recap.

After a public ministry, which lasted about three years, the Roman authorities executed Jesus of Nazareth. It was a Friday, and mercifully his death by crucifixion took only a few hours. He was then interred in a borrowed tomb. Family and close friends were, quite naturally, devastated. But then, on the Sunday morning, reports were received that the tomb was empty and a women claimed to have met him. This, understandably, compounded everyone’s sense of emotional and spiritual chaos. Then, that Sunday evening, eleven of Jesus’ disciples encountered him. And, yes, it was Jesus all right. Not a ghost, but Jesus in the flesh. In the weeks following he kept appearing to his closest friends. This went on for forty days. Last Thursday, it came to an end...

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6 May 2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year B) – 1 John 5:1-6 & John 15:9-17
Could it be me?

The Church of God came into being for a very specific and all consuming purpose: to spread the good news of God’s loving intentions for all of humankind. As the followers of Christ, as members of the Church, we’ve been called to do one thing above all else: to share with others the reality of God’s love for all people. However, there’s a trap that we may fall into. Sometimes we delude ourselves into thinking that the most important part of the announcement is the words we use, but as it’s been said, preach the gospel and when necessary use words...

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27 Apr 2018

Easter 5 (Year B) – 1 John 4:7-21; John 15:1-8
It’s all about Love

Some years ago, a man who was close to death, said to me, “As I look back on my life I realise that it’s all about love. That’s all … love.” He wasn’t being sentimental. He had spent his life faithfully serving God, and over the years he had known some tough times, and in the last few he had cared for his wife, whom he loved dearly, as she slipped further and further into dementia. The man had thought deeply about his faith, and what he was offering me in that simple statement was his summary of what he understood Christian life to be all about. When it came to his funeral he asked that we sing the old hymn that begins: ‘O Love that wilt not let me go…’ For him, this love wasn’t a ‘nice’ feeling, but a gift from God that had sustained and motivated him over many decades and which he had responded to with a life-long commitment to Christian service...

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22 Apr 2018

Easter 4 (Year B) – 1 John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18
The Shepherd & Shrek

The biblical image of sheep and shepherd, as in the 23rd Psalm, is so very familiar. We draw on it in times of crisis, in the face of death, as well as on occasions of celebration. In New Zealand we know about sheep. Even with the rise of the dairy industry, they still occupy a fair share of the paddocks. The problem is that the biblical image draws on a pastoral scene that is radically different from what we know here...

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15 Apr 2018

Easter 3 (B) – Luke 24:36b-48
The resurrected body

Christ is risen! … We make that acclamation as an expression of hope and faith, but imagine what it was like for those first disciples. You’ve seen Jesus killed – his lifeless body laid out in a tomb. Now you begin to grieve. You begin to come to terms with the fact that it’s all over. Jesus is dead. But then, two of your number come with a bizarre story, about meeting Jesus on the road, and how he had made himself known in the breaking of the bread: “Come on – get real. People don’t come back to life.” “But hang on, don’t you remember him telling us that after three days he would be raised from the dead?” “What do we make of it?” They struggle with this news. Are these two deluded? Or may be, just maybe, there’s something in it. As they talk, tussling with this possibility, Jesus suddenly appears among them and says, “Peace be with you.” Not surprisingly they’re startled and frightened. Their first reaction is to think they’re seeing a ghost, but Jesus senses their fear and doubt: “Look at my hands; look at my feet — it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have flesh and bone like this.” They still can’t believe what they’re seeing. So Jesus asks for some food. They give him a piece of cooked fish. He takes it and eats it before their eyes...

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8 Apr 2018

2nd Sunday of Easter (Year B)  – Acts 4:32-35 & John 20:19-31
Our distinctive mark

Throughout the Easter season, the first reading comes from the Acts of the Apostles, which is Luke’s account of the young church that developed in the wake of Jesus’ resurrection. These passages are like snapshots of how the Christian family was learning to live out its faith in the risen Lord. What strikes me about today’s scene is that it doesn’t focus on the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection, but on some seemingly mundane aspects of community life: possessions, money, and property – the sort of stuff that Vestries get excited by. But then we note their attitude to these things. These first Christians believed that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to the poor...

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1 Apr 2018 - Easter Day

Easter Day – John 20:1-18
Easter in the darkness

‘Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark….’ It’s so often in darkness that we discover the risen Christ.

While it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb, because a few days before, her friend Jesus had been killed. With his death her hope had died. Now we see her in the garden weeping. She has lost the most important person to her: “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” It was a double grief. Not only had her beloved friend and teacher died, but also his body was gone. She couldn’t even spend a few minutes with it, mourning.

There’s a reality about this story that many of us can recognise, because we know about grief and the aching sense of loss. We can feel with Mary, because we’ve felt it. We’ve woken to the darkness of grief, because someone we love has died or gone. We’ve woken up and known the darkness caused by despair and the loss of hope...

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30 Mar 2018 - Good Friday

Good Friday

The cross is one of the best-known symbols in the world. Worn as a fashion accessory; as a mark of belief; a decoration; a focus of devotion; signed on the body as an expression of faith; crowning buildings and marking places of death. Yet, it’s an instrument of execution – of a very cruel kind. In his Gospel John tells us that the cross, from which all these others come, was erected on a place called Golgotha – the Place of the Skull. It was an ugly site, the ground formation bare like a skull, fitting well the gruesome work undertaken there. Its elevation raised its victims so that the staring crowds could easily see. The setting functioned as a macabre theatre for this tortuous form of execution...

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29 Mar 2018 - Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; John 13:1-17, 31b-35
God Who Serves

Feet are rather basic things. They get us from here to there, and in the process become calloused, sore and sweaty. The disciples were waiting for the household servant to offer them the usual courtesy of a cool bath for their feet before the meal began. When no servant appeared, Jesus the Word made flesh, the beloved one of God, took on that role. The hands of the one who came from God, who was God, tended to their tired, dirty, smelly feet...

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25 Mar 2018 - Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday (Year B) – Mark 11:1-11
A Parade of Questions

It was a parade. Those in the crowd were shouting their heads off as down the street came a man riding a colt. The people waved at him as he went by. Mark tells us they ‘gave him a wonderful welcome, some throwing their coats on the street, others spreading out rushes they had cut in the fields. Running ahead and following after, they were calling out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Blessed the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in highest heaven!”

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18 Mar 2018 - Lent 5

Lent 5 (year B) – John 12:20-33
Salmon Swimmers and Grains of Wheat

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

In her novel, I Heard The Owl Call My Name, Margaret Craven tells the story of Mark, a young Anglican priest who is sent to a remote Indian fishing village in British Columbia. It’s a depressed community. The young are restless, the old ways are being forgotten, and the traditions are dying...

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11 Mar 2018 - Lent 4

Lent 4 (Year B) – Numbers 21:4-9; Ephesians 2: 1-10; John 3: 14-21
Serpents and Love and Life

I recall a photo of my daughter with a snake wrapped around her shoulders – and my daughter was smiling with delight. It’s beyond my comprehension how she could enjoy the experience. Snakes don’t do much for me, and I think people like my daughter who can handle them with apparent pleasure, are rather strange...

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4 Mar 2018 - Lent 3

Lent 3 (Year B) – 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
The foolish God

I’ve lived my entire life within the context of the Christian faith and so it’s easy for me to take the gospel for granted. I read a passage of scripture for the umpteenth time and think, been there before. Then, out of the blue, a line that’s so familiar catches me. This happened as I pondered this morning’s passage from a letter Paul wrote to the young church community in Corinth. It starts off: ‘For the message about the cross is foolishness….’

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25 Feb 2018 - Lent 2

Lent 2 (Year B) – Mark 8:27-38
At that fork in the road

We’ve reached a decisive point in Mark’s Gospel. It’s a fork in the road. One route points to Jerusalem, and Jesus knows that’s where he’s headed for, and what awaits him there. But the disciples want him to go down the other road...

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18 Feb 2018 - Lent 1

Lent 1 (Year B) – Mark 1:9-15
The Lenten Sandwich

On the first Sunday in Lent we always hear an account of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness. It sets the scene for the forty days of Lent. This year we get Mark’s version – but notice how brief it was. Mark describes it in just two verses, whereas Matthew takes eleven and Luke thirteen. Mark doesn’t tell us what the temptations were – there’s no mention of Jesus’ struggles or fasting, no description of the outcome. The account is so terse that we might be tempted to skim over it, but it’s a story packed with meaning – not only for Jesus, but also for us...

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14 Feb 2018 - Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday – 2018
The Most Honest Day
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17 & Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

Ash Wednesday is, perhaps, the most honest day in the church’s year. We are left with no illusions. Our masks are stripped off and we’re confronted with reality. ‘Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and follow Christ / be faithful to the gospel.’

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11 Feb 2018

11 Feb 2018  6th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Embracing Lepers 2 Kings 5:1-14 & Mark 1:40-45
Two stories about two men suffering from leprosy

...Remembering that I need help and love, forgiveness and acceptance, often helps me to reach out to others in need – especially to those, who like the two biblical characters, are cut off from others. Just like you, I’m in need of healing. Like you, I need Jesus to reach out and touch me. And knowing that enables me, however imperfectly I may do it, to respond with the love that God immerses me in every day...

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