Sermons - Most Recent Print

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.

See other sermons here:

Sermons Latest

Sermons 2019 Jan - March

Sermons 2018 44 - 47 (Dec)

Sermons 2018 34 - 43 (Oct - Nov)

Sermons 2018 26 - 33 (Aug - Sept)

Sermons 2018 18 - 25 (May - July)

Sermons 2018 8-17 (Mar - May)

Sermons 2018 1-7 (Feb - Mar)

1 September 2019

Seating Arrangements and Guest Lists
Ordinary Sunday 22 (C)
Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16 & Luke 14:1, 7-14

In Lukes Gospel Jesus is into meals, as in todays reading, where hes dinning at a Pharisees house. This isnt the first time hes accepted a dinner invitation from a Pharisee. Luke tells of two other occasions, both of which turned into social disasters. At one a woman scandalised the guests by washing Jesus feet, then anointing and kissing them. The other ended with Jesus giving a theological dressing down of the host and his friends. These episodes, not surprisingly, left some of the Pharisees feeling rather hostile towards Jesus, and it seems that Jesus had been invited to this meal so they could catch him out. Thats the implication of the opening verse, they were watching him closely.

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25 August 2019

Freedom on the Sabbath
Ordinary Sunday 21C
Luke 13:10-17

One Sabbath, while Jesus is teaching in a synagogue, a woman appears who had been crippled for eighteen years so crippled that shes unable to stand up straight. Imagine how it was for her. For eighteen years, unable to look anyone in the eye, unable to be part of life on the same level as anyone else. Work, worship, even walking along the road would have been difficult and painful. That is, until this sabbath, when everything changes...

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18 August 2019

The forearm technique
Ordinary Sunday 20 (C)
Isaiah 5:1-7 & Luke 12:49-56

Beethoven would sometimes play a rather naughty trick on terribly polite high society audiences, especially when he thought they werent really interested in serous music. He would perform a piece on the piano, perhaps one of his slow, gentle movements, which would lull the audience into thinking the world was a cosy, beautiful place. As the audience relaxed into a semi-slumber, and the final notes were dying away, Beethoven would bring his forearm down with a crash across the keyboard and laugh at the shock he had caused...

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11 August 2019

From Anxiety to Treasure
Ordinary Sunday 19 (C)
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 & Luke 12:32-40

Anxiety fear worry . Its familiar stuff. Were all afraid of something; its just that some of us manage to mask it better than others. It can be about so many different things: fear of getting things wrong, of failing, fear about how were going to cope with a situation, or maybe its worries about our health or finances. The possibilities are endless.

Jesus comes along and says, Do not be afraid. Sounds good, but is it one of those pie-in-the sky platitudes? Then he goes on: Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Fathers good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Not exactly what you get in one of those self-help books that teach how to banish anxiety from ones life, but then Jesus is offering a very different way of seeing life...

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4 August 2019

Ordinary Sunday 18 (C)
Psalm 107:1-9, 43; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13-21

In first century Palestine it wasnt uncommon for people to take a dispute to a rabbi for arbitration. Thats how our Gospel reading starts. A man requests Jesus to settle an argument over the division of a family inheritance. Jesus, however, refuses to get involved in this family squabble over property. Instead, he addresses the bigger question...

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28 July 2019

Lord, teach us to pray.
Ordinary Sunday 17 (C)
Luke 11:1-13

One of the disciples said to Jesus, Lord, teach us to pray. We know what Jesus said. Its included in every liturgy within A New Zealand Prayer Book, and its familiarity extends beyond the bounds of a regular church congregation. I was with a group of Muslims and they asked me lead them in prayer. One of them leaned over to me and said, If you want, use the Lords Prayer. We know it.

What does this familiar prayer say? Weve heard Lukes version. It briefer than Matthews, but the essence is the same. The opening word is a declaration of relationship: Father. Father might sound rather formal, but in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) the word Abba is more intimate, like Dad or even Daddy...

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21 July 2019

Hanging out with Jesus
Ordinary Sunday 16 (C)
Luke 10: 38-42

Jesus is travelling towards Jerusalem and on his way stops off at the village of Bethany, calling in at the house of his friends, Mary and Martha. Martha welcomes Jesus, makes him feel at home, and then gets back to her tasks. Meanwhile, her sister, Mary, sits down in the front room with Jesus, hanging on every word he utters, but Martha remains occupied with the practical things that have to be done. You know how it is. Its a familiar domestic situation...

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7 July 2019

The seventy ... Thats us
Ordinary Sunday 14 (c)
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. Heres a glimpse of how ministry and mission was first undertaken. Jesus sends out seventy people to share the good news. We dont know their names, but they undoubtedly, along with the twelve disciples, formed the core of the early Christian community. Interestingly, seventy is about the average size of a 10am congregation here at St Matthews. So these seventy might be us, and the instructions Jesus gives them might also be applicable to us...

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30 June 2019

Following Jesus on a journey
Ordinary Sunday 13 (C)
Luke 9:51-62 & Galatians 5:1, 13-25

Each of the Gospel writers has their own way of telling the Jesus story. In Lukes account weve got to a point thats called the journey section or travel narrative. It begins by saying that Jesus has set his face to go to Jerusalem. Its the start of the last leg of Jesus journey. The trip from Galilee (which is where Jesus is now) to Jerusalem is 137 kilometres, but its going to take Luke about ten chapters to get there whereas Mark covers the same distance by express, taking just one chapter. But Luke is into journeys. According to Luke, the first name given to Christians was people of the Way. In other words, Christians arent static and settled, but are people on the move journeying with Jesus...

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16 June 2019 - Trinity Sunday (C)

A door into the mystery of God and something about kittens

Its sometimes said that the Feast of the Holy Trinity is the only celebration in the church year devoted to a doctrine. Whats more, its one that can land a preacher in a theological quagmire. A posting on Facebook reads: How not to commit heresy preaching on the Trinity: Say nothing and show pictures of kittens instead.

At first glance the Trinity does look like a theological statement. Our Catechism describes it: 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.

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9 June 2019 -The Feast of Pentecost (C)

PentecostThe power of language
Genesis 11:1-9 & Acts 2:1-21

Once upon a time, before history started, the whole earth had only one language and the same words. But human beings got above themselves and decided to become famous by building a great tower so high that it could reach the heavens. But God took one look and said, One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what theyll come up with next theyll stop at nothing! Come, well go down and garble their speech so they wont understand each other. Then God scattered them from there all over the world, and they had to quit building the city. Thats how it came to be called Babel, because there God turned their language into babble (thats what Babel means)...

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2 June 2019 - Easter 7

Lessons from a prison cell
Acts 16:16-34

Still in Philippi, Paul and Silas were going to the place of prayer and were accosted by a slave girl who had the ability to foretell the future. She was a valuable possession of her owners who would hire her out to read palms and provide entertainment at business conventions. She was also possessed by a demon mentally unbalanced, we would say. The girl took to following Paul and Silas around, shouting out to them, claiming that they were slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.

Her claim was true, but not in the sense she meant...

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19 May 2019 - Easter 5

Its all about love thats all
John 13:31-35

Over the years Ive been present at many deathbeds and heard a dying person utter their final words. Its a sacred space for Im aware that I stand in a place that is on the borders of heaven and earth, and some of the words Ive heard spoken have remained me, even decades later. So it was with a man who had spent his life seeking to serve our Lord. As he lay dying, he had reflected on his life, on the ministry he had exercised, and on the relationships that encircled him. He turned to me and said, Ill tell you what its all about. I waited, and then after a time he continued, Its all about love thats all. Its all about love. And those were some of the last words he ever spoke. I knew the man well, and I knew they werent sentimental words, for he wasnt given to sentimentality. He had encapsulated what his faith meant to him and what his life had been all about. But I suspect he also uttered them as a gift to me for they were the final words of a father to his son...

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12 May 2019 - Easter 4

The Tabithas among us
Acts 9:36-43

In the Acts of the Apostles Luke tells us stories from the life of the early church, which are usually about significant events. But every now and then he changes gear from history-changing moments to small domestic ones. Thats what we have today.

Were in an upstairs room in an ordinary home, filled with the knitting and sewing that a good woman had spent so many of her hours doing. But then she got sick, and now shes dead. Her name was Tabitha, or in Greek, Dorcas. Luke tells us that she was a disciple and was well known for doing good and helping out...

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5 May 2019 - Easter 3

Believers in the impossible
Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 30; John 21:1-19

In Lewis Carrolls Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen tells Alice that in her youth, she believed six impossible things every morning before breakfast and advises Alice to believe in impossibilities as well. The 50 days of Easter is a season for believers in the impossible. Its a time when were encouraged to think what can be done rather than what cant be done. Its when were led to discover that God is at work in our lives, giving us more than we dare ask or even imagine. The Easter season are days in which possibilities abound; when its right to believe the impossible; to expect God to do the unexpected; to see the surprising happen...

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28 April 2019 - Easter 2

Faith with doubts and wounds
John 20:19-31

On the evening of that first Easter Day, some of Jesus disciples gathered in a room behind locked doors. Not only were they grieving they were also scared frightened that those who had arrested and executed Jesus would now come after them. To compound their heartbreak, there were rumours that somehow Jesus had survived death. Then, suddenly, hes standing among them and says, Peace be with you. To prove that it was really him, he showed them the wounds on his body the place where the nails had gone, and a hole that a spear had left in his side when a soldier had checked that he was dead...

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25 April 2019 - ANZAC Day

A Reflection at service to Commemorate ANZAC Day

While April the 25th was originally set aside to remember the events that took place at Gallipoli during the First World War, our understanding of ANZAC Day has expanded to include all wars where New Zealanders and Australians fought and died. Remembering their sacrifice is an essential aspect of todays commemorations but isnt limited to that...

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21 April 2019 - Easter Day

I have seen the Lord.
John 20:1-18

A woman, by the name of Mary Magdalene, preached the first ever Easter Day sermon. It was a very simple sermon consisting of just one sentence: I have seen the Lord.

I could well stop there, because I cant do better. In those few words Mary has said it all. Though perhaps, I ought to flesh it out a little, but not too much.

Mary was by the empty grave, weeping. She assumed, quite reasonably, that Jesus body had been removed. Then a man, whom she supposed to be one of the cemetery staff, asked her why she was grieving. She explained, and then he uttered her name. In that brief moment of intimacy, Mary recognised who the man was. She went back to her friends and preached that sermon: I have seen the Lord.

As well trained Anglicans we would have at least said: Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia! But no, she simply says, I have seen the Lord.

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19 April 2019

With us
Good Friday

In 1373, an English woman lay critically ill in bed, probably stricken by the plague, and facing what she thought would be her death. We know very little about her life, but we do know she recovered and took the name, Julian.

As Julian lay in bed she received a series of visions of Jesus, which she wrote down in a book entitled Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love. It was the first English-language book to be written by a woman. Many made pilgrimage to Norwich seeking Julians wisdom and spiritual insight. All these centuries later Julian of Norwich is treasured as one of the greatest English mystics...

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18 April 2019

Washing and being washed
Maundy Thursday
John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Its Jesus last night with his disciples. He gathers them together in an upper room and does something that will shape the lives of his followers for the centuries to come. Its a very mundane action. As the group arrives their feet are dirty from walking on the unsealed roads in open sandals. Normally, a servant wouldve met them at the door and washed their feet. But the servant is absent. The natural thing would have been for one of the disciples to perform this menial task. But each left it to someone else to do.

I imagine they wouldve gladly washed Jesus feet, but I can see them having problems washing one anothers. Peter wouldve struggled to wash the feet of those two social climbers, James and John. And how would Matthew, the former tax collector and collaborator, serve Simon the fanatical Zealot? So in the end it was left up to Jesus to wash their feet, even those of the man who would shortly betray him...

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14 April 2019

Expectations turned up side down
Palm Sunday (C)
Luke 19:28-40

Its a carefully arranged parade. Luke tells us that Jesus rode down the hill on the back of a colt. As he did so, the crowd of followers burst into enthusiastic praise over all the great things they had seen him do, and they shouted:

Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory to God.

It was a triumphal procession. The people were familiar with kings who came riding into town like this. They would welcome them back from a successful battle by spreading their clothes on the road and shouting out praises. Weve seen this scene play out. In countries where an unpopular government is overthrown the crowds gather and celebrate with triumphal processions, though in New Zealand its usually reserved for sportspeople. We put these parade on for the medallists when they return from the Olympic or Commonwealth Games, and when a sports team wins a world cup...

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