Greetings in Jesus’ name.
Last week, I was sitting in my barber’s seat having a conversation with the local barber. Since moving to West Auckland, I have become a regular at this barber shop. The young Fijian brothers who work there are very friendly. Over the past year we have become comfortable talking about our faith among other things and the differences and challenges within our cultural contexts. They both enjoy our conversations I can tell. Even when customers are queuing, awaiting a haircut – with me, they take their time. One reason being, that the younger of the two, has just married a Christian woman. So they have asked questions and where possible I have offered advice which they have appreciated. Jesus often walked in. He would sit on the long black leather seat alongside those awaiting their turn in the chair. His hair was shiny, and combed slickly back. He was very well-presented and had a trendy tanned-brown coat which he would always wear. He wasn’t there for a haircut though. He often walked in just to have a chat with the barbers whom he knew well. This was a regular occurrence and each time I sat in that barber’s chair, in the reflection of the huge mirror in front of me, Jesus would walk in smiling and chatting. I never said anything to Jesus – but we did exchange a smile one day. That day, I was the only customer in the shop and once again Jesus came in. He shared with the Fijian brothers how so much was going on in Henderson. He was concerned. I wanted to join the conversation but chose not to. Jesus went and came back a few minutes later. He left again – and he returned. I wanted to talk to Jesus, but I couldn’t bring myself round to it (strange for someone who enjoys meeting people). After a year and a half seeing Jesus – I couldn’t say anything to Jesus! The young brothers eventually shared with me that Jesus worked in the dairy right next door to them. I should’ve said something to Jesus.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, while Jesus was opening his dairy for business as usual, two teenagers attacked him and he was pronounced dead hours later. The grieving local community has shared of the friendly and funny nature of this young father who loved to meet people. And my friends at the barbershop who knew him well were in a state of numbness as I visit them yesterday.
My brothers and sisters in Christ: Life is short and can be cut even shorter unexpectedly. Health issues, accidents, and senseless acts of violence, can take away the most important people to you - in a single moment. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to say something important to someone e.g. “Nice to meet you; I forgive you; I love you.”
You may never get that opportunity again. What will your last words be?
In memory of Arun Kumar and the Kumar family.
Rev. Gary Mauga
Talofa lava and greetings in the name of Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
I met up with my friend Jesus on the road to Mangere one evening and I felt like some company so I invited him over, “Please come and join me for dinner and a chat. Tell me what you’ve been up to.” “Sure,” he replied. Jesus and I sat in the lounge just catching up. He shared about a situation he was currently in and how as a result, hostility was following him around – people were not happy with him. He was being accused falsely and no one believed his story. Jesus was a wreck. We talked and talked … and on a couple of occasions I disguised my looking at the clock ticking well into the night. I may have stopped listening for a bit. But I don’t think Jesus knew. I was nodding anyway despite my not really hearing him. My calendar for the next day suddenly sprang up in my mind. Hmm…what do I need to do tomorrow? All the while, I’m nodding “yes” but not hearing a thing. It was a relief when at 10pm, Jesus finally said, “It’s finished. It’s over. We’re done.” What? Who? Where? When? I remember asking myself, “Did I miss something?” Those words caught my attention. Turns out that Jesus was talking about his marriage. I had no idea. “Thanks my brother – I really needed this,” he said as he left in tears. I felt bad. I should’ve paid more attention. How could I invite Jesus into my home and not listen? I need to work on my listening.
As Easter passes us, it’s easy to stop listening to the promises of God – as for some of us, “it is finished” becomes the end of the story. In fact, Jesus’ use of the words “it is finished” (John 19:30), were in many a sense the beginning of God’s redemptive work – a gift to all humankind. A resurrection followed. New life followed. A life forgiven. There is much more of the story to listen to and hear. We, believers have a part to play in this story as it unfolds before our very eyes. Are we still paying attention? Are we just nodding in rhythm with the story of Jesus without really hearing it? Have we missed something? Don’t be one who invites Jesus into your life only to hear the parts you want to.
How much of a listener are you? I now ask myself this question every day!
Rev. Gary Mauga
Talofa lava and greetings in the name of Jesus.
The world we live in today continues to struggle to grasp the true nature of love – just as those who followed Jesus during his earthly ministry struggled to grasp Jesus, himself, God incarnate, who was and is LOVE (1 John 4:8). If the way I love is anything to go by, then, perhaps there are others who, like me, do not have LOVE sorted out either. For LOVE cannot be selective. LOVE should be all-inclusive, without boundary, unconditional. However, what I see in my own life, and in the people and world around me, are facets of LOVE rather than something complete and whole.
Here’s what I believe LOVE is today:
“Love is impatient and cruel; it is jealous and conceited and proud; love is ill-mannered and selfish and irritable; love keeps record of wrongs; love is happy with evil, but not happy with truth. Love gives up, and its faith, hope, and patience will always fail. Love never lasts.”
And here is what LOVE CAN BE:
“Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail. Love is eternal (1 Cor. 13: 4-8).”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to be the light of LOVE in a dark and often unloving world. We are bearers of a message of LOVE in all its fullness. We are called to be the light of LOVE as a husband, a father, a mother, a spouse, a son, a daughter, a child. Will you be a light of LOVE, a light of Christ, to those around you? It may mean breaking the traditions of the way we have LOVED for so long.
Settle not for what LOVE is today – strive for what LOVE CAN BE.
Rev. Gary Mauga
Jesus Came to Church the Other Day…
Last Sunday, started off like every other Sunday morning. My irritating phone alarm buzzed at 7:15am and slightly annoyed, I slowly got up (I’ve been meaning to change my alarm tone for months! I’ve been thinking of a lullaby tone). As per daily routine, I made my way to the kitchen like a zombie still struggling to open my other eye. Once I had placed five weetbix (reduced from seven once my diet started) in my cereal bowl, and ignored the ratio of the only three milk drops left in the bottle to five weetbix, I sat down and enjoyed my extra crunchy dry breakfast. Fast forward. I was having a break from leading the service and so I found a comfortable spot to enjoy worship and to hear what God was saying to me that morning. With people still arriving, and the soft sound of the organ playing some meditative tunes I noticed in the corner of my eye a small figure coming towards me from the right hand side. I looked up and there he was – it was JESUS! I was in awe! Was I still asleep!? I greeted Jesus, “Good morning, Jesus.” He didn’t reply but he knew I was there so I just smiled. He sat about two chairs from me. I looked around and some of the congregation looked at us smiling. It was a great feeling: Jesus was at church – OUR church - sitting next to ME! The service started, and Jesus sung along with us to the first hymn. His voice was young and pure and it sounded like he was singing in a different language – maybe Hebrew or tongues. I kept glancing over at him to see if he was okay. As the preacher that morning led us in prayer I closed my eyes and slowly zoned into prayer mode. Suddenly, there was a ruffling sound. Reluctant to react, I quickly opened my eyes to check on Jesus – he was okay – but he was opening a small packet of chips and began eating from it. I closed my eyes again. “Crunch, crunch,” was the sound as he chewed quite noisily – similar to my breakfast sounds. At this point, I had totally disregarded the prayer as I was officially distracted. At “Amen” I looked over to where Jesus was sitting and he was gone! He was now walking around in between rows and leaving a trail of chips as he wandered. By now, the preacher had lost us as more and more added to the challenge of “hushing” Jesus. Jesus must’ve been terrified as people around him were saying, “Jesus, shhhh! Keep quiet!” As many people picked him up in an attempt to control him Jesus started crying. His mother, now embarrassed, decided to pick him up and take him out of church so not to disrupt the service – after all, we were about to hear a sermon on Jesus! As they left his cries became more and more distant. Jesus never came back that day. Jesus never came back.
“Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, he was angry and said to his disciples, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.’” (Mark 10:13-14)
If JESUS comes to YOUR church this week – please tell Jesus we are sorry and ask him to forgive us. Perhaps YOU will welcome him/her better?
Rev. Gary Mauga
“Jesus came over the other day…”
One day, I was working in my office when there was a knock at the door. It was quite a firm knock. I approached the door wondering why this person had not noticed the door bell. It was most likely to have been someone who had never been here before. I opened the door and there he was: it was Jesus! He looked different. He was older than I expected. He had a balding head and had grayish stubble around his chin. He was medium to fat build and about 6 feet tall. He wore an old singlet exposing his heavily tattooed arms and black tattered jeans. He spoke, and my noticing he had rotting teeth distracted me from what it is he was saying. “I haven’t eaten for days,” he said. “Do you have any food?” he asked. “I’ve been out of jail for two weeks now and I have nothing.” I hesitated to respond and then said to Jesus, “just wait there, I‘ll go and see if there’s anything in the pantry.” I took a plastic bag and filled it with food that would last him about a week. I made sure to include a bottle of water so that I wouldn’t have to invite him in. This welcome (or unwelcome) was a huge contrast to what I had imagined. I believed I would fall at Jesus’ feet and praise him. Truth is, I couldn’t wait to get him out of my way so I could return to my sermon preparation. Jesus thanked me and went on his way. He only made it as far as my “welcome” mat outside the front door. I thought about it once Jesus left that day. I wished he would come back so I could welcome him better. (Matt. 25:35)
Has Jesus come to your door? He or she probably has. However, we walk past him when he is begging for money. We draw the curtains when he comes knocking. We act poor when she asks for money. You see, what we must remember is that “not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but those who do what my Father wants them to do.” It’s not in our saying, it’s in our doing. (Matt. 7:21)
Unless we see Jesus Christ in others, bypassing all discrimination that may distract us, we will never love – we will never “do” what the Father wills: to love one another in our actions.
Rev. Gary Mauga
Rev. Gary Mauga
Thoughts and comments by our minister, Gary.
This page content © 2016
Rev. Gary Mauga