New Years Day sermon 2012 by Rev. Fei Taule’ale’ausumai Davis
Prayer: Make me a channel of your peace, where there is hatred let me show your love, where there is injury your pardon Lord, and where there’s sadness ever joy. Amen.
I want to begin by thanking our elders and members of our congregation who were able to make the funeral of Maurie Coates on Friday. It was unfortunate that there was no Sunday in between so that we could have made a general announcement; nevertheless there was standing room only and
approximately 250 people who attended his funeral. A neighbour commented yesterday “who was the statesman that died” in response to the cars and endless people who seemed to just keep coming from everywhere.
I wonder, what grand plans have you made for yourself this year? What are some of the goals that you have considered that are achievable and measureable the short and long term? You’ve
probably already familiar with the anagram S.M.A.R.T., which means that the goals we make should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Timetabled and K.I.S.S. keep it simple stupid. Is it the same as every other year, no drama, no plans just business as usual? Or is there an element of hope and expectation in the possibilities that 2012 might carry for you? I wonder
how life would be if we entered every new year with the mind of a film maker like Stephen Spielberg or Peter Jackson that no two years would ever be the same. What can you and I do that would be different and perhaps a little bit more spectacular or exciting or even just a little bit more different to anything you have ever done before? If that is what you want, of course there are many of us also who prefer just to be thankful for every new day that you are on this earth and thank God for the air we breathe, the legs that God gave us to walk with, the hands we can work with, the eyes we can see with, the nose we can smell. Perhaps just giving thanks to God for the little things in life is also for some us giving thanks to God for the big things in life, because to be able to do these things
are big things for some of us. I know that when we are confronted with illness and injuries that threaten our five senses, our ability to walk and use our hands then we are ever so much more
thankful when we still have these basic gifts to live our lives with.
No one can completely plan our year accurately, nor does anyone have complete control over what happens at every point of our lives. When we drive on the roads no matter how considerate and careful we are, we are at the mercy of all the other drivers on the road and if they are reckless and abusive then they run the risk of endangering the lives of everyone else on the roads and nearby. We only need look at the statistics of this holiday period and the terrible tragedies we have experienced in the last week.
What stands can we make against the things that made us angry last year? What changes can we make in our lives that might benefit people beyond ourselves? Beyond our familiar circles?
Our two readings for today are both very familiar readings. The Ecclesiastes readings we had on Friday for Maurie’s funeral…
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones,
and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Maurie’s funeral bought back some school memories. When I was at high school on my history school report, “Fei means well but will never be I fear an historian”. Admittedly I hated what we had been learning that year - it was all about the Boer war and he was so passionate about it and I remember just sitting there thinking, “what was so exciting about it”? No matter how hard I tried to remember the facts we studied I just couldn’t retain it in my head because I guess you had to care in the first place. I tried, I really did but somehow I failed. We don't like to talk about failing these days. I’m not a school teacher and I’m not sure whether teachers talk about failure these days or concentrate on the potential within everyone - “anyone here want to throw some light on the political correct way of teaching and encouragement?”
It was great listening to my nephew Albert sharing some of the highlights of the two years as a secondary school teacher at Tamaki Collegein Glen Innes. I asked him what the cultural makeup was of his school and was surprised when he said they had “one palagi” in the whole school and that that palagi totally enjoyed that status. Where-ever we live whether it be West Auckland, South Auckland, North or East we all have our own ideas about our place being the best place to live. We see youths with t-shirts and caps that say West side or south side, which indicates that that’s where they are from and that side rocks. If you are not from there then we tend to judge what we are most unfamiliar with. When we read of the terrible abuses that occur locally and internationally in our world we are disgusted and appalled and often with our disgust we condemn and judge because we can’t fathom or grasp the depth and levels people will stoop to harm or hurt another human being or animal or way of life.
The reality, of course, is that we do make judgments all the time, but we don't like to talk about judgment. We especially don't like to talk about God's judgment. But in this story in Matthew
chapter 25 verses 31-46, Jesus says that there will be a judgment day.
So many preachers over the centuries have wrestled with what this text means for us today. Are we saved because of our faith or because of our works the things that we do? Or is it a combination of
both? It is our faith that encourages us to live a life that cares for others - obviously if we didn’t
believe then we wouldn’t want to do (does that make sense?). We do things not out of a sense of duty but because we want to (does that make sense?). You know it, and you do it because you know it, you know what I mean? It’s not a cult thing, or a secret language or code of living; it’s about compassion and passion I guess. Unless I’m passionate about the Boer war history I’m not going to make sense of it for myself nor am I going to want to do anything with this knowledge. And it is the same with some of these biblical principles that Jesus talks about. Unless we understand
these verses as guides for life our life and the lives of those around us, it will never make sense. It is not about keeping a record of all the good things we have done, nor is it about good works and performance to guarantee us a place through the pearly gates of heaven. It is about compassion and love and sharing Christ centred values which will feed the hungry and clothe the naked, be a healing balm to the sick.
When Rewi was in hospital recently Tearoa, who worked in the same ward that we were in, cared for us. Tearoa you were a saint to us. When Rewi was brought his hospital food on a tray Tearoa graciously brought me fish and chips from the staff canteen; obviously I had the better deal. This is an example of what Jesus talks about in Matthew. Thank you Tearoa for your compassion, you were just what the doctor ordered for me.
We want to be able to answer those judgment questions confidently and positively should ever we be approached in this life or the next. I’m sure you do not need guidance on how to do this; it’s all part of human nature and the Christian way of life. Matthew merely provides us with a scary story to help motivate us in to honouring our fellow neighbours and humanity. Go therefore and do
April 2011 to June 2012