22 November 2017



2012
> Have You Not heard? Commissioning and Baptism
> Papatoetoe district 150 years opening service

2010
> Pentecost - The Genesis Experiment
> Freedom and human trafficking
> The Corinthian Puzzle - Resurrection Body
> [Waitangi Weekend]. Hope for a Future
> Being a Healing Community
> Turbans and Prophets in Manurewa
> Light to the Nations -O Surely Not the Samaritans!
> Jesus the real human - not Avatar

2009
> Prophet at Copenhagen Needed
> CLIMATE CHANGE - Revisiting the Creation stories
> Love Lived
> Questions of God
> Tsunami.and Job, God in disaster
> Reconciling Cultures
> John the Baptist - A reminder of reality
> Do not follow the advice of the wicked

2008
> If only You would sort it God!
> Invited and rejected - Texts of terror
> Saying Yes! but its really No!
> Thanksgiving
> Claiming God is on our side - Dangerous and Unwise
> Let your Love be genuine
> Bible and Qu'ran Ishmael and Isaac
> Fruitpickers wanted
> Faith Changing Culture
> Easter greeting - Peace be with you
> Freed For Seeing
> Temptations of Leadership - Dedication of leaders
> Let There be no Divisions Among You

2007
> How many husbands in Heaven?
> The Dishonest Manager
> The Prayer which Changes the World
> What are we getting them into? Succession planning
> Faith there is a future
> Forgiven - the one who loves much
> THE SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, SIGNS AND WONDERS
> Temptation
> Free flowing wine, Free flowing grace

2006
> The Birth Stories of Jesus - whom do we serve
> Sexuality Working out our Faith
> What is Wisdom?
> Stilling the Voices of the Storm
> THE GROWING SEED
> Pentcost - Facing the Darkness
> Moving on from Betrayal
> Friends my Mother Warned me About
> Ethiopian Eunchs Are In - Good News For theChurch
> St Patrick and Mission today, Potatoes and Rice
> Family is a Cultural word

2005
> Christmas Day Reflection - Power of Hope
> Subverting the System - The Talents Revisited
> Living God! Joshua Leadership with Wet Feet
> Futurechurch conference and the Presence of God
> The Golden Calf is not the Name of a Pub
> Who?
> Induction Sermon - Pukekohe Who Is Your Neighbour
> What is Fair and What is Just?
> Confrontation at Hunters Corner
> Food in the Wilderness
> Bombers in London, Weeds among the Wheat
> The Gospel is already Sowen for us to Find
> Human sacrifice. God's Demand or Our Desire
> Marriage - From Contract to Promise
> Who is he?
> Seeing the Light
> The Man at the Well
> East of Eden- Our Story
> Dingwall 75th - Charity or Justice
> Doing Justice - An Induction Sermon
> Light in the world
> Tsunami - World in Turmoil

2004
> Promises Kept
> Christ The King - We don't have Kings anymore!
> What is Our Mission : Connecting with Other Faiths
> The Word of God is not Chained
> Descent into Hell
> What does the Lord Require - Assembly report
> 150th service Rev Sharon Ensor's sermon
> The neighbour who comes from God..
> Driving out Demons - Fears Of Mental Illness
> Flowing Waters 2 Spirit of Peace
> Flowing Waters 1 - Reflections in Japan
> Putting it On The Line
> Go Fishing- Youth Leaders Dedication
> Waitangi Day Celebration
> God's Love is Wider than We Want
> The Best Wine
> Dancing Stars - Science and Theology

2003
> First Sunday of Christmas
> Church culture to Mission Culture
> Be Wise
> Trinity - Beyond Miracles
> Sir Ed Hilary- Ascension Sunday
> Culture challenged by Love
> On the Road to Gaza
> Whose Voice? - Mother's Day
> Rows of White Crosses. [Anzac]
> Easter Day - Go , Jesus is Waiting for You.


Sermons
Sermon - 7 September 2008
Bible Verses: Matthew 18:15-20 & Romans 13:8-14
(click the verses above to read the passages online)

Claiming God is on our side - Dangerous and Unwise

Matthew 18:15-20; Romans 13:8-14

On September 11 seven years ago nineteen Al-Qaeda terrorists destroyed the North Tower of the World Trade Centre.

The fallout has affected everyone. Even as we catch a flight to Wellington we have to throw away that drink bottle and walk through security. We have adapted to the security measures almost seamlessly and without complaint as we prefer to fly in the knowledge that it will have the best chance of arriving at its destination.
Daniel B. Clendenin in "The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself" points out that although the terrorist attacks were an American tragedy. The 110-story World Trade Center epitomized America's economic might. Also; citizens from 90 countries died that day. Although he first denied any responsibility, on October 30, 2004, Osama bin Laden took responsibility for directing the attacks.

It has deeply divided Muslin and Christian. Even in our neighbourhood there is a suspicion between the groups, especially those from the middle east.
The Iraq war is of course, one of the central debates of the upcoming elections in the USA and I shuddered as the new Republican candidate for the vice presidency, Sarah Palin, was reported in the NZ herald as having said to a group of students at a US church that the US sent troops to fight in Iraq "on a task that is from God". She was only expressing the views of TV evangelists , but it is much more serious when politicians start thinking they are there to prop God up or have God as a member of their party. Whatever the reasons for any conflict we never need to buy into the agenda of the attackers.
Giving religious justification for the response to the terrorism only plays into the twisted view of humanity and indeed confirmed for Osama and others that the Christian faith is territorial, God is for the West and America. What does this do for our mission as Christians when the Christian faith is no longer seen as the forgiving, loving community, but as the ones with God on their side? Missionary work has seldom been successful if it only wears the garments of the invading culture.
When a war becomes a fight to show whose God is greater, its roots are too deep because for reconciliation both need to give up their Gods. And whether it’s the right wing American God, Allah as produced by Al queda or the Maori God of War we have to reject them.
Clendenin says that human nature, politics, history, economics, religion, and culture give us enough reasons for conflict - we don't need to add religious justifications for so much hatred in our world. Osama Bin Laden, Al-Queda - if it does indeed exist as a distinct organisation- and the Taliban hate the Christian West more than they hate death itself, enough to slaughter their own Muslim brothers and sisters.

Some Christians bought into that fight and appealed to God's providential intervention to explain the Al-Qaeda attacks. Jerry Falwell infamously construed the 9/11 attacks as divine punishment. He claimed that the wickedness of pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the ACLU, and People for the American Way were one reason God had punished America. “I point the finger in their face,” said Falwell, “and say, ‘you helped this happen.’” Pat Robertson, a guest on the show, nodded in agreement, saying, “well, I totally concur.” In Falwell's view, America's policies weren't wrong because they're politically thoughtless and dominating. Rather, they're morally wrong as a matter of principle because they violate God's standards.

What role, if any, did God play in the 9/11 attacks? Angering Muslim extremists with a bad foreign policy is bad enough. Angering God himself would be calamitous.

The Hebrew Scriptures unambiguously affirm that Yahweh intervenes not only in the lives of individuals but in the affairs of nations, and that he sometimes judges nations with "disaster upon disaster" (Jeremiah 4:12, 15, 20; Exodus 32:14). Falwell is right that God judges nations, but quite wrong in the confidence and clarity with which he assigned blame.

Look at the zeal in Psalm 149. The first half of the Psalm describes dancing, singing, music, and praise of God. But the instruments of worship like tambourine and harp give way in the second half of the psalm to weapons of war like swords and shackles:

May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them.
This is the glory of all his saints (Psalm 149:6–9).
New Oxford Annotated Study Bible (1991) has a rather weak footnote to Psalm 149: "The dance was evidently of war-like character." Yes, it certainly was. For the Psalmist it was a very short step from pious praise to religious rage. He glorifies the religiously righteous who brandish the Scriptures in one hand and a sword in the other.

Every nation is a mix of both good and evil. A nation's ordinary citizens very often hold opinions far removed from the megalomania of its political leaders. Claims of divine providence and divine judgment are at a minimum empirically unverifiable, if not also naive, irresponsible, and dangerous.

Jesus warned us against linking human tragedy and divine judgment (Luke 13:1–5). Isaiah reminds us that the ways of an infinite God transcend the minds of finite humans (Isaiah 55:8).

Even some of the closest followers of Jesus showed hatred. When an outsider tried to heal a person, John boasted with misplaced pride, "Master, we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us" (Luke 9:49). Toward the end of his life Jesus set out for Jerusalem. When he passed through a village of the despised Samaritans and they refused even basic hospitality to him, James and John spewed their venom: "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to destroy them?" (Luke 9:54).

Somewhere deep within the human psyche there seems to reside a dark and primitive impulse toward hatred, exclusion, and deadly violence. Perhaps to justify ourselves, or to calm our deep insecurity, we insist that God not only sanctions our hatreds and our causes, whether personal or national, but that He himself hates our enemies and at some points in history even exterminates them. But when God hates all the same people that you hate, you can be confident that you have created Him in your own petty and paltry image.
So, thank God for Paul's text for this week, in which he borrows a passage from the Hebrew Old Testament to instruct the earliest followers of Jesus: "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Romans 9:9 = Leviticus 19:18). The only debt we should carry, he says, is the never-ending debt to "love your fellow human being." Loving your neighbour fulfills any and every other divine command, for genuine love "does no harm to its neighbour."

We shouldn't wish divine judgment on anyone or any nation; we should wish them God's shalom. And by the grace of God, the church goes right across all divides, everywhere in the world in USA and Iraq and Iran, In China, in southeast Asia, God works not as a political movement but through those who dare place culture second and love one another in the way and power of the Risen Jesus.

Ref Daniel B. Clendenin in "The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself" quoted extensively.

Rev. Margaret Anne Low

 

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