13 April 2021

> Lent 4 Not to condemn the World
> Community or self interest
> Wandering in a wilderness Lent 2
> Lent 1 The Rainbow Story

> Faithbuilders service
> The Way of the World
> 8 November
> All Saints Day Pentecost 22
> Looking to a Future
> Pentecost 21
> Pentecost 19 No Mask for the wedding guest?
> Relying on your Own Record
> Empy Promises A Tale of Two Sons
> Pentecost 16 Peace Sunday
> Mt Roskill Cluster and The Power of Forgiving
> When there is a Fault
> Let Your Love be Real
> The Mutinous Midwives
> Crumbs
> Then the Wind Stopped
> Feeding the 5000
> Do We Understand?
> Living in an Imperfect World
> Gardening
> Out of Lockdown Celebration of Communion
> Fanatical or Faithful?
> Why do we Destroy Each Other
> Innocence Facing Evil
> Trinity Where we Begin Makes the Difference
> Celebration of Pentecost
> On the Ground
> Having it Both Ways
> Plenty of Space
> Queuing at Maccas
> On the Journey ANZAC
> Palm Sunday 2020

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

> 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

> 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

> 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

> 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
> Temptation
> Free flowing wine, Free flowing grace

> The Birth Stories of Jesus - whom do we serve
> Sexuality Working out our Faith
> What is Wisdom?
> Stilling the Voices of the Storm
> 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

> 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

> 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

> 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.

Sermon - 1 November 2009
Bible Verses: Mark 12:28-34 & Ruth 1: 1 - 22
(click the verses above to read the passages online)

Love Lived

The power and control that Brian Tamaki has appropriated in the name of God - and his self-styled use of the term Bishop to give a cloak of religious respectability to his increasingly sinister political ambitions - bear far more resemblance to the rise of the Nazi cult of Hitler before the second world war than to a new religious movement. The Christian stuff is the camouflage, although God may yet surprise him, for many of his followers do know what Christ is about and they could well yet be the subversive element in this political movement if they read their bibles rather than blindly follow.

When we read the story of Ruth and her mother in law we find God working great and far reaching deeds through vulnerable women, racial hatreds and tragic circumstances. The act of covenant promise made freely and willingly by Ruth, reflecting God's own covenant, is almost the complete opposite to an oath of personal worship to a man who has the need to control minds and men.

Naomi, Ruth and Orpah have nothing Naomi and her husband had faced famine in Bethlehem and became refugees in a land called Moab, modern-day Jordan, Jewish refugees in an Arab state. "In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land; and Elimelech, a man of Bethlehem in Judah, with his wife and two sons went to reside in the country of Moab... Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. They married Moabite women....and then the two sons also died."
Three women are left with three dead husbands and no means of support. It is a crisis moment in time. It is when they have no control over their plight. .It is the kind of moment that leads these women to God’s new time.
In moments of great loss we often find that the resources we trust in -money, social connections, education are no use. It's what we have within us that will have to count. Our faith in God's ultimate future is the main resource we have to draw from .
Joan Chittichester put is like this "Like everyone who goes through sudden, defining loss of any kind, these women find themselves faced with the question: Who am I when I am no longer who and what I was? Like the rest of us there are no miracles in sight to save them, no angels on the road to point the way. Nothing. Everything they had, everything they ever thought they wanted, is gone.
Now they have only themselves on which to depend, only the spirit of God to lead them on through a world that has no real concern for them at all once motherhood ends, or there is no man to support them, or there is no institution to define them, or there is no one and nothing whose need give them a reason for their existence.
Loss, any kind of loss—rejection, abandonment, divorce, loss of health, death—is a shocking, numbing, thing that at the beginning freezes the heart and slows the mind. Loss changes life at the root. Irrevocably. What was once the center of life—the person, the position, the plan, the title, the lifestyle—is no more. Life is never the same again. The things we have known, almost unconsciously, often for years, to be good—to be familiar, to be certain—is gone, snatched away without warning. What we took for granted shifts and tilts and weakens. Emptiness becomes our new companion, God more a rumor than a fact.: Where is God now when we are left in a sea of disorientation? Yet loss, once looked at, once absorbed, is a precious gift. No, we cannot be what we were before but we can be—in fact we must be—something new. There is more of God in us, we discover in emptiness, than we have ever known in what we once took to be fullness"
Naomi turns to go home, the famine is finished, maybe there at least she will be able to claim some of her identity. She tries to give her daughters in law a chance, don't come with me she says, you will have no future I am empty of children, of hope of everything. Orpah decides reluctantly to stay, she drops out of the story.
But Ruth, stubborn Ruth, makes a costly pledge. Woman to woman, Widow to widow, Daughter in law to mother in law, Where you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God."
Ruth, the Arab woman from Moab, by word and by deed demonstrates what God means when God says, "I will never leave you or forsake you."
Want to know what it means to love God and your neighbour? Look at Ruth's promise and actions toward Naomi.

They take a long, dangerous journey across river and desert, and they eventually arrive at the Bethlehem city gates.
Naomi who went away full--husband, two sons--has come home empty. She is so bitter that the minute she arrives at the city gate she announces a name change from Naomi, which means "sweet," to Mara, which means "bitter."
Naomi has reason to be bitter but she has not been alone. All the way home, all the way across a barren countryside, daughter-in-law Ruth has matched Naomi step-for-tired step.
Ruth has reason to be embittered too. After a childless marriage, Ruth's husband is dead. So are her brother-in-law and father-in-law, the two men who under Hebrew custom would have been required to provide for the young widow.. So Ruth is running on empty. After all, someone might take a chance on a young widow hoping she could yet have children and maybe turn off a good day's work in the meantime. But Ruth has promised to stay by bitter, old Naomi.
Naomi can't see it. She's too bitter, too wrapped up in her own inconsolable grief. Arriving home the loyal Ruth at her side, Naomi announces, "I went away full, but now the Lord has brought me back empty."
I wonder how Ruth felt?. There she stands side-by-side with Naomi at the city gate, having left her homeland, her family and friends, her own religious tradition, having faithfully accompanied Naomi across the desert. And now Ruth doesn't get so much as an introduction. "I went away full," Naomi says, "but the Lord has brought me back empty." Its not true, Naomi, God hasn't brought you back empty, God has provided your daughter-in-law Ruth as your faithful, loyal, and resourceful companion and God is not through providing for you. Not yet.
In Naomi, we see as the story continues to unfold that, if creation goes on creating in us all our lives, then the function of loss is to bring us all back to the completion of ourselves just when it seems that there is nothing left in us to develop. The truth of loss is a freeing one: it is the grave of something we loved—this person, this place—that calls forth the resurrection of the self.
Then the past has done its work. Then the word of God becomes new life to us. Then life becomes a series of possibilities which, when taken seriously, make us whole. Then, with Naomi, we take another road, not because we know what will happen at the end of it but because we cannot be whole without walking it.
And, often slowly, we find we are not left to do it alone.
For this story from ancient Hebrew scripture tells us that the God of all creation is concerned with everyday life, the inconsolable grief of an older widow who has now buried her sons plus the broken heart of a young woman who has been unable to have children and who has now lost her husband. It tells us that faithful love can bring us from tragedy into new life

It also tells us that our hope can be placed in God. At the end of this reading is a signal. Naomi and Ruth came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. Harvest time is a time of opportunity and fullness, especially for those who don't have work and don't have food.
A new beginning is about to happen with far reaching results as the house of David is being formed. This is not in a show of power but in God working new things in the almost invisible, seemingly insignificant, actions of the faithful, loving friendship of a powerless and grieving woman, not leaving a bitter old woman who has taught her to trust in her God. The one God who does not leave us.

Rev. Margaret Anne Low


The Bible Gateway
Home - Who are We - Worship - Sermons - Minister's Minutes - Youth & Children's Ministry - Community Centre - Contact Us
Copyright © St Johns and St Philips Presbyterian Church 2000-2021. All rights reserved.