Letter from the Vicar 28 June 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s today. The winter has surely been upon us in recent weeks!

Lately there have been major statements about climate change and social justice in the worldwide Church. These are in preparation for an important international meeting on climate, to be held in France in December. Pope Francis has gained wide attention for his Encyclical on the environment Laudato Si. This is a substantial document which is well worth reading and pondering on, and I commend it to you (full text at w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/index.html).

In addition the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew have made a joint statement highlighting a report soon to be released in the medical journal The Lancet which points to the ‘inalienable and undeniable link between climate change and human health’. They say that ‘climate change has the potential to dismantle decades of health developments, while also threatening the wellbeing of future generations through ongoing detrimental impact on air and water pollution, as well as food security and malnutrition’, and that the impact will be most strongly felt by children and the elderly. They call for attention to the root of the problem: the need to assume moral responsibility not only as regards health, but in economic and general policy.

These statements challenge well-off ‘western’ nations such as ours to a radical rethink of our priorities and our responsibilities to the world at large. Let us hear the words of Paul in today’s Epistle, “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need… in order that there may be a fair balance.”
(2 Corinthians 8: 13, 14)

It’s easy for those of us who are not world leaders to think that we have no influence over these events. If everybody takes that view and remains passive and indifferent, then we also play our part in consigning even our own descendants, together with large swathes of the world’s population and creatures, to a miserable existence in the decades to come. Rather than focusing on what we can’t do, if we do what we can, that may well turn out to be enough.

We can become more informed about these issues, we can use our influence to help change the tide of public opinion, we can make changes to our own lifestyle. If people did these things that would be enough.

I am sad to tell you that Malcolm Laird, the husband of Margaret who sings in our choir, has died suddenly while they were travelling in South America. Our prayers are with Margaret and her family in this distressing time, and may Malcolm rest in peace and rise in glory.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

Christchurch City Mission: many families and individuals are struggling to cope in winter conditions. The City Mission helps as many people as possible and is very grateful for our donations of food and household items. Please continue to give generously. Clothing and larger items may be delivered directly to 276 Hereford St.
Organ Recital: Denis Guyan. Today 2:00 pm at S. Michael’s. Door sales $20 (fundraiser for S. Barnabas).
• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
• The Meditation Group meets tomorrow at 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
• The Rolleston Home Group meets on Wednesday, 11:00 am at 107 Tennyson St, Rolleston. Details Jenny Daniels (347 7629).
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Phantom of the Opera: the original 1925 silent movie with live sound track by organist David Briggs. Wednesday 6:30 pm at the Cathedral. Tickets $25 & $15 from eventfinda.co.nz or the Cathedral shop.
• The Canterbury Shakespeare Society meets on Thursday at 7:30 pm in the parish lounge. Details John De la Bere (981 7582).
S. Michael’s School will be on holiday from Friday until 20 July.
Lunch at the Regatta on Avon: 5 July at 12:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 6 July, 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• The Needlework Group meets next on 7 July, 7:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Residential Retreat A New Heart: Wellington 17–26 July. Cost $817. Details from arrupenz@xtra.co.nz or phone 04 383 7769.
Book Swap/Donate/Share with a Friend/Give as a gift: Modern books that you have enjoyed. Fundraising koha to Anne at the sales table. Books available in parish lounge during the week and in the hall on Sundays. Box lots of books are welcome at any S. Christopher’s Dove Book Shop.

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 21 June 2015

Founders Day 2015 21 June 2015 Job 38: 1-11, Mark 4: 35-41

How good are your foundations? That’s a question that many have asked since the earthquakes. We have seen the huge effort to make secure foundations for the big building over the road. As we have discovered, foundations can seem okay until the challenge comes. We are not promised a trouble free life as Christians. What we are given is a secure foundation upon which to build our lives.

Job was a very rich and successful man. He was also a good man who honoured God. The question was, did he only honour God because of his wealth and success? Well, Job lost his family, his business, and finally even his health through no fault of his own. He became a miserable and pitiful figure. He couldn’t understand why he’d had all this trouble when he’d lived a good life, honouring God and caring for his neighbour. Adding to his distress, his friends came and tried to tell him that it all must have been his own fault: he must have displeased God somehow.

Job had to rely on his foundations in faith, and while he complained a lot he never cursed God because of his misfortune. Today’s reading has God speaking to Job out of the whirlwind. This whirlwind might well be symbolic of a mental state. This is when we find ourselves in such emotional chaos that things are circling round and we can’t get a handle on anything. The thing that keeps the whirlwind circling is our constant focus on our own troubles rather than looking outwards.

When God spoke to Job he took him on a whirlwind tour of the marvels of creation. God showed Job the foundations he had laid in the earth and told him how the angels had shouted for joy because of it. Job had been faithful to God in spite of his problems, but he had more to learn about God through this experience.

It’s a bit hard to speak of foundations when you are in a boat. The disciples set out with Jesus towards evening to go across to the other side. Probably not a good time for a boat trip. A great storm came up while Jesus slept on a cushion in the back of the boat. The disciples panicked. They thought they were finished. They woke Jesus up, and he rebuked the storm saying, “Peace, Be still!” Then the wind stopped and then he asked the disciples, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

You might imagine a mother whose frightened child is crying out in the middle of the night. She comes and picks her child up in her arms and says, “Hush. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” We know that isn’t the whole truth. The reality is that scary things are very real: isolation, pain, illness, meaninglessness, failure, money worries, nightmares, rejection. Instead of saying, “There’s nothing to be afraid of,” the mother could speak the whole truth by saying, “Do not be afraid, you are not alone.” Those words are what a frightened child needs to hear from her comforter. They are the words that grown up people need to hear from those who would minister to them in their time of fear. These are words that build faith.

The disciples were amazed that Jesus could get the wind and the sea to obey him. They could see the power and strength of God was greater than the works of chaos and darkness.

Both Job and the disciples in the boat learned something new about God in the time of their distress. No one welcomes such times, yet these can be the times when our eyes are opened to a new level of understanding about God, and God’s ways. This is not to say that God was the author of the troubles of Job or the disciples. Indeed specifically not in each case. Yet at times God does stand a little way off and beckon us forward. Like a good teacher who takes a step back in order that the learner might gain a new level of understanding. So God can lead us to a new level of faith by letting the whirlwind build up before speaking, or by sleeping in the back of the boat in the midst of a storm. We are given these precious insights for our own good and, also, so that we might help others in their distress. This Eucharist is a time for us to find comfort amidst our own fears and to build a foundation so we can be a help to others, who haven’t yet heard this message.

The founders of this school were doing just that. They were people of great vision and faith. They knew that they wanted to have, right at the heart of their new city, a place where good foundations of faith and life would be laid in the lives of children and families. Today we give thanks for their courage as we honour their vision and faith. We have learnt to put good foundations under our new buildings in this city. As we pass through the storms and whirlwinds of life in post-earthquake Christchurch we are called to be just as attentive to the foundations of our spiritual life.

Letter from the Vicar 21 June 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s for School Founders’ Day. We welcome school families and staff today as we celebrate our life together and the foundations we share in Christ. For the families who are new to S. Michael’s we especially welcome you and hope you will feel comfortable as you make your way through the Mass. The liturgy will follow this booklet closely and you are invited to participate fully in the service, including coming forward to receive the bread and wine of Holy Communion.

Today we remember and give thanks for the people of courage and vision who established S. Michael’s Church School, which remains as the oldest primary school in Christchurch. The strength of their vision and the determination of both parish and school mean that our school remains today a jewel in the centre of the city. An integral part of the special character of S. Michael’s, this school continues to offer children wonderful educational opportunities, as it has now done for 164 years.

This special character is something that we hold in particular focus before both school community and parish on this day. In the life of the school, of course, this is part of the everyday programme, but it has its climax each Wednesday morning when we celebrate the School Mass. From this centre point the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ flows out to every aspect of school life, whether in the classroom, the sports field, the school production, or music and cultural life.

For the parish the school provides a continued expression of our desire to support and strengthen young families, by caring for and educating their children. We believe that through these fine boys and girls ‘the S. Michael’s difference’ will enrich all those communities and individuals they come in contact with, in their present and future lives.

Following the Mass today I hope you will be able to stay and enjoy refreshments and the traditional and well-loved PTFA sausage sizzle.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the morning and evening service each Sunday.
RSCM Music Sunday: hymns old and new, today 2:00 pm at Knox.
• The Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 7:00 pm.
Motion 30 Workshop: Tuesday 7:30 pm at S. Saviour’s. Registration Les Brighton admin@theologyhouse.ac.nz or phone 341 3399.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Organ Recital: Denis Guyan. Next Sunday 2:00 pm at S. Michael’s. Door sales $20 (fundraiser for S. Barnabas).
Phantom of the Opera: the original 1925 silent movie with live sound track by organist David Briggs. 1 July 6:30 pm at the Cathedral. Tickets $25 & $15 from eventfinda.co.nz or the Cathedral shop.
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 6 July, 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• The Needlework Group: details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Residential Retreat A New Heart based on the Spiritual Exercises of S. Ignatius of Loyola, at the Home of Compassion, Wellington 17–26 July. Cost $817. Details from arrupenz@xtra.co.nz or phone 04 383 7769.
Book Swap/Donate/Share with a Friend/Give as a gift:
Modern books that you have enjoyed. Fundraising koha to Anne at the sales table. Books available in parish lounge during the week and in the hall on Sundays.
Box lots of books are welcome at any S. Christopher’s Dove Book Shop.
Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.

Pat, Jane and John Evans wish to thank all involved
in the Funeral Mass for Bill on 30 May. It was a
memorable occasion and a comfort to us all.
A special thanks to Fr Andrew for his care and
support, particularly in the last few weeks of Bill’s life,
and to Fr Ron.

Sermon by Rev Anne Price 14 June 2015

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 17:22-24, 2 Cor 5:6-17, Mark 4:26-34

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of all our hearts be now and always acceptable to you, O Lord, our Rock and Our Redeemer. Amen

A woman steps onto a stage, her Stradivarius violin tucked under her arm. She glances at the audience as she leads her three companions who carry viola, cello and another violin. The applause that greeted them dies away and the players take their seats in a semi-circle. The violinist lifts her bow. A thousand people are silent: everyone is waiting for the first note. The players have memorised the first lines and so they’re looking, not at the music, but at each other. They watch each other, expectant and still, and they wait for the sign that will break this moment of absolute silence – the palpable silent anticipation of sound. Suddenly music begins and the tension is released. The gut-strings are brought to life under the quickening touch of the violinist, and the players are so caught up in the ebb and flow of the music that their feet leave the floor as they rock in their chairs: they lean into one another when the harmony is close, and away when the bowing is full. For the time that they play, they are one. Their unity is costly as they give of themselves to one another, and as together they lay their music before the audience as an offering, a gift they feel compelled to give. The music pours out from and between them, flowing less like water than like blood – a primitive, life-giving gift offered in surrender to the composer’s direction and the audience demand. So vulnerable do they become under the gaze of those watching that their sound itself will become a wound – a sacrifice they willingly make, fashioning a beauty that needs neither explanation nor excuse.

The people who listen form a unique company of strangers who have become for one night an audience who experience something unrepeatable. In their minds a hundred questions are raised by this beauty. How did Dvorak know so much truth about life? How does the violin express so much grief in the arms of the woman who plays it? At the end of the concert an elderly man in the audience turns to me with tears running down his face. I can hardly hear his words over the tumultuous ovation as he whispers almost in bewilderment, ‘That was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard’.

These are the first words in a beautiful book ‘Our Sound is our wound’ by Lucy Winkett – who wrote this as one of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lent study books a few years ago. She writes of the sound of the scriptures, the sound of our wounds, the sound the angels, the sound of freedom and the sound of the resurrection. This book had quite an impact on me. Our world is full of noise – as I sit here in comparative silence – there is still noise – the computer is gently humming, the fridge motor is buzzing in the kitchen and every so often there is a tick or flick of sound from the wood burner and the gentle intake of breath from one of the dogs stretched on the mat. This core of this book has remained with me and the need to find silence and the hope of God in a busy world.

What struck me was the sound of today’s readings. The silence before Jesus speaks, perhaps the intake of breath and then words. The voice of Jesus, the challenge, the hope, the call, the love, sown with the whisper of the seeds scattered, the swish of the sickle at harvest time. The seeds themselves are silent (at least to our ears!). They change irreversibly, give of themselves totally and utterly. In what? The Kingdom of God – the soil that enables growth, the silence yet warmth, the smile of the sun. The love of God – the kingdom of God. And yet that expectation – leaves a yawning silence.

Parables, as Eugene Peterson has said, are in this sense like narrative time bombs. You hear them – tick – wonder about them – tick – think maybe you’ve got it – tick – and then as you walk away – tick – or over the course of the next day or so – tick – and all of a sudden the truth Jesus meant to convey strikes home – boom! – almost overwhelming you with its implications or blinding you with its vision.

Jesus describes the coming Kingdom of God in parables because he knows the reality it introduces is unexpected and that his hearers can’t really take it in all at once.

And so the first parable might be about the wonder of faith or the need to be ready to bring in the harvest. Or it might be about our complete inability to control the coming kingdom, to dictate whether we (and others) believe (or not). This second possibility is uncomfortable because it leaves us vulnerable. God’s kingdom cannot be controlled or influenced, and can only be received as a gift. In this sense, faith can be a lot more like falling in love than making a decision. Because kingdom-faith, like love, is something that comes from the outside and grabs hold of you, whether you want it to or not.

The second parable tells an even more difficult truth. Perhaps it is about how God can grow small things into grand ones, although that feels a bit like a fable. Or maybe it’s really about the God’s desire for penetrating and taking over our lives, sometimes against our better judgment.

So also with God’s kingdom. If it were sold in a box, it would likely have a warning – “maybe hazardous to your health.” But that’s just it, the kingdom isn’t a commodity to be bought and sold, used diligently but carefully. It’s a new reality that invades and eventually overcomes the old one. It’s a promise that creates hope and expectation, leads people to change their jobs to share it, and to leave behind their old ways to live it. The kingdom is dangerous because you just don’t know where it will take you or what you will do when it grabs hold of you.

And those birds that are attracted to its shade? It’s easy to assume this was simply a bush, large enough to shelter creatures. But in the parable Jesus told just before these two – the birds are the ones who snatch away the seed the farmer sows, it’s not so easy to be certain. These birds might be the undesirables. Yet across Mark’s Gospel it just these people who flock to the kingdom Jesus proclaims. The original followers of Jesus were lowly fishermen, despised tax collectors, prostitutes and criminals.

I don’t know how these parables and this sermon will sound to most of you. But I do know how it will sound to everyone – established or not, longtime parishioner or first time visitor – who is struggling, who does not feel accepted, who wonders about the future, or who has experienced significant loss or rejection. Because in these parables Jesus does remind us that the Kingdom of God comes of its own…and comes for us. The Kingdom Jesus proclaims has room for everyone. It overturns the things the world has taught us are insurmountable and creates a new and open – and for this reason perhaps a little bit frightening – future.

It is in these seeds, the words that Jesus speaks and his silence. In following his song, we will ebb and flow, we will become vulnerable, we will wait in anticipation, we will put ourselves at the mercy of others, we will surrender and give as we feel compelled to do.

Finish with Lucy Winkett “As we choose our battles and listen for the songs of lament, pain and freedom in a world bellowing with violence and fear, we live our lives attentive to the movement of the Spirit and know that it is in the love of God that we find rest from a noisy world. Living our lives grounded in this love will leave us wounded, but will cultivate our compassion. This love will nurture our courage and help us find our voice. This love will seize our hope and insist on justice. And the sound of this love is God’s redemptive song that, when we have heard it, we too long to sing and become the most beautiful thing.”.

Letter from the Vicar 14 June 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s. Today we will consider some of the parables of Jesus where he demonstrates the power and growth of the kingdom of God from small beginnings.

The first reading from Ezekiel speaks of the giant cedar trees which were such a symbol of strength in biblical times. We can think of the great trees that surround the entrance to this church. In their leafless winter state the strength of their mighty boughs is all the more obvious. The prophet talks about taking just a tiny tender twig from the top and planting it on a lofty mountain in Israel so that it may become in itself a bearer of fruit and a place of refuge for the birds of the sky. These twigs have been taken from high up in the tree, from quite an inaccessible spot, and allowed to grow in a new and more available place.

This image helps us understand the continual process that needs to happen as the Church is renewed from year to year and from generation to generation. There are those who have such experience and respect among us that they are like great cedar trees, and perhaps others may think that their place is inaccessible. Yet we need to be constantly renewing the life of the parish by drawing on their ministries so that new shoots will take root. We were all young shoots at one point, and even those who have much experience can enliven their ministry by letting go of something and trying something new. Our ministries in the life of the Church, including attending worship as a participant, and everything else, are the way that God calls us to grow up in Christ. Sometimes that growth is quite easy, and other times it takes courage to make the next step. That is why it is so good to do this within a supportive community of faith like S. Michael’s.

Thank you so much to those who over the last few weeks have responded to our invitation to become more involved in areas of our parish life. We have been very heartened by this response and look forward to contacting you as appropriate in the coming weeks. If you haven’t yet filled in a form it’s not too late, we would be very glad to hear from you at any time.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
• The Meditation Group meets tomorrow at 5:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Bible Study Group meets tomorrow, 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Parish Trust meets on Wednesday at 5:15 pm.
Motion 30 Workshops explaining the implications for our Church of last year’s resolution by General Synod concerning same sex relationships. Also covering different interpretations of relevant biblical texts. Facilitator Peter Carrell.
Thursday 7:30 pm at the Cathedral and Tuesday 23rd at S. Saviour’s. Registration Les Brighton admin@theologyhouse.ac.nz or phone 341 3399.
RSCM Music Sunday: hymns old and new, next Sunday 2:00 pm at Knox.
• The Needlework Group: details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Residential Retreat A New Heart: Wellington 17–26 July. Phone 04 383 7769.
Book Swap/Donate/Share with a Friend/Give as a gift:
Modern books that you have enjoyed. Fundraising koha to Anne at the sales table. Books available in parish lounge during the week and in the hall on Sundays.
Box lots of books are welcome at any S. Christopher’s Dove Book Shop.
Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.
City Missioner Michal Gorman writes to thank S. Michael’s for the generous donations of clothing and bedding.

S. Michael’s School Tuesday
• Open Day 8:00 am–4:00 pm
• Quiz Night 7:30 pm at Robbies Riccarton
Details from the School or from Michael Graveston

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 7 June 2015

OS 10B Genesis 3: 8-15, 2 Corinthians 4: 13-5:1, Mark 3: 20-35

When it became known around Amberley that we were leaving and I was going to study for ministry in Auckland there were some interesting reactions. People were trying to make sense of it in the best way they could. Some had seen it coming, but others were blindsided and looked for some way to rationalise what was happening. The one that was curious which came back to me second-hand was, “Andrew’s gone all religious.” (If only they could see me now!) It wasn’t quite, “He’s gone out of his mind,” but it was heading in that direction. They saw me travelling into a space that was unknown as it seemed pointless.

For many of you here I suspect you have had some kind of experience like this for identifying as a church goer, a member of St Michael’s, a Christian. Friends and family can struggle to make sense of it. They can feel confronted by the implicit question to them, “Where are you?”  This is a time when a new identity is being formed. It is sometimes called a liminal space. It’s like standing on a threshold. It is, as Paul says, “a slight momentary affliction [which] is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen, but at what cannot be seen.” This is a place of challenge and temptation and it was a place that Jesus frequently inhabited during his ministry. (Wilderness, Peter’s confession, Garden of Gethsemane). The challenge is, “Are we going to blend in for the sake of peace and safety, or are we going to be true to our calling?”

Mark tells us that Jesus was becoming a rock star. His fame was spreading far and wide. People were flocking to him because they saw and heard of his mighty acts of healing. Even the evil spirits fell down before him. He even had to resort to getting in a boat so he wouldn’t be crushed. Then he took his disciples up a mountain where he selected the twelve. And following this he went home, and, as we heard in the gospel reading today, the crowd again surrounded him so they couldn’t even eat.

His family were very concerned. They thought he had gone out of his mind and they tried to restrain him. It’s worth noting that Jesus had not chosen any of his family among the twelve. Just as with Jesus, sometimes our own family try to restrain us. They understand life as it has been and often can’t imagine what has gone wrong to upend everything.

But the sternest challenge for Jesus comes from the religious authorities who came down from Jerusalem. They were embarrassed by the success of Jesus’ ministry of liberation because it showed up their own impotence in the face of evil. The only explanation they could give was that Jesus must be in league with Satan. Jesus refuted that by saying that it is plainly illogical for Satan to rise up against himself. Rather they were misreading the real spiritual battle which is between Jesus the Son of God and Satan the strong man. Indeed Jesus is tying up that strong man and plundering his house so that the people who are held captive there can be released.

It is really important to dwell on Jesus’ statement, “Truly I tell you, all people will be forgiven their sins and what ever blasphemies they utter,” before moving on to the exception. That statement is the core focus of Jesus’ purpose under God. It is also the heart of the objection to him by the temple leadership because they taught that it was only God who could forgive sins. It was blasphemy to claim otherwise.

The exception Jesus brought to blanket forgiveness was the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. This was the counter charge he laid against the scribes who challenged him. Juan Luis Segundo puts it, “The blasphemy resulting from bad apologetics will always be pardonable…. What is not pardonable is using theology to turn real human liberation into something odious. The real sin against the Holy Spirit is refusing to recognise with “theological” joy, some concrete liberation that is taking place before one’s very eyes.” The church in our own time, particularly with regard to debates about sexuality, needs to think very hard on that statement.

The crowds coming to Jesus contained people who were desperate for liberation. They had the scent of freedom they came running. There was an air of chaos as they poured in around Jesus. But by the end of the scene they were sitting around him and you can sense the peace and joy that now abounded. The scribes melted away but Jesus’ family remained outside (perhaps experiencing what being on the outside is like for the first time.) They sent a message in to him, but Jesus asked, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then he looked at those sitting around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus’ family of origin, which in some sense stands for faithful Israel, has the choice to come in and sit with the needy crowd in the liminal space of challenge and temptation around Jesus, or to walk away, to try and ignore him or even to plot his demise. We know that’s what the scribes and Pharisees did. We also know from other sources that his family, and particularly his mother, did come to understand and join Jesus. Indeed his mother was found by his cross when his disciples, his new family, had largely fled.

Jesus re-made the idea of family and he would consummate it in the last Supper by the creation of a new covenant with his broken body shared, and his blood poured out for many. By sharing the Eucharist today we join ourselves ever more deeply to the family of those who do the will of God with all its challenges and temptations as we seek to live his Way in our daily life.

Letter from the Vicar 7 June 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s today as we gather as the family of our Lord. We come together as those who seek to do his will both by celebrating the Eucharist and by becoming a Eucharistic community dispersed within the world.

Last week I saw the movie Boy Choir, which I recommend to you. It is a story of a young lad who was going down all the wrong paths because of the adults around him. By a wonderful teacher he was directed on a path which enabled the beauty of his treble voice to be nurtured to its full extent. As those of us who have had a treble voice know, it is a temporary gift and its loss can be a momentary but deeply felt affliction. Yet the gift, as briefly as it was held, was greatly redemptive in this young boy’s life. The question was asked, “Was all that training worth it for such a short period of musical excellence?” The answer was “Yes” and as the Epistle says today, there was ‘an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure’ which entered his life.

Last Sunday many of us had difficulties getting to Mass because of the Christchurch Marathon. Some arrived late, others gave up after fruitless searching for a way in and some decided not to leave home. I was particularly concerned that access to the hospital was compromised and I believe that there should be a route in to S. Michael’s that we can recommend people to use. In these post-earthquake times we all put up with various delays and diversions in our trips each day and it is simply too much to expect the central city to cope with such an event the way the city is. I have written to our local councillor who has promised that S. Michael’s will be involved in a full debrief by the Council. I encourage parishioners to write to the Council with your views also, so that our voice may be heard and I’m sure the Vestry will want to write as well. Well done also to our Press letter writers!

Today we bid farewell to Fr Ron and Diana Smith who will be travelling overseas for much of the coming two months. We greatly appreciate the priestly ministry of Fr Ron and the wonderful contribution they both make to S. Michael’s, and we wish them well for a lovely time.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

Sales Table: Anne Ladd regrets that she has not been able to organise this recently. She would be very grateful to hear from anyone who could assist as needed.
Regatta on Avon: lunch today at 12:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
Diocesan Council for World Mission: Go tell the Gospel, Graeme Mitchell.
Tomorrow 10:15 am—12:30 pm, S. Augustine’s, Cashmere.
The Meditation Group meets tomorrow at 5:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Parish Trust meets on Wednesday at 5:15 pm in the school staffroom.
Saturday Breakfast: 13 June at 9:45 am. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
Canterbury Missions Expo: Saturday from 9:30 am at Riccarton Baptist Church.
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 15 June, 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
The Needlework Group: details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Residential Retreat A New Heart: Wellington 17–26 July. Phone 04 383 7769.
Book Swap/Donate/Share with a Friend/Give as a gift:
Modern books that you have enjoyed. Fundraising koha to Anne at the sales table.
Books available in parish lounge during the week and in the hall on Sundays.
Box lots of books are welcome at any S. Christopher’s Dove Book Shop.
Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.

S. Michael’s School 16 June
• Open Day 8:00 am–4:00 pm
• Quiz Night 7:30 pm at Robbies Riccarton
Details on poster or from Amanda Condon
379 9790, amandacondon@saintmichaels.co.nz

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 31 May 2015

Trinity Sunday 2015 Isaiah 6: 1-8, Romans 8: 12-17, John 3: 1-17

St Augustine of Hippo wrote a famous book on the doctrine of the Trinity called De Trinitate from which I would like to share a few reflections today.

Augustine was walking on the beach, one day, pondering the mystery of the Trinity. He came upon a small boy who was carrying a bucket of water from the sea and pouring it into a hole in the sand. Augustine asked the boy, “What are you doing?” They boy replied, “I am pouring the sea into this hole in the sand.” Augustine laughed and said, “It can’t be done. The sea is too large and the hole too small.” The boy replied, “So it is with you and the Trinity. The mystery is too large and your mind is too small.” Then the boy disappeared.

When we come to consider the Trinity we are probing a mystery that is indeed very great, yet the revelation of God that we have in Jesus does make it accessible. The reading from Isaiah gives us an idea of the holiness of God and suggests that before we begin to tread there we need to take our shoes off. This is an exercise in humility where we become aware of our smallness and unworthiness and God’s greatness and goodness. I can certainly identify with Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night. He’s a teacher of Israel, and learned in theology, yet he hasn’t yet understood the basics and is full of the wrong kind of questions. Like Nicodemus we can try and grasp the idea of God in earthly terms and get hopelessly lost in heavenly terms. “We ask; how can these things be?” Many have asked this of the Trinity. We might say, let it all be a mystery yet, one of the hallmarks of Christianity is that it is a sensible religion. It is understandable even if there are significant levels of mystery.

Augustine’s thesis was that if we are made in the image of God, then we ought to be able to find the image of the Trinity within ourselves and this insight will lead us towards salvation and spiritual growth. Our likeness to the Trinity occurs because, “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)

Augustine looked for three somethings which can both be separately presented and also operate inseparably. One of these was that he saw memory as a source of understanding and will which makes us aware of the Father; He saw understanding reminding us of the Son and in the will we recognise the Spirit, who is love. Thinking about the Trinity in these terms leads us towards the use of our imagination which is always a big help in theology.

The Trinity has an internal set of relationships between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit which are rooted in love. Augustine wrote that, “We are commanded to imitate this mutuality by grace, both with reference to God and to each other, in the two precepts on which the whole law and the Prophets depend.” Creation, redemption and living giving is the overflow of this mutual love into the world.

The church is a place where we can imitate this mutuality by grace. We do this most emphatically when we gather for communion. We come humbly acknowledging our sin against God and one another, and our need to make peace with God and one another. We receive the assurance that God blots out our sins, and we share bread and wine, the body and blood of Christ in a feast of love. The overflow of this communion is our sending out in mission and ministry in the world. Mission and ministry that reflect grace must be an overflow that comes from a cup that runneth over. If the cup runneth not over then the mission and ministry will lack joy. The way to fill the cup is to return time and again to the source of life in the forgiving grace of God found in the Eucharist, prayer and reading and studying the Scriptures.

When the cup runneth over we begin to hear God saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And we find ourselves saying, “Here I am, send me!”

When we are sent, we are sent on two divine missions:
One Divine Mission is akin to the sending of the Son in the incarnation where we are sent to take up a unique relationship with people personally. This is the ministry we offer to people in the same way that Jesus did such as we read the gospels. This is the way of the cross.

The other Divine mission is akin to the sending of the Spirit where we are sent to unite people with each other and to form community. The work of the Spirit then seeks to draw these communities bit by bit towards the communion of the Church.

Of course these divine missions relate to each other and indeed depend on each other as they do on the sender. This reflects the life of the Holy Trinity who desires nothing more than to draw us into the life and love of God.

Let me finish with a prayer that St Augustine wrote at the conclusion of his work:
“Let me remember you, let me understand you, let me love you. Increase these things in me until you reform me completely.”