Letter from the Vicar 30 August 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s. Today is Anglican Communion Sunday, when we celebrate our place in the worldwide family of Anglicans. The Anglican Communion arose with the spread of the Church of England as the British Empire grew and church people emigrated to many parts of the world. This created a problem as the Church of England had jurisdiction only in England, and so the Anglican Communion came about.

The Anglican Communion holds together the desire for unity of all Anglicans with a parallel and sometimes conflicting desire for the autonomy of each Province. Our Communion, by its nature, lies in between the Roman Catholic model, on the one hand, which has all authority centred on the Pope in Rome and on the other, a Church such as the Presbyterian where internationally churches share little more than a common heritage and a name. The Anglican Communion has always striven to live between these two extremes. It has done so by creating four Instruments of Unity which seek to give a measure of order and focus to the Communion.

These Instruments are the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the focus of unity, and the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, which the Archbishop convenes every ten years. Further, there is the Anglican Consultative Council, which includes lay people, and the Primates Meeting for heads of each Province. In recent years the unity of the Anglican Communion has been strained by debates over sexuality and ordination. The ‘bonds of affection’ which used to undergird the Instruments of Unity and hold the Communion together have been severely challenged, so we need to pray continually for the unity of our Communion.

There is also one unofficial Instrument of Unity called the Mothers’ Union. The MU has four million members over 83 countries. While it is small in New Zealand because of the growth of the AAW, it is a significant body in the worldwide communion. Earlier this year Kathryn and I had the privilege of meeting Lynne Tembey, Worldwide President of Mothers’ Union, on her trip to Christchurch. I was impressed to hear of the things that the Mothers’ Union does in caring for families.

This meeting made me think about the women of S. Michael’s and whether it is time now to form a new women’s group of some kind. After the 10:00 am Mass on Tuesday 15 September I would like to discuss this with those interested. If you would like to talk it over beforehand, please contact Pat Evans (358 0127), or Judith McKaskell (322 7961), or Kathryn Starky (385 0197). If any men are feeling left out by this, please speak with me, because in due course I would love to see a group for men also re-established in this parish.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

Sales Table: in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
• The Chamber Choir will sing at Evensong tonight (Sunday 30th August), joined by three of the Oxfords.
There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
• The Bible Study Group meets tomorrow (Monday 31st August) at 7:15 pm in the school staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
Rolleston Home Group: Wednesday 11:00 am at 107 Tennyson St, Rolleston. Fr Andrew will bring us Home Communion. Details Jenny Daniels (347 7629).
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Synod begins on Thursday, Eucharist 6:30 pm at the Cathedral.
• The Canterbury Shakespeare Society meets on Thursday at 7:30 pm in the parish lounge. Details John De la Bere (981 7582).
Regatta on Avon: lunch next Sunday at 12:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
Advance Notice: Michaelmas Festival Mass on 29 September will be at 7:00 pm, Bishop Victoria will celebrate and preach. Supper afterwards in the hall.
• The Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Volunteers sought for Selwyn Centres: details Anne Russell-Brighty (384 8396), email anne.adrian@xtra.co.nz or www.anglicaneldercare.com.
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 food and other household items.

S. Michael’s School presents
Ali Baba
16 September at the McFadden Centre, St Albans,
1:00 pm (dress rehearsal) $5 and $2
6:30 pm $12 and $8
Tickets from the school office by 11 September
office@saintmichaels.co.nz or phone 379 9790

Letter from the Church Wardens 23 August 2015

Dear Friends,

Welcome to you all today as we gather to share the bread of life together and draw strength for the journey. We receive for baptism Charlotte Bonny Riches and we welcome her family and friends to S. Michael’s on this special day.

Recently the Vestry approved a proposal for replacing fences, starting with the corrugated iron section on Durham Street and coming round the corner on to Oxford Terrace to replace part of the hedge. This proposal was foreshadowed in the Principal’s Report to the 2015 AGM, when Marshall Diggs outlined the importance of improving the appearance of our site for marketing and growing the school.

The new fence will be rail and bar construction, which is now very common for school fences. It will be the same dark blue colour as the present fence and is to be placed on the existing concrete foundation. All current entrances will remain. Vestry heard concerns about vehicle fumes, but the changed road configurations will mean that there will not be many cars waiting for lights near our boundary. The trees will all remain, but some shrubs will be removed and the canopy lifted to provide more openness. Our advice is that this will enhance security and enable the passing public to see that the school and the church are active and open for business. Also, the grant promised by the Christchurch City Council for the repair and strengthening of the Old Stone Building requires us to make the building visible from the street. Other proposals for re-developing the area within this perimeter will be considered later, but will not be carried out until the OSB has been repaired.

The Vestry referred the project to the Parish Trust, which agrees with its merits and has appointed one of its members to work with the school on managing the project. The Vestry and the Trust believe that this project will constitute a great improvement in the appearance of our site, to the benefit of both parish and school.

Removal and disposal of the existing fence and landscaping to allow for the new fence will take place 2–8 September.
The new fence will be installed during the September school holidays, to be completed by the start of Term 4.
There could be some disruption in our eastern parking area while this is being done. We believe it will be minor.

We are grateful to the School PTFA for raising the funds for this project. There are images in the hall today which will give parishioners an idea of its visual impact.

Michael Graveston, Vicar’s Warden
Claire Preston, People’s Warden

Parish Notices

Christchurch City Mission: many are still struggling to cope in winter conditions. Please continue to bring food and other household items for the Inasmuch Basket. Clothing and larger items may be delivered directly to 276 Hereford St.
Keys found near the church: details from Louise (379 5236).
Sales Table: in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
• 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 Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
• The Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 7:00 pm.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Anglican Living AGM: Wednesday, 4:30 pm at S. Peter’s Church Hall.
Christchurch City Mission AGM: Thursday, 4:30 pm at the City Mission.
Volunteers sought for Selwyn Centres: details Anne Russell-Brighty (384 8396), email anne.adrian@xtra.co.nz or www.anglicaneldercare.com.
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 31 August. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• The Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
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.

Concerts by The Oxfords

(Six Choral Scholars from Magdalen College, Oxford, UK)

Transitional Cathedral
Saturday 22nd August 6:00-7:00 pm

Christ’s College Chapel
Wednesday 26th August at 7:30 pm ($15)
Thursday 27th August at 1:00 pm (free admission)

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 16 August 2015

Assumption 2015 Isaiah 61: 10-11, Galatians 4: 4-7, Luke1: 46-55

Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

One of the things that stand out for Anglicans coming to St Michael’s for the first time is the attention we give to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In every Mass we either say the Hail Mary at the intercessions or the Angelus at the end. Each day the Angelus is said before Morning Prayer and rung before Mass and at noon by the school.

About ten years ago I did the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. Being a Roman Catholic setting Mary’s place was taken for granted. My spiritual universe had no room for this and I found it quite confronting. Actually I was quite resistant to it. The genius of the Ignatian Exercises is that they pay attention to resistances as well as desires. Ignatius understood that the seeds of spiritual growth can often be found among our resistances. As Mary says in her song, “He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones.”

God must have been thinking well ahead because seven years later I would find myself the Vicar of St Michael’s where devotion to Mary is a pivotal part of Church life. It is good for us to realise that the bulk of Christians worldwide are Orthodox and Roman Catholics who take the place of Mary very much for granted as do Anglo Catholics. Even though the 1662 Book of Common Prayer retained almost all the Catholic feasts of Mary most Anglican Churches do not reflect this. In this diocese and province, Marian devotion is unusual. Parishes that reflect this spirituality stand out. For this reason we can’t take devotion to Mary for granted. We must be prepared to say why it is important, not simply for us, but for the whole Church.

It is clear from patristic writings that the understanding of Mary as God bearer Theotokos was pivotal in the formation of the creeds and doctrines about the incarnation by the early Church. Whenever we say the Angelus or the Hail Mary we celebrate the incarnation. The incarnation means that, for love, God became involved as one of us, sharing our material form. One implication of God’s foray into the material world is that the church began to make icons. They are like windows to the divine. Icons in this church include also the stained glass windows and the statues of Mary. Some people seek to destroy icons because they reject or fear the involvement of God in the material world: they want to keep God at a distance. In our present age Islamic fundamentalists are doing this. Christians have also done this in the past fearing idolatry. When God is kept at a distance like this; usually compassion is at an even greater distance.

The incarnation means, as Paul says in Galatians, that we are adopted children of God, indeed heirs through Christ. All Christians would subscribe to this at an intellectual level, but there is a risk that having assented with our minds, God remains as distant as ever in practice.

Marian devotion calls us to make this truth part of our ethos. In Anglican tradition Mary’s song, known as the Magnificat, has had an honoured place being said or sung daily at Evensong. Mary’s song describes the ethos of a catholic church where the joyful worship of God rises from our very being in response to God’s restoration of our human dignity in the incarnation. “He has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.”

Mary’s song is a very personal song. “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me and holy is his name.” We worship a God who is interested in the details of our life and wants to do great things for us.

Mary’s song is prophetic because it foretells the future devotion the church will have for her which has gone on for thousands of years. Mary was a young and vulnerable woman living in a backwater of the Roman Empire. She consented to be the first person to receive Christ. Because of God’s favour and the faith and courage of her response we continue to bless her as does God who received her into heaven in the Assumption.

Mary’s Song is also prophetic because it foretells Gods intention to upend oppressive power relationships. This was a key feature of Jesus’ ministry and it underpins the care and social justice efforts of the church. For those who labour under injustice Mary’s song gives hope that God will act to lift up the lowly and fill the hungry with good things. Mary’s femininity and maternity, remind us that women and children are over represented among the lowly and hungry. True Marian devotion always inspires the church towards helping the poor including advocating for them while giving it courage to resist the threats of the powerful and rich.

When we light a candle in front of the statue of Our Lady of Walsingham we ask Our Lady Mary to pray for us. In the creed we say we believe in the communion of saints. This is a living and present body in heaven that surrounds us, the church on earth. When we have a particular problem or challenge to address any Christian would feel comfortable ask another to pray for them: We do it all the time. Asking a saint to pray for us is the same thing. Saints though, are more reliable intercessors because they have nothing else to do but to surround the throne of God with their prayers. They don’t forget; they don’t sleep; they don’t get distracted. It is a particular comfort to know that Mary, the Queen of Heaven, is praying for us now in this Eucharist and even at the hour of our death.

Devotion to Mary keeps the church grounded in the incarnation in its theology, its life and mission and its spirituality. Once a year we specially remember that, but every day we say,
Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Letter from the Vicar 16 August 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s on this Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven. When we honour the Virgin Mary we are really paying due attention to the mystery of the incarnation. This is the wonderful gift that the Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth.

The life of S. Mary, it has been said, is like the knot that ties the Old Testament to the New. She embodies faithful Israel by consenting to the call of the Angel Gabriel in the words, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Through her life she came to understand the special vocation of her son and was present at the cross when he died. There she became the Mother of the Church as Jesus gave her the Beloved Disciple to be her son. Following his resurrection she joined the disciples in prayer as they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit. We continue to call on her intercession to this day, in all that we do and most especially in times of challenge and difficulty.

This is a wonderful day to sing the Gloria with particular joy. The Gloria is an ancient hymn of praise to the Trinity. We sing it following the declaration of the absolution of sins, and it is one of the highlights of the Mass. Today we sing the Gloria to the Festive Eucharist setting by Noel Rawsthorne, and it has been customary at S. Michael’s for the upper voices and the lower voices to sing specific lines, as marked below:
UPPER VOICES IN BOLD, LOWER VOICES IN ITALICS, all together in ordinary type.
Let’s really sing it with joy today!

Glory to God in the highest, and peace to God’s people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King, almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.
LORD JESUS CHRIST, ONLY SON OF THE FATHER,
LORD GOD, LAMB OF GOD,
YOU TAKE AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD: HAVE MERCY ON US;
YOU ARE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER:
RECEIVE OUR PRAYER.
For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, @ in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

S. Michael’s Google Group: If you are not currently in this but have an email address and would like to be included (to receive Anglican e-Life and updates from the Bishop etc) please email Louise on smaa@xtra.co.nz with your details.
Keys found near the church: details from Louise (379 5236).
Christchurch City Mission: many are still struggling to cope in winter conditions. Please continue to bring food and other household items for the Inasmuch Basket. Clothing and larger items may be delivered directly to 276 Hereford St.
Sales Table: in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
Liedertafel Concert: Sunday 16th August 1:30 pm at the Cathedral. Programmes $15.
People of Differing Faiths: Baha’i and Sikhism today 4:00 pm, Elmwood Bowling.
• The Bible Study Group meets Monday 17th August. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• The postponed meeting of the Outreach Committee is this Tuesday at 7:30 pm.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Cursillo Ultreya: Saturday 2:00–4:00 pm. Enquiries Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
Anglican Living AGM: 26 August, 4:30 pm at S. Peter’s Church Hall.
Christchurch City Mission AGM: 27 August, 4:30 pm at the City Mission.
• The Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
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.

Banners: The attention of the Vestry has been drawn to the deteriorating
condition of our two largest banners. The Vestry has agreed that these
historic and beautiful banners should no longer be used in processions, and
advice is being sought on the best way to preserve them for display. It is
then planned to commission some new banners for use in the liturgy.

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky Evensong 9 August 2015

Evensong OS 19B Job 39: 1-40- 40: 4, Hebrews 12: 1-17

When we lived on the West Coast we enjoyed some tramping up the rugged rivers around Harihari and climbing some of the lower mountains around the town and further south. It always felt quite an achievement to get into some of these places, and perhaps the most challenging was one day with a friend when we got to the Blue Lookout where you can see into the Garden of Eden ice-fields in the centre of the Southern Alps.

When you are in these kinds of places you suddenly feel very small in relation to the mountains which are very large. You feel very vulnerable. (This was before the days of Emergency Locator Beacons.) I think this feeling is something like the fear of the Lord. Trips into such places are not an option for most people, and certainly not for someone like Job weighed down with all his problems. God tries to re-create such a context through stimulating Job’s imagination. He calls Job to consider the function of the natural environment, the foundations of the earth, the sea and clouds, light and darkness, snow and rain, and the constellations of heaven. Tonight’s passage follows and adds the complexity of the lives of some of the creatures, mountain goats and deer, wild asses and oxen, ostriches, mighty horses, and soaring hawks. The purpose of this is much the same as a trip into the mountains. Job finds that his problems are placed in another perspective.

The writer to the Hebrews also seeks to help a disheartened people find a new perspective. After recounting the heroes of faith and their deeds, he reminds his listeners of the cloud of witnesses which surround them and encourages them to persevere with their race. He recalls Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross. He wants to put the trials of his listeners into perspective, that they might see them as discipline. He observes that in their struggles against sin they have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. He contrasts the discipline of parents who disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, with the discipline of God for our good so that we may share his holiness. Discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

The suffering of Job appears to him to be random. He’s not aware of the contest going on between God and Satan over his motivations for righteousness. Life just suddenly falls apart and he can’t see why. That happens and the ability to gain perspective and context in such circumstances is helpful. The temptation to ask ‘why?’ is this happening to me is real, but it is an unanswerable question in many instances and leads away rather than towards finding peace.

The letter to the Hebrews addresses a different kind of trial that is the consequence of Christian faith. The trial is a struggle against sin (estrangement from God): it comes with the territory. This might be personal struggles, or it could be a struggle as you seek the pain and suffering of others in the world. Without faith, you don’t get this struggle. You might have other struggles, perhaps more like Job, but not this kind. We pray in the Lord’s Prayer, “Save us from the time of trial.” The trial here is a spiritual struggle against sin and God allows some trial, in spite of our prayer, in order that we might grow up into holiness. This is a little bit like subjecting the children of the school to an ice cold river crossing that caused numbness and pain. Afterwards they know some things about trusting each other, about their own ability to endure things they never thought possible. It contributes to them growing up.

God is not satisfied with an immature Christian who could grow, any more that a parent is satisfied with a 12 year old acting like a six year old. Our struggle against sin is also a struggle towards peace and holiness. Roots of bitterness cause trouble and people lose perspective and sell their birthright for a single meal, like Esau.

In pastoral care discernment is very important. Job’s friends saw his suffering as some form of discipline on account of his failure or sin. This was not the case and added to his suffering. God’s approach was to expand Job’s theology. God might have said, “Your idea of me is too small.” The letter to the Hebrews addresses people who have drooping hands and weak knees. They are losing heart and are living between the trials of sin and the promise of peace and holiness as they grow in faith. There is some purpose to their endurance for the sake of growing in peace and holiness. They are on the right track but need encouragement.

At the heart of it, both these readings point to the grace of a God who loves us abundantly and will meet us in whatever the circumstances of our life may be, and lead us forward to all that we can be. As we pray tonight before the sacrament, let us place before God the one thing that concerns us most at this time and seek God’s grace and mercy, his peace and his holiness.

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 9 August 2015

OS 19B 1 Kings 19: 4-8, Ephesians 4: 25-5:2, John 6: 35, 41-51

Elijah was frightened and alone when he sat down under that solitary broom bush. He wanted his life to end. Rather than giving him a pep talk the angel said to him, “Get up and eat.” Elijah noticed a freshly baked cake, and a jar of water, and he ate and drank. And after another time, he had the strength to go for forty days and nights to Mt Horeb where he would encounter God in the sheer silence.

In contrast to Elijah’s journey, today’s gospel reading shows people doing all they can to avoid going anywhere. The sixth chapter of John’s Gospel is the story of the feeding of the 5,000 and reflections and reactions to that sign. Last Sunday we heard the responses of the crowd. Today we hear the responses of the Jews. (In John’s Gospel the term Jews is a code name for the opponents of Jesus and should not be understood as referring to all Jewish people.) They object to Jesus saying, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

St Augustine says of these people, “They had weak jaws of the heart, they were deaf with open ears, they saw and stood blind, not recognising that what God gives us, is not what we make of things ourselves.”

The Jews tried to understand Jesus in their own traditional terms. They couldn’t see how a man with a known address and parentage could be the bread that came down from heaven. His claim that he was the bread of life and that the manna that their ancestors ate in the wilderness could not prevent death was offensive to them.

We don’t come to this story with the world view of those Jews. But we bring our own questions and criteria, never the less. We wonder how Jesus could feed so many people from five loaves and two fish. Such a thing does not square with our understanding of how the world works, with our ideas of economics or science or history. Yet as St Augustine said,” What God gives us, is not what we make of things ourselves.”

John’s Gospel tells us that the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” This is not like the manna that came down over night, that the people ate, and then they died. Jesus takes a small number of loaves and fish and with them feeds a great crowd. That sign points to the mystery of the incarnation. One baby boy was born to Mary because God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Jesus said to the Jews, “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.” People, who have control of their life and are in command of their choices and decisions, will find this troubling. People whose lives are falling apart, like Elijah, will simply reach out for the food. St Augustine says, see how he draws, not by imposing necessity, but by grace enabling the inner palate of the soul to find its greatest pleasure and delight in partaking of the truth.” And when the crowd was satisfied, Jesus told his disciples to gather up the fragments left over so that nothing can be lost.

In the last supper Jesus said to his disciples, “Do this to re-member me.” This is not simply to recollect but also to bring back together the body, to re-member so that nobody will be lost. Our celebration of the Eucharist is a re-membering and it needs to be reflective of our practical daily life as the body of Christ.

In our daily life we speak the truth, because we know we belong to each other. There are things that anger us, just as they did Jesus, but we do not let our passion lead us into sin. We give up stealing so we can work honestly and have something to share with the needy. We use our words to build up so that they give grace to those who hear them. We put away bitterness and malice. We are kind, tender-hearted and forgiving. Indeed we seek to be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

This journey to find God is demanding and unless we get up and eat the bread of life, like Elijah, it will be too much for us. We have been drawn us here to this Mass today, indeed that we might find God.

Some words of Pedro Arrupe:

Nothing is more practical than finding God: that is, than falling in love in quite an absolute way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekend, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.

Letter from the Vicar 9 August 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s today as we gather to eat of the bread of life together and draw strength for the journey. We might readily identify with Elijah as he fled for his life into the wilderness. Elijah had produced a great victory over the prophets of Baal, but even with this display of the power of God he was intimidated by Jezebel. His terror was such that he even asked that he might die, as he sat under that solitary broom bush and fell asleep. He presents a picture of complete desolation and hopelessness.

Then an angel woke him and told him to get up and eat of the provisions that were laid before him. He did so, but then he lay down again. The angel came a second time, touched him and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”

That the angel came a second time to Elijah with more or less the same message is very significant. It reminds me of the part of the Spiritual Exercises of S. Ignatius which is called Repetition. This is where you go back to the same Scripture passage or reflection two and even three times, before you move on. The purpose of this is so that you may reach greater depth. This is where the spiritual food that sustains is likely to be found. In the midst of his despair Elijah experiences the providence of God, indeed he finds consolation.

It is important to know that desolation is not a sign of failure, indeed it is much more a sign of spiritual growth. We might not take off into the wilderness in a physical sense, but there are many ways to withdraw emotionally and spiritually without even leaving home. When we find ourselves under the broom bush alone we need to do the opposite of what we feel like doing. We might feel like telling the angel to get lost, and want to go further out into the wilderness. Instead we need to look around for the provision that God has made through his Word and Sacrament, and join in the worship and prayer of the Church even more.

In these weeks during which we reflect on passages from the great sixth chapter of John’s Gospel it can seem as if we are repeating things time and again. Yet if we stay with this journey we will discover food that will last not only for forty days and forty nights, but indeed for eternity.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

S. Michael’s Google Group: If you are not currently in this but have an email address and would like to be included (to receive Anglican e-Life and updates from the Bishop etc) please email Louise at smaa@xtra.co.nz with your details.
Christchurch City Mission: many are still struggling to cope in winter conditions. Please continue to bring food and other household items for the Inasmuch Basket. Clothing and larger items may be delivered directly to 276 Hereford St.
Sales Table: in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
Meet People of Differing Faiths: the parishes of St Albans and Merivale are sponsoring this opportunity at the Elmwood Bowling Club rooms. Sunday 9th August 4:00 pm Islam, next Sunday Baha’i and Sikhism.
• The Meditation Group meets Monday 10th August, 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
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.
Christopher’s Classics Lilburn in Context: Mark Menzies, Gretchen La Roche and Flavio Villani. Concert at S. Michael’s Wednesday 8:00 pm, door sales.
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 17 August. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
Anglican Living AGM: 26 August, 4:30 pm at S. Peter’s Church Hall.
Christchurch City Mission AGM: 27 August, 4:30 pm at the City Mission.
• The Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
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.
• Three of the Oxfords will be singing with the choir on Sunday evening (9th August).

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 2 August 2015

OS 18B Exodus 16: 2-4, 9-15, Ephesians 4: 1-16, John 6: 24-35

This week I have been at Arthur’s Pass with the middle school camp. It was great to be with our children as they explored the winter environment. For many it would have been a first, and I was most impressed how the children rose to the challenges they met of many kinds. Some hadn’t been away from home before, and for others the alpine environment was new and somewhat strange. The river crossing in the freezing waters of the Bealey River was particularly challenging. It was so cold legs and toes couldn’t be felt any more, and the children in groups of four helped each other across with adults hovering nearby. In these kinds of settings we become much more focussed on basic needs and indeed our own survival. When we go beyond our own resources then we need to trust God and other people. On a school camp we work to extend the children’s confidence in their own abilities, their knowledge and discernment of when they need to trust the wisdom and strength of others and of God.

God had the Israelites out on a school camp and they were very hungry. In their hunger they complained and remembered the comforts of life back in Egypt. The Lord used their hunger to teach them. The Israelites found a white flaky substance on the ground when the dew lifted each morning a bit like the frost on the ground at Arthur’s Pass. They asked Moses, “What is it?” He told them it was the bread that the Lord had given them to eat.

This question, “What is it?” is also central to understanding today’s gospel reading. Through the passage of time the Israelites got the idea that it was Moses who gave the bread from heaven. (This is what we might call ‘creeping clericalism’ where the leaders get the credit for things that are really the works of God.)

Jesus challenged the crowd to realise that it was his Father who gives the true bread from heaven, and indeed that the bread of God comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

The heart of what John’s Gospel says about Jesus is that in him the Word became flesh and lived among us. In this we understand Jesus saying, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus challenged the assumptions of the crowd on two levels. Firstly, the crowd saw the gift of bread or manna as being in the past, whereas Jesus claims it for the present. Secondly, the manna gave life to the Israelites in the wilderness. The bread of God, Jesus says, gives life to the world.

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Give us today our daily bread.” There can be no past when it comes to bread: it soon gets stale and mouldy. When we go into the supermarket and we find shelves full of daily bread. The earthquake taught us how quickly those shelves can empty when disaster strikes. It is the same in the life of faith. Each of us will have important experiences that, in the past have made faith real for us. They are to be treasured for the foundation they are. But today, and every day Jesus says, come and believe. Each day we need to come to Jesus, in our prayer, in our reading of the bible, in our care for those in need that we meet. In St Michael’s we have the wonderful privilege of the Reserved Sacrament held in the Whakahuia. Whenever we come into this church we have come to Jesus. When you come here, take time to sit and listen.

When we sit and listen each day, we realise that Jesus is giving the gift of himself not for the church but for the world.

That is such an important insight that we call attention to with particular depth every time we celebrate the Mass. Indeed the word Mass is derived from the Latin word missa which means dismissal. The church has come to understand this is a dismissal into the mission of God in the world. Each day we offer the Holy Eucharist with thanksgiving for God’s grace, for this city, for the world: God’s response is to feed us with the bread of life for the world. This is the sustenance which ensures the body works properly as it builds itself up in love.

There are many ways of carrying that bread to the world, which we all do in our daily lives and ministries. We need to be ready, though, for the question, “What is it?” We can do all kinds of good works, but unless we can answer that question we will be depriving the people we help of the food that endures for eternal life. We need to find words, appropriate to each situation, which say, “This is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.” It’s not about being excessively pious. It is about remembering who we are and whose we are.

Perhaps in your own life you are in the middle of a difficult crossing at present. Like those children in the Bealey River your feet are frozen, the rocks are slippery, the river fast. Today the Lord offers you bread for the journey. In this Mass he offers you the help of others to get across and the everlasting arms of the eternal God are underneath to be your refuge.