Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 25 October 2015

OS 30 Jeremiah 31: 7-9, Hebrews 7: 23-28, Mark 10: 46-52

A couple of weeks ago I spoke about begging in our city. Bartimaeus was one such beggar, sitting beside the road using his disability to evoke sympathy in order that he might get enough to survive.

Meeting a person begging on the side of the road can be quite confronting. Jolyon White, our Social Justice enabler, wrote about begging in Friday’s Press. He acknowledged the discomfort that we feel when confronted with someone on the street begging. He rightly observed the social complexity of begging. Jolyon said,” When I am confronted by someone begging, whether I give or not, I feel powerless, uncomfortable or guilty and that is relational.” I can certainly relate to that.

It’s not hard to see why people wanted to shut Bartimaeus up as Jesus came along. He was causing embarrassment. Jolyon observed that when he stopped and talked to people begging he stopped feeling uncomfortable and guilty. Such an approach offers the possibility of a two way relationship whether or not money is given. Marcel Mauss in his book, The Gift observes that a gift that does nothing to enhance solidarity is a contradiction. This insight, I think, explains why so much of our social policy and benefit system fails to address the problems in our society. There needs to be some kind of exchange of gifts. In the case of Bartimaeus he receives his sight, and then he chooses to follow Jesus on the way. This gospel story holds a deep truth about how the church can, if it dares, attend to the poor.

When I was in Rome on Study Leave last time I visited the Community of St Egidio and I was impressed by the work they do among the poor. They describe this as Friendship with the Poor. They say that there is no community no matter how small or weak that cannot help the poor. One of their key priorities is to foster the relationship between rich and poor. I know there are members of this congregation who are engaged in this kind of ministry. St Egidio identifies with those considered the least, considering them as brothers and sisters, with no exclusions and they welcome them to join the community if they wish. They realise, as we must, that those who beg share our common humanity.

In Christian spirituality begging has a broad provenance. In the liturgy we adopt a begging posture when we kneel and plead for forgiveness, and again when we hold out our hands for communion. We may not easily associate that with street begging, but begging it is, and may our pride not let us forget that. We might remember the well known phase defining Christian ministry as one beggar showing another beggar where some food might be found.

There are two kinds of begging. One is a business as usual begging that seeks to maintain an existing lifestyle. The other is begging for something truly is our heart’s desire: something that will be transformative. Bartimaeus was begging to survive, but when Jesus came along he knew there was much more to be had. Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?” drew out his heart’s desire. He said, “My teacher, let me see again.” Bartimaeus knew that regaining his sight would transform his life and get him off the side of the road and on the way.

Reb Mendl studied at the house of learning. “He gathered knowledge with burning eagerness, but after a while a yearning for something more began to glow in him.” He was not satisfied with mere intellectual knowledge. He thought when he studied past masters he should be able to enter into their presence. In particular, when he poured over Rabbi Isaac Alfasi, he wanted to be able to experience him. He wept in anguish when he was not able to do this.

One night Alfasi appeared to him in a dream, saying only, “You are to go to Elimelekh.” Reb Mendl had never heard of this man, but he left immediately to search for him. After much wandering, “weary and in tatters, hungry and freezing,” he managed to reach Reb Elimelekh’s house. “The secretary refused to admit this person who looked like one of the beggars that had lately pestered the Rebbe.” But Reb Mendl forced his way in and found the Rebbe.

“Who sent you?” asked Elimelekh

“Alfasi did,” said Mendl

Reb Elimelekh stared at the stranger for a long moment, then said, “You can stay with me.”

Mendl was not satisfied with the traditional ways of the house of learning. He had a burning desire for the wholeness of life which transformed him into a beggar.

The kingdom of God is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and sprang up and came to Jesus.

When we know our heart’s desire, what we really need, what we will shamelessly beg for, what we will not be denied. When we know this, we have regained our sight.

Letter from the Vicar 25 October 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to Mass today. On Friday afternoon at S. Michael’s we hosted a moving commemoration of the centenary of the sinking of the transport ship Marquette in the Aegean Sea by a German submarine on 23 October 1915. We were honoured to have the Governor-General Sir Jerry and Lady Janine Mataparae and many other distinguished guests, as well as about one hundred family members of those who died. Following the service the Governor-General laid a wreath at the Calvary.

At the time the Marquette tragedy added to the grief of a nation still reeling from heavy losses at Gallipoli. Among the fatalities were thirty-two New Zealanders, including ten nurses—making 23 October the deadliest day in the history of this country’s military nursing. The sinking caused great public outrage because the nurses should have been safely transported on a hospital ship, and one was available. The death of the nurses was felt particularly strongly in the South Island, where the majority of them had lived or nursed. The Nurses’ Memorial Chapel, which stands beside the Christchurch Hospital and still awaits restoration following the earthquakes, is dedicated to their memory.

As we remember those nurses we also hear the words of comfort from Jeremiah. His words remind us that people still gather for nursing and medical care, the blind, the lame, those with children and those preparing to give birth. They come often in great distress, yet the care they receive is of the highest standard. As I move around the hospitals I am constantly impressed by the standard of nursing care, and we have much to be thankful for. Nevertheless, the reports in recent days suggesting inadequate funding of our Hospital Board are concerning. The reality is that following the earthquakes many people have experienced illnesses, both physical and mental, that have been exacerbated by the stress they have been under. Attending to this is every bit as important as fixing houses and rebuilding the CBD.

All Souls’ Day: Monday 2 November, Masses at 10:00 am and 7:00 pm. These are important pastoral Masses at which we offer the comfort of the resurrection hope to those who mourn, as we pray for the souls that are dear to the heart of this parish. Both Masses include the reading of the names of the departed. Please check the draft copies today and make any corrections or additions. Print the name, with your own name in brackets. Please use the list for the Mass you will be attending. There is also a list of names for which we have no contact person—put your name beside any of these that you wish to see retained. The lists are long as we include those whose funerals have been here in recent years, as well as former parishioners and immediate family or close friends.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

Help for the City Mission: the Mission has called for a clothing and furniture drive to replenish stock in their Op Shops, as they are desperately short of all basic household items for people in need. These can be collected (365 0635) or taken to 276 Hereford St or any Great Opportunity Shop.
Sales Table: in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
Taizé: Ginny Comery’s daughter Liz will be coming to play the flute at tonight’s service. All welcome.
• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
• The Bible Study Group meets tomorrow 7:15 pm in the staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• The Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 7:00 pm.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Meditation Group meets next on 9 November, not 2 November (All Souls’). Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
Celebrating the Gospel in the Market Place: Mark Powell, CEO The Warehouse, speaks at Evening Prayer at the Cathedral today 4:30 pm, followed by discussion with Bishop Victoria and Ngaire Button. Details Michael Graveston.
Te Waiora Annual Thanksgiving Service: next Sunday, 2:30 pm Darfield Baptist Church, 15 Greendale Road. Speaker Revd Kevin Tapper.
Organ/Guitar Recital: Eric and Mark Apperley. Next Sunday, 3:00 pm at S. Michael’s. Koha to the Organ Fund.
Convenor required (male or female) for the flower-arranging group. This involves compiling and emailing the roster twice a year (model provided), notifying the Trumpet three times a year about donations for festivals, and being the contact person for the parish office. Details Jill Woodside (338 9590).
• The Needlework Group meets monthly, details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Book Swap: modern books available for exchange, Sundays in the parish hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish funds.
Inasmuch Basket: please continue to support the City Mission with groceries etc.

Letter from the Vicar 18 October 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s as we celebrate the Feast of S. Luke the Evangelist. Today we hear readings from both the Gospel of Luke and the book of the Acts of the Apostles, which are generally attributed to the same author. Luke begins his Gospel by saying that he has carefully gone over the whole story of Jesus and has sought to write an ordered account of these things so that a credible witness may be given. The Gospel of Luke has been described as a very warm and human Gospel that concentrates on Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness, especially to the poor, with a strong invitation to salvation to both Jew and Greek.

Luke’s Gospel grounds the message of Jesus strongly in the Old Testament. Luke does this both by referring to prophecy and by his portrayal of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the other representatives of faithful Israel, who prepare the way for Jesus the Messiah and then respond to and support his ministry. Luke pays attention to issues of personal morality, especially as it relates to wealth and possessions. He also highlights the significance of personal spirituality in terms of healing, prayer, praise of God, joy and the vital part played by the Holy Spirit in Christian life. Luke has been called the ‘Dear and Glorious Physician’, arising from the reference to him in Paul’s letter to the Colossians 4: 14, and his name has frequently been invoked in the ministry of healing.

All Souls’ Day is coming up and will be celebrated on Monday 2 November with a Low Mass at 10:00 am and a Solemn Mass at 7:00 pm. These are important pastoral Masses at which we offer the comfort of the resurrection hope to those who mourn, as we pray for the souls that are dear to the heart of this parish. Both Masses will include the reading of names of the departed, many carried forward from year to year. Draft copies are available for you to check today and next Sunday and to make any corrections or additions. There are two lists: please use the one for the Mass you will be attending. Please print the name clearly and put your own name in brackets. There is also a list of names for which we have no contact person—please put your name beside any of these that you wish to see retained. The lists are quite long as we include those whose funerals have been at S. Michael’s in the past few years, as well as former parishioners and immediate family or close friends.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

Three concerts in one week: special thanks to Jane Evans and Michael Graveston and their team of volunteers for so much time and hard work.
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.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Tonight we are invited to join the people of S. Luke’s for their Patronal Festival, 6:00 pm at the Knox Centre (note no Evensong at S. Michael’s).
• The Meditation Group meets tomorrow at 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
• The Bible Study Group meets tomorrow 7:15 pm in the staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
S. Michael’s Women’s Fellowship Group: meeting in the parish lounge on Tuesday after the 10:00 am Mass. Details Kathryn Starky (385 0197), Judith McKaskell (322 7961), or Pat Evans (358 0127). All welcome.
Anglican Care Trust Board AGM: Tuesday 6:00 pm (refreshments 5:30 pm) at the Community of the Sacred Name, 300 Tuam Street.
Celebrating the Gospel in the Market Place: Mark Powell, CEO The Warehouse, speaks at Evening Prayer at the Cathedral next Sunday 4:30 pm, followed by discussion with Bishop Victoria and Ngaire Button. Details Michael Graveston.
Organ Recital: Eric Apperley. 1 November, 3:00 pm at S. Michael’s. Koha.
Convenor required (male or female) for the flower-arranging group. This involves compiling and emailing the roster twice a year (model provided), notifying the Trumpet three times a year about donations for festivals, and being the contact person for the parish office. Details Jill Woodside (338 9590).
• The Needlework Group meets monthly, details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Anglican Advocacy Volunteer Mentors: if you can help, email Grace Le Heux at researcher@anglicanlife.org.nz for details.
Book Swap: modern books available for exchange, Sundays in the parish hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish funds.
Inasmuch Basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.

Letter from the Vicar 11 October 2015

Fr Andrew Starky

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s today. We gather to ‘seek the Lord and live’, as the prophet Amos puts it. This is the essence of our call to praise and worship God in all things and at all times. The purpose of our presence in the Liturgy is to recall us to this way of life, which so easily slips away. Whether we come with overwhelming problems or joys or some mixture of both, the reminder is always needed that the praise and worship of God in all things is the way to life. Lest we be confused Amos includes the words, ‘seek good and not evil that you may live.’ This calls us to avoid the trap of thinking that we can somehow separate our spirituality or spiritual practice from the ethics that govern our life and behaviour.

This separation has always been a particular challenge to the Church. It is much easier to pray liturgies, sing songs and hear sermons about things, than it is to actually change our ethical behaviour in the way the prophet indicates. Jesus’ response to the man who approaches him thinking that he can gain eternal life without laying down his own life is challenging to hear. It cuts like a double-edged sword to the very depths of the thoughts and intentions of our heart. We sit with this challenge knowing that our first action is to celebrate Eucharist. We find here the pattern for aligning our spirituality and our ethics in a way that traces the outline of the cross. I offer a couple of possibilities to ponder:

Anglican Advocacy Volunteer Mentors: As the Justice Precinct continues to take shape next door, consider whether you may have a spare 8 hours? Anglican Advocacy is looking for people to become volunteer mentors for low-risk offenders who appear before the Community Justice Panel. There is an information night on Wednesday from 7:00–8:00 pm at Theology House, 31 Yaldhurst Road. If you are interested in knowing more, please email Grace Le Heux at researcher@anglicanlife.org.nz for details.

The Anglican Care Trust Board AGM this year will include an address from Bishop Justin Duckworth of Wellington on serving the least, the last and the lost. This is at 6:00 pm (5:30 pm for refreshments) on 20 October at the Community of the Sacred Name, 300 Tuam Street.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

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.
S. Michael’s School: Term 4 begins tomorrow.
CWS celebrates 70 years since the first Christmas Appeal: Rod Oram How small change makes big change. Cathedral Tuesday 6:30 pm.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Heritage Week: volunteer hosts still required for next Saturday and Sunday 11:00 am–3:00 pm. Speak to Louise (379 5236).
S. Luke’s Day: we are invited to join the people of S. Luke’s for Evensong next Sunday, 6:00 pm at the Knox Centre (note no Evensong at S. Michael’s).
The Bible Study Group meets next 19 October, 7:15 pm in the staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
Celebrating the Gospel in the Market Place: Mark Powell, CEO The Warehouse, speaks at Evening Prayer at the Cathedral 25 October 4:30 pm, followed by discussion with Bishop Victoria and Ngaire Button. Details Michael Graveston.
The Needlework Group meets monthly, details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Department of Theology and Religion: University of Otago Distance Studies. Brochures for next year available now in the parish lounge.
Book Swap: modern books available for exchange, Sundays in the parish hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish funds.
Inasmuch Basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts.

Supper after Evensong and Taizé
The Vestry has acknowledged with thanks the ministry of Jenny Daniels
who for a number of years has organised the supper following the evening
services. It has now been agreed that the servers and those preparing for
Taizé worship will set up beforehand. Catherine Axcell has kindly agreed
to serve the supper and clear away afterwards and it would be helpful if
others could lend a hand as required.

Letter from the Vicar 4 October 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s today as we celebrate the Dedication Festival of this wonderful church. Last Tuesday we celebrated Michaelmas in fine style, when we praised God for S. Michael and for the angels who are our patrons. Today our focus comes on to our own church, which has been dedicated to the glory of God. The building that we have the privilege of worshipping in is truly beautiful. It is what some people call a ‘thin place’. This means a place where it is easier to pray, and my experience is that children can be particularly sensitive to such places. God is equally available anywhere, of course, but there are some places, whether in the natural environment or of human construction, where people experience a desire to pray. These are called holy places. They are set apart in some way.

One of the challenges that many churches face in the Christchurch rebuild is how to balance the idea of a ‘holy place’ with the need for a multi-purpose facility. Our understanding of the Incarnation is that God, in his Son Jesus, came and dwelt among us. This would suggest that our ‘holy places’ should be accessible and useful for serving people in need whatever their age. One of the best examples of this, from our own heritage, is the Mission House at Kerikeri. This was where the missionaries lived and engaged in teaching, worship and helping people. The times have changed, yet I think this holistic idea of keeping missionary presence, worship, teaching and pastoral help together still has merit, and represents a real possibility on this site as we look to vicarage options here.

What a wonderful celebration we had at Michaelmas, and thanks are due to many people for making this so special this year. In particular I would like to thank Claire Preston, our People’s Warden, who was the one with the long list at Vestry of things to remember, and to those Vestry members who served the supper and stayed behind to clear up. Our thanks go to the hard-working sacristans, and to the Trumpet team, who received a special commendation from Bishop Victoria for their work. The music was sublime, and thanks to Paul Ellis and all our musicians for all their tireless efforts. The flowers were abundant, the brass sparkling, the grounds trim, the linen smooth. We were, in short, at our best and I give thanks for all who helped in any way, great or small, and to the God who made it all possible.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

S. Michael’s School is on holiday until 12 October.
Synod 2015 Reports: copies available at the back of the church.
Sales Table: in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
Lunch at the Regatta on Avon: today 12:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
• 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 Bible Study Group meets tomorrow at 7:15 pm in the staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• The Needlework Group meets on Tuesday. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Christopher’s Classics: concert Tuesday 8:00 pm at S. Michael’s.
• The Rolleston Home Group meets on Wednesday, 11:00 am at 10 Elizabeth St, Rolleston. Details Jenny Daniels (347 7629).
Recital: Paul Ellis with singer Anna Hoetjes, Wednesday 1:00 pm at S. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Manchester Street.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Forum-Dialogue: What sort of city are we building? Series continuing on Thursday at 5:30 pm. See www.knoxchurch.co.nz/news for details.
Concert: The Church Tour, Thursday 8:00 pm at S. Michael’s.
Saturday Breakfast: 10 October, 9:45 am in the lounge. Details Anne Ladd.
Poverty, Inequality and Decision-Making: lecture by Bryan Bruce, author and documentary-maker, Cathedral Saturday 7:30 pm, supper provided. See poster.
Volunteers required for Heritage Week: details Louise (379 5236).
Book Swap: modern books available for exchange, Sundays in the parish hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish funds.
Inasmuch Basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of food and other household items.

Letter from the Vicar 27 September 2015

Fr Andrew Starky

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s. Today I am delighted that Kay and Ian Burgess are with us to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of their marriage here in S. Michael’s on this very day, with Fr Baker officiating. We will add our joyful blessing and pray that they may have many more years together.

The Old Testament reading speaks of the burdens of office that Moses carried as he led a complaining and divided people. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, might well sympathise as he seeks to find a way forward in the Anglican Communion.

He has called the Primates, or heads of each Province, together to discuss the divided state of the communion worldwide. The Archbishop appears to be recognising this reality by preparing to loosen some of the structural ties that link one Province with another. This is so that the Church may put less energy into internal squabbles over power and sexuality, and much more energy into proclaiming what the Gospel has to say about issues such as climate change, poverty and the refugee crisis.

He says, “[We must find] a way forward, guided by the absolute imperative for the church to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, to make disciples and to worship and live in holiness, and recognising that the way in which proclamation happens and the pressures on us vary greatly between Provinces. We each live in a different context. The difference between our societies and cultures, as well as the speed of cultural change in much of the global north, tempts us to divide as Christians: when the command of scripture, the prayer of Jesus, the tradition of the church and our theological understanding urges unity. A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement, and even mutual criticism, so long as we are faithful to the revelation of Jesus Christ, together. We have no Anglican Pope. Our authority as a church is dispersed, and is ultimately found in Scripture, properly interpreted. In that light I long for us to meet together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and to seek to find a way of enabling ourselves to set a course which permits us to focus on serving and loving each other, and above all on the proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Climate action: if you would like to help form a S. Michael’s Climate Change Action group please see Mary Hamilton after Mass today, or phone 337 0833.

It is just two days until the great festival of Michaelmas and we are very excited to be welcoming Bishop Victoria to preach and preside this year. Thank you to all who are helping prepare in many ways so that at Michaelmas we can worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness, and offer a warm welcome to our many visitors.

Yours in Christ,

Fr Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

S. Michael’s School is on holiday until 12 October.
Synod 2015 Reports: copies available at the back of the church.
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.
Working bees: tomorrow 10:30 am for brass-cleaning, Tuesday 9:30 am for flowers. Come and help—all welcome.
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
Forum-Dialogue: What sort of city are we building? Series continuing on Thursday at 5:30 pm. See www.knoxchurch.co.nz/news for details.
• The Canterbury Shakespeare Society meets on Thursday, 7:30 pm in the parish lounge. Details John De la Bere (981 7582).
Lunch at the Regatta on Avon: next Sunday 12:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 5 October at 7:15 pm in the staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
Recital: Paul Ellis with singer Anna Hoetjes. 7 October, 1:00 pm at S. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Manchester Street.
Poverty, Inequality and Decision-Making: Bryan Bruce, 10 October, 7:30 pm at the Cathedral, supper provided. Details on poster.
Inasmuch Basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of food and other household items.

On Tuesday we are celebrating the Feast of S. Michael and All Angels
Michaelmas is our Patronal Festival. Mass will begin at 7:00 pm and
include some very special music. Bishop Victoria will be our preacher,
and following the Mass, all are invited to share in a light supper in the
parish hall. Parishioners are requested to bring a plate of finger food to
share, something that doesn’t require heating. This may be dropped off
in the hall prior to the Mass. We look forward to seeing you all there.