Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 22 November 2015

Christ the King 2015   Daniel 7: 9-14, Revelation 1: 4-8, John 18: 33-37

The idea of the kingship of Christ in all the world has been controversial in recent times. It doesn’t go down well in interfaith discussions where memories of crusades and the like remain vivid. Secular thought can’t understand it, and within the Church many have objected to it on the grounds that it seems to undergird and perpetuate patriarchal forms of leadership. While the kingship of Christ may be controversial, it cannot be avoided because it is about power and authority.

The quality of Christ’s kingship might be summed up in Jesus comment to the disciples as they vied for position, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so amongst you; but whoever wishes to be great amongst you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20: 25-28

Genesis tells us in the creation stories that humans were to be the kings of creation. God said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Genesis 1: 28-29
This makes the point that the power comes from above, from God. The fall comes about through the misuse of this power. Instead of being the benefactor of creation and its steward, humanity wants to benefit from it, control and possess it and the whole sorry story goes on from there. In Christ the full dignity of kingship is restored because he always looked to his Father from whence came his power. When we are baptised we receive the anointing which restores the dignity God intended for us in creation. “Christ has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father.” Revelation 1: 6 KJV

The implication of this is that we need to take on a positive spirituality as regards creation. This means that we recognise and celebrate the fundamental goodness of creation, which lies beneath the sin and evil that we so readily perceive when we look around. Salvation is never found in a withdrawal, an escape or destruction such as we are seeing in the Middle East now. Salvation is a restoration, but more than that, a new creation, the like of which we see in the risen Christ. That is true as it relates to us personally. It is true as it relates to the whole of creation. This is why, for example, participating in the People’s Climate Parade next Saturday is so important. Too often the Church has been absent from such occasions, giving the impression that God is absent and doesn’t care about the travails of creation. The incarnation is indeed the presence of God among all the mess of the world in the flesh.

Yet activism is not the whole compass of the kingship of Christ. In today’s Gospel Jesus says, “My kingdom is not from this world.” I John expands this, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world – the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches – comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.” 1 John 2: 15-17

It is easy for activists to become disheartened, tired, cynical and judgmental. Christian activism must be rooted in prayer which helps us to look upon the world as the Father does. Such prayer leads us inevitably to the mystery of the cross which sits at the heart of our liturgical cycle as it does our faith.

On Good Friday the cross reveals this world’s rejection of God through the crucifixion of his Son. Holy Saturday reveals the end of this world of sin and death as Jesus lies in the tomb. On the third day, by raising his Son to life God reveals the kingdom which is’ not of this world’ within this world of ours. This is the joy of the resurrection.

It is in the cross that the content of the kingship of Christ and its true power are revealed. Our response is well described by St Paul in his letter to the Galatians, “May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6: 14

When we say that the world is crucified to me it means that the cross becomes the only criterion for discernment about life and action. The cross makes it possible for us to reject all in the world that leads to pride and corruption, to enslavement and death. The cross also makes it possible for us to accept the world as God’s beloved creation because God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that all who believe in him should not perish but may have eternal life.

Yet this remains but an idea or a doctrine unless we ourselves are crucified to the world. It is only in me, in my faith, in my life, in my actions, in my suffering, that this power can become seen in the world. This is the calling that we each have through our baptism. We are recalled to it every time we celebrate the Eucharist. In the Eucharist we find the strength and grace to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We work with him to build his kingdom of truth and light, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace.

Letter from the Vicar 22 November 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s on this Feast of Christ the King. This celebration comes at the end of the long sequence of Sundays in Ordinary Time which follow Pentecost. During this period we have heard much about the growth of the kingdom, and the work of the Holy Spirit acting through believers. Today we acknowledge the kingship of Christ, to which all that growth points. It is a kingship that is quite different from the kind of power grabs that we see happening around us in the world. Indeed it is to be a reign of peace that is not gained by suppressing opponents. Sadly, we must acknowledge that such suppression has been all too common in church history.

Having acknowledged that, we must speak out strongly against the savagery that we are witnessing in the world at present in Sinai, in Beirut, in Paris, in Damascus and so on. We are seeing a spiral of violence that must be contained and turned back unless we are to see an even greater catastrophe.

The kingship of Christ that we celebrate on this day has arisen from his offering of himself on the altar of the cross in a perfect sacrifice of peace. This is what we celebrate every time we pray the Mass. On this day we give it particular focus with the procession of the Blessed Sacrament in the wakahuia at the conclusion of the Mass. The use of the wakahuia to hold the presence of Christ for this community represents an intentional desire to incarnate bi-culturally this kingdom of peace in our own land.

This year as we do this we can’t help remembering the late Bishop John Gray, who came and re-dedicated the wakahuia following its reinstallation last year. Last Sunday I went to Te Hepara Pai to offer condolences to Whaea Helen and her family and to recognise the unique contribution Bishop John made in our Church at many levels. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Next Sunday we begin Advent, when our focus becomes waiting and praying for the coming of the Lord. This heralds the beginning, once more, of the liturgical cycle. In preparation for this I encourage you to consider how you will enter this Advent season afresh this year. It is too easy to become like a stuck record travelling again around a well-worn path. A healthy Christian journey is one that looks more like a spiral. It takes account of our growth in Christ over the past year and the particular joys and challenges in our life now. This is called the journey of sanctification.

Yours in Christ,
Fr Andrew Starky

Introducing the CWS Christmas Appeal

Christian World Service has been for 70 years the trusted agency for overseas development, justice and aid of the combined NZ Churches.

CWS is committed to stand by Gospel campaigns that ‘bring good news to the poor’, that challenge the causes of poverty, hunger and injustice, that question any issue incompatible with basic Gospel values and a just social order.

CWS works with local partners in each country, not with governments, to get money swiftly to where it is needed for those suffering from war, disease or natural disaster. Undaunted by the scale of the challenge, they tackle problems one child, one family, one village, at a time.

This Christmas we again have the opportunity to help CWS rebuild resources and bring hope to people in Gaza, Nicaragua, South India, Vanuatu and Uganda.

The theme for Christmas 2015 is Help rebuild lives.

Parish Notices

• Sales Table: Sundays after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
• Christmas Raffle: please speak to Anne Ladd if you can donate items suitable for prizes.
• Liedertafel Concert today at 2:15 pm, at St Margaret’s College in the Charles Luney Auditorium. Door sales $15.
• Induction of the new Dean: today 5:00 pm at the Cathedral.
• 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.
• Stand against family violence: White Ribbon Day on Wednesday. The Anglican Diocese is supporting this international day, joining the CDHB, the Police, City Council and others in a rally and barbecue, 12:30–1:30 pm in Cathedral Square.
• Charity Concert for Habitat for Humanity: at S. Michael’s Saturday at 7:00 pm.
• The Bible Study Group: final meeting for the year 30 November. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• Garden City Orchestra Messiah Sing-Along: combined choirs, 5 December, 7:30 pm at S. Michael’s. Door sales $15 and $10.
• Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish.
• The Needlework Group: meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
• Inasmuch Basket: please continue to support the City Mission with groceries etc. Reminder also of the urgent need for clothing and furniture.

Climate Action March
Before world leaders meet in Paris to plan a global response to climate
change, local action is planned. To help provide a Christian voice
S. Michael’s is joining with other churches in a parade on Saturday,
leaving at 12:30 pm from Victoria Square. This march will express the
desire that genuine, serious and urgent action be taken. It is not a protest,
it will be a family-friendly event for all. Details Claire Preston (342 4650).

Letter from the Wardens 15 November 2015

Dear Friends,

It is good to be here and worship at S. Michael’s this morning. We want to report to you an exciting decision made by our Vestry concerning the position of a part-time Youth Worker in our parish.

We are very blessed in having a Church School as part of our parish family. Many in our parish view the school as one of our main Christ-centred missions and stewardships. It is great when we have the Young Voices sharing in our worship and we wish we saw more children regularly on a Sunday. To this end, and after considerable research and consultation with the Diocese, Vestry has authorised the
Wardens and the Vicar, working with the School Principal, to move towards the employment of a part-time Youth Worker to start at the beginning of Term 1 next year. Anglican faith is integrated into school life on a daily basis, and the Youth Worker would need to model this special character.

The kinds of specific roles the Youth Worker might undertake include:
• Creating a youth group based on the intermediate-aged children at the school
• Assisting with our Children’s Church programme
• Participating in school life through supporting weekly School Mass, lunchtime, sporting and musical activities, school trips and other extra-curricular areas
• Engaging in Diocesan activities with S. Michael’s young people
• Supporting existing ministries
• Leadership development
• Building positive relationships and other associated duties

We are excited that this opportunity is arising. Although we are very mindful of budget constraints, we feel confident that we can maintain this part-time position in 2016. It would be our aim, if it is successful and financially sustainable, to make this a permanent position within our parish ministry team. Vestry will review this employment and its effectiveness by September 2016.

Through active engagement in school and church life, the Youth Worker would work towards building positive relationships with any young person who walks through the S. Michael’s gate.

We are also mindful of the Diocesan priorities on developing young people, and are excited to be able to begin this undertaking.

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

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.
• Walking Group: anyone interested in a walk in Hagley Park on Mondays meet at the west door at 8:40 am. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Bible Study Group meets tomorrow, 7:15 pm in the staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
• The Outreach Committee meets tomorrow, 7:30 pm in the parish lounge. Details Michael Graveston (027 358 0010).
• S. Michael’s Women’s Fellowship Group meets on Tuesday after the 10:00 am Mass. Speaker Catherine Williamson (Walsh House). Please bring gifts for the City Mission. Parking available in the playground. Details Pat Evans (358 0127).
• Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
• Induction of the new Dean: next Sunday 5:00 pm at the Cathedral. Parish representatives are invited; speak to Louise by Wednesday if you wish to attend.
• Stand against family violence: White Ribbon Day 25 November. The Anglican Diocese is supporting this international day, joining the CDHB, the Police, City Council and others in a rally and barbecue, 12:30–1:30 pm in Cathedral Square.
• Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish.
• The Needlework Group: meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
• Inasmuch Basket: please continue to support the City Mission with groceries etc. Reminder also of the urgent need for clothing and furniture.

Climate Action March
Before world leaders meet in Paris to plan a global response to climate
change, local action is planned. To help provide a Christian voice
S. Michael’s is joining with other churches in a parade on 28 November,
leaving at 12:30 pm from Victoria Square. This march will express the
desire that genuine, serious and urgent action be taken. It is not a protest,
it will be a family-friendly event for all. Details Claire Preston (342 4650)
S. Michael’s Climate Action Petition: there is still time to add your
name to the sheets at the back of the church today.
Details Mary Hamilton (337 0833).

Letter from the Vicar 8 November 2015

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s to the Holy Eucharist. Today our readings about scarcity and plenty demonstrate God’s providence. Yesterday we farewelled our dear brother John Fowler in a Funeral Mass. John was a very faithful servant of God and of this church and we will miss him greatly, possibly more than we already realise. We also know that John was a brother to Gwen and Karen, a doting owner of Tiffy and Scarlet, and a true and loyal friend of many people. The side we saw of John was his ministry among us in the liturgy, on the Vestry and as Verger, which covered a multitude of tasks.

When the Church loses such a person it is natural to wonder how we will manage for the future, bearing in mind the many things that John did in the life of our parish. It is like a mighty tree falling in the forest, yet when this happens space becomes available and small seedlings begin to grow. This is the way that we discover that ‘the jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the Lord sends rain upon the earth’. The waiting is a time when faith is tested and sacrificial generosity called for. The widow of Zarephath demonstrates these qualities in the hospitality she gives to Elijah, which was remarkable considering the desperate situation she was in. As a Church we need to trust the faith at this time.

One of the things that I found most endearing about John Fowler was the joy with which he carried out his ministries. He had a real desire for excellence in the liturgy, which could at times be a bit taxing for those around him, but his great love was to worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. S. Michael’s was a great gift to him as he was to us. As you’ve heard me say before, our vocation is where the deep joy of our heart meets the deep need of the world. Let us be guided by the gift of deep joy placed in our hearts by God.

John’s passing will mean some rearrangement of responsibilities which will need to be worked out over the next months. I am particularly grateful to Colin McKay and Nick Webb for offering to help cover extra Low Mass serving in the short term, but in due course we will need to find another server for weekday Masses.

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.
Walking Group: anyone interested in a walk in Hagley Park on Mondays meet at the west door at 8:40 am. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Meditation Group meets tomorrow at 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
• The Needlework Group meets Tuesday, 7:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
Trumpet deadline next week: Wednesday noon (because of Show Day holiday).
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
• The Parish Trust meets on Wednesday at 5:15 pm.
Father Baker’s ashes will be scattered in the garden near the west door following the Mass and Saturday Breakfast on 14 November. His family welcome any parishioners who would like to attend.
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 16 November, 7:15 pm in the staffroom.
Outreach Committee: meets next 16 November, 7:30 pm in the parish lounge. Details Michael Graveston (027 358 0010).
Installation of the new Dean: 22 November 5:00 pm at the Cathedral. Parish representatives are invited; speak to Louise by 18 November if you wish to attend.
Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish.
Inasmuch Basket: please continue to support the City Mission with groceries etc. Reminder also of the urgent need for clothing and furniture.

Climate Action March
Before world leaders meet in Paris to plan a global response to climate
change, local action is planned. To help provide a Christian voice
S. Michael’s is joining with other churches in a parade on 28 November,
leaving at 12:30 pm from Victoria Square.This march will express the
desire that genuine, serious and urgent action be taken. It is not a protest,
it will be a family-friendly event for all. Details Claire Preston (342 4650)
S. Michael’s Climate Action Petition: there is still time to add your
name to the sheets at the back of the church before 15 November.
Details Mary Hamilton (337 0833).

Letter from the Vicar 1 November 2015

 

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends

Welcome to S. Michael’s on All Saints’ Day. This is the day when we remember and honour all saints in a common feast, although sometimes little has been recorded about their lives. During the year we celebrate the major saints who are shared by tradition with the whole Church. Many are commemorated in the stained glass windows of this church, and as we celebrate their feasts during the year we put a lighted candle in their windows. Our General Synod has also asked us to remember other forebears in the faith, many of more recent times, who have influenced the Church both globally and in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. Their stories are included in the publication For All the Saints.

In a general sense a saint is anyone who is in a state of grace, which of course doesn’t necessarily preclude living people. At baptism we begin a journey of sanctification, and with the help of the sacraments of grace we move towards sainthood. We have been created in the image of God, and the saintliness of our lives is what gives glory to God. The saints whom we remember collectively usually have one or two particularly striking aspects of sanctity which call us to admire their example. Alongside this their failings may also be seen. They provide inspiring examples of saintliness lived within the struggles of daily life. In more recent years it has been good to see many more women and non-Europeans added to these lists.

The Creeds speak of the communion of saints. This helps us understand that saints are not simply fine Christians of yesteryear, but that they have a continuing and active life as the Church in heaven. They spend this life in the prayer and praise of God. From this comes the idea that we can ask them to pray for us, indeed to add their prayers to the prayer of the Church on earth. This has been frequently misunderstood as somehow diminishing our prayer to the Holy Trinity, who ought to be the only object of prayer. However, asking a saint to pray for us is really no different from asking a friend on earth to pray for us, which we do all the time. We know how encouraging that can be. In the same way many Christians throughout the centuries have also found great comfort and strength by calling on the prayers of the saints, and by tradition they have certain specialities.

The Church has always given particular prominence to S. Mary the Mother of Jesus, the Queen of Heaven, which is why we recite the Hail Mary at each celebration of the Mass, asking her to pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

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).
Lunch at Regatta on Avon today at 12:15 pm. All welcome. Details Kathryn Starky.
Te Waiora Annual Thanksgiving Service: today, 2:30 pm Darfield Baptist Church, 15 Greendale Road. Speaker Revd Kevin Tapper.
Recital: Eric Apperley (organ) and Mark Apperley (guitar) present a varied programme today, 3:00 pm at S. Michael’s. Koha to the Organ Fund.
• There is a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
Walking Group: anyone interested in a brisk walk in Hagley Park on Mondays meet at the west door at 8:40 am. Details Kathryn Starky.
S. Michael’s Women’s Fellowship Group: Tuesday after the 10:00 am Mass. Please remember to bring gifts for the City Mission. All welcome. Details Pat Evans (358 0127).
Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
S. Michael’s Climate Action Group: meets Thursday, 1:30 pm at 37 Aynsley Terrace. Details Claire Preston (342 4650).
• The Canterbury Shakespeare Society AGM is on Thursday, 7:30 pm in the parish lounge. Details John De la Bere (981 7582).
• The Meditation Group meets next on 9 November, not tomorrow. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
• The Needlework Group meets next on 10 November, 7:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
• The Bible Study Group meets next on 16 November, 7:15 pm in the staffroom. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
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.