27th February 2011 – 8th Sunday After Epiphany

In the face of the events of the last few weeks – floods, fires, cyclones, earth quakes, wars and civil uprisings – along with personal, more immediate, grief and concerns of many individuals it is hard to find words to uplift the weary and disheartened.

One of the Christchurch earthquake survivors was asked about how she (and others) would pick up after having been pulled from the rubble which buried many of her colleagues, and she replied that, as with last Septembers earthquake, the community would strive to return to normality and pick up regular routines as soon as possible. She said that you can’t live your life in fear… that is not living. Some also said, when asked if the were tempted to leave New Zealand, “Why?” You could move from floods in one place to earthquakes or cyclones in another. Because, nowhere is safe!

Jesus said, in chapter 6 of Matthews gospel,

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

How very true!

Blessings to you all,

Rev Shan

20th February 2011 – 7th Sunday After Epiphany

There are so many, so called, “reality” T.V. programs currently on air that it is hard to find a bit of escapism, good clean humour or descent drama on our Television screens.

We are constantly bombarded with programs about self/life improvement… that is weight loss programs, cooking, home improvement/renovations and the list goes on.

It got me thinking about one dimension of life that is never tackled on television, in any of these shows. That is, the spiritual dimension!

I am sure that there are internal/ spiritual changes, which take place as a result of involvement in some of these televised competitions, but I suppose that, as such changes are internal, and therefore unseeable and unmeasurable, they are rarely mentioned. Certainly a program wholly based on Spiritual growth and change might be slow moving and therefore, uninteresting to the majority of viewers. Besides, for the sake of political correctness such programs would, of necessity focus on a variety of religions and religious experience, which could be controversial.

Yet, it seems to me that Spiritual growth is, at once, the most necessary and the most neglected aspect of our lives.

I hear people on the streets, in public transport and at our shopping centres, discussing their diet, weight loss and health issues. In these areas people listen, advise and support one another… even the stranger! But, rarely would I hear people speaking of spiritual awareness and the difference faith makes in their lives… even in our congregations.

Rarely do we share our faith related revelations and joys, let alone our fears and doubts. It might be worth considering why this might be so?

Blessings

Reverend Shan

13th February 2011 – An Examination of Our Heart and Soul

23 So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister* has something against you,24leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister,* and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24 (NRSV)

I wonder where God is, in relation to the state of our hearts and minds and souls, as we come to worship each Sunday … and for weekday services. Does God even get a look in? Or are we too busy meeting and greeting one another…and catching up on the news of the week?

Each service begins with an intentional welcome “The Lord be with you” but do we actually welcome our Lord’s proximity to us in our worship? Do we allow God to speak into our hearts through the lessons and prayers? Do we really allow God’s words, spoken through scripture, to work in us, convicting us of our sins and enabling us to set them right?

More personally, where are your thoughts during worship? Is there anyone you fail to forgive? Is your mind on God, are you brooding over some slight or are you thinking about something else entirely?

In the gospel set for today Jesus makes it very clear that our relationships with others need to be examined as we offer ourselves before God. What is actually in our hearts and minds as we come to worship? At the communal confession, do we really open up before God, exposing our baggage? And, as we receive absolution do we also let go of the “sins” we believe have been committed against us? Or, do we hold onto them, allowing them to fester even as we, ourselves, are absolved?

It would be worth our while to really examine our consciences on this matter. Our worship should impact on us… affirm us, convict us, refresh us and change us. It will, if we let it but this requires absolute honesty with ourselves, and openness to God.

If, at the end of worship, we still carry anger or malice in our hearts, toward our fellow brothers and sisters sharing the sacred space at St Paul’s, then there is something seriously wrong, not only with our relationships within the body of Christ, but also with our relationship with God. In fact, if we aren’t in connection with God, in worship, if we are not prepared to let God in, then what are we doing here?

It’s worth pondering?

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan

6th February 2011 – God Shows Through.

As I was preparing to speak on the Beatitudes last week I came across this little gem of inspiration in the words and thoughts of a little girl who was struggling to understand the theological concepts she was hearing in church. They come from “When God Shows Through” by Jerry Shirley. I thought they were worth pondering and sharing…

One Sunday as they drove home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, “Mommy, there’s something about the preacher’s message this morning that I don’t understand.” The mother said, “Oh? What is it?” The little girl replied, “Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. He said God is so big that He could hold the whole world in His hand. Is that true?” The mother replied, “Yes, that’s true, honey.” “But Mommy, he also said that God comes to live inside of us when we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Is that true, too?” Again, the mother assured the little girl that what the pastor had said was true. With a puzzled look on her face the little girl then asked, “If God is bigger than us and He lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?” That is what the beatitudes are about – God showing through.

If our hearts are filled with God, then God must show through!

Many Blessings

Reverend Shan