Saturday, 25 October 2014

For Genevieve Lush: Short Homily for Her Memorial Service in St Barnabas, Medicine Hat—with Reference to Psalm 139, Ecclesiastes 3 and Isaiah 25.

Jesus brought us all together this morning. Jesus brought us together because Genevieve believed in him, followed him and decreed that we should be having this service in his church which meant so much to her—I can just hear her saying, “My dear, this is the way it’s going to be”—and because we all loved Genevieve here we all are.

It’s because of Jesus the words were written for the hymn Genevieve chose for us to sing earlier: “Sun of my soul, thou Saviour dear.” Genevieve knew our LORD and Saviour Jesus is like the sun; providing the divine light she needed, and you and I still need, to find our way safely through the twists and turns, seasons, times and matters (Ecc 3.1) of this life.

Life presents us with some dark times, it’s true. The writer of Ecclesiastes lists some of them in what Marjorie read. Times when things break down, when we weep, lose, tear, hate, make war, kill, die and mourn (Ecc 3.2-8). Genevieve experienced many such dark times in her life, yet she never let them hold her down. She knew that “Even the darkness is no darkness with thee,” just as it says in the passage she chose for us to pray from Psalm 139 (v11) today, “but the night is as clear as the day: the darkness and light to thee are both alike.” So, going back to the hymn, it is perfectly reasonable for us to sing, “It is not night if thou be near,” because Jesus, Sun of our souls and light of the world illuminates our way.

Just words, you might be tempted to think, especially if this is a season and time when matters on that dark list have gotten the better of you and it is hard to find comfort in them. But it was love for and the love of Jesus is what caused every word of the Scriptures and the prayer book we’re using today to be written.

Genevieve loved them—her Bible and her prayer book—but words, too. Didn’t she love to talk. Of her seasons, times and matters past. Of Newfoundland. Of her children and grandchildren, her parents and Mr and Mrs Knee. Of cod and salt beef. It was like a sort of Newfoundland stream of consciousness well salted with wonderful Newfie-isms. Many of her stories and memories included those good sun-lit things in life also listed in Ecclesiastes; birth, planting, healing, building up, laughter, dancing, good gatherings, embracing, peace and love (Ecc 3.2-8). So, it is fitting to read verses three and four of Psalm 139 with Genevieve in mind: “For lo, there was not a word in her tongue, but thou, O LORD, knewest it altogether.” And there were a lot of them, but we know and are grateful for the way, “Thou hast beset her behind and before, and laid thine hand upon her.” I enjoyed listening to her. I was glad to know her and that I got to share the journey with her for a season and a time. She was a true witness to the resurrection power of Jesus.

“How sweet to rest for ever on my Saviour’s breast,” Genevieve also had us sing. Sweet indeed. The season which Genevieve is now enjoying. A feast, in fact, just as Isaiah described in what Mollie read—“of rich food…a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines.” (Isa 25.6) Death swallowed up, it went on, and tears wiped away, all good and rich and tasty and fine and all because of Jesus.

So, I know you will understand and agree as I use the words of Psalm 139 again: “I will give thanks unto thee,” O LORD, for the life and witness of Genevieve Lush, for she and all of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.” (v13)

The chosen and beloved heart of all God’s fearful and wonderful making was Jesus. “All things were made through him,” wrote John in his gospel, “and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men and women. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:3–5 (ESV)) Genevieve was made through Jesus, so were we all; in him was her life, and ours; he was the light of her life, as he is ours if we so choose; and no darkness could have, or can ever, overcome the clear, warm, constant, life-giving light that Genevieve enjoys and that comes from Jesus.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

A Short Funeral Sermon with Reference to Ecclesiastes 3.1-8 and John 14.1-3—for Norman Hamel

Jesus is the reason we’re doing this here this morning. We’re here because this is his church and because his church, Norm and Pearl, and many of us, are witnesses to his resurrection from the dead (Acts 1.22).  We’re here because Norm and Pearl believed that, as I do and as many of you do, too. We believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is present with us now, just as he was when Norm died, is where Norm is now and has been with Pearl, then, before and ever since.

To believe it doesn’t necessarily mean, or require, that we understand how God did it. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have doubts, or behave badly, or hurt one another. After all, as we heard in the passage Steve read in Ecclesiastes, life is real. Along with all the good stuff: the being born, the planting, harvesting, healing, building up, laughing, dancing (Norm and Pearl loved to dance, by the way), embracing, mending, peace, and love (Norm and Pearl enjoyed plenty of that); comes the hard stuff—the killing, crying, grieving, turning away, tearing, war, hate and the dying. Norm and Pearl experienced some of that, too, and so have we all. And so here we all are.

And yet. And yet. There’s this Jesus. Look at what he said in John’s Gospel—page 589 in our service book (The Book of Alternative Services)
Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14.1-30). 
Jesus said that just before he was killed because he knew his disciples, who he loved dearly, would be shattered and grieving when he died. He loved them and wanted them to have hope. He knew the Resurrection was coming. He wanted them to know about those rooms reserved for them in his Father’s house. Jesus wanted Norm and Pearl, and wants you and me, to know it and take comfort from it, too.

When Jude and I met with Pearl to plan this service, Pearl showed us a card Norm had given her. Here’s what it says:
All I want to do is love you forever.
All I want to do is love you for the rest of my life…
to wake up every morning with you by my side, knowing that no matter what happens, I’ll be able to come to your loving arms.
All I want is to share everything with you…to talk to you about our ideas, our dreams, the little everyday things that make us laugh, and the not-so-little things that we can’t help worrying about. All I want is to give you my love…as a place you can always come to for acceptance or the simple comfort that silence brings, when things left unspoken can still be understood.
All I want is to grow old with you…to watch our life unfold, our dreams, one by one, come true.
All I want is to love you forever. 
I read that and thought that’s lovely. What a blessing for Pearl to receive and Norm to give, what a blessing to love and be loved in that way. And then, I thought, Jesus has been saying something very similar to us through the ages in the Bible and in Church Sunday after Sunday:
All I want to do is love you forever.
All I want to do is love you…no matter what happens, so you’ll know I have a place for you if you’d like it.
All I want is to share everything with you…to come to you and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
All I want is to be with you to talk to you about your ideas, your dreams, the little everyday things that make you laugh, and the not-so-little things that you can’t help worrying about.
All I want is to give you my love…as a place you can always come to for acceptance or the simple comfort that silence brings, when things left unspoken can still be understood.
All I want is to share your life as it unfolds, and as your dreams, one by one, come true.
All I want is to love you forever. 
How could we not have heard that? Have the noise and disappointments and mess that life brings—the pain on days like this—drowned his voice out? As we enjoy our good memories of Norm this morning—as we honour him and The One who created him—let’s listen carefully. Every word we've heard and will hear in our service this morning is inspired by the Risen Jesus.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

North Island Noir

Home again. Starting to process the rest of my photographs. Here's the next batch: 

Near the old Swing Bridge swimming hole on the Ruamahanga River near Martinborough. 

Lake Taupo.

The road to Lake Okataina near Rotorua. 

Kakamatua Inlet near Auckland: 




 Muriwai Beach near Auckland:



The previous images were all shot with the standard camera app on my iPhone 5 after which the "Noir" filter was applied. Then I discovered Lenka, a new app for shooting monochrome. The following were shot with it in Auckland: 

Ellie & Dave's deck. 

The deck next door. 

Just 'cos:


On a walk around Mt Albert:



Mission Bay:

Monday, 29 September 2014

Submissions to The Anglican Church of Canada's Commission on the Marriage Canon Concerning the Marriage of Same Sex Couples

At the moment, there is a new and detailed portrait of thinking across the Anglican Church of Canada on same sex marriage on the national church's website. It exists because near the close of General Synod in Halifax, June 2013, there was a bit of an end run and flurry resulting in the following:
Be it resolved that this General Synod
direct the Council of General Synod to prepare and present a motion at General Synod 2016 to change Canon XXI on Marriage to allow the marriage of same sex couples in the same way as opposite sex couples, and that this motion should include a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.
This motion will also include supporting documentation that:
a) demonstrates broad consultation in its preparation;
b) explains how this motion does not contravene the Solemn Declaration;
c) confirms immunity under civil law and the Human Rights Code for those bishops, dioceses and priests who refuse to participate in or authorize the marriage of same-sex couples on the basis of conscience; and
d) provides a biblical and theological rationale for this change in teaching on the nature of Christian marriage.
The full details of the resolution can be found here.

As a result The Commission on the Marriage Canon was appointed with the following mandate:
General Synod 2013 enacted Resolution C003 that directs the Council of the General Synod to bring to the floor of General Synod 2016 a Motion that would amend Canon XXI (On Marriage in the Church) so as to enable same-sex marriage in our Church. This Resolution further directs that there be a broad consultation within our Church about the preparation of the Motion, and consideration of particular matters specified in the Resolution.
The terms of reference for that body (found here) state that
In seeking to fulfil its mandate to demonstrate a “broad consultation,” the Commission on the Marriage Canon has invited submissions from members of the Anglican Church of Canada. The commission’s terms of reference also specifically state: “In order to ensure the credibility of the commission and the transparency of its work, all submissions to the commission will be posted on the national church’s website.” As submissions are received and reviewed, they will be posted below in the order in which they were received. 
The submissions (one of which is mine) are to be found here. Submissions will be accepted until September 30th.

According to the Commission's mandate, that there will be a motion calling for an amendment to the marriage Canon is not in question. Unless there is a change of heart across the church, I fear the motion will pass separating us from the historic Christian faith as revealed and most other Anglicans and Christians in the world. It will be momentous, divisive and very sad.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Punga Cove

Three months short of forty-seven years ago, Jude and I honeymooned at Punga Cove in the Marlborough Sounds at the northern end of New Zealand's South Island. You could only get there by boat then and the generator was switched off at ten. We stayed in an A-frame chalet like this:

This time we stayed in one of the newer units but the company was just as good.








Thursday, 18 September 2014

Christchurch to Kaikoura

The hospital where Jude was born. Waikari, Canterbury. 
The view from there…

Paddling on the Kaikoura Coast. 

Seal Point…







Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Moeraki

The boulders…


Common Chaffinch striding out across our table…

Gorse and flax…