Friday, May 25, 2018

Te Pouhere Sunday - 3rd June 2018 [9th Ordinary]

This year Te Pouhere Sunday is also the 9th Ordinary Sunday.
Unfortunately I do not have time to offer notes for the Ordinary Sunday readings, only for the Te Pouhere readings.

For convenience I list the readings (related) for the 9th Ordinary Sunday, then the readings etc with notes for Te Pouhere Sunday.

9th Ordinary Sunday

Deuteronomy 5:12-15
Psalm 81:1-10
2 Corinthians 4:5-12
Mark 2:23-3:6

Added, Sunday 3 June 2018: Mark 2:23-3:6: there is a lot in this passage. It is Mark 2 but already the ending of Jesus life and ministry is part of the story of his ministry. What is the opposition which a few ears of grain and a healing generates? Why? Who benefits? Clearly the mix of Jesus' action and speaking about the Sabbath (perhaps also the popular response to his doing good) is threatening to those who begin to plot Jesus' downfall. Presumably those threatened have power if not control in Jewish society. The conspiracy with the Herodians suggests this power is more than religious power, it is also political power. Is Jesus over a religious teaching unleashing fear of breakdown in social order? Is there something we modern readers are missing?

Then there is the question for us modern readers who have our own rules and regulations about things, including unwritten rules about the way things should be done around here, which concerns how we both make those rules and how we understand those rules in relation to God's purposes for humankind. Is Jesus offering us a hermeneutical model for understanding God's revelation for our lives (i.e. a way of approaching challenging issues about which rules we need to follow and which we do not need to)?

Finally, for 2018, how radical are the implications of what Jesus does when he turns the Sabbath keeping from a rule-focus to a human-focus?

Te Pouhere Sunday

Te Pouhere Sunday (i.e. celebration and commemoration of the three tikanga constitution of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia).

Sentence: Galatians 3:28


God of our faith, 
strengthen our Church 
as it seeks to show your love in the ministry of its three tikanga. 
Make us bold to seek new ways to best serve you, 
showing your boundless love as you have shown through Jesus Christ. Amen. 


Isaiah 42:10-20
2 Corinthians 5:14-19
John 15:9-17

Comments: these are shaped towards and by 'Te Pouhere'

Isaiah 42:10-20

This chapter begins one of the so-called 'servant songs' in Isaiah, songs which look to the coming anointed suffering servant of God who will be instrumental in bringing God's plan for the world to fulfilment. Christian understand the servant to be Jesus Christ.

These verses call for praise and glory to be given to God (10-13)  because God is about to perform a great reversal. Darkness will be turned into light (16). Those who trust in images will be put to shame (17).

(Verses 18-20, frankly, are difficult to understand unless we read through to the end of v. 25. The gist is that Israel in rebellion is like a deaf and blind person - one who cannot discern where they are going - and will be punished by the Lord. But the hint here is that the Lord's messenger/servant (19) will identify with Israel. In further servant passages in Isaiah, the hint will be broadened to include the notion that the servant saves Israel).

A question for Te Pouhere Sunday observers is whether the constitution of our church,  and the way we express our allegiance to it, is a means for God to do a new thing, including a reversal of the typical outcomes of multiple cultures being part of one body, in which one culture dominates and the others become subservient.

2 Corinthians 5:14-19

There is an obvious sense in which this passage is chosen for Te Pouhere Sunday: a day in which we engage with the reality of our life as a three tikanga church is a day in which we encounter the true state of reconciliation between the three tikanga. This passage talks about the 'ministry of reconciliation' in the apostolic mission of the church (19b).

Yet we need to read the passage carefully enough to recognise that the primary focus of talk of reconciliation is between God and the world (18, 19a, 20). Paul's ministry of reconciliation means his message is 'we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God' (20).

What then of the relevance of this passage for Te Pouhere? Three brief observations:

1. Our constitution is first and foremost a document expressing our relationship to God as God's church.
2. Our ability to be reconciled with one another is enhanced by being first reconciled with God, not least because knowing that God has forgiven us much (see how much in verse 21) empowers us to forgive others (e.g. Luke 7:36-50).
3. From this passage (i.e. to end of 2 Corinthians 5), Paul easily begins speaking of life in the church: 'As we work together with him' (6:1).

John 15:9-17

In the end, the life of our church is commanded by Christ to be a life of love. 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you' (12, see also 17). When we ask about the meaning of Te Pouhere, the Jesus of John's Gospel wants us to ask whether Te Pouhere deepens our love for one another.

What is our answer?

Postscript: our church's website even gives a sermon for Te Pouhere Sunday, albeit one that should be adapted by the preacher for this year and the preacher's specific context!

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