Sunday, June 4, 2023

Sunday 11 June 2023 - Ordinary 10 / Te Pouhere Sunday

Readings for Te Pouhere Sunday (resources for Te Pouhere Sunday at )

I am a little caught out at the beginning of this week, being away from my laptop (easier to compose a post than on my iPad) and realising that this year has an Ordinary 10 Sunday after Trinity when previous years of this blog have not (i.e. 2020, 2017, 2014). So, for now, at least, I offer two pictures from the lectionary to give the readings and then a few thoughts for the readings for Te Pouhere Sunday.

TE POUHERE SUNDAY - the Sunday we are invited to reflect on our constitution, the constitution which makes us the “Three Tikanga Church” or one church with three cultural streams.

Isaiah 42:10-20
2 Corinthians 5:14-19 or Acts 10:34-43
John 15:9-17 or Matthew 7:24-29 or Luke 6:46-49 or John 17:6-26

Te Pouhere Sunday is our collective opportunity in ACANZP to reflect on what it means to be "this church" rather than any other church (noting that no church in the South Pacific has a constitution - Te Pouhere - such as ours which attempts to share the power and authority of episcopal leadership and synodical governance in a manner which is equalised between three tikanga within our church, Maori, Pakeha and Pasefika.

One reflection could be that Te Pouhere is our way of imitating the Trinity as a community of love between the Three Persons of the Godhead.

We could critically reflect on our life together: are we any reasonable kind of imitation of the Trinity? What could we change to better be what we seek to be?

We could thankfully reflect on our life together: for all that is good about our way of being church, let us give thanks to God (even as we simultaneously lament our shortcomings and repent of our mistakes).

We could prayerfully reflect on our life together: for all that is yet to be done, let us pray for God's wisdom and strength; for all that we do not yet understand, about God and about ourselves (in our difference and in our diversity), let us pray for knowledge; for resolve to be united in our diversity and to foster diversity in our unity, let us pray for courage and faithfulness.



Lord of the church,
You have called us to witness to every nation;
May we do your work and bear your cross,
await your time and see your glory.
Hear this prayer for your name's sake. Amen.

Readings (related)

Hosea 5:15-6:6
Psalm 50:7-15
Romans 4:13-end
Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26

Let's start with the gospel reading, Matthew 9:9-13, 18-26 to which the Old Testament reading and the Psalm are "related" (on this choice of lectionary readings, rather than the "continuous" cycle).

The great and obvious theme here is "mercy". Matthew, a despised tax collector is called to be a disciple. More despised tax collectors and other "sinners" gather for dinner and Jesus graces the gathering with his presence. Challenged by the (essentially strict keepers of the Law of Moses) Pharisees, Jesus responds with a quote from our Old Testament reading, Hosea 6:6, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." The verses missing from our reading, Matthew 9:14-17, pose a different question for Jesus-the-one-who-often-feasts, about (not) fasting, and this question is raised by the friendly disciples of John the Baptist rather than the hostile Pharisees. When we continue reading into verses 18-26 we are reading a miracle story (albeit two miracles) but it is also a story of mercy in action: Jesus abruptly changes plans to respond to a request for help, and, along the way, heals another person in meed of help, a woman with an illness which would have cast her to the edges of her community.

What mercy are we being called to demonstrate in word and action today, this week? Is there any danger of us being modern Pharisees - people who earnestly wish to do the right thing but miss the main point of God's work among us?

Conversely, thinking of the distraught father and the marginalised woman, are we afraid that if we bring our lives and their troubles to God we will encounter an uncaring being who demands (more) sacrifice from us? Can we receive this passage as an encouragement to trust that God's essential attitude and approach to humanity is merciful and compassionate?

Hosea 5:15-6:6, then, is a background passage to the gospel's opening verses. God is merciful yet, we should note, desires our repentance. Mercy does not mean "do what you like, I don't care, I'll love you anyway" (much as the Israel to whom Hosea prophesied might have liked that); rather, mercy means, "I love you, I want to be in relationship with you, turn away from your wrongdoing and your worship of false gods, and let's start again with a renewed relationship and a new desire to love and enjoy one another's company."

Note, in passing, Hosea 6:2 as likely one of the passages which Jesus used to teach the disciples about his resurrection being forecast in Israel's scriptures (see Luke 24).

Psalm 50:7-15 then underlines the stance taken in the Hosea passage.

The epistle reading in the lectionary cycle of readings does not have to cohere thematically with the gospel reading but in this case Romans 4:13-end does cohere well because it is a part of Paul's great argument through the first eight chapters of this epistle that God saves us through Jesus Christ sacrificially dying then rising again in our place, bearing the punishment our sins warrant, and fulfilling the requirements of the Law of Moses once and for all.

In other words, God is merciful to us through Jesus Christ, and asks of us that we have faith in Christ in response.

No comments:

Post a Comment