St Michael's talks & sermonsAug 28, 2023
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times VI: The Tower of Babel (Matthew Bartlett)
Scripture starts in a garden and ends in a city. So what's the problem with building a tower as part of a city, as in the Tower of Babel?
In this sermon, Matthew traces all sorts of interesting clues in the Babel story that the people are critiqued for imposing an "anti-pattern" on reality; a pattern that looks attractive, but it ultimately too rigid and imperial for God's purposes. By contrast, the life-giving pattern Scripture describes is more receptive. It involves receiving a name from God, against the life-sucking anti-pattern of seeking to establish a name for ourselves.
Revelation 3.12-13, 21.22-22.2
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times V: Cain, Abel & Mimetic Desire (Matt Packer)
For those who heard the Genesis stories as Sunday School kids, it's easy to overlook how profound they are. In this sermon, Matt Packer explores one aspect of the very profound story of Cain & Abel - the role played by imitative desire. Beginning with a summary of the theory of Mimesis, Matt helps us to see that we are by nature creatures who imitate others, often out of jealousy and envy. That sheds helpful light on the killing of Abel, and challenges us each to ponder, "Who am I imitating?"\
Matt also references the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgB9p2BA4fw
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times III: The Fall (Jonathan Boston)
Mostly, this series takes the scriptures at face value, without asking the historical or scientific questions. This sermon is an exception, as Jonathan Boston takes a theistic evolutionary perspective on the account in Genesis 3. He then asks how a committed Christian should understand the doctrine of the Fall, and how that should shape our life in today's world. Fittingly, the sermon was preached on Hiroshima Day 2023, a day when we remember the tragic ability of humanity to wreak destruction.
Texts: Genesis 3
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times II: Human Vocation in Genesis 2 (Tim McKenzie)
Tim continues our series on the archetypal stories of the Old Testament with a look at human vocation in Genesis 2. What can we learn from taking seriously the patterns of life in The Garden of Eden for life today?
Note: Tim assumes people have watched the following Bible Project video : https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/priests-of-eden/
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times I: Creation (Matt Bartlett)
In a world of perceived chaos and crisis, how do we find meaning and hope? This new series looks to the archetypal narratives of the Old Testament to find the repatterning to which St Paul calls us in Romans 12.1-2.
In this opening sermon, Matthew Bartlett explores the rich patterning of Genesis 1, and how it points us to the central place that humanity holds in God's creative intention. How can knowing this place, and living out of it, help us to live in a time when most people feel, as WB Yeats said, that "the centre cannot hold"?
Genesis 1; Luke 24.13-27 ; John 1.1-8
The Church VI: Giving (Sam Jackson)
What does God call us to give to the life of the church? And why? In this sermon, Sam exhorts us to see all we have as gift from God, such that it's easier both to give and to receive. And might that not encourage us to give a whole lot more?
2 Corinthians 8.1-15
Stand, Sit, Kneel and ... Raise Hands? The Church's Worship (The Church V) (Tim McKenzie)
If worship is about offering our whole lives to God (Romans 12.1-2), what's so special about worship services? Can't we just worship Monday to Friday, and get a sleep-in on Sunday?
Mega Church, Micro Church and Loving Church (The Church IV) (Tim McKenzie)
In Episode IV of this series on The Church, Tim goes off lectionary to outline the kind of behaviour Paul expects of Christian communities. If a church is too big to tease the vicar, does it mean it's too big?
Being Church in Aotearoa New Zealand Given te Tiriti: A Sermon for Pouhere Sunday (The Church III) (Alan Cameron)
Anglicans in Aotearoa & Polynesia celebrate Te Pouhere Sunday, the Sunday when we remember the unique 3-Tikanga Constitution of our Anglican Church. Alan Cameron today explores what being people of the Treaty of Waitangi might mean for the Christian church here.
The Encouraging Doctrine of the Trinity (The Church II) (Tim McKenzie)
The series on The Church continues, with this Trinity Sunday exploration of The Trinity & the Church. How does the doctrine of the Trinity empower and encourage us to live and witness as church?
2 Corinthians 13.-11-14
Pentecost: High Hopes for the Birthday of the Church (The Church I) (Jessie Black)
This is the first sermon in a series on The Church, taking its cue from 3 Sundays in the New Zealand lectionary, with 3 bonus sermons on other aspects of Being the Church..
This week, Jessie Black discusses Pentecost as the Birthday of the Church, and probes how to retain hope when our hopes for God to do great things through the church are disappointed.
1 Corinthians 12.3-13
Paul in Athens: Building Bridges through the Arts
Readings for Sixth Sunday of Easter
1 Peter 3.13-22
In this sermon, Rev. Dr. Tim McKenzie follows Paul to Athens, and wonders how his preaching methodology here helps build bridges for the gospel into Athenian culture. Or does it? Tim notes that the people of Athens were a tough crowd; it's one of Paul's least successful preaching gigs in Acts. Might his invocation of Greek poetry and philosophy help us proclaim our faith in secular, 21st C Wellington (supposedly one of the most secular cities in the world)?
Jesus: the Peaceful Way, the Kindly Truth & the Generous Life (John 14.1-14)
Tim preaches from the lectionary readings about Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life, with some reference to the Coronation of Charles III along the way. How do we hold Jesus as the centre, without putting toll gates on the Way, setting exams for the Truth, and rationing out the Way?
Lent Series: 7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians (Fasting, with Tim McKenzie)
Fasting! The Lenten discipline we all want to avoid, or perhaps reduce to avoiding chocolate. But what is the logic behind this ancient discipline?
Tim guides us through fasting in this new series on the 7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians...
2 Samuel 12.15-23
7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians: Forgiveness (Rev. Dr. Deborah Wilson)
Why do Christians prize forgiveness so highly? Is is even possible, when we've been sorely wronged? What would it mean to forgive others for God's sake? Deborah Wilson expounds the logic - and power - of Christian forgiveness.
7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians for Lent: Almsgiving (Prof Jonathan Boston)
Professor Jonathan Boston continues the Lenten series on the Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians. This week - charitable giving, or as it used to be called, "almsgiving". How do we give intelligently and faithfully in a world so different from the world Jesus encountered in 1st C Palestine?
2 Corinthians 9.6-15
7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians: Study (Dr Geoff Troughton)
Geoff Troughton unpacks the 6th Habit of Occasionally Effective Christians, the discipline of study. What does it mean to love God with all our minds, as well as our hearts and souls. And what does this have to do with Palm Sunday?
7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians: Prayer as Encounter, Abiding and Attunement (Rebecca Packer)
God's Invisible Ink: the Christmas Message (Tim McKenzie)
In the telling of the Christmas story before the sermon, we read the recipe for Christmas. Ingredient 10 appeared to be missing, but it was written in invisible ink. When we heated it over the Christ candle, we discovered that the missing ingredient was God's love. Listen on...
Storm Warning (Māmari Stephens)
The Cost - and Rewards - of Discipleship (Matthew Packer)
We hear a lot about the cost of discipleship, and rightly so. Following Jesus is about taking up our crosses to follow. But, is it all about cost? In this sermon, Matthew reflects on both the costs and the treasure, the joy and the reward. And he notes that Pascal's Wager rather withers under the promise of eternal life.
The Growth of the Kingdom: Hospitality (Tim McKenzie)
Tim explores what the Kingdom looks like in the practice of hospitality. What is hospitality, and what isn't it? And what about hospitality is conducive to the spread of the good news?
Tim references a John Mark Comer sermon that explores some of these issues really well - see https://bridgetown.church/teaching/preaching-the-gospel/part-3-practice-hospitality/
Year C, Ordinary 22
Luke 7.1, 7-14
Hebrews 13.1-8, 16-16
Jesus the Warrior? Peace, Division and the Two-Edged Sword
Tim McKenzie ditches his weather forecasting career to ask what it means that Jesus came to bring division, not peace. The readings were the lectionary readings for the day:
Galatians 6: Are We Carrying Each Others' Burdens? (Sam Jackson)
Sam Jackson wraps up our Galatians series by asking us if we really are carrying one another's burdens, and encouraging us with the reminder that God specialises in using broken vessels.
Galatians 4: St Paul Visits Love Island (sort of!) (Tim McKenzie)
In Galatians 4, Paul explores the idea of captivity to the "elemental principles/powers of the world". For some, that's captivity to the Law. For others, it's captivity to "gods who are not gods". In either case, Paul urges the Galatian converts to stay free. What might that mean for 21st Century people?
Why the Crucifixion of Jesus Changes Everything, Including Who Gets to Set the Rules in Church (Matthew Bartlett on Galatians 3)
In our 3rd installment of the Galatians series, Matthew Bartlett explains why the cross is the way past cultural imperialism. And why Paul is therefore so adamant that converts to the Jesus movement aren't obliged to follow Torah. .
Luke 23.32-34, 44-47
With help from Fleming Rutledge and Lamin Sanneh.
Māmari Stephens: Chewing our Fingers with Paul's Letter to the Galatians
Galatians 2, with Māmari Stephens
High Stakes! Introducing Paul's (Loud!) Letter to the Galatians (Tim McKenzie)
Galatians is Paul's loudest, fiercest, most polemical letter. Rev. Dr. Tim McKenzie gives us a short overview of the letter, and highlights three things to look out for as we read it.
Earlier in the service, we had watched the most excellent Bible Project overview of Galatians, and Tim refers to that a couple of times in the sermon.
Why Be a Christian in 2022? Part I: The Stories We Live By
Tim McKenzie opens the Why Be a Christian series by sketching four stories that people live by, out of the many available. Why do these stories appeal to people? And how do they stack up against the Christian story, the truest story of all?
Note: this sermon was rerecorded after the fact, as the original recording failed
Dr Bronwyn Wood: What Impact Has Covid Had on Children's Education?
This is the final episode in our 2022 series, Faith, Crisis & Freedom. Bronwyn Wood, Senior Lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington, takes us on a rich tour of the data around children's educational achievement, and what Covid has done to their learning. And she offers some thoughtful analysis of where we're going wrong in New Zealand particularly, and what we might do to get back on track.
Andrew Shepherd: The Start of the Anthropocene & the End of the World
This talk comes from the St Michael's Faith, Crisis & Freedom series (2022). Dr Andrew Shepherd, lecturer in Theology & Public Issues at Otago University, probes the Western cultural mood, as humanity stares down the barrel of environmental devastation. After summarising some of the "Cli-Fi" literature written in the past decades, he offers a close reading of Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, and asks where we can find resources of imagination to address the environmental crisis.
Note: the sound quality is not up to our usual standard on this episode. Our apologies for this.
Tim McKenzie: Knowing God as Trinity
How do I know God? Why all this Trinity stuff? Christians often feel befuddled by the doctrine of the Trinity. Rev. Dr. Tim McKenzie suggests that our challenge is to know the God indicated by the doctrine, rather than focusing on knowing the doctrine for its own sake.
Rebecca Packer: Being Filled with the Holy Spirit (Pentecost Sunday 2022)
It's Pentecost Sunday! Rebecca Packer unpacks the rich biblical imagery for the Holy Spirit and asks, "what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit"?
Dr Philip Fountain – The Political Theology of Covid Governance
Remember the first lockdown? How did we get from teddy bears in people's windows to fiery protests at parliament? In this talk, Dr Philip Fountain considers the government's management of the Covid pandemic, and suggests that hidden religious themes in New Zealand political discourse can cast light on what happened. How do ideas of sovereignty, solidarity, sacrifice and the iconic enable a better understanding of our deeply contested national politics?
A Jaded Vicar Wonders: Should We Just Give Up on Christian Unity?
Why on earth, since Jesus prayed for the church to be one, i it so divided? Is there any hope?
Rev. Dr. Tim McKenzie preaches on the lectionary readings for Easter 7, 2022.
Revelation 22.12-17, 20-21
Rev. Jessie Black on Anticipation Without Anxiety
How are we to face the future? How can we do it with anticipation, but not anxiety? Jessie shares from these scriptures on that theme:
Revelation 21.10, 22-22.5
Singing the Lamb's Song, Come What May
Easter 3, Acts 9.1-6, Revelation 5.11-14, John 21.1-19
Listen carefully, and you'll hear the epistle reader introduce "Revelation Chapter 5" as "Revolution Chapter 5". Which is about right. Tim McKenzie preaches on Singing the Lamb's Song. The witness of history is that those who've been prepared to do this are truly revolutionaries.
03 April 2022 - How to be a Christian, or The Problem of Belief, with Dr. Philip Fountain. The Why Be a Christian in 2022 Series continued
Protestants often think of being a Christian as a question of believing things. But is that the right place to start? Jesus puts a frighteningly terrifying emphasis on doing things. In this sermon, Dr. Philip Fountain lets Jesus speak for himself, with devastating effect.
Scripture: excerpts from Matthew 5, 6, & 7
Why be a Christian in 2022: A More Compassionate God (Ruby Burgess)
Ruby Burgess outlines the breathtaking vision of a God who isn't just loving and compassionate, but who is love and compassion.
Scripture Texts: Psalm 103, 1 Corinthians 13, and John 14.15-31
Why Be a Christian in 2022: Is the Christian Story True? (Matthew Bartlett)
Another exciting episode in the series, "Why be a Christian in 2022?" Matthew gives his telling of the Christian story, invites you to give yours, and offers his top 10 reasons for thinking the Christian story is more than just a fairytale...
Grief and Joy for Christmas
Is Christmas just about joy? Or is it about grief as well? How do those go together? And how does Angela Merkel's blessing to her successor, Olaf Scholz, help us approach the Christmas message in a world of trouble and joy?
Women, power and God's action in the world
Text: Luke 1:26–56
Cassandra Burton-Wood, lately chaplain at Victoria University of Wellington, delivers a final message about Mary the mother of Jesus, before leaving town for love and theological study.
Doubting Thomas and Doubting Tims
The Rev Dr Tim McKenzie explores faith, doubt and the resurrection (with a special appearance by Tim Overton)
Please forgive the mediocre audio quality in this episode!
Vocation, vocation, vocation!
Rev Mel McKenzie on prayer and 'letting go'
Richard Deeble: Pray without ceasing – how God's goodness, generosity and sovereignty can encourage us to pray more
Christ the King: Dr Ben Thirkell-White
The texts for the day were Ezekiel 34.11-16, 20-24; Ephesians 1.15-23 and Matthew 25.31-46
Dr Ben Thirkell-White, until recently Associate Professor of International Relations, Victoria University of Wellington, now at the Reserve Bank, reflects on Christ the King Sunday and its political message for today. Christ the King is a recent feast — instituted by Pope Pius XI in the troubled period between the world wars. Ben draws comparisons with our contemporary situation, looking at the perhaps clashing models of kingship we find in the Bible.