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St Michael's talks & sermons

By St Michael's Kelburn

Homilies, public lectures and other provocations delivered at St Michael’s engaging with matters of faith. Find out more at our website: stmichaels.org.nz/
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Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times VI: The Tower of Babel (Matthew Bartlett)

St Michael's talks & sermonsAug 28, 2023

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Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times VI: The Tower of Babel (Matthew Bartlett)

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.

Scriptures

Genesis 11.1-9

Revelation 3.12-13, 21.22-22.2

Aug 28, 202313:60
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times V: Cain, Abel & Mimetic Desire (Matt Packer)

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?"\


Texts:

Genesis 4

John 21.20-23

Matt also references the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgB9p2BA4fw

Aug 15, 202330:16
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times III: The Fall (Jonathan Boston)

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

Romans 8.18-27

Aug 08, 202329:31
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times II: Human Vocation in Genesis 2 (Tim McKenzie)

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?


Texts:

Genesis 2

John 20.10-18


Note: Tim assumes people have watched the following Bible Project video : https://bibleproject.com/explore/video/priests-of-eden/

Aug 08, 202323:29
Ancient Patterns for Newfangled Times I: Creation (Matt Bartlett)

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"?

Readings

Genesis 1; Luke 24.13-27 ; John 1.1-8

Jul 23, 202317:37
The Church VI: Giving (Sam Jackson)

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?


Readings

Numbers 3.40-51

2 Corinthians 8.1-15

John 12.1-8

Jul 09, 202321:49
Stand, Sit, Kneel and ... Raise Hands? The Church's Worship (The Church V) (Tim McKenzie)

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?


Readings:

Revelation 4

Revelation 5

Mark 12.28-34

Jul 03, 202324:08
Mega Church, Micro Church and Loving Church (The Church IV) (Tim McKenzie)

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?


Readings

Romans 12.1-16

Matthew 12:46-50

Jul 03, 202319:08
Being Church in Aotearoa New Zealand Given te Tiriti: A Sermon for Pouhere Sunday (The Church III) (Alan Cameron)

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.

Jul 03, 202320:16
The Encouraging Doctrine of the Trinity (The Church II) (Tim McKenzie)

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?

Readings:

2 Corinthians 13.-11-14

Psalm 86.8-13

Matthew 28.16-20

Jul 03, 202321:50
Pentecost: High Hopes for the Birthday of the Church (The Church I) (Jessie Black)

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.


Readings

Acts 2.1-21

1 Corinthians 12.3-13

John 20.19-23

Jul 03, 202320:24
Paul in Athens: Building Bridges through the Arts

Paul in Athens: Building Bridges through the Arts

Readings for Sixth Sunday of Easter

1 Peter 3.13-22

Acts 17.22-31

John 14.15-21


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)?

May 17, 202321:59
Jesus: the Peaceful Way, the Kindly Truth & the Generous Life (John 14.1-14)

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?


Acts 7.55-60

John 14.1-14

May 09, 202318:24
Lent Series: 7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians (Fasting, with Tim McKenzie)

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...


Readings

2 Samuel 12.15-23

Acts 13.1-3

Matthew 6.16-18

Apr 04, 202324:17
7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians: Forgiveness (Rev. Dr. Deborah Wilson)

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.


Readings

Matthew 18.21-35

Apr 02, 202326:12
7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians for Lent: Almsgiving (Prof Jonathan Boston)

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?

Readings

2 Corinthians 9.6-15

Matthew 6.1-4

Apr 02, 202325:46
7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians: Study (Dr Geoff Troughton)

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?


Readings

Psalm 118

Deuteronomy 4.6-9

Matthew 21.1-17

Apr 02, 202323:35
7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians: Prayer as Encounter, Abiding and Attunement (Rebecca Packer)

7 Habits of Occasionally Effective Christians: Prayer as Encounter, Abiding and Attunement (Rebecca Packer)

The texts for the day were Psalm 46, Ephesians 6.17-20 and Matthew 6.5-8.

Rebecca speaks about prayer as a way of dwelling in Christ and seeing God's presence everywhere, particularly in the wilderness times in our lives.

She mentions Tim Mackie's talk Paradise Now.

Mar 12, 202329:17
God's Invisible Ink: the Christmas Message (Tim McKenzie)

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...

Dec 25, 202218:03
Storm Warning (Māmari Stephens)

Storm Warning (Māmari Stephens)

Jeremiah 31:27-34 • 2 Timothy 3:14–4:5 • Luke 18:1-8

Māmari reflects on Colin McCahon's painting Storm Warning, karakia, and prayer/inoi.

Oct 16, 202218:51
The Cost - and Rewards - of Discipleship (Matthew Packer)

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.

Psalm 139
Jeremiah 18.1-11
Luke 14.25-33

Sep 05, 202218:08
The Growth of the Kingdom: Hospitality (Tim McKenzie)

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
Jeremiah 2.4-13

Aug 31, 202221:34
Jesus the Warrior? Peace, Division and the Two-Edged Sword

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:

Isaiah 5.1-7
Luke 12.49-56

Aug 18, 202219:58
Galatians 6: Are We Carrying Each Others' Burdens? (Sam Jackson)

Galatians 6: Are We Carrying Each Others' Burdens? (Sam Jackson)

Galatians 6

Luke 12.32-40


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.

Aug 09, 202219:44
Galatians 4: St Paul Visits Love Island (sort of!) (Tim McKenzie)

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?

Jul 25, 202225:49
Why the Crucifixion of Jesus Changes Everything, Including Who Gets to Set the Rules in Church (Matthew Bartlett on Galatians 3)

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.  .

Galatians 3.1-14
Galatians 3.21-28
Luke 23.32-34, 44-47

With help from Fleming Rutledge and Lamin Sanneh.

Jul 11, 202218:59
Māmari Stephens: Chewing our Fingers with Paul's Letter to the Galatians

Māmari Stephens: Chewing our Fingers with Paul's Letter to the Galatians

Galatians 2, with Māmari Stephens

Jul 04, 202217:60
High Stakes! Introducing Paul's (Loud!) Letter to the Galatians (Tim McKenzie)
Jun 27, 202221:01
Why Be a Christian in 2022? Part I: The Stories We Live By

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

Romans 1.1-6
Luke 6.39-49

Jun 21, 202228:35
Dr Bronwyn Wood: What Impact Has Covid Had on Children's Education?

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. 

Jun 17, 202201:14:19
Andrew Shepherd: The Start of the Anthropocene & the End of the World

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.

Jun 16, 202201:01:06
Tim McKenzie: Knowing God as Trinity

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.

Psalm 8
Romans 5.1-5
John 16.12-15

Jun 13, 202229:12
Rebecca Packer: Being Filled with the Holy Spirit (Pentecost Sunday 2022)

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"?


Jun 08, 202222:01
Dr Philip Fountain – The Political Theology of Covid Governance

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?

Jun 02, 202201:04:16
A Jaded Vicar Wonders: Should We Just Give Up on Christian Unity?

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.

Acts 16.16-34
Revelation 22.12-17, 20-21
John 17:20-26

Jun 01, 202231:44
Rev. Jessie Black on Anticipation Without Anxiety

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:

Acts 16.9-15
Revelation 21.10, 22-22.5
John 14.23-29

May 31, 202216:23
Singing the Lamb's Song, Come What May

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.

May 02, 202231:46
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

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

Apr 04, 202226:33
Why be a Christian in 2022: A More Compassionate God (Ruby Burgess)

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

Apr 04, 202217:53
Why Be a Christian in 2022: Is the Christian Story True? (Matthew Bartlett)

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...

Mar 11, 202216:20
Grief and Joy for Christmas

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?

Mar 11, 202219:44
Women, power and God's action in the world

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. 

Jan 27, 202220:23
Doubting Thomas and Doubting Tims

Doubting Thomas and Doubting Tims

Texts: Acts 4.32-35; 1 John 1.1-2.2; John 20.19-31

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!

Apr 12, 202126:16
Vocation, vocation, vocation!

Vocation, vocation, vocation!

Genesis 41:41–49; 1 Corinthians 7:17–24; Luke 19:1–10

What does 'vocation' mean for Christians? Is it about landing your dream job? Or becoming a priest? The second in a series on faith & work.

Mar 07, 202128:12
Rev Mel McKenzie on prayer and 'letting go'

Rev Mel McKenzie on prayer and 'letting go'

Texts: Psalm 46, Romans 8.26-40 & Mark 1.35-39

Mel spoke on the four S's of contemplative prayer — silence, solitude, stillness and surrender.

Jan 31, 202132:15
Richard Deeble: Pray without ceasing – how God's goodness, generosity and sovereignty can encourage us to pray more
Jan 24, 202124:15
Christ the King: Dr Ben Thirkell-White

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.

Nov 22, 202027:17
All Saints: Rev Dr Tim McKenzie – Saints, All!
Nov 02, 202026:29
Lent 2: Matthew Bartlett on Climate Change: Lament, Repentance, Renewal, Action
Mar 09, 202022:54
Lent 1: Rev Dr Tim McKenzie on 'lament' in the Bible & in us

Lent 1: Rev Dr Tim McKenzie on 'lament' in the Bible & in us

Psalm 13; Lamentations 3; Matthew 4:1–11

Tim introduces the Biblical genre of lament as one pattern for our conversations with God. 

Mar 01, 202021:29