Search This Blog

Friday, 14 April 2017

cruciform God in blazing light



SERMON (KAUWHAU) GIVEN at
TE POU HERENGA WAKA O TE WHAKAPONO
(SOUTH NAPIER)
EASTER DAY
(April 16th) 2017

Reading:
Luke 24: 13-49 … etc!



Firstly I am somewhat overawed by the invitation from Marie and the whanau a te Karaiti ko te pou herenga waka o te whakapono for the privilege of what I have referred to on Facebook as whakahaeretia – presidency or leadership – of this glorious celebration of Easter, and for the equal privilege of kauwhau, breaking open the word of resurrection hope amongst and with you this day. A year ago or so, as some of you will know, I was in a very strange twilight zone of having my position in Tikanga Pākeha dismantled on the basis of what I knew were lies and distortions. A year ago it felt very Good Friday, a death of all I had stood for, however fallibly, for thirty years.
Today, and indeed for the twelve months since, I have felt the glorious rays of resuscitation – not resurrection, as I shall explain in a moment – rejuvenating my soul, as Anne and I have found warmth and manaakitanga (and good kai!) amongst the people here. I know I’ve said that a few times, but I remain overawed by it. Anne, incidentally, is currently in Ahitereria with friends and family - and mahi!
In actual fact I rarely preached a sermon on Easter day. I felt that music could often express what words could not. I would play “O Happy Day” or “How Can I Keep From Singing?” or something that warned us that we were heading beyond words, beyond te Reo Māori or te Reo Ingarihi or te Reo Kariki to a place where truth and light and love and eternal life really are unlimited.
On the other hand I think Marie wanted me to use a few kupu, so I am. And as the Bee Gees once sang, that’s all I have. That’s all any of us have, and indeed all the gospel writers had to express something beyond expression, something that is utter, utter mystery. Words restrict mystery, inhibit mystery. The Quakers teach us to have worship without words. I think there’s something in that … except that we are mortal, and need words, for now, this side of the grave. Sometimes it’s a nuisance.
But let’s not get caught up in the intellectual nonsense that says that a thing that can be expressed in words or formulae is not real. Words or formulae are fine – to a point. But try and express the gentle touch of a lover or the beauty of a sunset or the fury of a storm or the crushing ache of loneliness in words and we founder. These days I call myself a writer. But I can do none of those things, and though the great writers can hint at the gentle touch of a lover or the beauty of a sunset or the fury of a storm or the crushing ache of loneliness in words they still fall short. So how could words, kupu, express the beyond words mystery of resurrection, aranga ake? Even pictures and music will fall short. And today we stand in the blinding light of that mystery.
The response of one wing of Christianity has been to chuck out resurrection altogether. “I don’t understand it, can’t measure or explain it, so I get rid of it.” Excuse me? Do I understand love or sorrow or joy? But I don’t get rid of them. The wing of Christianity that took that option is dying, shrivelling under the glare of God’s justice. The forms of Christianity that reduce the Resurrection to little more than a daffodil in spring fare little better. I spoke of the resuscitation my life has received here at Te Pou Herenga these past twelve months, and I cannot express enough how sacred that has been to me. But, though, like a daffodil in spring or a sunset, it is has been enabled by the vibrant love of God, it is not quite the Resurrection (even if it is a foretaste of our own one day resurrection!). We water down the Resurrection of Jesus Christ at great peril.
In the end though it is not a phenomenon to be explained, but a mystery to be adored. We dance and sing and leap for joy, at last in our hearts if not in our aching bodies, because this is the mystery of God’s victory over injustice and suffering and loneliness and darkness and despair and mortality and … this is God’s dance, God’s kanikani, to which you and I are invited no matter how little we understand it. This is when God’s light shines so bright – though our eyes are not damaged – that every Cross, and every injustice and suffering and loneliness and darkness and despair becomes nothing – even to the hellishness of Sudan and Syria and bereavement and cancer and all horrors we can imagine, and God says, yes, my friends, eternity is yours.
So welcome to Easter!

 GLOSSARY;  in order of appearance and primarily for non-kiwis!
Kauwhau: sermon ... proclamation ... close to the Greek kerygma
Te Pou Herenga Waka o te Whakapono: the dedication of the Tikanga Māori church and congregation in South Napier, but a literal tanslation is "the anchor of the vessel of faith" or "the mooring of the vessel of faith" 
Whanau: family (so "whanau a te Karaiti" = family in Christ)
Whakahaeretia – presidency or leadership
Tikanga Pākeha: non Māori tradition (I sometimes wonder if this could be called "tikanga mihinare" - traditions of the visitors - to remind non Māori of the historical sequences of human history!)
Manaakitanga: exercise of the tradition of hospitality (to mihinare)
Kai: (n.) food or (v.) eat 
Ahitereria: Australia
Mahi: work - as verb or noun 
Te Reo Māori: Māori language
Te Reo Ingarihi: English language, more often designated Te Reo Pākeha
Te Reo Kariki: Greek language
Kupu: word(s)
Aranga ake:  resurrection, rise up
Kanikani: dance
Post a Comment