Christ our Victory

2nd Sunday of Easter
Christ our Victory!

Acts 2:14a, 22-32 
Psalm 16 
1 Peter 1:3-9 
John 20:19-31

Thanks be to God who gave us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!
1 Corithians 15: 57

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

It’s been one week since the empty tomb and our first “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.” A week after the resurrection and the disciples are in the same place they were on Easter night.

So if the resurrection was such a big deal, why are the disciples still stuck in the same place? How has it changed them? Has it allowed them to see themselves and the world differently? They are in the same house behind the same locked doors as a week ago. What’s changed? 

Sound familiar? I wonder, what has Christ’s resurrection done for us? Is your life different after a week? Do you see the world in new ways now? What difference has the empty tomb made in your life over the last week? When I look at my life it looks really different from last Sunday, and the Sunday before, and the Sunday before that. And when I look at the world after a month, it has certainly changed and changed forever!

I used to think, gee those disciples, they were a bit useless, why were they stuck in the same place? They should’ve been onto it! After all, death has been defeated. “Christ is risen. Alleluia.”

However, in hindsight and after being in ministry for over 20 years, I’ve realised that resurrection takes time. It’s not a one off or annual event. It’s something that we grow into. It’s a process. Like I always remind you, it’s a way of life that we get to live out. We become resurrected people through the grace of God in the midst of our relationships and the circumstances of our lives. God is there every day of our lives as we walk into the resurrected life. 

And, as you know, It’s not always easy and some days are just plain hard. I’m sure, some of you, if not most of you, are starting to struggle during this time of isolation. You don’t have the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. If you live alone, loneliness becomes a big problem, especially when going to karakia every Sunday was your big day out to be with other believers. For parents, you now have to be parents! You have to be the police, teachers, cleaners, chefs and when you’ve done all this, go to work or work from home! For some, it’s getting real tough. No mahi: no money, can’t pay mortgages, rent, bills and buy food. And while this is all happening, pressure starts to build and we all no what happens when it gets to much! 

So stop! Breathe and allow the risen Christ to just be with you for a moment and allow him to say, ‘Peace be with you’. You see, we get distracted real quick and miss when we are in the presence of God. It’s not a place, it’s a space. God creates it not us. It’s where you and I are right now. It’s a fleeting moment in God’s time, own it, then it’s gone and we are back to reality. Like the disciples, Jesus came amongst them, then he was gone. As people of faith we must live in both the spiritual and physical worlds. We cannot choose one over the other. Otherwise it becomes nothing but escapism. We either want to run away to God or run away from God. Just stay still. Believe Christ is risen and he has defeated death. Nothing else matters. Has your life changed in a week? Mine has. I continue to walk my resurrected story no matter where it leads me. Remember resurrected life takes time. Amen

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

God of mystery, you affirm our right to question what we find hard to know. Grant us the maturity of faith that knows when to question and when to trust. Through Jesus Christ our Liberator, who is alive and reigns with you,  in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

He ara te Karaiti

Easter Day
Christ is Risen!

Acts 10:34-43 
Psalm 118:1-2,14-24 
Colossians 3:1-4 
Matthew 28:1-10

Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Alleluia! Luke 24: 34 

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!

For some of us, as I am sure for all Christians worldwide, we have waited patiently to celebrate this momentous event. Every year I remind my fellowship that no matter what challenges or struggles they may have faced in the past, life will get better. Never give up, never let go and always have hope in a better and brighter future. We always look forward to Easter Sunday so the gospels can remind us of the truth. Our Lord is Risen! Those words speak for themselves. They don’t need me to justify or defend them. St Matthew tells us, the angel told the women who went to Jesus’ tomb. “He is not here; he has been raised.” and “He has been raised from the dead.” They also saw Jesus, touched him and heard his voice. 

Life can lead us down many different pathways with a multitude of variances that effectively decide which one we choose. The problem we encounter is that unless we have a solid foundation to begin with, we tend to lose track of where we have come from to know where we will eventually end up. That is why today is so significant. Easter constantly reminds us that this is our foundation. The beginning and the end. 

This year is different from any other year for most of us and it has changed our lives forever. As Maori and as Christians, we have had to physically cease practicing our traditional and cultural values and beliefs. It has been a challenge to quickly adjust to this new way of living. Isolation, unemployment, social distancing, constant hand washing, gloves, masks, cashless transactions, new laws, new fines and I’m sure there will be more changes to come. I had to do karakia for a tangihanga over the phone the other day, no zoom or face-time. Very distant. Is this the future? Virtual reality? People are already getting used to this way life. Why leave home? People in some countries are already to scared to venture outside. 

Although the future may seem uncertain, one thing that hasn’t changed and will never change, Our Lord is Risen! This is the reality for me and all Christians. It stops the ground from falling away from under us. No matter what confronts us we know that Jesus walked, talked, healed and performed many miracles. He showed compassion and unconditional love to insiders and outsiders, the high and the lowly, the marginalised and the outcast. As hard as it gets sometimes, knowing the truth about Easter releases all of my worries, fears and uncertainties because Easter is all about new life, light, joy, peace and hope. That changes everything about how we should live. Everyday should be Easter for us. Christ’s resurrection is not an annual celebration. It’s a way of life. I life of gratitude you and I get to live out in an ever changing world. Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!

Alleluia, faithful God: on this day you raised Jesus from death, and calmed our greatest fear. Help us to celebrate with joy; that, in greeting the risen Saviour, we may be filled with the hope of resurrected life. Through Jesus Christ our Liberator, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

Good Friday

Every year on Easter Friday we have a Shadow Service at Te Wairua Tapu. At 10.30am the bell is rung ten times and seven participants dressed in black make their way up to the altar during the singing of one of our Maori hymn. Setup on the altar is seven lit candles and then each participant steps forward to a reading lectern situated in front of the altar and presents their appointed shadow. They deliver a five or seven minute reflection based on their understanding of betrayal, inner agony, loneliness, accusation, desertion, mockery and death. In addition, they take into consideration what Jesus may have experienced as he faced each of these shadows on his way to the cross at Calvary and ultimately his death on it. When they have completed their reflection, each participant goes up and extinguishes one of the candles burning on the altar. As this service unfolds it becomes noticeable how very sombre, solemn and sad it must have been for Jesus.

Today in Sydney, 10 April 2020, it’s cold, cloudy and wet. A day that truly reflects what Christians know to be, a dark and gloomy day for followers of Jesus Christ. I am not going to reflect on all the shadows but reflect on the shadow of death.

Theologian Jurgen Moltmann, in his book The Crucified God, he quotes Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Holocaust, who writes of his experiences in Auschwitz, a prison where thousands of innocent Jews were executed during World War 2. Wiesel tells of a gruesome execution which all the members of the concentration camp were forced to watch. 

The Nazi SS troops hanged two Jewish men and a youth in front of the whole camp.  The men died quickly but the violent death pangs and convulsions of the youth lasted for half an hour. 

Someone behind me asked, ‘Where is God? Where is he?’  

As the youth still hung in torment in the noose after a long time, I heard the voice call again, ‘Where is God now?’ Where is he? And I heard a voice inside me say: ‘Where is God? God is here. God is hanging there on the gallows…’

As Christians, we get to experience the pain and suffering of God.  Where is God? He is hanging on a cross in the form of his Son Jesus? Just as the sign above Jesus’ head states at Golgotha, “This is the King of the Jews” and the insults yelled at him by one of the criminals, “aren’t you the Messiah? Why don’t you save yourself and us?”

In the same way, when we lose loved ones to death, especially those that are unexpected or sudden, deep down inside of us we scream, why? Why us? Where is God? God is with us…God is dying with us…When someone dies, so does God!  And that pain we feel, that pain is God! That is God dying inside us!

Jurgen Moltmann states: ‘To speak of a God who could not suffer would make God a demon.  And any other answer would be evil.’  

But why must God suffer?  Because it’s all about love! God’s love takes place in the world not outside. ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish or die but have eternal life.’ It may seem a contradiction but God is even more present with us, when we try to do without God.  Golgotha and Auschwitz show what we often tend to forget. God is not present because of something we do.  God is present in spite of what we do.  It is in our human nature to sin.  Yet, in spite of it, God is present!

When I witness others suffering from the pain death causes, it’s so hard in some situations to say to them, God loves you and God is with you because at that time, death is so overpowering that there is no room for God and they lose sight of God.  But the reality is that God has not lost sight of them.

Today, with the loss of life globally for thousands of people, many deaths will go unoticed, many families will never get to grieve but God knows and God grieves with every life lost and every single person suffering from the sting of death because God is present with us in and through Jesus Christ. On this day, let us remember that the death of Jesus on the cross was the death of our king.  It was something he had to do not because he wanted to do it but it was and is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. We know what takes place on the other side of the cross but it’s not time to go there, just yet.

Archdeacon Karipa

Maundy Thursday

The Last Supper
We are to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to us, and we to the world.Galatians 6: 14 (adapted)
1st Reading – Exodus 12: 1-14
Psalm 116: 1-2, 12-19
2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26
Gospel Reading – St John 13: 1-17, 31-35
Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.
Tonight, would have marked my 19th year in a row, without miss, celebrating Maundy Thursday at Te Wairua Tapu.  Meeting at 7.30pm with likeminded people to remember the last supper Jesus spent with his disciples. The amazing thing is that those who have attended every year, the numbers were always 12 or 13.  We might have got an extra one or maybe one less but the attendance has always hovered around the 12/13. But not tonight. Tonight, is different, very different as the core group of our faith community is unable to gather physically to celebrate Maundy Thursday.
Whether it was divinely directed or bad marketing on my part over the years, those numbers tell you a story. History, especially one in which you live out, gives an insight into the character and values that a community of faith hold onto such as having a vision, being consistent, staying focused and on track, commitment, sacrifice, servanthood, reverence, humility and the list goes on.
You can wish for whatever you want or even command something into existence but when it comes to God, the outcome of prayer is never what we desire but what we need. God always gives us what we need to develop one’s faith. The lesson I have learnt is that some, if not most of the time, ‘it is what it is’. You can’t make grass grow, it’s already there, you watch it grow. When it needs water, you water it. In some way, the same principle applies to faith. You teach, you nurture but it is God that ultimately feeds and grows one’s faith not you or me.
Jesus loved his disciples to the end. He loved them so much that he spent his last night sharing in a meal and humbling himself to cleanse their feet. Why would they ever think anything was going to change? For them, Jesus wasn’t going anywhere? They were all special, even though Peter didn’t appreciate Jesus washing his feet, they were all feeling pretty good about themselves. Complacency, biggest blind spot even with faith! Stay awake and keep watch. As we all discover, at the end of the meal and the very next morning, they all fall away from Jesus and in their own space they desert him. How could they totally understand the journey Jesus was on cause their faith had not fully matured. Jesus knew he would have to leave and left them with this final act of unconditional love. The significance of this sacramental memorial is to remind us that no matter how strong we think our faith is or what we believe, there is always an element of mystery that surrounds the last supper and you realise, like disciples, your faith and my faith has not yet fully matured. As we look towards Good Friday and the pain and suffering Jesus encounters, we will never know what he experienced but when we look around the world and see the suffering of all humanity and all of creation you get a better idea of why God cries and why Jesus must walk to the cross at Calvary. Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. Lord Jesus, we thank you for surrendering your life for our sins and the sins of the world.

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa
Gracious and eternal God, in the sacrament you have given us a memorial of the passion of your Son Jesus Christ; grant that we who receive the sacred mysteries may grow up into him in all things until we come to your eternal joy; through our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen
Archdeacon Kaio Malcolm Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship

Palm Sunday

Lent 6-Palm Sunday 

Today is Palm Sunday. And, what a way to spend it. At home, in isolation and daylight saving has also ended, giving us an extra hour in solitude. Wow! 

At this time, however, I would rather be at Te Wairua Tapu with my brothers and sisters in Christ to witness and celebrate the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. But it’s not to be. Instead, after three weeks, I’ve been in our whare with my whanau cluster getting used to each other and being cut off from others. Of course there are now signs of frustration, a few cracks in ones armour due to encroachment on personal space, rooms getting transformed without permission, dirty dishes left on the bench and the list grows. Definitely signs of psychological readjustments taking place. But still plenty of respect for each other. 

However, being in this space that we now find ourselves, gives us plenty of time to really think about what is truly important to you and I. He aha te mea nui?

I wonder what was on the mind of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem? What was driving him to stay on this path? Was it the mana that was being bestowed upon him by the people? I think not. What was he thinking? He could have walked away at anytime but he didn’t. You see, when we don’t take time to think and process what lays ahead of us we are disadvantaged. in fact, without us knowing, we are in the dark. Jesus wasn’t. He knew exactly where he was heading and why he was going there. His relationship with God was definitely deepening at this time and Jesus knew it was God guiding him to what was awaiting in Jerusalem. 

E te iwi, although our families, friends, extended whanau and all people are the most important in this world. He aha te mea nui? 

For me, God is the greatest of all and Jesus shows us this. By continuing to be obedient, Jesus is about to embark on an act of pure un-selfless and unconditional love for all humanity and creation. When do we really stop to think about others? How have and how do we treat people? Now is a good time to ask yourselves these questions as Holy Week begins tomorrow. Where everything turns nasty. But do not lose sight of Jesus as you will discover, God’s ways are definitely not our ways.

God of kings and criminals: your ways are not our ways. On the way to Jerusalem, with shouts we acclaimed you; on the way to Calvary, with shouts we condemned you. Mercifully grant us the way that leads to life, For you are alive and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.