Christ is Grace!

Christ is Grace!

Exodus 16: 2-15
Psalm 105: 1-6, 37-45
Philippians 1: 21-30
Matthew 20: 1-16

“Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1: 27

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

Last week’s kauwhau was all about forgiveness. “How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered Peter, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” Today it’s about Grace. And Jesus tells the parable about the labourers and the owner of the vineyard. 

I am sure we could all give our own version on this parable. We probably even know people who, from our humble perspective anyway, neither earned nor deserved what they got; a job, a promotion, a pay raise, recognition, success even happiness. Even though we worked longer and harder it doesn’t seem to make any difference. More often than not we view the world, ourselves, and others through the lens of fairness rather than grace, the exact opposite of how God views the world and our lives.

We’ve been taught that fairness matters. When we were kids we had to share everything; food, clothes, money etc. If you tried to do something sneaky like grab more food, someone would quickly say, “Hey, what you doing?” Then, sometimes you would see someone get more than you and you would think, “That’s not fair!” But you wouldn’t say anything because you got a whack! So the concept of fairness is ingrained within us one way or the other. Too often, however, fairness rather than love, acceptance, mercy, forgiveness or generosity is the measure by which we act and judge another person or life circumstances. We like fairness because it give us some assurance of order, predictability, control and power; even if it’s a false assurance. Fairness is based on what you deserve, how hard you work, what you achieve and the way in which you behave. Sometimes it’s fair to give a reward and at other times a punishment. You see, we live in and promote a wage based society in which you earn what you get. You deserve the consequences, good or bad, of your actions.

But, what happens when divine goodness overwhelms human fairness? You get today’s parable. The parable suggests wages and grace stand in opposition to each other. They are two opposing world views. The parable strikes us as unfair because our life and world view is wage based. A wage based world view allows little room for grace in our own lives or the lives of others. Therefore, Grace is dangerous to this world view as it reverses the business as usual. “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” That’s not how a wage based society works. The world says the last are last and the first are first because they deserve it. It’s what is fair. Our understanding of fairness, however, doesn’t seem to have priority in the kingdom of heaven where grace is the rule not the exception. Grace looks beyond our productivity, our appearance, our dress, our race or ethnicity, our gender, our accomplishments and our failures. Grace recognises there is more to you and who you are than what you have done or left undone.

Grace reveals the goodness of God. Wages reveal human effort. Grace seeks unity and inclusion. Wages make distinctions and separate. Grace just happens. Wages are based on merit. The only precondition of grace is that we show up and open ourselves to receive what God is giving. When we do, we begin to see our lives, the world, our neighbours differently. Grace reminds us that we are not nearly as self-sufficient, deserving, or independent as a wage based society would like us to believe. Neither is our worth determined by our productivity or usefulness to another. Grace doesn’t justify or excuse discrimination, unfairness or oppression. To the contrary it holds before us the truth that each person is more than their behaviour, their looks, their accomplishments or their failures.

The tragedy of a wage based life is that it blinds us to the presence of grace, the life of God, in our own life. It can make us resentful of grace, goodness and beauty in the life of another. It separates and isolates us from others. Eventually we set up standards and expectations not only for ourselves and others but for God. That’s what happened to the first ones hired in today’s parable. They saw themselves as different from and more deserving than the ones hired later. They grumbled against the landowner saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us.” The truth is they’re not that different from each other. Neither group owned the vineyard. Both groups needed a job and both groups were chosen, invited in, by no effort of their own doing. However, there’s something that distinguishes the first ones hired and the ones hired later.

The distinction is not what time they showed up to work. The real distinction between the two is the terms under which they entered the vineyard. The first hired entered the vineyard only after agreeing to the usual daily wage. They settled for too little. They shortchanged themselves. That’s often what happens in a wage based society. Apparently the landowner is willing to pay more than the usual daily wage. A full day’s wage for less than a full day’s work. “That’s not fair,” we might say. No, it’s not. That’s grace.

The first hired got what they bargained for. The later hired workers, those who come at 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., even 5:00 p.m., did not, however, negotiate for the usual daily wage. They entered the vineyard trusting they would be paid “whatever is right.” Whatever is right is not determined by the first hired or by a wage based society but by the goodness of the landowner. These later hired workers received more than they earned, more than they deserved, more than they had a right to ask or hope for. That’s just what God does. “Whatever is right” isn’t about fairness but about grace. Why settle for the usual daily wage when God wants to give you “whatever is right” for your life, your needs, your salvation? “Whatever is right” will always be more than fair, more than we could ask or imagine. Yet we trust a wage based life more than we trust grace. In so doing we deny ourselves and others the life God wants to give. 

So how might we begin to move from a wage based life to the vineyard of grace? Stop comparing yourself and your life to others and you will create room for grace to emerge. Refuse to compete in such a way that someone must lose for you to win. Trust that in God’s world there is enough for everyone. Let go of expectations based on what you think you or others deserve. Give God the freedom to pay whatever is right knowing that God’s ways are not your ways. Make no judgments of yourself or others. That’s the way of grace, the way of God. Amen.

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

God of grace, you are kind to all people, good beyond our understanding. Help us to be grateful for what we have been given and merciful and generous with our sisters and brothers. Teach us the ways of your kingdom where the last will be first and the first will be last. 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

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu

Christ is Forgiveness

Christ is Forgiveness!

Exodus 14: 19-31
Psalm 114
Romans 14: 1-12
Matthew 18: 21-35

Sentence: “For we will all stand before the judgement seat of God.” Romans 14: 10

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

“How often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered Peter, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

Forgiveness, it sounds so easy to do, at least in principle. But “Every one,” according to C.S. Lewis, “says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until there is something to forgive”. What do we do then? What do we do when there is something to forgive? Does that mean forgive the drunk driver? The murderer? The rapist? The bully? The abusive parent? The greedy corporation? The racist? And as Christians, the answer to these questions is YES. 

Then all of a sudden, forgiveness isn’t so easy.

You see, forgiveness, for Jesus, is not something you can measure. It’s a quality; a way of being, a way of living, a way of loving, a way of relating and a way of thinking and seeing. It’s nothing less than the way of Christ. If we are to follow Christ then his way must become our way as well. “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. Look at your own lives and you will find broken promises, hurt feelings, betrayals, harsh words and physical and emotional wounds. Every one of us could tell stories of being hurt, traumatised or victimised by another. Beneath the pain, the wounds and the memories will always be the question of forgiveness.

When we don’t forgive, some will strike back seeking revenge. Some will run away from life and their relationships. Some will even let themselves be consumed by darkness. I don’t say that out of criticism or judgment of someone else but out of my own experience. I’ve done them all. I know how hard forgiveness can be. Like you, I too struggle with it and often avoid it. I also know that none of those answers are the way of Christ. All of them leave us stuck in the past, tied to the evil of someone else, and deprived of the future God wants to give us.

Forgiveness is the only way forward. That doesn’t mean we forget, condone, or approve of what was done. It doesn’t mean we ignore or excuse cruelty or injustice. It means we are released from them. We let go of the thoughts and fantasies of revenge, which I know is hard to do. But we look to the future rather than the past. We try to see and love as God sees and loves. Forgiveness is a way in which we align our life with God’s life. To withhold forgiveness is to put ourselves in the place of God, the ultimate judge to whom all are accountable (Rom. 14:10, 12).

God’s forgiveness and human forgiveness are inte-related. That is apparent in today’s parable. The king forgives his slave an extraordinary amount. Ten thousand talents is about 3000 years of work at the ordinary daily wage. It seems there is no debt too large to be forgiven. This man was forgiven. That’s what the kingdom of heaven is like. That’s how God is. This slave, however, refused to forgive his fellow slave 100 denarii, about three months of work at the ordinary daily wage. Too often that’s what our world is like. Frequently, that’s how we are. In that refusal the forgiven slave lost his own forgiveness. So do we. But this shouldn’t be news to us. We know it well. We acknowledge and pray it every Sunday and for most of us we pray it everyday. “Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespass (sin) against us.” We pray those words with ease and familiarity but do we live our prayer? Do our actions support our request? “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.”

That’s a lot of forgiveness but the pain of the world, this country, our homeland and individuals is massive. We need to forgive as much, maybe even more, for ourselves as for the one we forgive. Forgiving those who sin against us is the source and power that begins to heal our wounds. It may not change the one who hurt you but your life will be more alive, more grace-filled, more whole and more God-like for having forgiven someone. Forgiveness creates space for new life. Forgiveness is an act of hopefulness and resurrection for the one who forgives. It’s the healing of our soul and our life. Forgiveness takes us out of the darkness and into light, from death to life. It releases us from the evil of another. It is the refusal to let our future be determined by the past. It’s the letting go of the thoughts, the hatred and the fear that fill us so that we might live and love again.

There is no easy road to forgiveness. Don’t let anyone tell you, “Just give it up to God. Forgive and forget.” That’s a simplistic answer that only demean those who suffer and scratches at the wound. Forgiving another takes time and work. It’s something we must practice every day. It begins with recognition and thanksgiving that we have been forgiven. We are the beneficiaries of the crucified one. Hanging between two thieves Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Lk. 23:34). That is the cry of infinite forgiveness, a cry we are to echo in our own lives, in our families, our work places, our church and in our day to day lives.

Forgiveness doesn’t originate in us. It begins with God. That’s what the slave who refused to forgive didn’t understand. It wasn’t about him. It’s always about God. We don’t choose to forgive. We only choose to share the forgiveness we have already received. Then we choose again, and then again, and then yet again. For most of us forgiveness is a process that we live into. However, sometimes,we just can’t. The pain is too much, the wounds are too raw and the memories too real. On those days we choose not to forgive. Somedays we choose to want to forgive. Then there are those days that all we can do is choose to want forgive again and again. But we choose because that’s the choice Christ made.

How many times must we choose to forgive? How many times have you been hurt and suffered by the actions or words of another? How many times has anger or fear controlled you? How many times has the thought of revenge filled you? How many times have you shuddered at the sight, the name, or the memory of another? How many times have you replayed in your head the argument with another? That’s how many times you choose. With each choosing we move a step closer to forgiveness. A step closer to God. Then one day, God willing, we will meet in Paradise free from all forgiveness and sin.  Jesus said, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” Amen.

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

Compassionate God, your forgiveness is more than we can imagine. Enable us to take hold of the forgiveness you offer and to have the grace to forgive others as we are forgiven. 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

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu

Sydney Marae Alliance Inc

Community Announcement View this email in your browser

Sydney Marae Alliance Inc
GPO Box 365
Sydney NSW 2000
Welcome to Sydney Marae Alliance Inc
Our Aim
The principal aims of SMA shall be:
To provide a cultural precinct to enable members and guests to conduct activities, events and ceremonies.
To co-operate with other relevant organisations, government departments and local bodies in the furtherance of these aims.
To welcome visitors from all cultures in accordance with the principles of tikanga Maori.
To preserve, maintain and continue to develop Maori culture within the context of contemporary Australia.
To provide a venue for educational activities which support and further the development, knowledge and practice of Maori culture in the broadest sense.
To host others activities deemed by the committee to be in keeping with the objectives and interests of SMA.

Community Update
Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, e te ti, e te ta, tena koutou katoa. I te tuatahi ka mihi atu ki te iwi taketake o te rohe nei. Na ko te Darug tera a ratou e nohongia tuatahi.

Hena me mihi kau ana ki a koutou ngā kawaitanga o ngā hau e wha, arā, ngā mātāwaka o Aotearoa, o te ao whānui hoki. Tēna koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

It’s been over three years since SMA last met with our community and we know you have been waiting for news. Since you heard from us last SMA have continued to work with council, the tangata whenua and our many supporters to achieve our collective dream of a place in Sydney to nurture our Maori culture.

In May 2020 SMA had the opportunity to submit an Expression of Interest for the lease of land for the purpose of a Cultural Centre (Whare Wananga).
On Wednesday 2 September 2020 Cumberland Council met in a closed meeting and we are very excited to announce that they have approved to award the lease.

Please join us in giving thanks to all who contributed in this amazing achievement.

The next steps involve Sydney Marae Alliance working with Council to finalise the terms and conditions in the lead up to signing the required documentation.
The SMA Committee and Working Group are also planning our project next steps, community engagement and communication and will keep you informed as our journey progresses.

We will continue to release information as it becomes available, if you have any questions please contact us via email:
Nga mihi,
Archdeacon Kaio Karipa
Sydney Marae Alliance Inc
Copyright © 2020 Sydney Marae Alliance, All rights reserved.

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Christ our Reconciliation!

Jesus Christ our Reconciliation!

Exodus 12: 1-14
Psalm 149
Romans 13: 8-14
Matthew 18: 15-20

‘Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.’ Romans 13: 8

Tena koutou katoa e te whanau o Te Wairua Tapu.

In last week’s gospel, we saw how Jesus told his disciples that to follow him was to take up a cross: to live lives of sacrifice and service to others—to live good lives but not easy lives.

Today, Jesus tells them what they should do when conflict arises in the community. Not just conflict concerning disagreements—but wrongs. Not because he anticipates his church will be a troubled group of people, but because he knows they will simply be a group of people. Jesus knows that even while the church will point to something beyond itself—something greater—it’s still made up of humans. And so it will be bound to the same limitations of any other human institution: there will be conflict. Mistakes will be made and there will be some serious mistakes. There will be huge disagreement, unrest and fractures, ill-will towards each other that inflicts deep hurtful pain. Jesus knew this and the rest of the New Testament writers knew it too. The book of Acts is filled with stories of conflict within the early church. A vast majority of Paul’s letters deal directly with conflict within churches—sometimes the typical, petty “he said, she said”, but at times conflict that would make you think, “Seriously, is this church?” Conflict has been present in the church ever since there’s been a church and even before that. Each of the gospels record infighting between the disciples: right there, sitting at the feet of Jesus and they couldn’t get on.

Christ knows there will be conflict, even in his church. But he tells them how to deal with conflict. Don’t ignore it or sweep it under the carpet, where it can fester or spread. It’s got to be addressed head on. Jesus gives clear and practical instructions on what to do.  Direct communication with the offending party—always face to face. No gossip or back stabbing. One on one to begin with, but if that doesn’t work, then you take someone else with you. And if that doesn’t work, then it comes before the whole church. And if the offending party still won’t budge, only then are they removed from the community. This may sound cold and even a bit harsh—at least for Jesus. Especially when Jesus gathers the children around him; reaches out to the lost and brings everyone into the fold. And yet, even Jesus highlights the importance of accountability in relationships and in community. But each step in this process is focused on restoration for the offender not revenge for the offended. The point is to try and keep that one in the fold so the community remains intact and in harmony but not necessarily at peace.

However, if reconciliation can’t be reached, it doesn’t mean the offending party is simply written off—this is not what Jesus is implying when he says they’ll become like a “Gentile or a tax collector.” Remember, Jesus ate with tax collectors and reached out to Gentiles. They were simply outside the community but always invited in. Exclusion here isn’t the last word. The hope is always that the lost sheep will return. Reconciliation, restoration is always the hope. And this is so different from the world outside the church—where justice not reconciliation is the goal.

I know today’s gospel is tough. It’s a reminder that the church is not some high-minded exclusive thought process. It’s real, practical and hard. Community is hard. Relationships are hard—they are messy, painful and above all fragile—relationships are fragile, maybe even more so in the church. When the church is working as it should, where we are bound together by the deepest bonds there are: the bonds of faith, hope, love and a shared vision for what’s good and right. But this makes it all the more painful when church relationships fall apart. Jesus is clear about this delicate balance within the church, the balance of fragility and power. On the one hand it’s as fragile as human relationships, with our egos and insecurities, but on the other, it’s as powerful as the presence of God in the world. It’s fragile enough that it’s health must be vigorously defended, fragile enough that one offender left unchecked can throw the whole system out of whack, but powerful enough that Christ promises to be present within it wherever two or three are gathered.

But the great mystery of the church, which is the incarnation—that God would take on our human frailty and weakness—our brokenness, that in the end, that can be our strength. Because only people who know they are broken can be healed. What sets the church apart in the world is not that we are holier than everyone else or less likely to fall short or mess things up—God knows that isn’t true as well as we do. The church is set apart because we are aware of our brokenness. When we know how broken we all are, it is then, that we find ourselves ready to be healed. And with our own wounds still mending, we find ourselves ready to wait for, work for and pray for the healing of others. We can’t write anyone else off because we haven’t been written off. And it’s to that extent that we commit ourselves to this kind of healing work within our own walls, our own relationships, that the church—through our very being—proclaims the good news we’ve been given.

The good news Jesus offers isn’t some abstract notion of salvation when we die: it’s the promise of living resurrected lives in the here and now. Lives of redemption and wholeness. Lives once broken that through the power of the Holy Spirit working through a community are repaired. Relationships once torn apart that are restored. Hope once thought to be lost that’s rekindled through acts of grace and mercy and forgiveness—this is the good news; that this kind of resurrected living can happen now among us and in us. Even in you. Amen.

Archdeacon Kaio Karipa

Gracious God, when two or three are gathered in your name you are there. Ever present with your family, the church. Give us grace and maturity when we are in conflict. Help us to listen, to forgive and to live together in mutual love. 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

The Venerable Kaio Karipa
Sydney Maori Anglican Fellowship Church of Te Wairua Tapu