I grew up in a rural part of Connecticut, in the northeastern United States. My home town, Plainfield, was small, the population was almost entirely white Europeans, and – as far as those in authority in my life were concerned – everybody was cisgendered and straight.
As was the social norm of the time, when someone we knew was gender non-conforming, we were all expected to act as though that fact didn’t exist. Our parents referred to their gay and lesbian relatives and acquaintances as ‘eccentric,’ and to their life partners as ‘roommates.’
We were indoctrinated to the “fact” that being cisgendered and straight was the one true “lifestyle choice,” in much the same way we were indoctrinated to believe our mainstream Christian sect was the one true religion.
Think back two and half years ago to the day before you heard of Coronavirus breaking out in Wuhan, China. Whatever that was like for you, that was normal. For me, I was a newlywed. I had not even learned what that new normal meant for me yet. I certainly hadn’t anticipated that we would spend most of two and a half years sheltering in place, just the two of us with Waldo for company, discovering what our normal was. So when I hear someone longing for life to return to normal, I’m not sure what their normal is. Perhaps, I should focus on knowing the future instead. Irony, apparently, is my forte.
I would like to give you a peek behind the curtain to see one of the blessings, or possibly curses, of being in my line of work. If you have been doing it as long as I have, it is nearly impossible not to see the world continuously through theological lenses. It is not a conscious decision anymore. It is just my reality and as involuntary as breathing. Nothing I’m doing is exempt from theological reflection. It doesn’t matter if it is reading my Facebook feed, bingeing on Netflix, hearing music in many genres, holding Rachel’s hand, playing peek-a-boo with a grandchild, eating a Macca burger, playing fetch with Waldo, or walking on the beach after a storm. You get my gist. Bloody everything reverberates with theological discernment for me. Everything. It can be exhausting as it feeds my imagination to overflowing.
Usually when I preach in church it’s because I’ve done some homework on a subject and think it might be useful to other people. Today I’m in the opposite situation. I’ve done a survey on Christian karakia. But the problem is more complicated than I realised, so I would appreciate your input before I come to a firm conclusion. As a second step, I would like to take your conclusions to other groups, such as atheists, Jews and Muslims, and then to the government.
Welcome this morning to history. This is the first public celebration of an indigenous peoples’ holiday in the world. Matariki, sometimes referred to as the Maori New Year, has become a celebration for all New Zealanders. It centres on a cluster of stars that in the west were known as The Pleiades or Seven Sisters. They are 410 light years away and are part of the constellation Taurus.
The Maori named them after the brightest of nine stars called Matariki, the mother of the other eight. Each star is honoured for a specific thing.
In November 2021 Clay delivered a service called ‘COP26 Blah, blah, blah‘. He began by saying: Greta Thunberg has been teaching us how to speak truth to power. She has resisted being a token voice used by governments lacking political will and by global companies seeking to monetise efforts to stop killing the planet while doing their best to protect their financial interests in extracting carbon.
Clay’s particular musing prompted 3 of us from the Climate Action Team and the Peace and Social Justice Group to think about our individual responsibilities regarding the Climate Crisis.
We acknowledge that our congregation is knowledgeable about, and care deeply about Climate Change, and that many of us, if not all, will have already begun making positive changes to reduce our carbon emissions.
We are aware that Climate Change is one of the big factors in today’s Mental Health issues, along with Covid and the war in Ukraine. Do contact Clay if you feel a need to talk.
A quick perusal of the internet tells me I should wait for one of the equinoxes, when day and night are equal, to muse on balance and absolutely not when the winter solstice is approaching, but where is the fun in that? When reality is in balance in perfect alignment with my life, where is the challenge? My experience says that when I really need to know how to keep my balance is when my world is dark, nameless, unknown, and infinite. It is my spiritual practice to find light in darkness, name the nameless, accept the unknown, and welcome the infinite.
Forty years ago, this past week, my seminary released me into the world to begin my ordained ministry. In all those years, an Annual General Meeting has never provoked me to preach a musing on one of the discussions held.