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Challenging our faith
I think I got married to me. I think I cut it fun at Sea. I drank tea, real antenna.
We Tena, koutou katoa Kirito. It's a pleasure to be here today and it's particular pleasure to welcome and honor you who've survived the rain this morning to get here. So, congratulations to you and congratulations to our audience at home watching at their own Leisure and pleasure who will probably feel slightly jealous of And no readings in Our Gospel readings. We've been following Jesus talking about this notion of discipleship.
It's not always a pleasant understanding and it's not always a happy Journey.
When we listen to, Jesus talk about discipleship, there's a shadow hanging over. There's difficulty there's challenge, there's change. Coming for the disciples. This isn't the same old. Same old. This isn't going to end in some kind of Glorious, political transformation. This isn't going to end in some economic Revolution where everyone has all that they need.
Jesus is talking with the shadow of the Cross hanging over him. With the challenge of discipleship, he will say to them later, take up your cross and follow me, if you will be my true disciple, there's a challenge.
So nothing comes easily.
And it seems to haunt, or at least seems to hang in the air with the disciples. And so, they say Chun, today's Gospel reading, we need more faith, increase our faith. Surely quite a nice. Simple request you're asking us to do these things in order to do them. We think we need more faith.
Certainly speaks to us in an age of conspicuous consumption. We need a bit of phone. We need a bigger TV. We need a faster car. We need more faith. We need more more more to do the job, that's it. In front of us with more, we can do more as our logic of today. And as the disciples logic of the time, Jesus response is always very challenging to them. You don't need more, you have all that, you need Faith, the size of a mustard, seed will be sufficient for the task set before you that tiny tiny sliver of faith will be enough and not only that you won't get thanked for it. You'll go out there. You'll do this work. You'll come home. You'll do some more work. Well, there's a rewarding path for us. All These are rewarding path for us is always watching the news and the past week I've got to admit, I'm a bit of a News Junkie and I don't mean I wait till 6:00 and I don't read the New Zealand Herald because I don't want to know what the Real Housewives of Auckland are up to at any particular time. Instead I'm addicted to Twitter, it lives in my hand. In fact I can feel my phone in my pocket right now and it's quite hard for me. Not to reach it out and see what's happening. Might be something important going on in the world.
I thought tweeted a photo of us just before we started the Precision.
I'm always on Twitter and it's an intelligent crowd and I wouldn't underestimate the level of conversation, the level of discussion, the level of informed discussion happening on there, but it means you're always kind of hooked into various debates happening.
It's a great distraction if you've got work to do as well at University oh I sure I could do that. I could do that marking or I could just look at my phone. I know which one I prefer to do on a regular basis.
But in the past week, I've found a news overwhelming.
We've had this news coming from America, we've got Donald Trump. And of course, I watched the debate, because what else am I going to do with an hour and a half of my life, something productive? I don't think so. I watched Donald Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debate for an hour and a half.
Donald Trump can be entertaining in a way. A guy who might get his hands on a nuclear weapon soon can be entertaining. Donald Trump can be ridiculous. Donald Trump can be a show. Donald Donald Trump can be what I perceive America. To be all those things. Dangerous exciting, interesting, entertaining scary.
But Donald Trump is underpinned by this biggest. Since Donald Trump also represents racism.
Donald Trump got his start in politics by questioning the validity of Barack Obama's presidency by saying actually he was born in Kenya and that was a dog whistle, right there. Wasn't just about Kenya that was about the first black. President is not legitimate to rule. It was questioning his status as president as ruler was questioning his status as a Make it wasn't a coincidence. That got a lot of traction, with the first black man. It wasn't a coincidence.
I got a lot of support for a ridiculous notion, also that he might be Muslim. Not that that would be a bad thing per se but you know, it undermines and discreet. It's him and his leadership. Got a lot of traction. Over half of were registered Republicans in the United States today. Believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
despite much evidence to the to the contrary, And of course we get the usual racism coming. I'm it's that. And of course, we have issues again this week about black people being shot by police. It's averaging. Now, for black men are weaker being shot by police in the United States and homicide is still the biggest killer of young black men in the United States.
So there's Trump and there's race and you know, you can deal with that. You might be able to deal with it if you live here in New Zealand. But we had more, there was more people. There was this thing called Hobson's pledge. Also sprung up last week, this is Don Brash. Don Brash. His father was the moderator of the Presbyterian Church. Holy a well and certainly any communicable leader, but Don Brash himself is quite disappointing.
And I think that Apple fell a long way from the tree.
Don Brash in 2004, when he was leader of the National Party are delivered. A speech about race in New Zealand, where he outlined some really old arguments about Marty privilege. That Marty have a constitutionally privileged place in society.
It was dog whistling again. It was appealing to racism and it was extremely effective. He almost took National from having no chance in Election to winning the election. Wasn't so much about Don Brash. It was about the support. He got. That was the terrifying part in 2004 and I know because I was ministering, in a mighty community at the time and there was a sense of a palpable sense of fear amongst our martyred Community just when we thought we got past the worst of New Zealand's history. It came recent back and reminded us that it hadn't gone anywhere and it just had a nap for a while and woke up and that it's terrible thing again and now he's trying to play that card again. He pulled up in a clown car this week called Hobson's pledge and all these clowns jumped out of the car and started going on about Marty privilege again. There is no basis to their argument. I have a PhD in history. I'm willing to bet my credibility against there's any day that their arguments cannot be backed up by fat.
But their arguments do get. A lot of support, your arguments, create an atmosphere of hate and fear and there's a modded makes for difficult week.
A very difficult week.
And that wasn't all Donald. Trump's here is representative of Donald Trump. Donald Trump's here is the tip of the Donald Trump Iceberg. What you see with us here represents a lot about Donald Trump.
The scary thing is, Donald Trump himself is only the tip of an iceberg. Donald Trump is only the part.
You can see of race in America and Don Brash is only that part, you can see about racism here and I'll kill do in New Zealand because like an iceberg, the vast bulk of it is underwater and can't be seen.
So the other part of the news this week was about Marty education and the huge failure of Marty education.
And the way that Mighty education as being hidden as being swept under, the institutional carpet is being made to look successful. So Pass rates have gone from terrible. Marty boys, were leaving school over half a mighty boys, were leaving school with no qualifications five or six years ago, that's rapidly changed. Now, Marty boys are leaving school with qualifications but it turns out these qualifications are bogus the leaving school qualified to make filtered coffee and clean toilets. They have been put through this educational system, which is an education. It's just filling time. The worst part of this system is, it's removing the choice and the opportunity of young Maori to participate fully in New Zealand life. It's removing their ability. I teach at University and all claim University as a gated community.
It keeps out the riffraff and NCI is helping. Then we don't want to be polluted by people who struggle to learn. Thank you, we need to maintain our place and the top 100 in the world and blah blah blah. So they're being kept out of University. They won't be participating in the elite ranks of New Zealand Society.
These young, Marty people in huge numbers, The terrifying part about that is it means 50 years from now, we will be harvesting that harvest. The fruits of that Harvest will be coming through in educational failure for generations to come That's a terrifying future for New Zealand. So I had Donald Trump but you know maybe you can handle especially from a distance. I had Don Brash. Well again you know, it's a clown car.
But under the surface, it's far more terrifying and we could just go and read stuff online and look at the story that I've just done about New Zealand crime statistics in the past, 10 years there, an extra half million arrests of Marty people more than they needed to be half a million extra arrests based on racial bias by the police.
So it makes you want to give up, doesn't it? They might you want to think about faith is in, oh well let's go. Praise the Lord, let's go give thanks let's go. Glorify our creation. Let's go and think happy thoughts or it makes you want to kill up in a ball and give up because the challenges just overwhelming the challenge is unfixable, the challenges scaled up and so old.
The challenge goes back decades. If not centuries, surely if there was going to be a solution that be won by, now I give up.
I give up, or I think about today's reading, I think about what Jesus is saying to us about being his followers about discipleship.
I think about Jesus saying that Faith the size of a mustard seed is enough. And I think about where we get our inspiration from from our mothers, from our grandmother's, from our history from those around us, we do we get these moments of faith. We do, we get enough understanding to believe that Faith. The size of a mustard seed is going to be sufficient.
I have a few short models to share with you. That give me hope.
One is the size of a hashtag. Hashtag is a thing on a keyboard. Look it up. If you have not familiar with the hashtag, this hashtag is called hashtag black lives matter. It's a movement of African-Americans and the allies of the United States. It's very recent, it's really, an alliance of those who haven't been included in the liberal. Left those who aren't included in the Democratic party, those who aren't included in church Circles the LGBT movements, all those on the fringes, are those included in Black lives matter and they're offering a challenge a substantial challenge to race in America. You should look that up the small the size of a hashtag, they had no power and yet, they're very powerful and they're making change another model as Martin Luther King Junior.
He was arrested in 1963 and he's sitting in his prison cell and Birmingham, Alabama, in horrible conditions and he writes a letter, nothing's more than a prison cell, nothing more confined than a prison cell and he writes a letter demanding. Talking about a need for change in society. And in their communities, he pushes for this change. Again, tiny things, right Faith, the side of him size of a mustard seed, and he said, Have to have changed. We have to make change happen and we have to have changed now.
And we still that message still resonates with us today. So from very small to very big. And my last example, I think about as putty hukka The men of putty Hawker, were arrested for resisting. The confiscation of the land and the 1870s. There were sent away to prison. Prison mentality Eagle imprisonment in the South Island. They were locked in these tiny cells and caves in places like Dunedin in the freezing, cold of winter. And there are these tiny caves and in these cells and the Darkness. They sung songs of Faith and Hope and liberation.
And I survived in the community survived and on the fifth of November every year. We celebrate and commemorate, the invasion of putty haka But these are examples, right? Of Faith, the size of a mustard seed. These are examples of very small, very disempowered. People coming together and making change. And if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me.
Because God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. And I won't let myself be overwhelmed by the scale of Oppression and Injustice that I see. Because I remember no matter how small my faith might feel at the time, because of circumstances, because of what I'm seeing on my phone. I remember that Christ tells me that it's sufficient and in small actions, A tiny action. That's how we vote a tiny action is how we hashtag. A tiny action is how we have conversations with our far. No and with our friends at tiny action is how we pray quietly and alone for Change and transformation.
That Mustard Seed of faith is sufficient for all that we need. I leave us with those words it'll make them on tatsuo mitama why I wrote a poem