Fresh Hope

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Easter 6 – 22nd May 2022

Growing in Christ with Fresh Hope

I am from a sports mad part of America. Michigan is home to sports franchises that have won the top trophy multiple times. Our teams in baseball, ice hockey, basketball have excelled at one time or another. Our only embarrassment is the Detroit Lions. They are the only team in the NFL that have never been in the Super Bowl. The funny thing about that is the Super Bowl started in the 1960’s. In the 1950’s Detroit’s football team was the winner 3 times in that decade! But I digress…

I know American football—which we call gridiron here—is not everyone’s cup of tea. Many not even be aware of the New Zealand American Football Federation. It all started back in 1978 when family and friends began scrimmaging. Later, training camps were run by Church of Latter Day Saints Elders which led to scrimmages between Auckland and Hamilton.

Those humble beginnings helped form the Metro Lions here in Auckland who often played the Henderson Rangers. By 1982, the North Shore club and South Auckland Raiders joined for an inaugural competition in Blockhouse Bay. (NAFF.co.nz)

I arrived to live in New Zealand in 1991 and began my journey in the Henderson area. I lived within walking distance of Parrs Park and watched the Henderson Rangers train. It made me a bit homesick. The game has expanded even more. We even now have the Papatoetoe Wildcats who are a women’s team playing American gridiron.

Did you know there was a Kiwi Bowl? It is New Zealand’s alternative to America’s Super Bowl. I remember going to North Shore stadium for a Kiwi Bowl. South Auckland Raiders dominated. It was the first time in my life where I watched a gridiron match be halted because a fist-fight broke out between the teams!

One of the greatest grid-iron stories comes from there 1929 Rose Bowl. There was a player named Roy Riegels who would eventually be inducted into the Rose Bowl hall of fame. 

In the 1929 Rose Bowl, the California Golden Bears squared off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and provided one of the most famous plays in college football history. In the second quarter, California player Roy Riegels recovered a fumble, but instead of advancing it, he got confused and began running toward his own end zone. A teammate finally stopped him at the goal line, but the two points Georgia Tech scored following “Wrong Way” Riegels’ mistake proved the winning margin in the game. (Ministry 127)

Our Easter reading through Acts brings us to the Macedonian Call. When Paul the Apostle intended to continue ministry with Semitic peoples, God called him to European. Paul would have become a“Wrong Way” Riegels had it not been for the intervention of the Holy Spirit. The fact that the Gospel is for all the world was being reinforced. Jesus died that whoever believes may have salvation. Fresh Hope is discovered in our readings for today.

As believers of Jesus Christ and members of Christ’s Church, joined together to serve Christ through St Johns Papatoetoe, we grow in Christ with Fresh Hope. Reid & Larson in commenting about the readings wrote: “The journey from Easter to Pentecost opens new dimensions of understanding.” Our readings convey opening of literal dimensions!

The Hope of Divine Guidance

Acts opens the dimension of God communicating directly with us as explained in the Gospel.

John’s gospel reminds us that God’s kingdom begins with our keeping Christ’s words. He emphasises it is more than memorising a set of principles or living by a code of conduct. He states our discipleship must be anchored in love. God’s peace comes to those who love to keep Christ’s words. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit of Christ, is with every believer today. That same spirit that led Paul to change his isolated thinking leads us on the path to humanity’s healing.

In the world of technology there is a new development called Hyper Sonic Sound (HSS). The inventor, Elwood “Woody” Norris, has engineered sound waves to travel like a laser beam for about 150 yards. This allows sounds to be heard by a person in a particular place but not by those immediately around them. You could be listening to music or specific instructions while those standing next to you would be left in total silence. If you move out of the tightly formed path of these unique sound waves you too will be unaware of any noise.

God’s communication with us is very similar to these sound waves. We must be in the right place to hear the Holy Spirit, and when we’re there the message is clear. If we move away from the pathway of His voice we become unaware of the fact that He is communicating with us and we consequently miss the message. (Dr Paul Chappell)

The Hope of Divine Intervention

Revelation opens the dimension of God’s presence coming to humanity as encouraged by the Psalm.

The bible ends with the beautiful vision of humanity’s healing. God’s work is not limited to people but includes the cosmos. New heavens, new earth, and a new Jerusalem all symbolise future healing. The nations will come to God willingly and participate in a morally clean society. The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, will provide the Light for the ideal community.

The Holy Spirit already is showing us and leading us into the fullness of life on this mortal side. God is giving us a preview of how life shall be at its fullest. (Reid & Larson)

The Psalmist sings to inspire all nations to worship God. There is an understanding that God is not God of Jews only but of all peoples. God’s blessing extends to the ends of the earth. It is not limited to a time and place. Humanity’s healing is available through the universal work of God.

Conclusion

Like “wrong way Rigels”, believers make the mistake of thinking they can face the world and even move toward it without adverse consequences. They think that since they are not yet too close, they are fine. But in truth, the direction in which we are pointed tells the story of where we will end up. (Ministry 127)

These two dimensions articulate the “here now” and “not yet” aspect of Christ’s 2nd Advent. He is here now through the Holy Spirit and God’s Kingdom has begun in the hearts and lives of his Church but he is not yet here physically and will return one day and bring God’s Heaven to Earth.

Either way you look at it, we grow in Christ with Fresh Hope.

Published by St Johns Papatoetoe

Presbyterian Church, Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand belonging to Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

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