Sunday    16th August   | Sermon

Nurturing  Relationships 

Readings:   Genesis 45:1-15. 
                  Matthew 5:21-28.

As we live life, we encounter many different people, within our whanau, our peer groups our communities and society. We are encouraged to welcome each other, to love all and be a good person to those around us. Some of our relationships need more work to develop a good rapport. Others we are naturally drawn towards and we click straight away.  This of course works both ways, people will be drawn towards us because of our personality our work, our humour and others will be chased away by the same qualities.  
As Christians we are called to love one another both our friends and our enemies. Not asking much ……. Is it? …….
How are we to nurture our relationships, are we to nurture all our relationships? Nurture, cultivate, develop, :  it doesn’t mean to stagnate or stay as it is. Nurture means to care for, respond positively so that the best will come from the relationship. 

Not always easy to do. From Genesis we examine sibling relationships Joseph and his brothers. We could say today, a blended family but not quite. They have the same father and different mothers, half brothers. There are similar examples in the 21st century. 
There was jealousy and anger among the siblings. Joseph was Jacobs favourite son, there was no hiding it. It was plain for all to see and Jacob their Dad was by no way remiss in showing his favouritism. We all have family friction or experiences, issues within our siblings or our family members. It is evident in all families. 
We grow up with our siblings and can be so close and think that nothing will come between us, but we grow and choose different paths to take in life. Some we stay in contact with and others just naturally do their own thing and are hardly ever in touch. 

Tau and I watch a few Homicide series, on TV, light entertainment. We know enough to know and by watching these programmes that our childhood or the way we are brought up by our families, plays a large part in the type of people that we become.  

Joseph, was mistreated, abused beaten up and sold to merchants, by his own brothers. This seems inconceivable to some of us, but surely similar atrocities are happening still today, within families. 
Years later we hear that due to the famine Joseph’s brothers came looking for food as instructed by their Dad. Little did they know that it was their brother who was giving them the grain. It was the brother they had hated as he was their Dads favourite son. You know the story, Joseph forgives them, doesn’t blame them, is not focussed on what they did in the past to him. Joseph was overjoyed to see them all, he cries over them and finally welcomes them with  love, tears and joy. 

We are to be like Joseph, we are to forgive those who sin against us our blood brothers and sisters and everyone else. God is no respecter of persons, what we do to one we should do to all. It is not about forgiving this one because they are closer to us or we are tight, no we forgive all. This is God’s love for you and I as his children. This is one way of showing God’s grace to the world we live in. 
Stay in touch with your siblings, your cousins, show them you love them, make sure they know you love them. Tell them you love them, if it’s never been said then try it. Joseph doesn’t blame his brothers, he says that God planned this so that they could have food during the famine. It was part of the big Plan.
Be careful how we speak to each other . Proverbs 15:1 “ a gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” ………wise advice. 

Sometimes it’s best not to respond , just be calm about it and listen. It takes a lot of courage and self will to be able to do that, but we must do it. The relationship is important, nurture it as you would if you were speaking with Jesus Christ.

Joseph nurtures the relationships with his brothers, he was hospitable and loving caring and forgiving. 
Know that each relationship you have with another is important, it may be just smiling at someone. That’s how we nurture relationships, by being true and honest to yourself and to the Love of God within you. Our parents, our uncle and aunties, our neighbours, our children, grandchildren doctor and dentist, everyone. 
We should nurture these relationships as we would nurture our relationship with the Lord. 
What is our relationship with God like church?

 I wish to use the gospel reading as an example of how our relationship with the Lord could be. First of all “God is less interested or impressed by what we do for him than he is in forging a personal relationship with us, where we talk with him seek his advice and enjoy his company.” B Winslade The Essence,  207. 
This is exactly what the Canaanite woman did with Jesus. She pleaded with him and the disciples, twice Jesus rejects her, he is not keen to nurture the relationship because she is not an Israelite and Jesus tells her straight. She persists however and Jesus replies, calling her a dog. This woman is not put off by what the master has said, but wanting to grow their relationship and not wanting to end the relationship there ,she carries on his story and says that even the dogs need to be fed from the crumbs that fall from the masters table. 

The relationship is nurtured by questioning and heckling and in the end she is acknowledged by Jesus as a woman of great faith. Where is our faith today church? 

Our relationship with God is founded on speaking with him daily every minute of the day, reading the word of God and just spending time with the Lord. Just as you spend time with your children your husband, wife , your friend, partner. Spend time with the Lord. Enquire & test what has been said in the word of God. That is nurturing the relationship. Home groups are very good for this discussing the word and hearing different interpretations. 

You come with your world views and I come with mine, when we read the same verse we will interpret it differently, that is bound to happen, because we have different world views.  As a theologian someone who has studied God and the word of God, the context in which the words were written are very significant when interpreting.  

Last week was a very tiring week for Tau and I. why? we travelled to Auckland and back 3 times, crazy I thought. Firstly on Tuesday for a funeral, then on Wednesday after moving to Alert Level 2 suddenly, to pick up our son as his school in Auckland closed. The third time, was to pick up our son who had finished his 14 days quarantine in Auckland after returning from the States. ……. 
Before this we had decided to refrain from doing one dayers to Auckland as we would suffer the consequences later in the week.  Crazy, but on meditation and preparing for this message,  I  enjoyed just sitting in the car beside him , he always drives, he doesn’t trust my driving……. Apart from being in the same office, doing our own work, for me to be with him for 3 hours in the car , talking , singing listening to music, I actually felt a bit closer to him by the end  of the week. I appreciated him more.

When we don’t take the time to nurture our relationships we grow apart.  Draw near to God and he will draw near to you James 4;8
I’d like to conclude with the psalm that we started with Psalm 133 (read it), yes it is good and pleasant to come together in unity as we are doing now we come together in Christ. Christ is our strength Christ is our cornerstone, Christ is our friend and will never leave you and I, especially in times of need. As we go through this pandemic and experience the second wave, Christ is with us. 
James L Mays says that in services of Christian unity, psalm 133 is a witness that God is at work, building a family that transcends all the given and instituted barriers that separate and diminish life. Interpretation: Psalms, James L. Mays p414.


Rev Alisa Lasi