Covenanting together: Bishops’ News, February 2019

Covenanting together: Bishops’ News, February 2019

We are all one in Christ
One in our life together
Praise to God who has created us
Praise to God who has accepted us
Praise to God who sends us into the world.

[From A New Zealand Prayer Book]

Greetings to you all as we begin our 2019 together.

As we have begun January and February, we have experienced the blessing of many occasions where our Diocesan goal this year of leaning in as family has been expressed.  The language of ‘leaning’ depicts our attitude or intention. Are we genuinely trying to build deeper expressions of Christ-centred community? Do we want to live more deeply with each other as the family of God?

As our liturgy expresses above, we are bound to Christ and to one another in love; and we have seen this witnessed already this year by a wide variety of people making fresh commitments to be in community together in a number of ways.

At the annual celebration of the Ratana movement, at the end of January, we were welcomed as the combined churches continued to honour being part of the bigger family of God together. January also witnessed the installation of Reverend Jethro Day as the new Vicar of Petone – with Jethro’s Newtown whanau joining with Petone as one big family, giving their best to each other, and honouring Jethro and his family entering a new season with fresh mission and vision to the Hutt Valley.

We have seen Urban Vision teams pack the Cathedral to begin their year of service to those at the margins of their local communities. We have gathered in prayer with over 50 young adults committing to live deeply in AYM residentials. Both of us have also had the joy of welcoming new people into our homes who have heard God’s call to mission and community in the places where we are planted. And we have seen the Better World gap year programme team launched and the commitment of these young people to explore together what a life of service in mission means.

We know this is just a small number of the people who have begun this year in a conscious committed response to being in covenant together, whether formally or informally.  Our year has also begun with brave, deep discernment amongst godly and faithful saints perceiving how best to steward the Kingdom of God in their neighbourhoods for present and future generations.  What an honour to bare testimony to the 72 years of Gospel community in Avalon Parish and the courage to trust God in a fallow season, for – as May Houston put so well – “the spring yet to come.”

We know it’s not always easy, but what a privilege it is, when we live in such an individualised society, to model a sacrificial way of life in which our identity exists in our being bound together as one people, loved by a good God. What we do – our worship, our discipleship, our commitment to family and mission – flows from our collective identity as Christ’s body.

We encourage you, as the year unfolds, to explore the ways that you can commit to those in your parishes and mission units. One way you might want to do this is through the Lenten Studies programme, which is now available to purchase from the Anglican Centre. Focussing on grace, it is a tool by which you can gather together to explore what it means to be the body of Christ in the midst of a world crying out for God’s generous love.

+Eleanor and +Justin

Photo: Bishop Eleanor joined supporters of NZCMS’s inaugural Better World gap year participants at the programme’s launch, at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul on Waitangi Day this year.