Our family gathered for a festival at Saturday’s Team Training Day, and that’s exactly what we got. About 350 of our whānau came to the first of our training events on Saturday the 11th of May, at Wellington’s Samuel Marsden Collegiate School. Of course we all came to learn, but right from the outset, the atmosphere was abuzz with conversations over coffee, friendships made and rekindled, and an excitement about what was a largest array of workshop topics on offer ever seen.
Our MC for the day was Jessie Black, from Blueprint Church, and when she asked in the first session how many under 35s were present, the auditorium exploded with shouts and applause – but not to be outdone, the festive shouts from the youth and young adults were matched by those who had travelled more than an hour to be there, and then again by those who had carpooled to the event. Right from the outset, we knew we were in for a fantastic day.
Following worship, led by St Hilda’s Island Bay, we celebrated the graduation of eight of our family from the Education for Ministry (EfM) programme – one of the discipleship tools used widely in our diocese. Three of the graduates were able to make it, so together with Rev Monty Black, Bishop Eleanor congratulated them for their years of hard work as they learned church history, theology and more – all with a view towards serving us all.
Bishop Eleanor preached on the daily New Testament reading, Ephesians 3:14-21.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
She reiterated that this is our family – Jesus lives in our hearts, and in the hearts of the people all around us, in the auditorium in which we were gathered. She encouraged us to embrace and to contemplate God’s love for us, for the more conscious we are of the breadth and depth of His love for us, the more we experience His divine love – and the more like Him we become. “That’s why we choose to lean in as family,” Bishop Eleanor said, after all, when we embrace such love and understand that we are part of His family, “why wouldn’t you lean in?!”
As we prepared to depart for our first chosen workshop, Bishop Eleanor brought us back to the passage: God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine…. She encouraged us to take that in, as we embraced the learning that was ahead of us for the day.