What a great weekend! We just had Ministry Conference where leaders from across the Diocese gathered. We invited partners and children, and over 250 gathered at El Rancho in Waikanae.
We were blessed with great Bible Studies from Reverend Dr Peter Carrell, phenomenal keynotes from our very own Chancellor Tony Hill, National Youth Advisor Phil Trotter and StraNdZ Enabler Diana Langdon. The workshop programme was dynamic – a favourite being Reverend Alister Hendery’s on After the Funeral: Caring for the Bereaved. A team of people worked with our children to make sure they had an amazing time, and Jane Wilkinson and Roger Wigglesworth ran a great spouses of leaders’ afternoon. I was humbled by how gifted the Diocese family really is when gathered.
I personally enjoyed the event as I could relax and just enjoy the journey – so many rich conversations. I played a card game, “Dixit”, with the children. Although disappointed that I didn’t win, I appreciated that I was playing with some very sharp players! I also enjoyed hanging with our St John’s students as they mingled and served over the weekend. It makes me realise that we have gifted leaders coming through in time to pass the baton on. It was great to gather as a wider family.
I was reflecting over the weekend about how often we struggle to embrace the idea of being family whether that’s across our parishes, clusters or Diocese. I think that we often struggle to be family together because we feel we personally are poor cousins to somebody else in the family. In reflection I wonder if this is reinforced by our wider cultural narrative of scarcity: that we are competing for a limited amount of resources so if you receive a blessing then that’s one less blessing for me.
My understanding as a follower of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is not a narrative of scarcity but abundance. In the Kingdom of God I can celebrate your good fortune and blessings without feeling like I may miss out as there is more than enough for us all. As a member of God’s family I choose to believe that Jesus has come to give all abundant life. I can trust in God’s goodness more than our societal myth of scarcity.
Within our parishes, let’s choose to be family. Let’s choose to not create a “them” and “us”. Instead let’s realise that God has enough blessings to go round. Also, when we see a part of our family prospering and we are not yet; let’s thank God for His goodness instead of feeling resentful that we might be missing out.
I can’t help remembering the attitude of the older son in the parable of the prodigal son. The older son resented God’s grace on the wayward younger son.
Let’s celebrate God’s grace for each other – I certainly need His grace daily.
Bishop of Wellington