Over this last month our hearts are particularly full of gratitude for the richness and joy of bearing witness to the gifts of heaven and earth that come together within the lives of God’s people. Beginning with the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our diocese hosted Bishop Stephen Cottrell and the Anglo-Catholic Hui (a huge thank you to our hosting team!), celebrating the mystery of faith and the tangible, earthly friendship and Lordship of Jesus. Mary acts in a very earthly way as te awhiorangi, the one who encircles heaven, literally holding the maker of heaven and earth within her very self. She, in turn, is held by the fullness of God, who is the one who encircles all heaven and earth with the possibility of peace. That holding, includes the capacity to hold her and Christ in the pain and the love that their full humanity experiences.
This holding and encircling is a beautiful testimony of the service into which our Church is called. It was such a privilege to bless the opening of Te Puna Manawa (the Oasis), the new prayer-soaked community centre created in the heart of Naenae shopping mall by St David’s; this is such a tangible expression of this encircling witness. Our AYM leaders are fresh from The Abbey (the national annual gathering of our youth workers, led this year by Rev Scottie Reeve and his team) and continue to bear witness to young lives turned around in fellowship with Jesus – and beating the rest of the country (yes, it was Wellington vs. everyone else) in the annual football game! Following seven full weeks of the AYM Youth Church at the Cathedral, experiencing the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus, a further seven-week series will now begin which focuses on who, then, ‘we are’; heaven and earth eternally being woven together.
On an earthly note, we are aware that many of you will know that I (Ellie) have been unwell. I have had cluster hemiplegic migraines (something that occurred from my head injury many years ago) and after some adverse reactions to medications, good hospital treatment and lots of heart-felt prayer, I am gradually coming right and taking space to recover properly. In the meantime, I (Justin) have become an administrative machine (!) and remain eternally thankful that no paper trail is ever necessary to give your life and obedience to Jesus! In all seriousness, we do sincerely thank you for your compassion and prayers and also for your grace whilst Rebecca is overseas and the Anglican Centre transitions from Karen’s service to Ella’s. We remain deeply thankful for the full body of Christ serving with all the different gifts that edify our heavenly and earthly partnership.
Looking ahead, there are many opportunities to come together to perceive and participate in Jesus’ ongoing renewal of his Church. Following Nelson’s episcopal ordination this weekend, we the have the incredible privilege of being the generation who comes to say amen and bear witness to the ordination of Bishop-Elect Waitohiariki, in our partner Hui Amorangi of Te Upoko O Te Ika (read the invitation here). Then the south of the diocese has the joy of being the ones who travel for family as we come to our Team Training Day hosted in Palmerston North.
This month I (Ellie) was so powerfully moved by the testimony of three young adults from All Saints Palmerston North, who came for baptism. Their’s, and both of our, testimonies is that Jesus really has saved our lives – genuinely here and now, as well as for eternity. Our ongoing prayer to God for us all is that, as the psalmist implores, “restore to us the joy of your salvation and uphold us by your generous spirit” (Psalm, 51:12). May we continue to live more fully as a joyful and generous people, knowing the joyful generosity of God who upholds, encircles and enlivens all things and be a people who both proclaim and bear witness to the truth that Jesus lives within us.
+Eleanor and +Justin
Photo: Te Awhiorangi, a new Takahē chick at Zealandia Ecosanctuary in Wellington.