Bishops’ News

Greetings whānau,

We hope that your Lent is proving a fruitful time of drawing closer to the God who always seeks to draw near to us.

This week we have released to parish leaders our Infectious Disease Policy in relation to the spread of the coronavirus, and wanted to write our Bishops’ News alongside that procedural document. 

For many across our globe, and in all manner of walks of life, fear is an emotion which has a frequent presence. In our scriptures too we read that God’s people often faced these moments – fleeing the Egyptian armies, crossing the Red Sea, facing the Philistine army, the Babylonian exile, the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the persecution of the early Church. And not to mention the death of our loving Saviour who knew what it meant to not know what came next.

Whatever we face in our present age – whether it’s coronavirus, climate change, acts of terrorism, or something else – when we say that our God is big, this doesn’t minimise danger, but instead we maximise God’s promise never to leave or forsake us. We choose to step into a posture of confidence in God’s covenant with us.

What does this mean for how our movement of Jesus people responds to this present issue? Yes, we have protocols, and we encourage you to make yourself familiar with these in our own contexts. And as a community of faith, we must be known to be driven by hope and not fear. Here are two postures which we hope you will be able to adopt in your own contexts to best suit the contexts of your households and faith communities:

  1. The posture of staying connected – what does it look like to ensure we know what each other’s needs are and stay up to date?
  2. The posture of being a people who offer care even beyond our communities of faith – how do we speak and act the peace of Christ into a fearful world?

We are reminded of the Michael Leunig poem:

There are only two feelings.
Love and fear.
There are only two languages.
Love and fear.
There are only two activities.
Love and fear.
There are only two motives,
two procedures, two frameworks,
two results.
Love and fear.
Love and fear.

However we choose to respond, our motivation should always be love, and not fear. We encourage you to pray together about how the two postures above could be adopted in your contexts.

Finally, we leave you with a story from the village of Eyam in Derbyshire, near to my (+Ellie’s) childhood home. As an outbreak of plague swept across in England in 1666, Eyam’s vicar worked across boundaries of religious division and dissent and was able to persuade the entire village to quarantine itself when it became clear plague had arrived there – and is believed to have saved the lives of hundreds of others through this act of self-sacrificing leadership. We are not suggesting in any way that we face an epidemic of such catastrophic proportions, but as Jesus people we are uniquely placed at all times to bring startling examples of God’s love and peace into a world which often feeds on fear.

+Justin and +Eleanor