Kia ora koutou
I hope you have all had a refreshing break with your families and friends, and managed to find some sun somewhere. Mine was spent with family and good friends up in the outstandingly beautiful Hokianga. Over the holiday period I have been challenged to live actively in joy and gratitude; and this is the framework in which I plan to start 2017.
This period has been full of blessing in terms of the events which have kicked off the year. We had our strongest diocesan family presence yet at New Wine, with many new faces and parishes making the most of the opportunity to be refreshed in worship and teaching, and to bond in the face of adverse weather! The following week saw a group from the Diocese back again at Rātana to continue to strengthen this relationship. And just this weekend past, over 300 of us spent the weekend at Passionfest being inspired around the theme of reconciliation.
Aside from joy and gratitude at the continued strengthening of our diocesan family, the other challenge I feel at this period sits around the line from the Lord’s Prayer: Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
We pray this so often and as with all the liturgy we use regularly we need to be so careful that we really dig deep into what we’re praying. In this line, Jesus tells us to expect the same kind of transformation in the lives of ourselves and others on earth just as in heaven. As his followers, we can have an expectation of the miraculous in our lives, whether for some people you see this as “signs and wonders” or the presence of the steady, ongoing “unseen hand of God”.
We so often think that it’s our job to live our lives to get to heaven, but in this phrase Jesus tells us that as his followers our lives can bring the change that brings heaven to earth. What an amazing joy that is! It’s easy to feel like a rabbit in the headlights at the moment – gazing at our screens at Trump, Brexit, the effects of climate change or any number of local or global challenges and feeling overwhelmed. Psalm 121 reminds us that we need to remember that our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. Are our eyes always looking upwards to heaven? Or can we have a bifocal view that acknowledges that through Jesus, the barriers between heaven and earth have broken down and in his mercy and grace we have the power to be his people who make change in the here and now.
Can I encourage you all to take part in our Lenten Studies programme this year (just $5.00 from the Anglican Centre!) Themed around “Our Transforming God,” this booklet gives us resources to use as individuals, in study groups or as families, to delve deeper into getting to know this amazing God who wishes us all know his ongoing presence and transformation.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Let us re-commit to this orientation as we start the year together.