But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Kia ora whānau and greetings to you all in the name of our risen Saviour.
This Easter period has been full of the most wonderful blessings and it’s a joy and a delight to share them with you as we continue into our festival period of celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.
Our prayer over the Lenten period has been that God would unify us, renew His church in love through us, and here are some ways which I believe we have seen answer to this prayer in recent weeks:
Firstly, we now have our Bishop-elect Eleanor Sanderson in place to lead us into the next phase of our journey together. This is a great example of being able to use the inherited systems and structures of our synodical structure to provide adaptable, flexible leadership. Please continue to hold Ellie, Tim, Zac and Joe in your prayers over the coming weeks. We look forward to her installation on Friday 2 June; the weekend of Pentecost. All are welcome to the party!
Secondly, over Palm Sunday weekend the parish of St David’s Naenae occupied vacant Housing New Zealand land opposite the church to highlight the desperate need for quality social housing in the suburb. They were joined by a sister protest in Cannon’s Creek by the team from St Anne’s, Porirua. The protest drew hundreds of people along to show their support and share their stories of the current housing crisis. By the following Wednesday, it was interesting to see the Labour Party’s announcement of 400 new Hutt Valley houses should they be elected in September. To my mind, this is a clear example of protest for social justice in the name of Jesus effecting societal change. Keep an eye out for further electoral forums in planning with our Anglican and Catholic Dioceses on this issue.
Just this weekend, hundreds of our young people attended Easter Camp in Feilding. For many young people, festival events like this are pivotal points in their faith journeys. Our youth leaders have reported numbers of young people finding family together and most importantly experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit and giving their lives to Jesus either afresh or for the first time. All this, and in a sea of mud! Please keep these young people in your prayers as they begin their faith journeys: pray for the right people to be around them to bring them in to a deeper sense of Christ’s family.
While there, I met Amlaku Teshome, visiting from Ethiopia. Amlaku is out in New Zealand with Ric Foxley of the Parish of Pohangina. Amlaku and Ric met each other in 2009 when Ric visited Ethiopia, and after hearing of Amlaku’s story, established Bricks for Life – firstly to help Amlaku to study for an agricultural science degree – and then to support Amlaku’s vision of designing a canal-based irrigation system for the fields of his village, which now along with a grain mill and new water tank provides sustainable food and income for the local population. This is such a beautiful example of the marriage of skills and resources resulting in a beautiful relationship which is transformative for both parties and for the wider communities involved.
Our God is a generous God; rich in abundant love and provision. Through His Spirit, our people are living out His transformation – in their local faith communities and wider afield with those they have come into contact with. Let’s keep praying together that the seeds that have been sown are nurtured and bear fruit of their own.