Greetings post Easter. He is risen……..
I have had a great few weeks – a couple of highlights: the first was the Youth Easter Camp at Feilding. I think most of us agreed it was the best yet. We took 300 young people from around the Diocese. As the Bishop, my highlight was watching our amazing youth leaders work their magic – they were outstanding. Supporting them were “parent help” from others, and these people also worked tirelessly. It was humbling to be part of such a great Team.
Second highlight was the Diocesan Leaders training day on Saturday in Kapiti. Over 160 Leaders gathered, the majority lay people. Reverend Jon Hartley and Nigel Dixon delivered superb input. However what stood out most of all was the sense of Team and excitement across the Diocese. I came away deeply encouraged that as we change and journey into the unknown that we are not alone; that we are surrounded by a great crowd of courageous people who together are responding to God’s call.
In the last Bishop Letter I commented on the difference of call between being a hired servant or a shepherd. I was again reminded of the call to move to being shepherds by the morning Lectionary reading last week:
“15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
John 21: 15-19
In this passage Jesus reinstates Peter after his denial and commissions him as a shepherd. The part though that always speaks to me is verse 18 as Jesus prophecies over Peter the consequence of being a shepherd. In a Western world that is obsessed with accentuating personal freedom, the call to being a shepherd will lead to us losing freedom as we get older; not achieving greater freedom.
As we journey as shepherds the reality is we experience more and more the truth that as we die to ourselves daily our lives are slowly transformed by Jesus. It is not true the longer the journey with Jesus the easier it gets – the longer the journey as shepherds the greater the cost required of us. Why would any of us choose the life of a shepherd? Because one has come who paid that price as a shepherd to us, so out of gratitude we willingly pick up each of our croziers/crosses and follow him.
May I encourage you as shepherds in the Diocese; may I encourage you to continue to love and feed the sheep that God has called you to. Whether it’s our neighbours, prisoners, mental health consumers, our families, youth, work colleagues – all are special to God and need to be constantly reminded that God loves them and offers them abundant life.
Finally I want to thank those of you who supported the work of Oxfam. Jenny’s team and my team (well three of our team!) completed the 100km trail walk. Between our teams and your generosity, I think we raised over $4,000. Well done!
Bishop of Wellington