Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV]
Greetings whānau; it’s good to be home after such a long period away. As many of you will know, I have been in the UK since Christmas, enjoying the chance to catch up with family, and at the end of this time, attending the school for new bishops run from Canterbury. This involved training sessions and orientation, including a martyrs’ pilgrimage in Canterbury Cathedral, and Eucharist with Archbishop Justin Welby. This was an intense ten days of learning, reflection and the development of new friendships with colleagues from around the Anglican Communion.
I would like to bring you back words of encouragement for each of us as members of the bigger picture of our Diocesan family. My overarching take-home message from my time in Canterbury is that we need to keep running the race set before us. With God’s grace, we are doing so well. As a Diocesan family many of us have firmly taken up the mantle of being a sent people, and are already busy answering and enacting solutions to the hard questions around mission and discipleship that the rest of the communion are often only just beginning to ask. So be encouraged, and take heart!
Bishop Justin and I have just begun our new season of new community shared life, and as we step out in risk, trust and obedience, I am heartened by the example of one of my new colleagues, the Bishop of the Diocese of Niassa in Mozambique, Vicente Msoso. He shared with us the story of his first weekend as Bishop, in which he visited a part of his Diocese where he knew there was the opportunity of fresh mission. The priest he met there to accompany him gave him many reasons why he shouldn’t go – but his response was that it is better that we fail trying, rather than we fail to try.
Last week, on retreat with our senior leaders, Bishop Justin spoke around the need for all of us to confront areas of idolatry. Part of answering those hard questions means we need to ask for God’s grace to reveal within us areas of our own idolatry; knowing that we are always the answer, and we always need that ongoing internal transformation that God is so keen to give us when we ask.
Can I encourage all of you to take up the opportunity of doing our Lenten study booklets this season; ideally in a group with others, and I look forward to the opportunity of catching up with you at one of our Chrism services in the lead-up to Holy Week, as we take the chance to re-affirm our calling as Sent People in this place.