“I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty.” (Matthew 5:43-47, The Message)
Kia ora whānau, in the name of the risen Christ.
Greetings to you all as summer becomes a distant memory and we bed down into the autumn and winter period.
Our parish leaders have now returned from their time at Rātana for Ministry Leaders’ Family Camp during the Easter holidays, and we hope they have shared some of their experiences with you. As many of us got a taste for the first time of marae life (including sharing the sonorous sounds of collective snoring), we also experienced the deep warmth of manaakitanga given with generosity and humility by the people of Rātana. We heard the stories of T. W. Rātana and his desire to provide a place which all could call home – and we too were invited to consider Rātana Paa our home now, also. This, despite the way which the Rātana Church has been treated by other churches in New Zealand, including our own. That forgiveness has been a conscious choice – not an easy one by any means – but one that the Haahi Rātana is actively living into.
Last weekend we attended the installation of Pihopa Don Tamihere as Archbishop of Tikanga Māori, up in Tairāwhiti. We are deeply compelled by the knowledge that the transformative movement of God in this land has always occurred with and through deep partnership. As the rains fell down during the service, we reflected on the passage quoted above from the Gospel of Matthew – that the rain falls alike on the godly and the ungodly, and alongside that, the promise given in Exodus 3:7 that God has heard the cry of his people. Any transformative movement of God in Aotearoa New Zealand must be a movement of deep reconciliation for which we are all responsible.
At the end of this week we will travel to New Plymouth for General Synod Te Hinota Whānui, where the same principles of the need for collective responsibility for reconciliation and partnership will also be present as we seek God’s will around Motion 29. We are so thankful for all the work that has been done in our diocese to hold good conversations around Motion 29. We ask two things of you as God’s people: firstly, pray. Secondly, this is a time to believe the best and speak the best of each other. From past experience the broader press could well inflame or misrepresent our people. We all have responsibility for believing the best and speaking the best of each other, as we are challenged to do in Jesus’ words from Mathew 5:45.
We leave you with the promise that we are never alone, in the words of a song from the Ngatiawa Song Book:
As the evergreen trees of Tane,
I am with you
I am with you always
Stand fast as autumn cools
For I am with you
I am with you always
+Justin and +Eleanor