Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons. These are the twelve He appointed: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means “sons of thunder”), Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. [Mark 3:13-19, NIV]
Greetings whanau and hope you are keeping warm!
At Team Training Day last Saturday in Palmerston North, we preached on our Christ-given task to be family on mission. In the passage above, we see Jesus calling the 12 to be the building blocks in His family on mission, and they are a motley crew that really shouldn’t to the outside eye be commissioned to be together!
Church can feel like this at times and sometimes we are embarrassed about it. But what Jesus models when He chooses His disciples is that church at its fullest should feel like this. A ragtag bunch of individuals with a diverse range of personalities, viewpoints, problems and joys. Jesus gave His followers the authority to go out together in the name of God to declare His freedom – as Mike Pilavachi has noted, He didn’t hold this authority back from Simon, because he was a Zealot, or James and John, with their anger management issues, or Thomas, who struggled to believe Jesus’ promises. What Jesus knew was that being together is a thing in itself. As Christ’s church, we don’t need to pretend to be something we’re not. We don’t need to prove that we have it all together. We just need to be able to name the reality of who we are, and have the courage to continue to be real.
At the end of Team Training Day on Saturday, I (Justin) spoke of going up high places to restore perspective. Moments when we come together in our struggles and joys to be courageous and real with each other are times when we can gain this perspective. The General Synod Roadshows of the last few weeks, Team Training Day, and many other moments bring this into focus. Last Sunday I (Eleanor) confirmed five people at the Cathedral. Each candidate shared with vulnerability and honesty before their parish family the faith journey that had brought them to this point of commitment. This too, is another chance for the Cathedral community to gain height to see the greater perspective.
A dear new friend, the Bishop of Central Newfoundland, the Right Reverend John Watton, wrote this to me (Eleanor) last week:
“God’s gift of togetherness remains a task to be undertaken. This requires spiritual maturity, attention to the virtues and the discipline to the Holy Spirit. This will inevitably draw people into the costly dimension of God’s gift. Sharing in life together, meeting for prayer and counsel, and learning to behold the faces of Christ in worship: all such activities are a cause for great joy and humble recognition of the fragile character of the gift of common life.”
So this month, we leave you with the blessing written for the Parish of Ruapehu, visited a few weeks ago.
+Justin and +Eleanor
May you know the blessing
of high places,
where the air is thin
between heaven and earth
and the clouds of both can
descend upon you;
restoring identity, divine community
May you know the blessing
of high places
where perspective, awe and wonder
come close and you know
that you can touch the mountain
of the living God
May you know the blessing of high places
before you, within you
and beyond you:
and as you walk towards them,
and upon them,
may God guide your feet
Into the way of peace.