Bishop's Blog -April

Greetings everyone,
‘We have been conditioned to think that we get to God by first delving more deeply into ourselves whereas the cross says that God gets to us by forcing us to focus upon something other than ourselves.’

This quote comes from William Willimon’s little book ‘Thank God it’s Friday – Encountering the Seven Last Words from the Cross.’ It’s one of the things I decided to take on during Lent this year. Besides making lent alcohol free I wanted to take on some things to help me focus on the reality of Easter. So I got two little books – this one of Willimon’s and a small book by Henri Nouwen, ‘In the Name of Jesus’ that reflects on Christian leadership in the light of the three temptations of Jesus. They have both been profoundly challenging.

And for something completely different I have been listening to Bach’s ‘St John’s Passion.’ Taken all together they have enabled me to retreat from the increasing busyness of ministry which is often the only indicator we use to determine the effectiveness of our ministry – the busier we are, the more we must be achieving. But God is actually calling us to the counter-cultural act of withdrawing from busyness in order to spend time with Him. It’s not really what we want to hear as we wind up for Easter – all the extra planning and preparation.

St Augustine once wrote – almost in contrast to what I quoted from Willimon: ‘And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here...’

Which does remind me that on Maundy Thursday there will be a service at the Cathedral at midday that will be a time to pause and to reaffirm our baptismal vows and (for those who are ordained) our ordination vows. It will be in the context of an informal communion and will also include anointing with oil – a symbolic way of sealing in the vows that we have made.

A couple of weeks ago Hilary and I were in Cobden for the 100th anniversary of the church there. This is a great little parish that is quite unique within the Diocese. It is a small community that has been markedly affected by the decisions successive governments have made that have directly impacted the Coast – the ban on logging native timbers, the closing of coal mines etc. But it is a very resilient community with a fantastic heart. It was wonderful to have the weekend with them.

Please note in your calendars the BTC intensive that is being offered from the 28th April to the 2nd of May on the letter of Paul to the Romans. It will be taught by Rt. Rev Dr Tim Harris. A great way to remain refreshed by on-going study. Details are available from BTC . Also for your calendars is the School of Preaching with Rev Dr Brian Rosner in May. Info & registration details in this Ad Clerum.

A pilgrimage around each Regional Deanery is being planned this year from the 23rd to the 30th November. More details will come out over the next couple of months. This is an initiative to celebrate the bicentenary of the Gospel in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

You will have noticed that the Parish of Stoke is advertising for a Vicar. Phil Greenwood has been Priest-in-Charge through rather a long interregnum and has indicated that he would love to continue. Which is why the advertisement is tagged with the by-line, ‘the incumbent will be applying.’ We’ve taken our lead from the Education Gazettes that advertise all positions in teaching but advises people that there is a candidate waiting in the wings. However, in saying that – it is a genuine vacancy.

While talking about Stoke it is very special to note the engagement of Rev Jonathon Wasley to Lucy Aldridge who is a very active member of the Lutheran Church in the Lower Moutere. Jonathon and Lucy will marry in July.

In the parish of Kaikoura, Kevin Topp has been appointed as Priest-in-Charge during the interregnum. Please pray for Kevin and Sandy especially because they still have a large farm to run.

Rev Joy Bradley has recently moved from Motueka into Stoke. This has been a major change for Joy who has been passionately involved with the life of the Parish of Motueka – and particularly with the Church of St Barnabas in Riwaka. As a non-stipendiary priest, Joy has stepped up to the mark through several interregnums and has been a gift to the parish and to the Diocese. All our love and prayers are with her as she settles into her new home.

And finally this Ad Clerum comes out a month before your representatives head off to General Synod – a Synod which has the potential of changing the face of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia: not by some great commitment to the Great Commission, but by decisions it may make to embrace our community’s changing attitudes toward the whole issue of human sexuality. Please pray for this Synod. Several of us will be attending the pre-Synod gathering in Auckland that has been turned on by Affirm.

Let me finish with a short quote from Henri Nouwen:
‘Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” Jesus sends us out to be shepherds, and Jesus promises a life in which we increasingly have to stretch out our hands and be led to places where we would rather not go. He asks us to move from a concern for relevance to a life of prayer, from worries about popularity to communal and mutual ministry, and from a leadership built on power to a leadership in which we critically discern where God is leading us and our people.’

Have a wonderful and blessed Easter
+Richard

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