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Vicar's Blog

21 April

 

Our Parish review from the Diocese will be happening in early May.  As well as looking at buildings and assets as per the motion at the Annual General Meeting, they will look at finances, mission and vision documents such as ‘Going Deeper’ and the Vison Day feedback from last year.  While reviewers will have been briefed on the review agenda they will also hold interviews with key parish leaders – vestry, some clergy and staff as well as a few others chosen by vestry.  This will happen on Mon 2nd - Tues 3rd May.  This is to hear the stories, to listen to a wide range of voices and to discern what God is saying.  If this were not significantly important to the culture, health and wellbeing of a parish they would simply just review the documents.  The aim of the process is to map where our parish is, and the trajectory we are heading on currently, in order to evaluate any changes or help that might be needed to keep us in good health.  This will be done through honest reflection, listening to God and each other and sharing our stories and aspirations.  Be encouraged that is review is taking place soon, and is a very robust process using our AGM motion as a foundation to look at all aspects of parish life.  Bishop Justin says about this process...

 

“The aim of the Review Process is to help parishes to be the best that they can be within their own unique geographic areas and skillsets.  It is designed to help you reflect and recognise and build upon areas of success, and review and give input on areas for growth.  As a parish it provides an important opportunity to learn and grow together.  The members of the Review Process have been selected for their experience and expertise in review and change management and I trust that you will benefit from their guidance and leadership.  Please make the most of all they have to offer.”

 

You can also have your say for the review process, attached is a document with four questions, would you    consider filling these out and dropping them into the office mailbox by the latest of 1st May in an envelope marked ‘Parish   review team’.  We will print copies of this and make them available over the next few Sundays.

 

After all this information is gathered, the team will write some recommendations for the parish and share these with Vestry at our June meeting, which will then be discussed and fed back to the parish.

 

 

The week after the parish review is the week leading up to Pentecost and the Church of England is running a prayer campaign called: ‘thy kingdom come’ to call the Church to a time of prayer and renewal.  I        recommend looking at this website and watching the video of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York speaking about this. (http://thykingdom.co.uk/). 

 

I would like to invite us as a church to enter into this week of prayer. We will pray individually and    corporately during this week.  There is an online booklet for prayer you can use in this time (http://static1.squarespace.com/static/56b9ce5c62cd94713368513b/t/56f10d0822482e72750351f8/1458638106158/Nice+Days+of+Prayer_Pocket+Prayer+2016.pdf) and together we will pray in each church:

 

Tuesday 10th May @ St Andrews, Plimmerton – 8:30am Morning Prayer

Wednesday 11th May - @ St Marks, Pukerua Bay– 7pm Night Prayer (with Vestry)

Thursday 12th May @ St Philips, Paremata – 7pm Night Prayer

Friday 13th May @ St Albans, Pauatahanui – 12:00 Midday Prayer

 

These times will be beacon events, time to pray together using our liturgy but also using space and silence to pray for our future and our parish.  They are all different times so everyone can make at least one slot.

 

 

26 November

 

In our recent vision day we had some feedback from parishioners asking for help how to read the bible and how to grow in faith outside of Sundays. In particular we heard that you need: “Guidance for private study….to learn more about the bible….and to be resourced and equipped beyond Sunday.”

 

This week we start Advent and the beginning of the church year. I would like to recommend a book to aid you in reading the bible each day for the next year. The readings follow the Morning Prayer from the lectionary and have some commentary and a short prayer each day. Something you can do over breakfast, on the train on the way to work or before you go to bed at night or any time and any place that suits!

 

The link for this book is below if you would like to buy one for yourself, Ange and I have done this, so why not read with us? The book is around $40 or $20 if you download it for your phone / I pad.


http://www.bookdepository.com/Reflections-for-Daily-Prayer-Gillian-Cooper-Malcolm-Guite-Peter-Graystone-Emm-Ineson-Mary-Gregory-Andrew-Davison-Rosalind-Brown-Steven-Croft-Maggi-Dawn-Paul-Gooder/9780715144572

 

Happy reading! 

 

 

19 November

 

The apostle Paul in Philippians says our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

 

This Sunday we celebrate the 10th anniversary of Prayers and Squares at the 9:30 service in Plimmerton; as we do so we come with an attitude of thankfulness for prayer. That in prayer we are welcomed home to the heart of God, welcome to come just as we are. Through prayer God changes us, keeps us humble, hopeful and holy. In prayer our attitudes are transformed on a daily basis to be like Christ. Attitude has been summed up by one teacher on leadership:

 

“It is the advancement of our true selves.

Its roots are inward, but its fruit is outward.

It is our best friend or our worst enemy.

It is more honest and more consistent than our words.

It is an outward look based on past experiences.

It is a thing which draws people to us or repels them.

It is never content until it is expressed.

It is the librarian of our past.

It is the speaker of our present.

It is the prophet of our future.”

 

As we celebrate this parish milestone let us have an attitude of thankfulness that God is active in our lives and invites us to pray and to bring prayer to others.Today may you let the Holy Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.

 

 

12 November

 

This Sunday is St Andrews Day and as previously advertised we have a fish and chip supper after the 5pm service. (Andrew, a disciple of Jesus was a fisherman after all). Please can you bring cash with you to the service, at the beginning we will phone through the order and then pick up to eat at 6pm. For ease, please bring correct cash with you or as near as you can get, the menu is:

 

Battered fish - 3.50
Scoop of chips 4.00
Hotdog - 2.50
Gluten free fish - 4.50

 

Clare has briefed the fish and chip shop so we are good to go! If you would like to join us at 6pm and bring your own fish and chips from elsewhere please feel free to do so. This eating together is about being a church family as we celebrate St Andrew, we celebrate 99 years of the church being in Plimmerton, what better way to do so than by worship and a shared meal with good old fish and chips!

 

22 October

 

On Sunday night we had a packing service for the ‘Operation Christmas Child’ shoebox campaign, pictured are some of the packers at the Our Place service. In the morning service at St. Albans we were joined by Jo Gibson, regional co-ordinator for Operation Christmas Child who shared about the boxes and how 1 in 5 unlocks the potential to work alongside communities in other areas such as water, sanitation and hygiene projects. So donating a shoe box is actually much more than just a box! As I write we have so far got 60-70 boxes to send off which doubles last year’s effort, which is phenomenal. The wonderful thing about this years approached has been the co-ordinated nature of a whole parish approach with boxes from all of our congregations coming together to be sent as one parish, united as family in serving the last, the least and the lost! Well done and thankyou for your contribution to this outreach.

 

15 October

On Saturday we enjoyed a parish visioning day, as we began the day in the church we looked at an image of the Lords supper.

 

As we focused on the picture we asked what we noticed about it and then thought where we would be in the picture and why. We also asked: Who is at the table? Who is serving? What are the disciples saying around the table? What are their hopes and dreams? What is Jesus saying to them? The picture gave us great focus as we thought what it means to be family, to be disciples and to serve the last, the lost and the least. We had some wonderful discussion groups around these themes and vestry have now started the process of unpacking our responses. Please hold Vestry in your prayers and they start this discerning work.

 

This Sunday we have several special services going in. In Plimmerton at the 9:30 we welcome by baptism Isla Kirrane to our church family and at the 11am service in Pauatahanui we will be joined by Jo Gibson who will be talking about the Samaritans Purse Christmas shoe boxes and there will be boxes to take away and fill. Then at the Our Place 5pm we have our service that will focus on the shoe boxes and packing them all up and blessing them followed by a shared dinner afterwards, so please bring a plate to share as we worship and eat together.

 

 

1 October

 

On Sunday in my sermon in Plimmerton I shared about the importance of bible reading and prayer, we looked at the book of Esther and the lessons that has for us today in terms of God being at work in the world and living in times that are opulent and excessive and how as a church we live in not too dissimilar times; in a culture that thirsts for more and the bigger the bank balance the more successful the person. We learn from history what kept people focused on God when they lived in cultures and under regimes that were oppressive. One such example I shared on Sunday was from the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who lived under the Nazi’s and I shared a letter he wrote in 1936 to his brother-in-law about reading the bible. It is a beautiful summation of why we should read the bible, not just on Sundays, but every day to align our lives with God’s story and God’s love for us, he said, “One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books. One must be prepared really to enquire of it. Only thus will it reveal itself… God speaks to us. And one cannot simply think about God in one’s own strength, one has to enquire of him. Only if we seek him, will he answer us. Of course it is also possible to read the Bible like any other book, that is to say from the point of view of textual criticism, etc.; there is nothing to be said against that. Only that that is not the method which will reveal to us the heart of the Bible, but only the surface, just as we do not grasp the words of someone we love by taking them to bits, but by simply receiving them, so that for days they go on lingering in our minds, simply because they are the words of a person we love; and just as these words reveal more and more of the person who said them as we go on, like Mary, “pondering them in our heart,” so it will be with the words of the Bible….And I would like to tell you now quite personally: since I have learnt to read the Bible in this way – and this has not been for so very long – it becomes every day more wonderful to me. I read it in the morning and the evening, often during the day as well, and every day I consider a text which I have chosen for the whole week, and try to sink deeply into it, so as really to hear what it is saying. I know that without this I could not live properly any longer.”

 

May we too be inspired that the bible becomes ever more wonderful to us each day.

 

 

24 September

 

I read in my bible study notes today that,  "The bible is one long invitation to come to God. In the opening chapters of Genesis, after Adam’s rejection of God’s perfect plan, God calls to Adam with an anguished cry, full of both love and anger, ‘Where are you?’ The book of Revelation ends with the invitation from the Spirit and bride who say ‘Come!’ Jesus often invited people, come to me…come to the wedding banquet…come to me and drink."

 

We are always being invited into something larger than ourselves, God’s salvation story and God’s kingdom here on earth of which we are a part. The church on the 10th October is having a vision day where again there is another invitation to be a part of what God is doing in our church. We have a set prayer for this day which I know many have begun to use and I share it again as an invitation to prayer and to respond to what God is doing in our lives,

 

God of our baptism, you have made us yours.

When we walk the journey of life as your friends,

You help us look at our lives and work differently.

Stand with us now, as we reflect on where you are leading us.

Through the love of your spirit help us to discern what we shall do

and the gifts needed to minister in our community and church.

Challenge us, disturb us, excite us, reassure us

and help us make your love real for all people.

We pray this in your name. Amen.

 

 

17 September 2015

 

Last weekend I preached St Mary’s, Whitby as we had their vicar in Plimmerton a few weeks ago. It was wonderful to be a part of their worship and I spoke on Mark’s gospel hinging on the question Jesus asks his disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’ I have always loved the upfront nature of the question as its one you cannot get away from. You, not the crowd, not the party line, the denominational stance, but you…not in church, but in the workplace, in front of friends and family– who will you say Jesus is? It is perhaps an answer that changes with years, highs, lows and the meandering path of our faith journey. May we be challenged, affronted, inspired and encouraged this week by this question which holds the key to abundant and eternal life.

 

The spring messenger is about to be released, in it the lead article is about the refugee crisis in Europe. I had contact in the week from Kris Faafoi’s office, who would like to partner with us to run a community event, in their own words, “with the emphasis on  a presentation by members of the refugee community on their refugee experience (i.e. 1 Columbian, 1 Burmese, 1 Assyrian (Iraq and Syria). A presentation by someone (relatively high-up) from the Red Cross Refugee Services Programme on what local people can do to assist in the resettlement process for refugees who arrive in Porirua. This idea was born out of a community feeling we’ve picked up from persons wanting to assist but really knowing what they can practically do to assist refugee families.” This is a concrete and real next step for the parish to engage with the local community. We are looking at running this on the evening of Monday 19th October – more details to follow.

 

 

10 September 2015

 

On Sunday we read a letter out at our services, from Bishop Justin asking to practically help in the refugee crisis. I have written about this in our spring magazine that will be out shortly. One of the beautiful outcomes from this was that many people offered help in various forms, no one person offered the same thing. That is an image of the body of Christ, that we all have different talents, skill sets and availabilities; when pooled together they are enough to help, enough to make a meaningful difference. I have also had a phone call from Beachside church in Plimmerton to say that they would like to help us in whatever response we give, which is wonderful. May we all know the beauty that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, our local church is an expression of God’s kingdom here on this earth and in these suburbs.

 

On Sunday we also has our first inter-church youth service called ‘Alight’. The aim of this is to bring local churches together and the youth they have to worship together. We had 6-7 churches represented with 40+ people in attendance. A great start and we will continue this once a month from now on. The name Alight says they together we are stronger and more alight like coals on a fire and it also says we are a light – a lamp and a way to shine God’s love in our area. There is much power in local church unity and in coming together to worship and learn how to be both a light and alight for Jesus.

 

 

26 August 2015

 

This Sunday is our 5th Sunday combined service and the theme as you will have seen advertised is an animal welfare / pet service. What can you bring?

-          Your pet, large or small

-          A friend with a pet e.g a grandchild and their hamster through to an elderly friend with a companion / guide dog

-          Or if you have children – their favourite stuffed pets and toys

-          If you animal wont cope well at the church, please bring a photo of them to put on the alter.

The idea is that the service affirms creation and animals and celebrates them as part of our lives. During communion people will be able to bring up their pets for a blessing. We are looking forward to a fun, chaotic and memorable service.

 

Next week I am away in Auckland on a leadership course from Monday – Friday, this will also happen for a week next March and September. The course is called the Arrow leadership course, they describe it: “Arrow offers a mentor-focused leadership journey for young Christian leaders (25-40) in faith communities and marketplace organisations. The aim is to develop leaders who will be led more by Jesus, lead more like Jesus and lead more to Jesus.I love that last little part as it centralizes everything I do as a leader around Jesus. That is the case for all of our services and events, that when we come together we are proclaiming the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. That all we do is to him, for him and about him. To the extent that as we bring our animals this Sunday; it is a fun thing to do but deeper than that is the people of God saying we seek to glorify Jesus in every area of our lives and to be disciples of Jesus; which includes how we look after animals, both the ones who lives in our homes and in all of creation. See you Sunday for our animal service!

 

 

14 August 2015

 

Last Sunday, I spoke about Jesus as the bread of life and how when we receive communion we partake in his risen life, literally we join in and participate in what God is doing in our community. I would like to share a quote with you that has challenged me in this thinking, which says:“ While it is popular to ask, what would Jesus do? The better question was always ‘what is Jesus doing?’ The first question assumes that the Saviour is on the side-lines and the burden of life and work is on our shoulders. In that case the saviour is not really saving but is setting impossibly high standards that we attempt to imitate by doing what we assume he would do in our situation…On the other hand, the question ‘What is Jesus doing?’ is built on the conviction that he is alive, reigning and at work in our lives…rather than believing that the work of Christ is completed and that now it is our turn to try and imitate his life and work, we take on the identity of being witnesses who watch and testify to his continued work of salvation that is unfolding before our eyes.” May we all partake and participate in Christ’s risen life this week.

 

This Sunday morning I am preaching at St Marys in Whitby and the following Sunday Chris Darnell will be preaching at St. Andrews as we seek to locally work closer together as parishes within the Northern Porirua cluster, this is an exciting development.

 

This week we also have the Our Place 5pm service in the hall for dinner first and then a short service around a brazier and some fire filled activities! We will then have a time of silence in a candle lit church before hot chocolate and marshmallows around the fire. So a special end of winter celebration of community and worship!  Do join us.

 

6 August

 

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said in a sermon this last week that, “the fact that Jesus is risen from the dead is now beyond doubt. But what is the route we follow to get to our eternal destination? The answer is very simple: we are called to live as the holy people of God. Holiness: availability, ready, reconciled, equipped, holding nothing back. The route we are to travel with the risen Jesus is one of holiness….For many of us the use of that word will cause our hearts to sink. Because almost all of us know that holiness sounds grim. It's a good idea in theory, but not when there is so much to enjoy, and none of us feel holy. Whenever someone uses the word, I remember my sins and failings. But holiness is infectious – when you meet someone with it you tend to be able to catch it. It is beautiful. Holy people fill our hearts with joy…”

 

We are those people, each week we gather and we meet with the risen Christ. One of the more powerful invitations I often use at communion says, “Holy things for holy people, broken things for broken people.” This paints the reality that we can only be holy because we are first broken and from our brokenness we can be made holy by Christ working in and through us. Last week I was at a retreat of local Anglicans leaders with Bishop Justin at Ngatiawa (contemporary monastery) and one night we were joined by some people from L’arche, Kapiti (a people with and without disabilities sharing life in a community of faith - http://larche.co.nz/) A chant we sung was written by someone from there and it said: “Broken, all of us broken, all of us loved, all of us loved. Travel, each of us travel, companions together walking the way. Beauty, discovering beauty, lighting the darkness surprising us all.”

 

It is indeed a beautiful reality that we are all broken, yet at the same time holy and loved. As we figure out that paradox with community we discover more of the beauty of Jesus and therefore more of a potential to live a life that holds nothing back.

 

The full link of the Archbishops sermon is: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5599/what-does-holiness-look-like-archbishop-speaks-at-htb-focus

 

30 July

 

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul tells Christians to “share with the Lord’s people who are in need and practice hospitality.The great thing about practising something is that it does not have to be perfect, it is about giving something a go and becoming more proficient at it along the way. This is true of any sport or hobby and it is also true of spirituality. Things like prayer, bible reading, silence and hospitality are called practises for a reason. We need to practise them, succeed at them, fail at them, try again with them and in all of that grow a little as we couple discipline with desire. At the moment in parish life there are many examples of practising hospitality.

 

Last week we raised around $800 for St Anne’s Pantry with a pub quiz and during the week some of the children from Sunday Explorers helped deliver food parcels to families in Porirua. There are several projects on the go that extend hospitality, in particular the sewing of hospital gowns for infants in Wellington and knitting beanies for children in Cannons Creek school. As I look at all that we are doing I am reminder of a short verse in a song by Matt Redman that says, “let my deeds outrun my words and let my life outweigh my songsThis lyric cries of a heart that is moved not just to sing, but to act and in acting, love and in loving, give and in giving becoming a people of hospitality, who practise hospitality and live as the message bible puts it, being inventive in hospitality” I believe we are doing just that on many fronts as God’s church in this place.

 

23 July

 

Over the weekend Ange, myself and our children attended the yearly ministry school. In the past this has been a professional development for clergy, but in recent years it has opened up for key lay leaders and this year for families. We had over 250 people at El Rancho in Waikanae and the atmosphere was that of a wonderful family camp. The theme was ‘generous hospitality’ (something our parish does very well). As we gathered as leaders in the Diocese I was reminded of all the amazing ministry that goes on in the wider church and indeed among us here in Pauatahanui. Ange and I listened to a sermon the other night that challenged us and it was about vision for the local church. The speaker asked the question, “what is the defining dream of your heart”? Then she said, “if you can see it happening without the power of the risen Christ, I suggest the dream is too small… live in a way that your dream would be unattainable if it were not for him.” I am finding this statement a huge challenge for my level of faith for what God can and will do in this area. I have my ideas but often they are too small; so let us all be challenged as we are church together, to think for our own walk with God and our corporate life of worship, what is the defining dream you hold and then if you can make it work by yourself, is it too small and therefore attainable? What do you / we need to do in order to give God our hopes and dreams so they may be enlarged to a level that will only work when Jesus is involved. That is the level we are called to operate from. This can feel scary and a little like stepping onto the water of a stormy sea, but then we know who waits for us and walks with us as we venture out, the Risen Christ.

 

 

16 July

 

This Sunday is National Bible Sunday and in our morning services we will be looking at the Bible, its importance in our lives as individuals and as a parish. In the evening we have the Our Place service at 5pm with theme of worship and a shared dinner at 6pm, do join us.

 

One image I have held for the bible, is as a signpost. Well actually, many signposts; each book giving a hint of God’s love for this world, each page an echo of salvation. As I look on my shelves I have a bible given to be at my baptism, another bible given to me before I went off to live in Africa as a missionary and still another for my ordination as a priest. Each one is special and yet I know many people in the world are smuggled just a fragment and those few life giving words alone keep them in God’s tender love and care in times of imprisonment and persecution. At every wedding I do the rings are usually bought forward on a special bible which speaks volumes. That God is the foundation of marriage and that the love of Christ is what matters above all else.

 

Each week we have three readings from the bible; the gospel reading being one of the centre points of the entire service. All of our liturgy is based on scripture and so the bible is a living book, forming our community and our spirituality day by day. My one encouragement would be to read the bible daily, using whatever method works for you, whatever time of day works for you and whatever place works for you.

 

At Vestry the other month we watched an encouraging clip about this, it is called ‘Coffee with God’ and can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xU9GR4H0WQ. As we read the scriptures, we find that it is actually the other way round, that scripture reads us, forms us, inspires and ignites us to live our true lives as God’s children.

 

9 July

 

This Sunday after our service in Plimmerton we are welcoming newcomers to the parish with a welcome lunch and in the morning service acknowledging the change in status of Pukerua Bay on Sundays by having people from St Mark’s involved in the service.

 

This Sunday is also Sea Sunday, and attached to this e mail is a PowerPoint about that prepared by Dennis from our church (thanks Dennis). I encourage you to have a look at this to learn about the amazing ministry to sea farers, or chat to Dennis for more information.

 

That is a lot for one Sunday morning, a few different things going on both in worship and in parish life. In all of this I have been reminded this week about the amazing story of God that we are caught up into. Someone asked me last weekend what the bible I read was called at Easter time. We read the gospel that day from The Jesus Story Book Bible.  As I was thinking about this again I came across a beautiful article by the author of that bible in which she said,

 

“When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we’re supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what He has done. When we tie up the story in a nice neat little package, and answer all the questions, we leave no room for mystery, or discovery. We leave no room for the child. No room for God. When we say, “Now what that story is all about is…”, or “The point of that story is…” we’re totally missing the point. The power of the story isn’t in summing it up, or drilling it down, or reducing it into an abstract idea. Because the power of the story isn’t in the lesson. The power of the story IS the story. The Bible is most of all a story—the Story of how God loves His children and comes to rescue them. That—in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost Him—God would always love his children… with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. And that, in this Story, there is only one Hero. Rules don’t change you. But a Story—God’s Story—can.

 

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2015/06/2-questions-to-ask-that-might-keep-a-whole-lot-of-us-from-walking-away-from-god-church/

 

May we all be encouraged about the power of the gospel story to change lives, renew passion and revitalize calling.

 

 

2 July

 

Last week I wrote about what it means to be community as a local church; this week I would like to share the below quote with you to extrapolate the purpose and the heart of this local community, that when we come together in the week and on Sundays, we are,

 

“entering the long and curious story of God on earth, the tradition. Chewing on the wisdom of those who have gone before us, the saints. Bring nourished by the sacraments. Daily practising and nurturing God’s salvation…and most of all, getting out of the way – or becoming a way – for God to heal and love broken people, to join the Holy Trinity in making even more salvation stories…we can follow God’s lead to prepare a new community of prayer and collective obedience to God, churches rooted in Word and sacrament, divine revelation and tradition, and the abundant life found in Jesus."   Tyler Blanski.

 

This is what happens when we intentionally choose to be part of a community of faith. It is so easy to lose sight of this holy task with day to day living especially in the cold winter months and cold and flu is going around. Let us lift up our hearts and our heads to glimpse once more who we are as the local church in this place and how we have a rich heritage and foundation on which we stand to draw and lead people into many salvation stories.

 

25 June

 

I spoke recently at an event for people looking at ordination and shared a little of my story.  I started by saying that I have become a Christian roughly 5,110 times.  14 years ago as an adult I was baptised, an anchor point in my life.  My ordination vows have added to that mix as I have now been ordained half a decade.  I shared that we all face a daily choice to live out our baptism vows and for me, my ordination vows (as Paul says in Philippians, “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, or in another translation, be energetic in your life of salvation”).  As we do this, time and time again we are reminded that this is not s solo journey.  A few songs we sing at the Our Place service come from an Irish group called ‘The Rend Collective’ and they recently said this, “The children of God have always been a people on the move, driven by a mission and a purpose.  We aren’t part of a social club, but we’re given a charge from the Father: to share His love with the world.  As Christians we know this world is not our home. We’re all on a lifelong journey that ends on greater shores.  Until that day our purpose is clear, and our companionship is the family of God.  He’s given us each other to encourage, rebuke, care for, weep with, hug, pray for, and laugh with.  It’s so purposefully beautiful.”

 

Within this local expression of God’s Church, we recently had some prayer stations within the Our Place service, one of the tables was set with a large map of the parish.  The idea was to put a pin hole where you live; once we have all had a chance to do this we can hold the map up to a light or window and we’ll see the light that shines in our communities.  This will remain in the St Andrews foyer for a while so please pop in and add your pin hole!  This week we have also had the AAW (Anglican Association of Women) 40th celebrations with a ruby themed dinner!  As we go into the weekend may we be thankful for the beauty of the local church in this area.

 

 

18 June

This Sunday we have several special services in the parish.  The service at St Mark’s in Pukerua Bay, will be the last one for at least a year as we pause Sunday services there.  The once a month mid week service will continue as will other groups but the Sundays are stopping due to low numbers and parishioners there will join in with other services in the parish.  On the same morning we celebrate St Albans Day with a service and lunch at Ron and Julia Steven’s home, all welcome.  A morning full of possibilities as we celebrate the past and look to the future.  This Sunday we also have the morning and evening services at St Andrew’s in Plimmerton.  The Our Place service at 5pm will be set up with interactive prayer stations and after engaging these we have a bring a plate pot luck dinner at 6pm.  I would like to invite you to dinner, if you don’t come to the 5pm service; why not bring a plate and come down at 6pm for dinner with the church family.  I would love to have as many people come and bring food so we can eat together so why not put it in the diary now?  I love seeing people eat and drink together after church, it’s a continuation of worship and a marker of a community of people that follow Jesus.  We don’t just break bread together at the altar but over meal times, in coffee shops and in each other’s homes, as we do this we deepen our relationships and our communal life together.

 

 

11 June

Last Sunday in Plimmerton, the Our Place service was buzzing with life as we looked at the topic of the wise man who built his house upon the rock. The church was set up with tables and teams of people young and old worked together to build straw towers that had to hold an egg! Our lives are fragile and how we are held up is important, that we have strong foundations in God. This interactive way of engaging with biblical stories helped young and old think about their faith and foundations in Jesus Christ. At the same time in Pauatahanui the church was full with two families coming for baptism. So across the whole parish, a great day for coming together to worship Jesus! May you be encouraged with the amazing life that bubbles away in our local church and the interaction of all ages and stages of faith.

 

 

4 June

 

“The chief way we grow is through community.

Growth in grace, wisdom and character does not happen primarily in classes and instruction,

through large worship gatherings or even in solitude.

Most often, growth happens through deep relationships and in communities

where the implications of the gospel are worked out cognitively and worked in practically…

it is through this alternate human society that God shapes us into who and what we are.”

 

I read the above quote a while back and it came to the surface again recently as I have been reflecting on what it means to be open and to be known within a church congregation and how we deepen our relationships that start in worship, linger over morning tea and then go into the week ahead. We are beginning to start some Life Groups around the parish. Simply these are opportunities to grow our faith alongside others who are walking along the same journey. It is my hope that whoever would like to, can be involved in one of these groups. We are also planning a winter study series with some films on Sunday afternoons as we did last year.

 

Being part of a church community is about being family. We meet together to worship, we eat together and share life together. We function as a community best when we do these things and we all actively give and serve in parish life in some capacity. I am always amazed when I look at any given roster how many people are involved in the weekly life of the parish and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I invite you to consider how you can become involved in deepening your faith through joining a life group or helping me launch a few more of them!

 

This Sunday we have Our Place in the morning and that will involve straws and eggs, I can’t say much more, but it promises to be a fun and interactive service for all! At St Albans we have two baptisms, so that service will be a full house as well, lots to look forward to as we share our faith and life together.

 

28 May

 

The prayer flags that were out the front of St Andrews have been taken down and ironed ready to send to the churches in Nepal as a way of prayer support after the earthquake. I contacted the Anglican Church in that part of the world and received a beautiful response which I share below with you…

Dear Pete, I am so delighted to receive your email, and truly encouraged by how your congregation is praying for Nepal.

It will be our honour to receive the prayer banner from you and your church. Thank you so much my dear brother for standing with us.

 

This is a wonderful response to our prayer activity and encourages me to keep praying for others and for situations of destruction, war or violence. As we stand with others in prayer God uses us to bless different parts of the body of Christ who need strengthening. May you be encouraged to pray and as Paul tells the people in Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”

 

 

21 May

 

This weekend the fun starts on Saturday morning at 11am, would you be free for half an hour to help Pete blow up some balloons and decorate the church for Pentecost at St. Andrew’s?

 

On Sunday morning you are invited to wear something red as we remember and celebrate Pentecost and the fire of the Holy Spirit. You are also invited to wear or bring some old clothes to church as we have a working Bee after the service. This will start at 11am after morning tea followed by a shared lunch at 1pm.

 

Then for those who can stay, we will finish off the jobs that need doing and end at 3pm with a Pink Ribbon afternoon tea for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Association. So at St. Andrew’s this Sunday there is something happening all day; with worship, food and work. I hope to see you there.

 

A prayer as we approach Pentecost that you might like to use,

 

Unlike the apprehensive disciples locked
In the Upper Room with their fears,
I do have expectations of your coming.
Yet, you continue to surprise me, too.
I anticipate your entrance as a wild gust
And then you slip quietly into my life.
I wait for you to speak instantly,
Instead, you slowly share your guidance.
I look for you in the highly unusual
And, of course, you show up in the ordinary.
Today, I let myself be surprised by the Holy Spirit.

 

 

14 May

 

“Religion is a man sitting in church thinking about fishing.

Christianity is a man sitting at a lake, fishing, and thinking about God."

 

Someone I know shared this pearl of wisdom this week and it got me thinking about where my focus is each day and how I pray and am aware of God’s presence in my life. This Sunday we remember and celebrate the ascension of Jesus. The fact that Jesus in bodily form rose to heaven and because of that the Holy Spirit lives in us until Jesus comes again. Ascension is a good time to reflect on our faith and pray that we, in the words of one theologian “enjoy Jesus more thoroughly, worship him more passionately, follow him more closely, serve him more diligently, trust him more fully and proclaim him more boldly.”

 

This Sunday we have the Our Place service at 5pm followed by a shared meal. I would like to invite you along to this. The meal is at 6pm and is a bring a plate and we always have more than enough to go round and there is a beautiful sense that eating together is the continuation of worship. We have a short service and the meal is longer and no one wants to leave, which for me is a mark of a community of faith. So as you reflect on the ascension of Jesus, may you be drawn to think about where Jesus is active in your life, both as you sit in church and go fishing!

 

7 May

 

The early church were a community, a radical new way of being that only makes sense when lived with and worked out with others. Isolation is not a part of God’s design for us, we are designed to worship, pray, sing, learn, grow and struggle together as one body. Someone once said that, “Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, when we mix, mingle, confess and pray, Christ speaks." Jesus is always offering all of us a chance to go deeper; the invitation to see more of his grace is un-ending and we can in some ways never fully grasp what has been done on the cross for us. So it is in community with a sense of wonder and awe that we come to seek to know what it means to follow Jesus.

 

As a community this weekend we celebrate mother’s day with some creative ideas planned for the St. Andrews service, the week after we have a shared meal after the 5pm service and the week after that we celebrate Pentecost, the churches birthday, when we will also have a working Bee at St. Andrew’s. There is always something going on in parish life that invites all of us to become more fully a part of what God is doing in this area.

 

 

30 April

 

Daily this past week the death toll from the Nepal earthquakes seems to have grown and grown into the thousands. At times like these, far away from such devastation it can be hard to process such calamity. We may even feel numb to such news, as if it is not real or didn’t happen.

There are many ways with which we can engage which I would like us a parish to enter into – they are : prayer, giving and action. This following website is a great resource of how / what to pray for:  http://www.gfa.org/pray/nepal/. I find sites like these encouraging as in my own prayers I seem lost for words. We can also give through many charities to relief efforts such as The Red Cross (https://www.redcross.org.nz/), World Vision (https://www.worldvision.org.nz/) and CWS (http://movementonline.org.nz/752/cws-launches-appeal-for-nepal/) to name a few.

The last step is action, being so far away we thought this Sunday at the Our Place service we will combine the prayer and action and we will be making prayer flags for the front garden. They will be prayers of courage and solidarity with the people of Nepal who are suffering more than we can imagine. As we do these things as a community, we enter into what it means to be human, to feel the pain and stand alongside others in suffering. We also deepen our relationship with God in prayer, as we wrestle with death and destruction, we can see the love of God which overcomes all situations.

I have been encouraged this week by a sermon on prayer from Archbishop Justin Welby, the link is below. If like me you struggle at times of such global suffering, I invite you once more to ponder the gift of prayer and to be inspired: http://www.anglicannews.org/multimedia/video-prayer-is-one-of-the-most-dangerous-things-anyone-can-ever-do.aspx.

 

 

23 April

 

This Saturday we have our ANZAC Day service at St. Alban’s at 10:15am. It is also a long weekend with a public holiday, this gives us the chance to rest and in doing so acknowledge why we have the freedom to do so. We remember those who have given their lives, those who paved the way for our freedom and democracy.

 

The weekend is also about gratitude and thanksgiving for our lives and the liberty we have. At a deeper level it is also cause to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus and the freedom we have as Christians. Someone once said that when Jesus explained the atonement to his disciples he gave them a meal instead of a theory. The readings since Easter remind us of who the risen Christ is and how he chose to meet his disciples, not in a classroom but over food and relationship. As we reflect on the freedom and heritage of these islands let us also remember our spiritual inheritance, that Jesus gives us freedom over death and as Psalm 18 tells us, “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

 

Enjoy the space of a long weekend, but deeper still the wide open spaces of resurrection life.

 

16 April

 

The weeks after Easter are often hard for us as people of faith; summer is over, the anticipation of Lent has gone, Easter has been celebrated and so we may well be asking the question, what’s next? How do we now live out resurrection life in our daily lives? Reading the stories of the risen Jesus may let us ask questions along the lines of, what was the risen Jesus like? What is the meaning of resurrection? How is this Jesus present now? When we think on these things, we can be encouraged that the resurrection of Jesus matters hugely and we can now look to the rest of year as a local community of faith with a different kind of anticipation and excitement about what following the risen Jesus means for our local mission and ministry.

 

Part of this looking ahead is thinking through how we use our space and churches as a parish to draw people into worship and provide hospitality. There are some current areas, where we need help to do this, so could you help with any of the following…

 

Holding crosses –We now have a prayer station at back of St. Andrews with some holding crosses in a bowl for people to take away who pop in. It has only been there a week and already four have gone, and we only have nine left. Do you know anyone that could make us some holding crosses? Perhaps a local carpenter / wood turner? Many churches have these and we give them away to people who may be in hospital or to people at funeral, the very act of clinging to this small cross brings peace and comfort in times of pain and distress. So we need to replenish this stock of small crosses immediately. Please see me if you can help in this.

 

Full size nativity set for December on the lawn – the 3 crosses we had up for Easter have had a big impact in the community and so to build on this, I would like us to think ahead to Christmas and how we might use this space well. In recent weeks several people a day have been into the grass area to look at the crosses and say a prayer, which was the initial aim of the project – to draw people into the story of Easter. So, in December I would like us to have a full size nativity scene out front. There must be someone, somewhere with one of these in their shed from years gone by. Again if you can help or are interested in this, please see me.

 

Bench for back garden - Can you help or would you like to buy the parish a park bench? Now we have access to the Plunkett playground, we are using the space behind the parish center more and more and would like a bench to sit flush against the wall so parents don’t have to stand the whole time when supervising kids. There is a creative project afoot to paint the fence in the playground with rainbow colors to being the space fully alive in association with Plunket. We need to then look at how we can transform the car park into a welcoming space when activates are going on here. Again, please see me if you can help.

 

 

 

 

9 April

 

 

“We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song” Pope John Paul II

 

On Easter Sunday we had just over 180 people at our services as we celebrated Christ’s victory over death and the wonderful news of resurrection. As we think about how we are witnesses to this story I would recommend reading Archbishop Justin Welby’s Easter day sermon, the link for which is here: 

http://www.anglicannews.org/news/2015/04/resurrection-of-jesus-changes-our-view-of-the-universe-abp-welby.aspx

 

Outside St. Andrews sit our three beautiful coloured crosses, these crosses have stood for all of Lent as a reminder of the Easter story. Many people in the community have been to look at them especially in recent days as they are alive with colour.

The purple ribbons were tied on Palm Sunday to represent prayers of preparation for entering into the sorrow and joy Easter week brings.

The red ribbons were tied on Good Friday to represent the sacrifice of Jesus and prayers of forgiveness.

The white ribbons were tied on Easter morning as prayers of thankfulness and gratitude in response to resurrection.

 

In the week we have left the ribbons out with an invitation to tie a prayer and many people walking past have done exactly that. As a parish and a community we have tied our hopes, dreams, fears and worries to these crosses. Some words of a modern day hymn help illustrate these ribbons, “simply to the cross I cling. Letting go of all earthly things, I'm clinging to the cross. Mercy’s found a way for me. Hope is here as I am free. Jesus You are all I need, I'm clinging to the cross.” Hope is indeed here and we are an Easter people.

 

As we now move into a new season, I have been challenged by the following words that ask me what it looks like to now life out my faith the other side of Easter Sunday, something we will now look at in the following Sundays, There are plenty of Lenten devotionals. They help us reflect on the gravity of the cross and the glory of resurrection. But what do you do after Easter? The days between Easter and Pentecost are usually an afterthought, yet they can become an opportunity to reflect on the significance of the resurrection in our lives. The risen Jesus didn’t leave in a hurry: He hung out with his disciples and put the finishing touches on three years of training. He wants to do the same for us.”

 

  

2 April

 

Lent comes to a close as tonight and for the next three days we enter into the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Tonight we have a foot washing service and communion as we remember the last supper and the act of service Jesus performed for his disciples. These four symbols of our faith – towel, basin, bread and wine draw us into the night that Jesus was betrayed and prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.

 

 

Good Friday takes us on his walk to the cross, his death and burial.

Easter Saturday offers us silence and a contemplative space where nothing much seems to be happening. We prepare the church in the silence of Jesus’ death in preparation for life.

 

On Sunday as we gather we celebrate the hinge of our faith, resurrection and the new life Christ offers to us and to the world.

 

These next 3 days are a roller coaster of sorrow and pain through confusion and doubt, leading into joy and new life. Join us at the following services as we journey as a community through these amazing stories and enter into the life Jesus gives us more fully.

 

 

26 March

 

This Sunday is our annual general meeting after church and I wish to share some of the words I have written to begin my report,

 

“We look back at the past in thanksgiving and look ahead at the future with anticipation with a sense in the present of celebration. Church law tell us the AGM’s purpose is to ‘review the spiritual life of the parish’ and so this is why we gather, to see how faithfully we have followed Jesus in the last year. The word ‘review’ may send chills down our spine and images perhaps come to mind of strict workplace reviews. A parish review is more of a stopping to catch breath on our walk with Jesus, looking back, looking ahead, holding his hand a little tighter and going again. In some ways we look at hard facts, objectives, goals, key performance indicators but more so we look at kingdom values of obedience, faithfulness and fruitfulness.” Please do join us at this meeting as it really is a celebration of who we are. This weekend is also neighbours weekend, a perfect time to share who we are and what we do with the community as well as our own faith community.

 

 

19 March

 

I am back in parish life after 2 weeks of leave and hibernation with our new baby Owen. I want to take this opportunity to thankyou all for the love you have shown us in phone calls, e mails, meals and visits. We feel uplifted and well supported, so thankyou to you all.

 

As we move ever close to Easter I am constantly reminded about my need for a saviour and am ever amazed at the beauty of the story we hold, the story of the cross; a story full of grace and good news. This week Archbishop Justin Welby gave a wonderful sermon on the Revolutionary love of God, below are some extracts from this sermon and the full text link that I hope you find inspiring as we continue our Lent journey together.

 

“The best decision anyone can ever make, at any point in life, in any circumstances, whoever they are, wherever they are, whatever they are, is to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. There is no better decision for a human being in this life, any human being….Evangelism is the Good News of the coming of Jesus Christ into this dark world. And it is news not simply because without this light we are in the dark, but also because it comes to us unwarranted, unsought, without our initiation. Jesus comes to us. This is the free work of God to bring light into the darkness. It’s not technique, it’s not manipulation, it’s not organisation, it’s not systems… it’s God. It’s raw God…I am a recipient of this light that has broken into my darkness. It is as one who has received that I offer this gift…

This requires my constant, daily conversion. One of the great phrases of Ignatian spirituality is the call to daily conversion. To receive daily, as Cyprian termed it, ‘one great gulp of grace’…

For me, grace is the most beautiful word in the English language. It is so evocative of all. The fact that the Gospel comes afresh to me as a sinner and astounds me with the news that I am loved, accepted, forgiven, redeemed and chosen in Jesus Christ….Jesus involves us in His work of calling people to follow him. This is the work of evangelism.

However weakly, however hesitantly, He calls us to extend our hands and our hearts, to use our words and lives, to echo His call to every person to follow Him. For it is the best decision anyone can ever make is to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

 

http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5515/revolutionary-love-archbishop-justins-lecture-on-evangelism

 

12 March

 

As you will have noticed we have three crosses currently on the lawn outside St. Andrews. Usually churches might put these up on Easter Day for a time as a witness of Jesus being risen from the dead. We have chosen to put them up this year from Ash Wednesday so they have already become part of the furniture! We did this because the opportunity to engage with the community is too great, we have hundreds of people walk past us each day and the with the café just opposite, people have to look at these crosses! We put them up as we want to share our faith story of Jesus, who was crucified, died and is risen. Having them with us from the starting line of this year’s Lent journey has been a great visual focus to keep us anchored into the story of grace of which we are all a part of. As you look at these stark crosses, may you be reminded of the choice you have this year to enter into the story.

 

 

The two crosses either side of the central cross remind us of choice. One criminal said to Jesus, “Forgive me” The other mocked him.  We all have free choice to be on the right or the left; the power of Lent is that it calls us home even if we have drifted over into wrong choices. The choice to return to the Jesus Way is summed up beautifully in the words of this modern hymn,

“I am broken, there's nowhere left to hide, I'm drowning in need of your lifeline, I'm desperate, I'm on my knees again, surrendered. I have had all the riches of this world, they could never, ever take your place. I'm coming back to you, my love. I've had enough of what I've become. I'm coming back to you, I'm coming back to you….I am reaching up to a higher ground, but gravity has got a hold on me, but I know your love will see me through this darkness. I'm coming back to you my love, I've had enough of what I've become, I'm coming back to you, I'm coming back to you.”

May you notice these three crosses outside our church and be once more challenged and once more called to follow the way of the cross.

 

5 March

 

Continuing from last week’s creative re-telling of Jesus’ ministry from the disciple’s viewpoint…

 

“One day we were sitting by a river. We’d finished a somewhat meagre lunch of bread dipped in olive oil, when one of us – I can’t remember who - asked Jesus to teach us to pray. I think we’d heard that Jesus’ cousin John had taught his followers a kind of ‘team prayer’ and we wondered if we could have our own. Jesus had been over in a field praying by himself while we relaxed in the sun, and it just seemed a good time to ask.

 

So he taught us a prayer – you probably know it. It clearly came out of Jesus’ own way of praying. It even started in that really intimate way Jesus addressed his Father. He called him ‘Abba’ would you believe? Dad. Daddy. Wow, so close up. We loved that prayer. It became our theme song; we’d say it before we set off for the day’s travels, and when we stopped by a gurgling stream for lunch, or gathered in the evening to plan the next day. We were soaked in that thin and threadbare prayer.”

 

In Advent last year the parish ran ‘The Prayer Course’ and in this we looked at the Lord’s Prayer line by line; one of the things about this beautiful prayer that stood out to me was the adoration in which it starts. The BCP (Book of Common Prayer) says about adoration, “It is the lifting of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence.” In many ways the call of Lent, is exactly that – the lifting of the heart and mind into and onto the bigger picture of life, the kingdom of God coming along us and our response, both personal and corporate to that new life.

 

26 February

 

Lent is a time of reflection and prayer. I have been reading every day a book called ‘The Journey’ by Bishop John Pritchard, a creative Lent book telling the gospel stories from the point of view of the disciples. Over the next few weeks I will share some of this based upon Luke 11 and Jesus’ teaching on prayer. I have found the writing inspiring and helps me see Jesus from a new vantage point and therefore my own life in the light the cross…

 

“I used to love hearing him talk about prayer. It was as if we were eavesdropping on a lover talking about his loved one – almost embarrassing, but what a privilege. He would creep out before dawn sometimes, stepping carefully overt the rest of us as we snored gently, dreaming of Galilee or, more probably, a big breakfast. And then, he’d be gone, like a shadow in the mist, up into the hills where he could find, just an hour or two, the peace and silence the rest of his life denied him. I was glad he did this, though it left me feeling that my own faith and desire for God was thin and threadbare in comparison.

 

One or two of us tried to copy Jesus a bit – we’d wonder off and try praying quietly by a stream at the end of the day…in any case prayer outside the synagogue or away from the Sabbath meal seemed slightly odd, but we could see prayer was the source of Jesus’ life, the energy that filled him and enabled him to keep listening and loving and talking and touching, when I for one was almost screaming for people to go home and leave us alone. How did he do it all? This was how – prayer. Sharing everything with his Father, laying it all before the God he trusted absolutely, with every pore and particle of his being.”

 

I hope you may be able to climb into the stories of Lent, the stories of our faith to see, touch and feel the life and ministry of Jesus and to know it is not just history, but a living breathing story in which each day we are invited to participate in through prayer.

 

 

 

19 February

 

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy." -- Pope Francis

Last night we had a great combined service with the Catholic Church to mark the beginning of Lent with our Ash Wednesday service. In the service I challenged people to imagine the coldest water they had ever been in, perhaps a river or the sea. Mine was a mountain stream / pool high in the Drakensburg Mountains just outside of Durban, South Africa. The type of water that you jump into without checking the temperature first then get to the surface and all you can do is gasp and get out as fast as you can. The memory of something like that never leaves you! The above quote from Pope Francis tells us that Lent is like that mountain water.

After the Christmas period and the lethargy of the summer months we now plunge into the journey of Lent; we immerse ourselves in the stories that lead to Holy week, where we will encounter the Love of God on Good Friday, the silence of God on Easter Saturday and the power of God on Easter Sunday. As we jump into this journey it has the power to jolt us, awaken us and enliven our spirits. The heart of Lent is about turning back to God in our daily lives. The message bible puts it well, “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.”

There are opportunities throughout Lent to re-focus on God at all our services and in the Thursday night Lent study starting tonight in the parish centre at 7pm. Lent is a time to jump afresh into our faith, to grow in our discipleship and in examining our lives.