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11th October 2020
At Election Time.
God of wisdom and power,
the hopes and ideals we yearn for as a nation,
are personified in the ministry of Jesus.
As candidates and political parties,
present their manifestos and walk the hustings,
enable us to listen and enquire.
As politics often invokes cynicism grant us a sense
of responsibility in exercising our political choices on election day,
ever conscious that in the light of servanthood revealed to us in Jesus Christ, those elected may recognise the divine responsibility of their calling.
The Shepherd’s Call.
Prayers and liturgies for rural Aotearoa New Zealand
By Bill Bennett.
4th October 2020
It stands at the point of tension, at the place of strain and demarcation. It is firmly set in the soil, like a buttress, well footed and stabilised by stays, bearing the immense pull of the wires and battens, like a harp of the outdoors singing in the wind, and loaded with the weighty swing of the farm gate.God, you are like the strainer in our lives, in our church, in our community, unchangeable yet versatile, ageless like the clinging lichen, enduring and yet ever new. Help us draw on the strength of your love, on the heritage of spirituality and tradition from which we draw strength, and on the regular rhythm of prayer and worship, help us embrace the diversity of our community. Be a totara – like sentinel in our ever – changing world. From the Book Seasons of the Land by Bill Bennett.
20th September 2020
The new beginning time,
sharing with friends plans for
There’s a warming in the air!
Colour’s coming everywhere!
On our faces, smiles appear!
Looking out light clothes to wear!
Birds are singing in the trees.
Wind is whispering in the leaves.
Sunshine sparkles on the sea.
Children from indoors set free,
Run about and shout with glee!
New-born lambs a joy to see.
Gardeners, happy in the sun.
Spring is here, new life has come.
Promise, hope for everyone, With the resurrection One.
Rituals for Spring
Engage with the new life, the promise.
Take time to enjoy the spring flowers.
Prepare the ground and plant something.
Embrace new possibilities in your own life.
Poem by John Hunt
(We celebrate People: Life Enriching Rituals in the Celtic Spirit; The Caxton Press; 2009)
13th September 2020
Lazarus Had to Wait
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11:25,26, ESV
Lazarus was in the tomb for four days.
Mary said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” She and her sister Martha were weeping as they told the Master. Jesus, stirred with compassion, stood with them and shared their grief.
We too can be grieving when we call upon Jesus. He stands with us and comforts us. But He takes us on from there. He knows where we are and where we’re going. Let’s walk with Him and trust Him as He walks with us, because ‘we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him’ (Romans 8:28).
Mary and Martha had sent word to Jesus to tell Him that Lazarus their brother was sick. He loved Lazarus as a dear friend, yet he stayed where He was for two more days.
God won’t be rushed. He is patient and compassionate. He knows our every need but wants us to look to Him for who He is, not for what He can do. Jesus assured Martha that her brother would rise again. Martha had faith. “Yes Lord, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God.” This is fundamental. We need to know who He is before we approach Him. He’s not a qualified doctor, or a learned professor, but Jesus, Son of the most high God. His ways are deeper than our ways, and always in accordance with the will of the Father.
Jesus could easily have gone to Lazarus before he died and restored Him. But He had a better way. For Lazarus, His dear friend, He had something special. Healing was not enough. Jesus came to restore life, so that people would know He had come from God; that all may see and believe. Lazarus had to wait.
Jesus said, “Open the grave.” Martha was concerned there would be a bad odour, the stench of death, and there would have been. There was no mistake. Lazarus was dead. Jesus Himself was soon to know this experience, but death would not hold Him. He called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The chains of death fell off and Lazarus emerged from the tomb.
For what reasons do we call upon God? Is it for our benefit and peace of mind? Or do we come to Him as we would approach the throne of the King, with humility and reverence? Yes, we already have permission: `Let us then approach God`s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16).
Jesus came that we may have fullness of life, to complete that which began on the cross. The Apostle Paul said, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Eternal life is not living forever, just as we are. Eternal life begins with the source of life Himself, Jesus.
– Ron Scurfield Seeds of the Kingdom
6th September 2020
The Lane, or Walkway, or Country Road or the Bike Trail
Little country lane, We have walked your ways again.
Where each bend follows the twisty creek
And birds in the trees play hide and seek
Whatever the season, though chills increase, here in this lane is always peace.
Every creature here lives free. And life is how it’s meant to be.
Here, God gives food for every need, Nut and berry, leaf, and seed.
Duck and swan gently glide “Neath shadows at the waterside.
Some days, fierce winds race the plain,
To cut like flint along the lane.
Sometimes there is frost and snow, yet still, in spring the woodlands grow.
When summer comes, with longer day, the butterflies come out to play.
The songs of birds and hum of bees, The rustling of soft summer trees.
And as we walk there, Heaven seems near, away from the world, time ceases here
We find God’s gentle peace again In the beauty of a country lane.
– Enid Pearson
30th August 2020
Harm or Good?
We are told over the decades how fruits are important for our health and wellbeing. Scientific research has proven that certain fruits help our immune system to function well while other fruits help to nourish and strengthen muscles, ligaments, and blood cells and while other fruits tend to the outward appearance of the body. The thing about these scientific discoveries, is that its claims are constantly changing. What one research discovers to be good for you, another would claim the opposite. Over the decades people have operated within a guideline of a health food pyramid chart (you might recall) that was put out by health gurus for healthy living only to be told in more recent times that this food chart is doing more harm than good.
The Apostle Paul talks about the fruit in this way.
Galatians 5: 22 – 25
“……the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
Paul says that if we operate from the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is produced unlike in the flesh, we take in the fruit to produce results. Here Paul is saying live in God’s Spirit and the fruit love, joy, peace and etc. will overflow outwardly that reflects our personal connection and relationship with God. The fruit of the Spirit has and will never change for God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
The world has trusted the health gurus with guidelines to healthy living but have only managed to deceive it of its false claims. Many people are now paying the price for the damage done.
For Spiritual healthy living, Paul invites us to live in the Spirit by staying grounded in Jesus daily, take the time to read scripture and take time to have conversations with him who will guide, deliver and satisfy your needs.When you take a bite of a fruit today, ask yourself, what harm or good will this bring?
21st June 2020
‘RESPONDING AS MOTHERS TO RACISM’
– Lydia Johnson-Nokise
I find myself in a very strange place these days. I am an American, a female pastor and theological educator who has spent most of my adult life in cross-cultural theological education, in places as diverse as Jamaica, South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand. After supposedly retiring, I returned from New Zealand to my native United States in 2008; however (because God is full of surprises!), I returned to New Zealand last year and became the wife of Rev. Dr. Fele Nokise, minister of Newtown PIPC.
Not only is my own personal journey – living ‘betwixt and between’ diverse cultures – strange, but the times we are now living in are strange in the extreme. The global pandemic introduced new realities that in many ways seem to negate what is means to be fully human – ‘social distancing,’ ‘lockdown,’ ‘quarantine.’ The worldwide suffering caused by the pandemic has, in turn, unleashed widespread economic upheaval. And in the midst of this turning-upside-down of life as we have known it, the sin of racism recently reached a tipping point in the United States. The latest incident in a long history of police brutality against African Americans has unleashed wave after wave of protest and unrest, not seen since the days I came of age during the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s. African Americans, and their allies, have had enough, and their struggle has now spilled over to other countries around the world, whose citizens are being pushed to revisit their own racism. How do we respond as Christian women to this crisis in our New Zealand context?
During the nearly nine minutes that George Floyd lay on a Minneapolis street gasping for breath, dying from a policeman’s knee on his neck, he not only repeatedly gasped ‘I can’t breathe!’ He also, as he neared death, called out ‘Mama!’ He called for his mother. Whether or not we women are biological mothers, we are, in a sense, all mothers for those who are crying out from every kind of mistreatment and disrespect. How can we be mothers in the face of the racism in our own society?
I am immersed now in Pacific Islander communities within the PCANZ, and our Pacific Islander ministers, spouses and session clerks in the Wellington region have just begun an intentional dialogue about the Pacific Islander experience of racism – in New Zealand, and specifically in the PCANZ. This is a fruitful, if potentially painful, dialogue, as we search for Christ-like responses to the reality of racism in our midst. What do we have to offer as women to this quest for wholeness?
In a recent Newtown PIPC online service, where I have been leading the weekly ‘Children’s Time’ during our online worship while in lockdown, I showed pictures of mother hens sheltering their chicks under their wings, just as Jesus described himself as being like a mother hen in Matthew 23:39, when he wept over the state of Jerusalem: “How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her young under her wings.” I pointedout to the children that God too is compared to a mother bird several times in scripture, as in Isaiah 31, which says, “Like a bird hovering over its young, so the Lord will protect and rescue Jerusalem.” And Psalm 36 says, “How precious is your steadfast love, o God. All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
As women, as mothers, we seek to protect, to ‘gather people in’. In this mothering care, we cannot discriminate, caring for some while pushing others aside. It is in our motherly DNA to welcome and care for all. As George Webb lay dying at the hands of an uncaring police officer and called for his mother, I hope that he knew she loved him unconditionally. But, as more and more American women have said in recent days, “We are all George’s mama.” That is our calling as well, in our own context here in New Zealand. We must honestly ask where and how the scourge of racism continues to rear its ugly head in our own communities, and even in our church. And then we must respond with acts of caring, protecting, welcoming and loving the most vulnerable by sheltering them under our wings with Christ’s love in our hearts.
14th June 2020
It works both ways
The nation is now able to move freely once again after being cleared of covid19 and we did this together, the government leading and the support of the nation behind it. This could not have happened if we did not work together. It works both ways.
The work of Plains parish continues because of the leaders you have elected and entrusted to fulfil the task to the fellowship and worship life to be ongoing. You trust their guiding wisdom and decision making as to what is best for the church which is no easy task. Our task as leaders, is to listen and consider your thoughts and concerns as well as and most importantly, to hear what God’s Spirit is saying, test it, trust, and put into action what we believe is God led.
And although you have chosen leaders to envision a way forward, this envisioning is not theirs alone to carry but each and every one of us who connects ourselves to this faith community. Each of us have a task of responsibility, accountability, and missional focus to the ethos we believe in, that is, salvation in Jesus Christ alone. It works both ways.
Leaders believe they do not run on their own accord, but with the hope that you are with them not only watching from a distance to see things unfold, but actively involved in the ongoing maintenance and mission. It works both ways.
Jesus in his ministry here on earth put great importance in the function of body although different, parts are significant to perform its role for the whole to work.
This is the body of Christ that every part is joined and held together for it to grow and build up.
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Your ongoing support for your leaders are important to keep the work of the church alive and active but they cannot do this alone. Everyone has something to offer whether big or small and whatever it is, helps us build and grow. You might be wondering, “what can I offer?” Maybe start with this, examine what your strengths or giftings are and pray, ask God to show you where in his work could you help the leaders build and grow the ministry. Speak to your leader/s as to how you would like to help. We are all in this together, but we are not doing church life alone! We do it with God’s help and the leading of his Spirit. It works both ways, the leaders need your help and we need leaders. We need each other in the “Body of Christ”.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Encourage and strengthen your leaders as they continue to serve. Support them in the work they do. Lend a hand if you are able. Lighten the load if you see the struggle and most importantly, constantly pray for one another and our mission and faith in Jesus Christ not to be swayed but steadfast.
7th June 2020
Trinity Sunday 7th June.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God almighty,
early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty
God in three persons, blessed Trinity
Matthew 28; 16 – 20
The Great Commission
So, the eleven disciples went off to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had instructed them to go. There they saw him, and worshiped him, though some hesitated. Jesus came towards them and addressed them. ‘All authority in heaven and on earth”, he said, ‘ has been given to me! So, you must go and make all the nations into disciples. Baptize them in the name of the father, and of the son, and the holy spirit. Teach them to observe everything I have commanded you. And look: I am with you, every single day, to the very end of the age. The Trinity is an affirmation of the beautifully complex, dynamic, and great God who is three-in-one. Contemplation of and relationship with this trinitarian God is an awe-inspiring, holy experience that is at the heart of Christian worship .