Haere Mai, Aere mai, hwan-yeong, Fakaalofa lahi atu,
Afio mai, Ulutonu mai, Talofa Lava,
Foon Ying, Selamat Datang, Vitajte, Welkom
FROM THE EDITOR
How many times have you heard that in the last few days?!
To introduce this newsletter we have messages from both the Assembly Executive Secretary and the Moderator of the Assembly before we get to our Minister’s contribution.
Dear Colleagues and Friends Kia ora
The impact of COVID-19 sees us in unprecedented times, making hard decisions for the wellbeing of our churches and communities.
With the full support of the Council of Assembly, I am informing you that from today, 23 March 2020, all physical gathering for public services of worship in the Presbyterian Church need to be suspended until further notice. This suspension should take effect immediately.
This decision has been made thoughtfully and prayerfully and is aligned with the current restrictions on gatherings issued by the Government last week, and with the Level 2 alert issued on 21 March.
In taking this action, we are acting in solidarity with other national churches. Like us, they recognise that at this time of significant risk to national safety, that the care of all people is paramount.
We know that the Church is far more than the buildings we worship in – now is a time for us to demonstrate this truth. While many things have been cancelled, compassion and care never will be.
The Church is made up of people who love God; love one another; read the Scriptures; pray for themselves and others; care for others and love their neighbours as Christ taught them.
Pray for your families, your neighbours, our country, and those ill with the virus. Pray for our health professionals and all those on the frontline who are working tirelessly to care for our community. Pray for the lonely and the frightened. Pray for strength for parents comforting fearful children. Pray for the courage and grace to be a comfort to all.
Our Moderator – Right Rev Fakaofo Kaio – will be leading the way in showing us how to pull close while being apart. He will be producing a weekly video including prayer, and reading the Scriptures and reflections to encourage us all. This will be available from this week onward and more details will be emailed shortly.
We have information and advice for our churches on Covid-19 on our Church website, that we are regularly updating, and on this Facebook group page where people can find ideas for resourcing ministry.
Please continue to follow the best advice provided by the Ministry of Health and on the special COVID- 19 information website.
‘Ko te Atua to tatou te piringa, te kaha, te awhina i nga wa katoa. Na reira, kaore tatou e mataku … ”/ God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…” Psalm 46: 1-2
23 March 2020
Assembly Executive Secretary
During this stressful time when we are unable to gather in our churches for worship, comfort and support, I will be live streaming devotions for our Church family every Sunday at 9am. Please join me.
My Sunday devotion is not just for our Church family, it is for anyone who needs the comforting word that God is with us.
No matter what we face in the coming weeks as a family, community and nation, Jesus will be with us, never forsake us. Together we will feel and share the love of Jesus Christ, the great healer.
We are in a time of crisis, people are fearful of what lies ahead, and they will be searching for spiritual guidance, strength and courage. This devotion is one way that our Church can be there for each other and them. Let’s share our hope and pray together for each other.
My video devotion will be on my Moderator Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/modpcanz/ There is also a link on the Church website and Facebook.
I know some of you will be meeting online Sunday mornings with your own churches and I commend you for using technology to gather and pray together.
If you cannot join me at 9am, the videos will be on my Facebook page to watch at any time. I know that smart screens and apps are not so easy to use for some of our older people and I encourage our younger ones to help.
Please share links to my devotions widely. Let us show we are together apart, and fully present.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” John 14:27
Right Reverend Fakaofo Kaio
Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand
FROM the MINISTER
On Monday last, 18 months after a friend died, we closed her final account. In the last year or so of her life, she would succumb to promises made via the internet for friendships. Despite how they started, they all progressed to these ‘friends’ asking for money. So, she asked two of her ‘real’ friends to become joint account holders with her. What a journey that was for us all! When she died, we discovered the friend and I inherited the account, legally it wasn’t part of her estate. However, being of similar mind and with our deceased friend’s brother to witness, we closed the account and handed him the money to distribute according to what would have happened had it been included in her estate. As we waved goodbye, the friend turned to me and said: “So what do you think of Covid-19? Is it God’s will?”
What do you say to that question?
Will you take a moment to reflect on the consequences if you say ‘yes’? What do you mean if you say ‘No’?
I said, ‘no, of course not. That is not my God. And if it is discovered that it is a human designed virus, then it is human evil that is at work. Even more (if possible) if it was designed with no corresponding antidote. God creates life in love, for love not for indiscriminately killing.’ She nodded and left. I pray she rings and continues to explore this question.
Yes, we are creatures with a limited life span. Yes, we can be sure of two things in life, taxes and death! Yes, we’ve all faced many events in our lives since the moments of our birth. Some wonderful and life giving, blessed with joy and laughter and loving acceptance. Pause for a moment and recall a bright memory….
Yes, some of our life events have been pain filled, tearing the fabric of our living, maybe a sense of being lost and wandering in waste lands with no direction. Pause again for a moment and identify a dull or dark time on the journey of your life…
We all face events and what we do with them is how we manage to live our lives towards the fullness and healing and wholeness our faith promises us Jesus came to share with us. It’s an absolute yes for me that God in Christ with the Spirit Holy is with us – in the joys, tears, brokenness and healings we’ve experienced. Life experience makes us real – not virtual people. Real people care, hurt, laugh, cry, worry, and know fear just like Jesus did. And just like Jesus we are expected to do our bit – to the best of our abilities. God knows our journey, and even now is present, because we are.
And this is our current reality, we are in a lockdown, there are no real answers and lots of predictions. One thing we do know and that is to accept strategies given through the government offer as the most caring way forward. Jesus challenged us to love our neighbour as much as our self and God. If you go out, breaking the lock down without it being a life dependent reality and not a just self-want, without following all the guidelines 2 m separation etc. you are accepting responsibility for the contamination of your neighbour with Covi-19 and possibly their death. Choice has always been part of our faith, love your neighbour, self and God. Giving life a chance, is a letting God loose in the world, it’s our faith, our choice.
Note: Lorraine is preparing Worship@Home for us, a different way of worshipping together, the first one for Sunday 29 March you should find attached to the Newsletter.
A Catch up from Colin
Kia ora everyone, Yes Kim and I are home safe and well. We left a normal, ordinary NZ the 24th Feb returning the 24th Mar to a very different world. Knowing that we would have to go into self-isolation for 14 days and not because of us the whole country went into ‘lockdown’ 26th Mar for 4wks, so we are in it together. Certainly, globally we are in it together. It offers us as a Church an opportunity to think just how we ‘do church’ and the valued aspects of being a faith community and how to keep connected. As we no longer see each other only on Sundays. Importantly ‘church’ isn’t just about “us” it is about being connected with our community, our neighbours and strangers alike, so it will be great to come up with some different approaches to being a community. Our hearts went out to the people of India; for those we encountered, the worry was palpable. Be it that we had an incredible encounter with India as a visual kaleidoscope, a cacophony of sound and plethora of smells it is also home to the second-largest population in the world, and they are like another world away from Aotearoa. We in Tomarata are so privileged. Peace to you and yours Colin and Kim
Colin R Gordon
St Andrews Presbyterian Church Aotearoa NZ
021 854 066
Albert Einstein said, “Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.”