LETTER FROM THE MINISTER – March 2018

The church tradition is much like family tradition rich in
meaning and story.
Part of the tradition of the church is the current season of
Lent, forty days set aside before Easter. Historically these
forty days have been the time when the church is called to
prayer and study in preparation for the big day – Easter.
Much of this has disappeared from our context, especially
in the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand, regardless of
our theological persuasions. While I am sure there are all
sorts of reasons why this is so, this is our core business
as a church. I believe it is much more important than any
youth and children’s programmes.
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Prayer and study and worship and fellowship are the
main purpose of the church that is a “community of
faith.”
Andy Doyle whose book I am reading at the moment,
Church; A generous Community Amplified for the Future,
talks about the confidence which the church should have
but that is lacking in most.
Compare this to research done by Knox Centre for
Leadership and Ministry (the ministry training school for
PCANZ), on what our churches and their leaders feel that
we lack -our greatest need if we are to faithfully do the
ministry and mission of the Christ. Out of the many
mentioned in the survey were surprises:
> ‘lack of confidence’ in the gospel
> lack of knowledge in the Bible.
Somehow in the course of the last fifty years of
Christianity in New Zealand, and in North America where
Andy Doyle speaks from, we have been pre-occupied with
things that are not our core business and spent our energy
on them. We have been interested in so many other things
but not really in what the church should be doing. Of
course, we might have different ideas about what the core
of business for the Church is. And they are also the
product of our pre-occupation with things that are not our
core. We are most likely to dismiss the teachings of the
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scripture based on our political views, or likes and
dislikes, or even on the things that we are to be challenged
by, forgetting that we are ‘the community of faith”. The
lack of confidence in the church today that Andy Doyle
talks about is also to do with our pre-conceived ideas
about how the church should look. These ideas are from
the era of Christendom, the heyday of the church where
everyone was expected to be at church on Sunday. He says
smaller churches, which most of us are, feel embarrassed
and therefore lacking in confidence, as if we measure our
success based on the numbers and resources we have.
These ideas are not wrong. These are how we are brought
up to think.
But these I strongly feel we need to reject. The
language itself should not enter in our vocabulary, like the
word ‘dying’ in front of ‘church’ which I am horrified by,
‘closing our doors’, which does not sit well if we truly
understand what the church is and what our core business
is. The church is God’s. St. Aidan’s belongs to the Christ
who is the head of the body of Christ. We should have
confidence not in ourselves but in God, and in Christ
whose body we are. Once again the church of Christ calls
us to understand who we are, what Christ calls us to and
who God is who loves us and calls us into community.
God is still the almighty everlasting God. God is still the
God of love whose love triumphs even over death. This is
God revealed in Jesus. This is the God whom we worship
and are the community of. Let’s be confident in that. And
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to conclude this chit chat, which is always profoundly
longer and deeper than I intended in the beginning, I want
to leave us with this passage which is what God says to
Moses, as the people were heading to the promised land,
lacking confidence for their future. I think this is relevant
for us also to hear, as we journey on facing our own lack
of confidence. Michelle Shin

Categories From the Minister, Newsletter | Tags: | Posted on March 27, 2018

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