Readers’ Contributions – September 2020

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Readers’ Contributions – September 2020

Thomas Merton on silence

When we have really met and known the world in silence, words do not separate us from the world nor from other men, nor from God, nor from ourselves because we no longer trust entirely in language to contain reality.” ? Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

On Paying the Price of Sin – a Parable

There was once a woman who was happily married with two children, a son and a daughter. They lived in England. During the war her husband fell ill with cancer and died. Her son entered the army and was killed in France. To put her sorrows behind her, the woman immigrated to New Zealand, taking her 17 year old daughter with her. Her daughter was a particularly good daughter, who did all she could to help her mother, who naturally treasured greatly the one remaining member of her family.

One evening, while on a pedestrian crossing, the daughter was killed by a car driven by a 19 year old drunken lout. He had been showing off to his equally drunk passengers. The youth did not stop and was never caught. This last blow was more than the mother could bear. She grew more and more embittered as the years went by, and eventually died “cursing both her fellow human beings and God himself”.

The youth went on for some time with reckless living, but one day he came into contact with a Christian group. He was attracted by their very different values, and one evening at an evangelistic meeting he became a Christian. He was concerned about his past, but the preacher assured him that his past sins were all forgiven. Any wrongs he had committed were wiped clean – the price of his sin had been “paid by the blood of Jesus”. It was as though such sins had not been committed. So he lived out his life in the comforting belief that his sins were indeed all forgiven, and looked forward to his place in heaven when he died.

But who really paid the price of the young man’s sins?

An argumentative Old Testament character named Elihu makes some observations on this topic in Job, Chapter 35:6-8 – have a look.

– Laurie Wesley

Te Taurahere Whatumanawa – Heart String: “The rope that ties our hearts together”

Hughes Place – Food production project

“We promise to CARE AND SHARE with one another” – NO ONE TO BE EXCLUDED

Wow – what promises and vision – a garden in Taneatua delivering community transformation.

Honey and Rev Tamiana Thrupp are the spiritual stewards and backbone of this thriving community garden situated on about a quarter acre. There is a mixture of raised garden beds and tyres providing kai for the community. There is also a kids’ play area with a sandpit, a shade house for propagation; old fridges for a library and seed bank; a sun shelter and picnic benches. This is a safe place for the local tamariki to be.

During COVID-19 Level 4 the gardens and supporting partners organised to care for the community, providing / distributing food parcels to all in need – there is always some food in the p?taka kai pantry at the entrance.

David and Rosemarie visited Hughes Place on their recent road trip – and the wh?nau farm ‘5 minutes up the road’ which also provides for the project – pork, poultry, milk, eggs…

We met this amazing couple, and others involved, who are doing so much for their community. Talking over a cup of tea, we learned a lot about the people of Taneatua – the home to the Whare of Ng?i T?hoe; gateway to the Ureweras.

This project started with the vision of Whakatane Minister Rev Chris Barnard and Presbyterian Support Northern’s Anne Overton inspiring Honey and Tamiana Thrupp. From the beginning it has been supported by Presbyterian Support Northern (PSN) and Te Aka Puaho. St Kentigerns College and local businesses also provide support; it is a community driving visible and measurable change.

Is this the sort of project that could be supported by the people of St Aidans and St Andrews?

Do you have memories of when everyone clustered around the radio to hear the war news from London? There would be a hush as Big Ben chimed, followed by a very English voice, saying, “This is the BBC London, calling.” 

75 years ago, on 15th August 1945, Peace was declared. 

                      When the Boys Came Home. 

15th August 1945.

The end of the War, and the boys started coming home. For my Aunty Annie in Wellington, whose five sons had left for the war and all five came home it was a time of great rejoicing. My grown up girl cousins in Auckland were not so lucky, their brother Les was one of the tens of thousands who didn’t make it. Aunty Francie’s son Ron from Auckland had been torpedoed by the Japanese when the ship he was a lieutenant on was racing towards Australia after the Battle of the Coral Sea. 
For me, aged seven, these big cousins who had been away for most of my life were just names.
I remembered the man from the sweetie shop though. He sold squares of Hokey Pokey covered in chocolate and other delights. One of my earliest memories was of sitting in my pushchair, munching Hokey Pokey contentedly and suddenly being aware that my mother was having a struggle to get the pushchair up the kerb. 
Dear Uncle Harry from Wellington took me for a walk to the sweetie shop and bought me an extravagant lot of sweet delights. My mother wasn’t too impressed when I was sick on reaching home. I was dismayed to find the front of the shop boarded up shortly after and a sign painted on it. My Mum said it read “Gone to the War.” It stayed like that for years and then was replaced by a new home, so I guess that was another nice man who didn’t come home. 
The grocer’s delivery boy got his old job back. He walked in the back door with our box of groceries and my mother looked at him and said “Oh John, what have they done to you?” Half his face had been blown away. They stood there weeping, their arms about each other. 
My next soldier boy was on the train coming home to Greymouth from Christchurch. My Mum said “Don’t you bother that soldier boy, he will be too tired to want to bother about you. However, when I grinned at him, he grinned back and beckoned me to sit next to him and we had a pleasant time with me chattering away, until my Mum said “come on Margie, this young man needs to rest now.” 
My third soldier boy was rather special. He taught me English in my first year at college. He got us all to read The Wind in the Willows which he said was compulsory reading for all third formers, because it was a favourite of his and gave him a chance to read it again. This was followed by Kipling’s Kim and King Solomon’s Mines and Aesop’s fables. Then we had to write a fable. I wrote about the barber who lathered up the Twelve Apostles Range every Winter*. He wrote at the end… this has the ring of a true fable. I was so pleased and grinned at him, remembering the time I had first seen him at the end of the war. We were coming home to Greymouth from our bach after School holidays and a soldier in uniform was coming home from the war, on the bus. 
John Burns stopped the bus just North of Greymouth and went to open the luggage compartment at the back of the bus. The soldier followed and hoisted his kit bag onto his shoulder. This area is called Coal Creek Flats and is green dairy farm country.  There was a farmhouse set back quite a way from the road and while the driver and the soldier were at the back of the bus, I saw the farmhouse door open, and an elderly man came running out. The soldier saw him and as the bus started off again, road dust swirling around us, I saw them both running as fast as they could towards the best sight in the world for both of them. 

*The Barber is a freezing thick white fog that pours down the Twelve Apostles Range in Winter and freezes everyone in Cobden and lower Greymouth until the sun comes out. 

– Margaret Larsen.

Recently Colin preached on the Parable of the Weeds and asked if we had ever been referred to as a weed. Not me! Being in Lockdown once again has brought me into close contact with many of the weeds in my garden. As I pull and attack these monsters I often reflect on their uselessness and wonder why God even put them onto this earth.

During one of my coffee breaks I revisited Matthew 13; 24- 43 and read Jesus’s parable about the weeds (King James Version calls them Tares). It was consoling to know that the weeds were condemned to the fires of hell but maybe we are challenged to help the people who fall into this category of being bad people to change their ways before it’s too late.

Back in my garden for another round of weeding I started to think about my own plot and how these weeds can dominate and destroy. The following story formed itself so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s probably more suitable for children but who doesn’t enjoy a kid’s story?

A Modern Parable about Weeds.

A beautiful plant named Rose spent her days in the garden of a loving gardener. In summer she was covered in delicate pink flowers and shared her sweet perfume with anyone who came near her. She was surrounded by her friends Daisy and Lily. One cold winter’s day as she was preparing to snuggle down into the cold earth for a long sleep she felt a tug on her stem. It was Ivy and Jasmine – 2 of the pesky weeds who lived in the garden next door. They waved their long tendrils at her and suggested that she join them as they rampaged through the garden choking anything that got in their way. She shook her branches, telling them to leave her alone as she needed time to rest.

Throughout the cold wet days of winter Ivy and Jasmine ran all around the garden strangling any plant that was in their way and sending their roots deep down into the soil. Their friend Buttercup joined in their game and was soon spreading her seeds everywhere.

Rose woke up one warm sunny day to find that winter had disappeared and spring was spreading her cheerful bright colours everywhere. Her friends Daffodil and Hyacinth had pushed their way up through the rich soil and stretched their bright green leaves toward the sky. Bright colours and welcoming smells issued forth from their stems. The gardener returned, trimmed off Rose’s dead branches and gave her a good feed of plant food to start her growing again. As she looked around she saw Jasmine, Ivy and Buttercup all being pulled from the ground, chopped up into small pieces and thrown into a rubbish bag. Well, she thought, I’m glad I didn’t follow them and cause chaos in this beautiful spot. I know that the gardener cares for me and it is now time for me to flourish and bring joy to her. Those bad weeds have been banished from here forever.

And now I’m going back out to the garden to do battle with my other arch enemies – oxalis and kikuyu, but that’s another story.