Bishop's Page

5th May 2014

Kia tau ki a koutou te atawhai me te rangimarie o te Atua
願 父 神 所 賜 的 恩 惠 和 平 安 與 你 們 同 在
Grace and peace to you from God

IRREVERSIBLE DECLINE? NO WAY!

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Pastor Jim Pietsch (St Pauls, Wellington) and I recently recorded interviews which were broadcast on Radio New Zealand’s Spiritual Outlook program on Easter Sunday evening and the Sunday evening after Easter. Pastor Jim spoke about the origins of the Lutheran Church from Reformation times, and I spoke about the early history of the Lutheran Church in New Zealand and of my ministry as Bishop.

I shouldn’t have, but I went looking to see what people out there in the ‘internet’ / ‘world-wide-web’ world had to say about our interviews.

I came across one blogger (someone who blogs) who commented on his blog (discussion) site that I was the Bishop of a church in irreversible decline … Bishop of a church that had never been successful in New Zealand and never will be.

Yesterday’s Gospel spoke to us of two men caught up in irreversible decline … their faces downcast (Luke 24:17). The irreversible decline for them was that the one that they had hoped would redeem Israel (24:21), Jesus had been crucified, was dead, and even the women had been told that he was alive; well … they just weren’t convinced at this stage.

Their hopes dashed; their faces downcast … irreversible decline … and a stranger (at first!) comes and joins their journey and their conversation.

Tell me all about he said, and they did. They poured their hearts out … and the stranger, Jesus listened.

And then, once he’d listened, he gently made sense of what they were saying. He answered their questions and wove their experiences of this momentous weekend into God’s salvation history plan right from the beginning –

Beginning with Moses and all the prophets he interpreted to them from all the Scriptures the things concerning the Christ (24:27).

And as he helped them make sense of all that had gone wrong, life did not seem so devastatingly pointless any more. Some light dawned in their minds, their hearts no longer felt desperately cold and hope started to resurrect within their own being.

Irreversible decline was being reversed, and later they were to remember this and say, and didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us while we walked? (24:32).

Dear members and friends of the LCNZ … the risen Lord Jesus comes alongside of us, to walk with us and talk with us, to listen to us and to answer our questions and deal with our uncertainties. Jesus walks with us; not a dead Jesus … but the risen Christ … the one that death could not hold down is the one walking with us.

The cross and the tomb couldn’t hold him. Friends, there’s no such thing as irreversible declinewhen the Lord of the Church is the risen Lord.

This gives me huge encouragement and hope for the future of the Lutheran Church; a Church empowered and enabled by the one who lives … Christ himself.

In the grave they laid him, Love whom men had slain, Thinking that never he would wake again(there’s your irreversible decline), but … Up he sprang at Easter, like the risen grain, He who for three days in the grave had lain (there’s irreversible decline reversed).

I invite you dear Church to welcome Jesus into your journey and conversation –

Risen Lord Jesus, when our hearts are wintry, grieving or in pain, By your touch, please call us back to life again. Amen. Alleluia.

PASTOR JOE KUMMEROW, JULIE AND FAMILY INVOLVED IN SERIOUS CAR ACCIDENT

Many of may be aware by now that on Saturday afternoon, Pastor Joe, his wife Julie, and their 4 children (Lucy, Emily, Nicholas and Alexander) were involved in a serious accident near the Bay of Plenty city of Tauranga in the North Island of New Zealand. The Kummerows were returning to Auckland after a post-Easter holiday. 

While Pastor Joe and Julie and their family suffered ‘minor’ injuries, the driver of the other car – a young mother – died at the scene of the accident, and her two young children were taken to hospital in a serious condition; one of them, critical.

The Kummerows have now returned to Auckland. The children went back to school today, Joe will go back to work tomorrow, and Julie to her part-time teaching later in the week.

Join me in giving thanks for God’s protection of this family, and also in asking his comfort and blessing to be with the family who have suffered tragically through this accident –

He whakawhirinakitanga mō tātou ki te ingoa o te Ariki; Nāna nei te rangi me te whenua i hanga. Our help is in the name of the Lord; Who made heaven and earth.

Gracious and loving God – thank you for watching over Joe, Julie, Lucy, Emily, Nicholas and Alexander, and for protecting them from serious injury and harm on Saturday afternoon. Heal them of any injury and pain, and restore them to fullness of health.

Jesus, risen Lord – draw near to the family in the other vehicle, and bring your healing to the physical injuries sustained by the young children. Mercifully embrace this family in your love and heal their pain as they mourn the loss of a mother, a partner, a sister, a daughter.

E te Ariki, whakarongo mai ki ā mātou karanga Ā kia tae ki a koe ta mātou karanga. Āmene. Lord, hear our prayer, and let your cry come to you. Amen.

MEETINGS, MEETINGS AND SOME MORE MEETINGS

Over the next couple of weeks, the second round of meetings for 2014 gets underway. These are the councils and committees meeting –

  • Lutheran Support Ministries (10th May)
  • Financial Advisory Committee (10th May)
  • LLL Board (17th May)
  • Council of Synod (24th and 25th May in Christchurch)
  • Board for Local Mission (21st and 22nd May in Adelaide)

I invite you to pray for the work of these committees and meetings:

Almighty God, we give thanks that through the varied gifts of the members of these committees, councils and boards, you provide for the ongoing care of your Church. Help us to recognise and act on every opportunity for fruitful service. Send your Holy Spirit so that everything that is thought and spoken may be for the good of the Church and the glory of your name. Amen.

FUTURE MINISTRY IN MARTON, BOTANY AND CHRISTCHURCH

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This is a massive week in terms of getting alongside three congregations of the LCNZ with a view to seeking God’s will with regard to future ministry in each of these locations.

On Saturday, COS member Caroline Samsom and I met with members of St Martin Marton (and some observers from Harrison Street Community Church Whanganui) to look at some exciting ministry possibilities in Marton. Caroline and I are heading back there this Friday evening to work with a small task force in the hope that we can have a Ministry Proposal in place by the end of the month.

Tomorrow afternoon, COS member Jill Hobden and I will meet with members of St Pauls in Christchurch for the same purpose; viz. to seek to discern God’s will for future ministry in this location. As reported in a recent update, Pastor Brian Schwarz and his wife Janet have been living and serving in Christchurch since the beginning of March.

Our meeting tomorrow brings together some great minds, some enthusiasm and once again, a will to listen for God speaking his will for this congregation. The Director of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod’s (LC-MS) Disaster Relief Program, Pastor Glenn Merritt will be with us to encourage us towards mercy in action as we consider how we might reach out from St Pauls to the community of Burwood and Christchurch with the life-saving gospel of Christ. Pastor Bruce Zagel (Director of Reconciliation Ministry in the LCA/NZ) also plans on being with us to offer his encouragement as well. And then there are the members of St Pauls … people really keen to see God rebuild their congregation and His ministry in and through them.

And then next Sunday afternoon, the COS Exec will meet with members of Botany Lutheran Church in Auckland, along with the Coordinator of Asian Ministry in the LCA/NZ Pastor Brian Shek. And yes, you guessed it … to seek to know how God wants us to proceed with His ministry in and through our Chinese sisters and brothers in Botany.

Exciting times ahead for all these places, so can I ask you to please continue to pray for them as well in the words of this wonderful hymn –

The church of Christ in every age, beset by change but Spirit-led, Must claim and test its heritage and keep on rising from the dead.

Across the world, across the street, the victims of injustice cry For shelter and for bread to eat, and never live until they die.

Then let the servant church arise, a caring church that longs to be A partner in Christ's sacrifice, and clothed in Christ's humanity.

We have no mission but to serve in full obedience to our Lord: To care for all, without reserve, and spread his liberating word.

8TH JUNE: 200 DAYS TO GO …

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In the latest New Zealand Christian Network New, we’re being encouraged again to make the most of the opportunity we have in this bicentenary year to proclaim Te Harinui – the good news of great joy in Christ – to our nation again.

Here is what they’re suggesting –

Sunday 8th June is not far away, but there's still time to prepare something for church that day to raise awareness of the Gospel Bicentenary and its significance in our country.

You might:

  • Ask your pastor to preach on 200 years of the Gospel in New Zealand
  • Show the trailer of Te Rongopai, the DVD specially created to tell the story of Christian beginnings and the spread of the Gospel
  • Show the whole DVD (or maybe just one or more segments from the DVD). You can order it here by going to this website – http://nzchristiannetwork.org.nz/te-rongopai-dvd/
  • Include the Bicentenary Statement – Discussion Paper in your church newsletter, available here – http://nzchristiannetwork.org.nz/multimedia-archive/a-discussion-paper-for-the-gospel-bicentenary-aotearoa-new-zealand/
  • Say a karakia / prayer in both English and Maori
  • Mention the NZ Christian Network and Gospel 2014 websites for people to find further information
  • Put the number of days left before 25 December somewhere in your church newsletter each week
  • Or something else.

FAKEBOOK … NATIONAL YOUTH CAMP … 7th to 10th July

Fakebook … making connections in the modern world

  • Have fun in the snow
  • Make new friends from all over NZ
  • Grow in your faith together
  • Ruapehu Christian Camp Owhango (near Taumarunui)
  • Cost is $150.00 pp

For more Information, contact Marjon at marjon.gerson@clear.net.nz or 09 579 4490


Kia noho a Ihowa ki a koutou; the Lord be with you.

+MARK
Pastor Mark Whitfield BTh MSM
Bishop of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand / Pihopa o te Hāhi Rūtana o Aotearoa

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