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
YOU HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO JESUS
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel (Martin Luther in his Explanation to The Third Article of the Creed).
This Sunday the Church celebrates God’s gift of the Holy Spirit; the means by which we come to Jesus to believe in him and belong to him. Luther goes on to say that the Holy Spirit has called us by the gospel, enlightened us with his gifts, and made us holy and kept us in the true faith.
If you’re at worship this coming Sunday, then thank the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is responsible for you being there.
If you pray today, then thank the Holy Spirit, because it’s the Spirit that has given you faith to pray.
If you read something from the Bible today (or any day) and you feel warmed and loved by Jesus even more, then thank the Holy Spirit, because the Spirit has brought you to Jesus.
If you get a buzz about belonging to te whānau a te Karaiti (the family and friends of Christ and all the diversity and variety therein), then thank the Holy Spirit.
If you feel moved to visit someone today … someone who is unwell or shut-in; if you feel moved to offer a word of encouragement to someone in need, or if you offer to lend a hand to someone who needs help … then thank the Holy Spirit for enlightening you with his gifts and making you more and more like Jesus.
If you love belonging to Jesus Christ, then praise the Holy Spirit.
And if you think the Holy Spirit only works at a personal and individual level, then check out what Luther says about the Holy Spirit’s effect on the Church of God –
In the same way [the Holy Spirit] calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.
What a blessing that you and I have been warmed and infused with the Holy Spirit of Jesus. However, let’s remind ourselves – the Holy Spirit is not a gift or a resource to keep to ourselves; it’s the means by which we share in God’s mission of telling the world that he loves them in Christ –
“Peace to you. Just as the Father sent me, I send you.” Then he took a deep breath and breathed into them. “Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:21-22)
THE HOLY SPIRIT IS STIRRING THE NEW BOARD FOR LOCAL MISSION
Recently, Sharolyn Mollet and I attended the second face-to-face meeting of the new Board for Local Mission (BLMiss), established by General Synod in April last year.
This board has one real simple objective, amongst many objectives and that is to be a doingboard rather than a talking board. In other words it wants to ensure that mission at a local level throughout Australia and New Zealand is done and not just talked about. Of course, there needs to be some talking and planning, but it’s all with a view to doing some doing; to identifying the many opportunities that exist in both nations for sharing Christ and his love, and then actually doing it.
A gift to our meeting and indeed to our Church is Dean Eaton; newly-appointed Mission Facilitator and Church Planting Mentor. Dean shared with us a vision of a Church that is growing and going in and with the love of Christ.
Sharolyn and I had time to meet with Dean and to share with him our desire to see the Holy Spirit stir up some new ministries here in Aotearoa.
The Holy Spirit certainly touched this meeting and warmed our hearts; the Spirit is ready to blow and burn where and when it will through the LCA and the LCNZ. Eyes and hearts open, everyone!
HOLY SPIRIT STIRS ST MARTIN MARTON TO CALL
Last Sunday morning after worship, the members of St Martin, Marton called Brent Siddall to be their new part-time Pastoral Ministry Worker. Brent trained for the Anglican priesthood, but never sought ordination. He has worked in the media (radio) here in New Zealand in the UK, and in sales and management also in the UK. He lives in Whanganui with his mother and is an active member of Harrison Street Community (St Johns Lutheran) Church in Whanganui.
In keeping with the Spirit who cares for the Church (gathers it, enlightens it, makes it holy), the Spirit has now offered a gift of love to the members of St Martin … someone to care for them and grow them in Christ, so that they also may go and bless others with his love.
Please pray for Brent and the saints at St Martin during this time that Brent will be considering the call.
HOLY SPIRIT STIRS IN CHRISTCHURCH
Since I last wrote, there has been a lot of Holy Spirit-generated activity at St Pauls Christchurch, as they also plan for future ministry in their congregation and to their community.
During the interim ministry of Pastor Brian (and Janet) Schwarz, attendances at Sunday worship have steadily increased, a number of folk have ‘come back’ to St Pauls, and generally-speaking there is a renewed optimism and hope for the future. Thanks Holy Spirit; you can come again … and again and again.
Disaster Relief money, so generously given by people in Japan, Australia, the USA, and throughout New Zealand, is still being offered and made available to those with significant earthquake-related repair needs. At the same time the leadership of the LCNZ continues to discuss with the members of St Pauls how we might go about blessing the wider community as well.
Council of Synod (COS) held its most recent meeting at St Pauls over a Saturday and a Sunday, in order to give tangible expression of our love and support for this congregation.
Please pray for the members of St Pauls as they discuss a future ministry plan and vote on it in these coming days.
I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU … CLOSE OF TAURANGA LUTHERAN FELLOWSHIP
The promise that Jesus gave as he prepared to ascend to heaven, is the promise of his continuing presence through the gift of the Holy Spirit –
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth … you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you (John 14:16-18).
My prayer is that this word and promise of Jesus will sustain the members of Tauranga Lutheran Fellowship after their congregation closes on Sunday 15th June. I realise that this is a sad occasion in some ways, but it is also an opportunity for us to thank God that by His Spirit he gathered this congregation together for a season, enlightened these people with his gifts and made them holy.
Some members have already been led by the Spirit to find spiritual home and nurture in other churches in the region, but will continue to meet regularly as a ‘Lutheran group’ for fellowship, worship, and to receive the sacrament from a licensed lay-person. I have also committed to regular visiting, along with visits to Whakatane and Kawerau.
THIS SUNDAY MARKS 200 DAYS TO GO UNTIL THE BICENTENARY OF THE GOSPEL …
It’s only 200 days until we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Te Harinui – the good news of great joy in Christ in our nation.
Once again, here are some suggestions for how you / your congregation might observe this –
- 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.
COLLEGE OF BISHOPS RETREAT
From Sunday 22nd June to Thursday 26th June, the College of Bishops will meet in their annual retreat at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay.
LCA Secretary and Mission Director, Pastor Neville Otto will also join us for retreat, and Pauline Simonsen will be the retreat facilitator. We will also be honoured by a visit and presentation by Dr Stuart Lange from Laidlaw College in Auckland; Stuart will present on the bicentenary of the gospel in Aotearoa.
I had hoped that there would be a Bishop (or Mission Director) to preach in each LCNZ location on the 22nd June, but that is not possible. Can I please encourage you all to get along to worship that Sunday morning where a Bishop is preaching?
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 email@example.com or 09 579 4490
THE GATEWAY GIFT
A word from the Gateway Gift Trust Board chair, Jill Hobden –
The Gateway Gift Trust Board has signalled for some time now that the money available for grants from our investments is decreasing and this year the investment income will be more than 10% less than the total grants approved last year. This trend is expected to continue into 2015 and possibly extend beyond that. Congregations are requested to keep this in mind when making decisions about making a major grant application and to also note the 2014 closing date of 18th July for these applications.
THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT
E karanga ana tou Wairua Tapu, i nga hunga, i nga iwi, i nga reo, kia manako ki nga mea miharo i poua e koe. Na tou Wairua Tapu, i tiri te rongopai ki Aotearoa. E karanga ana koe i tenei ra, i tenei ra, kia kotahi nga iwi i raro i tou maru, kia whangaia te hunga matekai, kia whakaorangia nga turoro, kia tukua nga whakarau kia haere noa, kia mataara te tatari atu ki tou rangatiratanga.
Through the Holy Spirit nations, races, and languages are called to welcome the great things you have done. Through the Holy Spirit you have brought the good news to our land. Day by day you call us to be one people, to be your people. Day by day you call us to feed the hungry, heal the sick, deliver the oppressed, and to wait and watch for your kingdom.
(From Variations to the Great Thanksgiving in A New Zealand Prayer Book – He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, for Pentecost)
Kia noho a Ihowa ki a koutou; the Lord be with you.
Pastor Mark Whitfield BTh MSM
Bishop of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand / Pihopa o te Hāhi Rūtana o Aotearoa