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
Each Lenten season, I find myself re-reading bits and pieces from Max Lucado’s He Chose the Nails. These last few days I’ve been reading and reflecting on some of the things Max Lucado had to say about the cross. I wanted to do this in light of the second reading we heard last Sunday –
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God(1 Corinthians 1:18).
I’ll let Max speak here –
The cross. Can you turn any direction without seeing one? Perched atop a chapel. Carved into a graveyard headstone. Engraved in a ring or suspended on a chain. The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. An odd choice, don't you think? Strange that a tool of torture would come to embody a movement of hope.
Would you wear a tiny electric chair around your neck? Suspend a gold-plated hangman's noose on the wall? Would you print a picture of a firing squad on a business card? Yet we do so with the cross.
Why is the cross the symbol of our faith? To find the answer look no farther than the cross itself. Its design couldn't be simpler. One beam horizontal – the other vertical. One reaches out – like God's love. The other reaches up – as does God's holiness. One represents the width of His love; the other reflects the height of His holiness. The cross is the intersection. The cross is where God forgave His children without lowering His standards.
How could He do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on His Son and punished it there. God put on him the wrong who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Envision the moment. God on His throne. You on the earth. And between you and God, suspended between you and heaven, is Christ on His cross. Your sins have been placed on Jesus. God, who punishes sin, releases His rightful wrath on your mistakes. Jesus receives the blow. Since Christ is between you and God, you don't. The sin is punished, but you are safe – safe in the shadow of the cross.
As boldly as the centre beam proclaims God's holiness, the crossbeam declares His love. And, oh, how wide His love reaches. He Chose the Nails: What God Did to Win Your Heart by Max Lucado. ©2000 Max Lucado.
St Paul writes –
We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1: 23-24).
Friends, the cross is more than just the power and the wisdom of God. Here we see God’s love most perfectly come to life.
Sounds crazy eh; foolish even? But it works.
Blessings as you continue to walk towards the cross this Lent; blessings as you trust the cross and the one who hangs on it for you!
WAIRUA TAPU KUHU MAI - LCNZ DISTRICT CONVENTION
This year our Church will meet under the theme of Wairua Tapu Kuhu Mai – Holy Spirit, you are welcome here; fill us with God’s love. Representatives from all LCNZ congregations will gather at Harrison Street Community Church (formerly St Johns Lutheran Church) Whanganui on the weekend of 23rd and 24th May, to worship together, to fellowship together, to hear reports and stories of how the Spirit has been welcomed and is working in the lives of God’s people (His Church), to plan for the future, to elect servant leaders, to hear our Bishop, John Henderson preach at the Sunday service, and to support by our presence the exciting ministry happening at HSCC.
Please ensure that you have chosen your delegates and registered them for Convention.
IS GOD CALLING YOU (OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW) TO SERVE?
Do you know someone in your congregation who might be nominated for servant-leadership roles on Council of Synod, Lutheran Support Ministries (LSM), Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) and Lutheran Laypeoples’ League (LLL)? If so, please talk about it with your pastor, your congregational leadership … and most importantly, with the person that you believe could be a blessing to the Lord’s Church … and then let the LCNZ office know.
INSTALLATION OF PASTOR JASWANTH KUKATLAPALLI
On Sunday 15th February, Jaswanth Kukatlapalli was installed as pastor of the Wodonga Parish (northern Victoria) comprising the congregations of St Johns Wodonga and St Marks Yackandandah. I sent greetings on behalf of the LCNZ for the occasion and have been in touch with Jaswanth in recent days. He is settling in well to what sounds like a busy parish life. He is under pressure to switch allegiances to an Aussie Rules team – the Sydney Swans (thanks to my wife’s Uncle John Simboras who is Jaswanth’s mentor pastor). Please pray for Jaswanth, that he will remain faithful to the Hurricanes and the All Blacks.
But more seriously, please pray that the Lord will watch over Jaswanth during these early weeks and months of ministry, and that he will know great joy and blessing in proclaiming the gospel to God’s people.
In the photo: Pastor Ernie Kiss, Pastor Tim Jarick, Pastor Jaswanth Kukatlapalli, Bishop Greg Pietsch, Pastor Graham Zweck, and Pastor John Simboras.
Just a reminder to register for REFRESH –
- St Matthew Hamilton, Saturday 28th March, 9.30am – 3.30pm
- St Lukes Palmerston North, Saturday 11th April, 9.30am – 3.30pm
REFRESH is an LSM initiative; a one-day event to inspire, encourage and equip you for ministry in your local context to be led by the LCA-NZ Mission Facilitator and Church Planting Mentor, Dean Eaton.
You can either –
- Pick up a registration and information flyer, fill it in and post to the LCNZ Office, or
- Register on-line at http://www.lutheran.org.nz/refresh.
Just a reminder again, that if any of you are near Wellington, Palmerston North or Auckland in the next 2-3 weeks, make sure you get along to hear Ensemble Nobiles.
The five young men who make up Ensemble Nobiles met each other during their nine-year education in fine arts as members of the St. Thomas Boys Choir Leipzig (this is Johann Sebastian Bach’s choir and church). Their repertoire ranges from late medieval mass songs to modern age works.
- Saturday 21st March at 7.00pm – Concert with the Choir of Wellington Cathedral of St Paul
- Sunday 22nd March at 10.00am – Singing for Morning Worship at St Pauls Lutheran Church Wellington
- Sunday 22nd March at 8.00pm – Concert at St Andrews in the City, Palmerston North
- Tuesday 24th March at 7.00pm – Concert at St Lukes Presbyterian Church, Remuera
CARDINAL JOHN DEW
I wrote to Archbishop John Dew on behalf of the members of the LCNZ to congratulate him on his recent appointment and induction as a Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church and received a lovely letter of thanks and greeting back from him. I am looking forward to personally greeting and congratulating him at our next National Church Leaders meeting next week in Wellington.
St Pauls Lutheran Church Wellington are having a King Street BBQ on Saturday 28th March; an opportunity for connection with and blessing of their local community. They are doing this as part of Neighbours Day Aoteoroa.
Neighbours Day Aotearoa is a collaborative campaign organised and supported by Lifewise, Inspiring Communities, the Mental Health Foundation, Neighbourhood Support NZ and Public Libraries of NZ.
Whether you live in a suburb, on a city block, in an apartment or on a rural property, you have neighbours – and knowing your neighbours matters. Neighbours Day continues to be a catalyst for thousands of Kiwis to connect with their neighbours and turn their streets into neighbourhoods, ata whainga te pa harakeke.
Atawhaingia te pa harakeke – this whakatauki or proverb speaks to the essence of what Neighbours Day is looking to achieve, nurture familial bonds in the solidarity and unity of community. Atawhaingia is to nurture, protect, cultivate and love. The Pa Harakeke is the Harakeke (flax) grove of the village, used as a metaphor for an intertwined community.
COUNCIL OF SYNOD MEETS
It’s just over a month since your Council of Synod met for its first face-to-face meeting of the year. The COS Exec has had two teleconference meetings as well since the beginning of the year.
We were delighted to welcome Pastor Richard Fox, Director of Lutheran Media to our meeting. In fact, Richard came over for a long weekend and visited a number of media outlets in Auckland, all with a view to exploring the possibility of starting a Lutheran media ministry in New Zealand once again. Richard reported to COS about the encouraging conversations he’d had with the media. Please pray that the Lord will open up to us a way to once again proclaim the gospel to Kiwis through the media.
MĀNAWATANGA / BLESSING
Kia tau ki a tātou katoa Te atawhai o tō tātou Ariki, a Ihu Karaiti Me te aroha o te Atua Me te whiwhingatahitanga Ki te wairua tapu Ake, ake, ake. Amine.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all Forever and ever. Amen.
Pastor Mark Whitfield BTh MSM
Bishop of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand / Pīhopa o te Hāhi Rūtana o Aotearoa