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
I ordered a little book the other day. It's called, Your 5:2 Diet – Tasty Recipes For One, and I think from the title it will be obvious to you what my intentions are. I want to try and eat a little less on at least two days each week. The name and aim of the game is to consume less food and therefore to … well, you know.
Last Sunday Jesus provided 5000+ people with his own version of the 5:2 Diet, but instead of heading the less food way, it was all headed in the more-than-enough-and-at-least-twelve-baskets-full-leftover way.
I've always been fascinated by how Jesus, how God can do so much (immeasurably more, one of the other readings said) with even a little to start with … 5 bread rolls and a couple of fish, and next thing a crowd is fed.
But here's what I believe is the key verse in this chapter –
Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).
Jesus has fed. Jesus has walked on water. Jesus has saved his disciples from a storm. People are starting to realise that Jesus is the one they'd been expecting (6:14), but perhaps they weren't quite sure what kind of Messiah he'd come to be (6:15).
He hadn't come to be the conquering king, but rather had come to be the humble servant; a crucified king who would feed and nourish the world, not with 5 bread rolls and 2 fish, but with his own life on the cross. Only when Jesus' body is broken on the cross can he be the Bread of Life that feeds the world, and only when we are willing to follow him through death to life, can we become the Body of Christ that brings life to others.
Feed us now, Bread of Life, We hunger for you. Feed us now, Bread of Life, Come and live within. (Robin Mann, 1976)
HAVE YOU GOT YOUR BOOTS?
This was the question that I was asked as Pastor Chris Janetzki and I pulled up at the Tapawera Rugby grounds back in June (Tapawera is a small town, 30kms south-west of Nelson in the Motueka River Valley). Luckily for me (and for the team!), the extra 5 or 6 six players needed to make the squad eventually turned up and I didn't have to don jersey, mouth-guard and boots … or a mighty dose of courage!
Pastor Chris has been putting on the boots for Moutere Rangers, the local club from Upper Moutere … taking the high ball, running it back, crashing into the tackles, and lying at the base of a ruck ever since he arrived to be pastor in this village community over four years ago. My advice is: watch out Ben Smith and Izzy Dagg; Pastor Chris plays a pretty good game at fullback.
As I've said many times before, I like visiting at the grassroots of where the Church is at, and my joy was observing one of our pastors as close to the grassroots of a Kiwi community as you could get.
There was much more to my weekend visit to Upper Moutere than the rugby. I got to meet the four delightful young children that Haidee and Chris are fostering - Shakira, Theresa, Ollie and Shania. We attended the debut performance of the amateur drama club that Haidee has helped form (another example of involvement at the grassroots of community). I got to play with the 'band' for worship on Sunday morning and then to enjoy the fellowship of the members, and amongst that, to receive some lovely expressions of appreciation for the work and support that I, together with the Council of Synod have given to St Pauls UMO as they have journeyed through some challenging times in recent years. I also met with their leadership to discuss constitutional matters.
It was a very good visit to the heartland of the Church.
PASTOR CHRIS HAS TWO CALLS
In the past couple of weeks, Pastor Chris has received two calls to serve as pastor in other parishes of the LCA. One call is to the Lavington Parish in Albury, New South Wales, and the other is to the Maitland Parish in South Australia. Please keep Chris, Haidee and their children in your prayers as they seek to know God's will with regard to where he wants them to serve in future ministry.
IT MAY HAVE RAINED, BUT IT DIDN'T DAMPEN SPIRITS (OR THE SPIRIT!)
On the weekend of the 18th and 19th July I travelled to visit our sisters and brothers in the Bay of Plenty region. On the Saturday morning I arrived in Whakatane early to help with a 'Give Away Fair' – Street Community Event … the first effort of community outreach cooperation between the Lutherans and the Māori Presbyterians on Hinemoa Street. The rain started slowly but by lunchtime it was pouring, and we ended up having to move everything inside the Presbyterian Church.
Only a few folk from the community braved the weather to pop in for a sausage or some hot soup, and to check out the stuff that was available for give-away … but at least we got to say hi to a few.
The rain could have been cause for despondency, but quite the opposite mood prevailed. What I observed was a growing warmth and (Holy) Spirit of cooperation between Lutherans and Presbyterians. They told me that they'd "had fun" working together and preparing for the Fair. And as we sat inside sipping our soup and eating the excess sausages (where's that 5:2 Diet when you need it??!!), they started planning their next fair together; this time in middle of summer.
I also got talking to one person from our church there who was so inspired by the REFRESH event that he wants to get to hear Dean Eaton again, because he's keen to see how ministry can develop in Whakatane … and yes, this from a very small (we might say a 5 bread roll; 2 fish) situation.
My encouragement is for the folk of the Bay of Plenty to do what the little boy with the bread and fish did … give it to Jesus and let him bless your offering abundantly for the Kingdom.
On the Saturday evening I conducted house worship in Tauranga for 11 saints, and then on Sunday morning for 17 saints at Kawerau Lutheran Church.
Again, this was another great visit to the heartland of the Lord's Church.
BACK HOME LAST WEEKEND
Last weekend I visited Marton to meet with and worship with the members of St Martin. On Saturday afternoon, about 20 folk participated in a most positive meeting, which resulted in the appointment of a new chairperson after some years of vacancy. Someone else even offered to be the assistant chair. The congregation have advertised for a new administrator, and to date there have been 9 applications. A panel of three has been chosen to conduct the interview and appointment process. Another wonderful thing is happening at St Martin – they are about to start a Sunday school again for about 4-5 young kids.
St Martin has also opened its doors and hearts to two other denominations in the Marton area – the Elim Church and the Methodist Church both use St Martin for their own regular worship, and as I write this, another group are also asking about using the church.
The Lord is using one of our historic congregations – a small congregation that was once the largest in the LCNZ – to bless others. See what can happen when we offer what we have and what we are … some bread, some fish … our facilities, our hearts … to God.
SUMMERSET on SUMMERHILL
Last Sunday I also had the privilege of sharing a message of God's abundant blessing and love based on Psalm 145, with the community at Summerset Village at Summerhill in Palmerston North. Dennis and Sharolyn Mollet, with wonderful support from some members from St Lukes Palmerston North, serve in this ministry of reaching out with the gospel to elderly people.
MISSION PROJECT – ST PAULS WELLINGTON
This year St Pauls Wellington has accepted a mission project to pray for and support the work of evangelists among the Lua people of central Thailand through Lutheran Mission International. Their mid-year appeal has been dedicated to this project.
A MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE CHURCH RE GENERAL PASTORS CONFERENCE
As reported in my last update, Pastors Jim Pietsch (Wellington), John Davison (Hamilton, Chris Janetzki (Upper Moutere) and I attended the General Pastors Conference of the Church in Hahndorf, South Australia. The only topic for discussion was the matter of Women and the Call to the Office of the Public Ministry (Women's Ordination). Pastor Neville Otto writes to the Church as follows –
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, I greet you in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. General Pastors Conference was held 7-9 July 2015 at St Michael's Church and School, Hahndorf, South Australia, in order to fulfil its duties to give guidance and to serve as a theological adviser to General Synod in matters of doctrine and confession [LCA By-Laws V.F 1. (a) and 2.]. The business of the meeting was to consider the proposals referred to it by the General Church Council at its meeting of 5-6 June 2015 in preparation for the forthcoming General Convention of Synod to be held 29 September – 4 October 2015.
The major agenda item before General Pastors Conference was Women and the Call to the Office of the Public Ministry, in particular the sixteen congregational proposals relating to this issue.
Yesterday I forwarded to LCA pastors and General Convention delegates the advice of General Pastors Conference on this matter, together with three congregational proposals. Your pastor or Convention delegate will be able to provide more information. If your congregation does not have a pastor or Convention delegate, you can find the documents on the General Convention website Business page – http://www.lcasynod.org.au/travelaccommodation.
Rev Neville Otto Secretary of the Church
WHAKANUIA TE WIKI O TE REO MĀORI – CELEBRATE MĀORI LANGUAGE WEEK
This week is Māori Langauge Week and once again I'm keen for members of te Hāhi Rūtana o Aotearoa (the Lutheran Church of New Zealand) to acknowledge the beautiful language of our indigenous people. To that end, I've sent out resources to all LCNZ congregations and have encouraged the use of simple phrases, the Lord's Prayer, and some lovely waiata (songs) in Te Reo during worship this Sunday.
SAFE AT CHURCH – WHANGANUI – 8th AUGUST
Our Professional Standards Officer, Jill Hagen will be running a Safe At Church workshop at Harrison Street Community Church in Whanganui on Saturday 8th August. Please contact Jill at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
IN OUR PRAYERS
Pastor Joe Kummerow, Julie, Lucy, Emily, Nicholas and Alexander
Joe has gone to Australia this week to be with his elderly and dying father
Pastor Chris Janetzki, Haidee, Shakira, Theresa, Ollie and Shania
As they consider calls to Lavington and Maitland
The LLL Board
As they meet in Hamilton this Saturday, and As they thank God for the faithful service of Clive Kingsley-Smith who is retiring from the board
Your new Council of Synod
As it meets in Auckland on the 8th and 9th August, and As it welcomes new members – Pastor Jim Pietsch and Paul Argyle
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
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