Bishop's Page

29 September 2015

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

TE AROHA O ATUA MO TE TANGATA

The Love of God for the People

Shortly after the Church asked me to be Bishop in June 2011, my dear friend Jude Nelson (Te Punga) from Palmerston North told me that she had been called by God to make a Māori cloak for me to wear, especially for formal occasions.

At various times during the past 4 years Jude has updated me on her progress, and each time we have spoken about this, I have felt quite moved at this gesture of love and appreciation for me.

On Sunday afternoon, 27th September, during a short and beautiful rite including song, scripture, prayer and blessing at John and Jude’s home at Bunnythorpe near Palmerston North, Jude gave me the Rapaki (cloak worn around the shoulder) she had made. It is called Te Aroha o Atua mo te Tangata (The Love of God for the People).

I was deeply moved as I received this gift from Jude, who has been an almost life-long friend (we go back to the youth days of LYNZ) and as Pastor Rodger Russ, John, Jude, their daughter Rachel and our youngest daughter Charlotte prayed with me.

These are the words that Jude spoke to me as she presented me with the Rapaki:

TO MARK WHITFIELD, BISHOP OF THE LUTHERAN CHURCH OF NEW ZEALAND

This Rapaki (short cloak worn around the shoulders) has been made for you and it is given to acknowledge your contribution to and love for the Lutheran Church of New Zealand.

It is named “Te Aroha O Atua mo te Tangata” meaning “The love of God for the People.”

The free swinging portion of the cloak depicts a piano or organ keyboard and speaks to your love for music and acknowledges your God-given gift. The pokini (rolled hard lowest portion of the cloak) have been etched with thirteen stripes; these represent Christ and his disciples. There are seven almost hidden triple pokini which allude to the Creation and depicts the Triune nature of God. The pokini will clap together as you move creating more music in your life.

The Taniko (finger twined) is a very old pattern found in S.M. Mead’s book “Te Whatu Taniko.” The colours are chosen to show the darkness of our sin contrasting with the pure and holy whiteness of God. The red stitches are the sacrificed blood of the Lamb that flows from the cross.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

There are thirteen white stitches in each pattern. These are also the colours of my Kapa Haka group from my childhood “Mawaihakona” Māori Club in Upper Hutt.

Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:11-12

With aroha, Jude Te Punga Nelson, Te Atiawa, 26th September 2015

Friends, I want to share this with you now, because on Tuesday evening this week (29th) I will wear this for the first time in public as Pīhopa o te Hāhi Rūtana o Aotearoa, the Bishop of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand, during the Opening Worship Service for the General Convention of Synod of the Lutheran Church of Australia in Brisbane.

I will be honoured to wear this beautiful cloak as your servant-leader, and to be reminded each time I wear it, of my call to the ministry of God’s grace and love; the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tēnā koe, Jude; thank you.

MĀNAWATANGA / BLESSING

Kia tau tonu te rangimārie o te Ariki ki a koutou.
The peace of Christ be always with you.

+ MARK

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

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