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
The three Bible Readings for Epiphany and some simple prayers … from a resource I often used in preparing worship when I was a parish pastor, ‘The Sunday Website’
THE FIRST READING: Isaiah 60:1-6
Rise up in splendour, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
Morning opens out, opens out its gentle light. Caravans come, nations stretch to see. Hearts open up their sleepy eyes to the radiance that you have poured out on us. Help us to behold.
THE SECOND READING: Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6
The Gentiles are co-heirs, members of the same body, and co-partners in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Old promises now come good in the new-born child. The Christ is within us, our lives forever changed. Make us shining stars to lead all people to you.
THE GOSPEL: Matthew 2:1-12
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
Look! Look up! O Jerusalem, here comes the world running to walk in your light. We are the sparkling and the dim, the kings and the beggars, the bosses and the slaves. Lord, shine your light on us even so. Like wise men we search for truth, for love. Let us find you in the flight of the geese, the look of love on a father’s face; find you, find you everywhere. Star, chase away our dark. Glow and grow within us. Amen.
AS A NEW YEAR BEGINS ...
Happy New Year. As we celebrate Epiphany and as the New Year begins, I want to believe that every church community and every person, longs for the light of God’s glory and blessing to shine on them … and I think, if we’re honest, we really do long to be the means by which God’s light and glory shines on others too.
Epiphany reveals a beautiful view of God’s glory – that in Christ’s incarnation God’s glory and blessing are already ours – not something that we still have to earn; and that the experience of God’s glory is found in connecting and sharing with others.
As a New Year of opportunity for ministry begins maybe it would be good for each of us to ask:
- Who needs to be included in our community right now? – a question that calls us to emulate Christ’s self-sacrifice in our own lives.
Of course, this also begs the question of outreach and evangelism; something we often talk about but equally often struggle to do.
- What does it mean to bring others into the light of God’s grace or to reflect God’s glory to them?
The answer, suggested by Christ’s example, is in self-sacrifice. When we are trying to “win souls” or “grow our church” or even “be obedient” the focus tends to be on us and sometimes other people sense this and feel manipulated. But, when our focus is on serving, empowering, standing with, and loving those around us, with no particular expectation of their response, then they sense this too, and are drawn to the Christ they see in us – rather than to any particular doctrine, church or theological position.
If Epiphany is about God’s glory filling the world, it needs to happen through our Christ-like love and service.
(Based on another gem of a resource that I subscribe to, Sacredise – Loving God; Loving the World – Resources for Transforming Worship).
We pray: O God, by the leading of a star you revealed your Son Jesus Christ to the Gentiles; grant that your Church – me/us – may be a light to the nations, so that the whole world may come to see the splendour of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
After the success of the two REFRESH events last year, where we were blessed by the ministry of Dean Eaton (LCA Church Planting Mentor/Mission Facilitator), we are planning for two more this year. Once again they will be held in Hamilton and in Palmerston North to ensure that as many as possible in the northern and southern regions of the North Island can attend. We would also like to work out a way we can offer a REFRESH event in the South Island.
This year, we have invited Pastor Noel Due, Mission and Ministry Support Pastor for the SA/NT District of the LCA, to be our guest presenter.
We are still working on refining the title / theme of REFRESH this year, but we hope that it will be something that will lead into and inspire us as we prepare for a wonderful year of celebrating God’s grace in 2017, 500 years after the Reformation.
Please plan to come to these one day events:
- St Matthew, Hamilton – Saturday 2nd April, 9.30am – 3.30pm
- St Lukes, Palmerston North – Saturday 9th April, 9.30am – 3.30pm
Noel will also participate in the Church Workers’ Conference (3rd – 6th April) in Auckland.
COUNCIL OF SYNOD NEWS
I am delighted to announce that Johanna Wood (St Lukes Palmerston North) has been appointed by COS to be the Convenor of the Finance Advisory Committee. We have also asked Johanna to take on the role of chairing our COS meetings.
In accepting appointment, Johanna writes: Thank you for advising that I have been appointed to Council of Synod as Convenor of FAC and Chair. I look forward to working with you and council members to ensure that LCNZ is "the vehicle for God's continued work of bringing love to life in the world."
At the same time I also need to inform you that Caroline Samsom, Treasurer of the LCNZ since June 2013, has resigned from this position.
We thank God for Caroline and Johanna. Both responded at a time of need to God’s call to serve, in the spirit of those who answer, “Send me” when the Lord asks, “Who shall I send?”
Thank you Caroline for your oversight of the finances of the Church and for your contribution to the servant-leadership that COS provides. Thank you Johanna for saying ‘yes.’
REFORMATION 2017 - CHATHAM ISLANDS COMMEMORATION - EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST ...
In just less than a year, we plan to begin our commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at Te Whakuru on the north-eastern tip of the Chatham Islands, where the first Lutheran missionaries to New Zealand established their mission.
The Reformation 2017 Working Group is working; working hard to make sure that everyone in the Church has opportunity to participate fully in a whole year of commemoration (remember, the Chathams Islands is simply one event / opportunity amongst a number of events and opportunities we hope to make possible).
The Working Group will soon want to make some fairly definite plans and arrangements for the Chatham Islands component of the commemoration, so in order to help us with this planning, we would like to get some idea of who and how many might be interested in coming out for the two day / two night event. At this stage we have not finished negotiating costs for air travel there and back, hotel or marae accommodation, bus travel while on the island, and meals. As soon as we know this information we will make sure to pass it on.
If you are interested in coming to the Chatham Islands and receiving information could you please contact me as follows?
- By email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- By letter – Bishop Mark Whitfield – P.O. Box 12470, Thorndon, Wellington 6144
- By phone – (04) 3852540 or (028) 85001875
The photo is of the Stone Cottage at Maunganui built by Lutheran missionaries, Engst and Baucke
I will be taking one weeks’ leave from this coming Sunday (10th) to the following Sunday (17th). During this time you are welcome to contact either Assistant Bishop John Davison on 07 8395768 or at email@example.com, or the District Administrator Robert Hagen on 04 3852540 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MĀNAWATANGA / BLESSING
Mā te Atua e manaaki; God bless
Pastor Mark Whitfield BTh MSM
Bishop of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand / Pīhopa o te Hāhi Rūtana o Aotearoa