The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--
We feel so thankful for our Church and the many opportunities we have to be a blessing to our community through the special services we hold; Combined Services, Family services, Nine lessons in Carols, Taize, Choir, the beauty of candles and flowers and opportunity to sing the timeless carols which tell of our wonderful Saviour’s birth.
Joe and I are so privileged to be a small part of your journey this year, this wonderful, chaotic, amazing, messy year where we have all had opportunity to grow in grace, longsuffering, endurance, and other fruit of the Spirit!
Highlights of course; the new organ and a stunning organ concert fundraiser, our Parish Picnic, (we really know how to play well), what a great reflection of who we are as a family.
We so appreciated gathering in real time once again after Covid shutdown (we really missed each other) and thank God for an awesome team who worked their hearts out and so successfully led us through via church online and phone trees and genuine consistent pastoral care.
We are thankful for a hardworking Vestry and building committee who spent significant time and thought but made great decisions around buildings for the future and we can look forward to new heating in the new year, no longer the frozen chosen😊. Good mana!
New friends, new families, new ways of doing life and ministry as the whole Diocese enters conversations for pathways to mission. It has certainly not been boring!
The line in a song by Delirious that has resonated with me this week is “dancers who dance upon injustice.” This is part of the call of the Church.
As we think of the light Jesus brings, we know from the Christmas story it is a revealing light. A light which puts chaos to flight. As the verse from Johns’ gospel says, it is the condemnation of mankind that they loved the darkness more than light (Jn 3: 19-20). The light Jesus brings is something that shows things as they are, their true character and their true values.
Sadly, a recently released report from the New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into historical abuse in State care and in the care of Faith-based Institutions stated that up to 256,000 children, young people and adults at risk were abused physically and /or sexually in state run and faith-based institutions across the nation from the 1960’s to 2019.[i]
It's not the kind of thing we like to hear about, especially at Christmas, but as Bishop Peter Carroll commented in a recent blog,” we can only be a Church shining the light of Christ out to the world if we have that light shining also on us, because we know we need help with our dark tendencies." [ii]
We have had a wake up this year… no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel, the sad thing is here in our very own church, our dear friends Jacinda and Aaron Thompson encountered darkness. You will recall there is an apology to them from the Nelson Diocese on our website. Whilst we will never understand the cost or consequence for them, we must take a lesson from their courage and join them in the battle to bring all things into the light and protect anyone else from such suffering.
We can begin simply by being aware people have been hurt by the Church and we can choose to listen with empathy, and in doing so assist in healing. We must learn how to better prevent abuse in the future and how we can love people to wholeness again. I invite you to take the time to find the faith-based redress hearings on the Royal Commission website (www.abuseincare.org.nz)[iii] and listen or read people's experiences of harm, perpetrated by those trusted to care for them in faith-based settings.
Jacinda has worked with our Diocese to improve health and safety policy and procedures and has spoken at the General Synod on the issue of ministry standards [iv] as the wider Anglican Church works to reform how complaints are dealt with. She is also a Board member for SNAP Aotearoa a support group for survivors. The Church is deeply in her debt.
Throughout all this year of hardships and challenges let us press on to acknowledge God and grow in every aspect of Christian character. We have the immense joy of each other, of the love of our Saviour and the living Hope He has led us into. Moving together as one body, where if one part rejoices or is hurt all do, we will become more fully the true church God is calling us to be. Joe & I are so proud of belonging to a church that is willing to wrestle with important issues.[v]
So shine church! Shine! We look forward to seeing you at the Christmas services.
Rich Blessings from Sue and Joe.
[i] www.snapnetwork.org ; https://www.facebook.com/groups/519994202127538
[iv] : https://www.anglicantaonga.org.nz/news/general_synod/titled