Today’s message comes from the Archdeacon for Regeneration and Mission, The Ven. Canon Mark Chamberlain

Dear friends and colleagues,

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia! I trust that your Easter services went well and that you have had a chance to rest and recharge. You will recall that Jesus said, “As the Father sent me so I send you…he breathed on them and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” My prayer is that we would all be filled and refreshed spiritually in this season of Easter.

In recent weeks I’ve had the privilege of meeting with a number of parents with young families who attend some of our Anglican Churches. The common theme in conversation was the importance they placed on the children and youth ministries of their respective parishes that gave them a sense of belonging. Thanks to those parishes who underwrite the costs of these kinds of ‘aged-based’ ministries as part of your mission to the community. And particular thanks to the many lay people who are involved and lead such ministries. You’re not only providing discipleship opportunities for young people, but also helping whole families to have a sense of community and belonging.

Some of you will know that I have set up an Archdeacon for Regeneration and Mission Facebook page so that I can share some of my experiences and learnings from around the Diocese. I want to tell missional stories, share resources and pass on what I’ve been learning about our journey towards regeneration and mission. If you don’t currently receive my posts, please search for me and send a friend request—I promise I will accept it!

I have been encouraged in recent weeks to learn about a number of fresh expressions of church that are developing around the Diocese. Rev’d Samson Knight spoke to me about the missional communities that are thriving at Riccarton-Spreydon. Once a month they undertake a practical missional activity in the community. Rev’d Jo Latham from the parish of Northwest Christchurch and her team including Joshua and Ruth Allan-Johns are working towards planting a new Sunday afternoon congregation which will centre around an evening meal and a theme that all ages can explore. Rev’d Ben Randall spoke to me about a new Children’s Choir that begins in early May at St Mary’s Timaru. This will attract families who want to see their children receive vocal training. The choir will lead morning worship once a month. Please let me know if you are planning a new missional initiative—I’d love to hear about it and offer my encouragement.

As part of my role I have a Reference Group with whom I meet every 5 or 6 weeks. Members include Carolyn Robertson, Bruce Deam, Michael Holdaway and Lucy Flatt. Together we discuss how my role is going, address current issues and feed in ideas and wisdom. I very much value this group as it provides me with a wider perspective on the Diocese and the ways I can serve in my role.

Recently Standing Committee approved in principle a ‘refresh’ of the Diocesan Website. The current format has remained unchanged for quite a number of years now and there are some obvious ways it can be improved. A Working Group has been appointed to help guide the process. If you have any ideas about what should be included, please email them to me or Jo Bean.

Bishop Peter has asked me to let you know that Rev’d Victoria Askin’s mother, Anne Askin died late last week after a battle with cancer. Victoria is an Assistant Priest at Riccarton-Spreydon. Anne’s funeral will be at 11am Friday morning at Holy Trinity, Richmond, Nelson.

This Sunday, 24 April, the second Sunday of Easter, the Gospel reading is John 20:19-31. It contains the memorable and important verse 22 known as the Johannine Great Commission – “’As the Father has sent me so I send you.’ When he had said this he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’…” Notice the distinct trinitarian form of this commission. In the incarnation the Son is sent by the Father into the world to live and die for our salvation. The Spirit is also included in this movement and finally the Church is gathered up and sent. In this way mission is not incidental to the identity of the Church, but intrinsic to it. We are constituted as the Church by virtue of our being sent. Furthermore, our mission is an extension of the mission of Jesus. “As the Father has sent me so I send you.” Jesus’ ministry was characterised by announcing and enacting the good news of God’s reign. We also are invited to participate in and live by the fullness of the Kingdom of God.