Dear Friends,
It was a privilege to join a group of a dozen or so of our youth workers at Little River on Friday evening in the middle of a “pilot pilgrimage” exploring sites of significance on Banks Peninsula. Sunday morning’s Induction Service, shared with Archdeacon Katrina Hill, for  the Reverend Doctor Carolyn Robertson at All Saints, Burwood was very well attended. The enthusiasm of the congregation for their Vicar and for the vision for growth and development in the (Enlarged) Parish of Shirley was very evident.

This week we farewell Charlotte Falloon from her role as Youth Mental Health Educator. Charlotte’s work through the past two years is much appreciated and we wish her well for her studies in Hamilton towards a Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology. Also being farewelled from a role this week, but not from our Diocese, is the Reverend Philip Robinson who concludes his ministry as Chaplain at St George’s Hospital—thank you Philip for your service in this role!

Yesterday it was a pleasure to be with the North Canterbury Archdeaconry for their first clergy meeting in 2021. I remind all Archdeaconries that I am keen to be part of at least one meeting each year! Also yesterday, the new year began at St John’s College, Auckland for new staff and new students, for continuing staff and returning students – please continue to uphold our students in prayer: Cassie, Eddie, and Robert and their families.

A number of important occasions are coming up, some with details advertised elsewhere in e-Life. Next Wednesday 17 February is Ash Wednesday. On Saturday 20 February there is an all day Family Fun Day at Waipara and on the same afternoon in the Transitional Cathedral is the book launch for Jane Simpson’s latest publication. Sunday 21 February after the 10 am service at St Barnabas’ Fendalton we re-open their administration building. The next day, 22 February is the 10th anniversary of the tragic 2011 Christchurch earthquake. In the morning I will be leading the blessing of the site at The Cathedral Grammar School where a new boys’ school building is being built to replace a building lost to the 2011 quake. Then, on Sunday 28 February the reinstated and extended St Peter’s Church, Upper Riccarton will be opened in the morning, while in the afternoon I will participate in the blessing of a missional house on Riccarton Road which has been purchased by the Spreydon-Riccarton Parish.

Ash Wednesday is the start of Lent and Lent is an excellent time for a short course of Bible studies. Theology House has plenty of copies of this year’s Lenten Studies available and the theme of the studies, Rebuilding the Ruins, is apt for a Diocese in which rebuilding continues (though thankfully with the end in sight!).

This Sunday the Gospel reading is Mark 1:40-45—the story of Jesus healing a leper who asks Jesus whether he will choose to heal him or not. The healing power of God is undeniable as we both read testimonies in Scripture to healings and as we read testimonies in our own day to healings. Yet a large question remains about all the many people who are not healed and it can feel like we stand with the leper in wondering whether the God we meet in Jesus Christ will choose to answer our plea for healing or not. That means in turn that we live our lives in Christ with a related question, in the midst of illness and suffering, what is the God of love doing? Heading towards Lent, we are reminded, of course, that in Jesus Christ, God experienced suffering and death. Our human pain is not unknown to the God who loves us.