“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12 NIV) As we journey through this phase of the Pandemic, acknowledging of course that our friends and families in Auckland, Northland and Waikato are in worse circumstances, it often comes to my mind that we simply have to endure this period in history. Yes, we can and should all be vaccinated, mask up for gatherings, consistently use the contact tracing app and thus make our personal contribution in this battle. But the Delta variant is fighting back hard, often outwitting both individual and collective efforts to eliminate it. One outcome is that, despite pleas for the Government to name a date when life returns to normal, no date can yet be given. So, we must patiently endure this trial, not knowing when it will end.
As well as patiently enduring this season, let’s be kind and patient with one another. Questions are arising about vaccination status—such as whether we will declare to each other that we are vaccinated, or whether there may yet be a requirement for vaccine certificates to be produced in order to gather for worship—and such questions have a capacity to engender debate rather than discussion and to fractionate us rather than to unite us. No one knows the definitive answers to these questions in this new situation, but I can assure you that much thought is going into the answers we might give in our church. Can we be patient with one another through these next six weeks or so as we increase the vaccination rate nationally, and learn from the Government further details about what will and will not be mandated in respect of vaccine certificates?
On Friday night Teresa and I were able to participate in the AGM for Anglican Care South Canterbury in St Philips and All Saints, Marchwiel, Timaru. Then on Saturday afternoon we were privileged to be present in St Mary’s Geraldine for the funeral of Lee Warren, widow of the Reverend Martin Warren and daughter in law of our fourth Bishop, Alwyn Warren. It was a joy to be able to share in the service with the Reverend Tony Kippax, Vicar of Geraldine, Mrs Ro Acland, Lay Reader in the Parish of Geraldine and the Reverend Ben Randell, Vicar of St Mary’s Timaru.
Please pray for the parishioners of the Parish of Christchurch St Luke’s as this parish concludes its life as a parish with a series of services through the coming weekend, 16-18 October. (Unfortunately, Level 2 restrictions mean that these services are by invitation only.)
Our Gospel reading on Sunday is Mark 10:35-45. Rightly we often focus in this passage on Jesus saying to the disciples in verse 45, “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” But this year, in the season of Covid troubles, I have found my mind also looking carefully at what Jesus said to James and John, in verse 38, as they sought glory in Jesus’ kingdom, “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” In the mystery of suffering, as Christians our sufferings are a participation in the suffering of Christ.