Dear Friends,

It was lovely to be in Hanmer Springs for the long weekend. On Saturday the annual parish fair was held. After a few hours postponement due to rain, it was good to see lots of people turn out for the fun of the fair, which was blessed by late afternoon sunshine. The next morning it was a privilege to preach and preside as part of the provision of ministry while the Vicar, Natasha Glenderran is on study leave. The main provision of ordained ministry through this period is from the Reverend Mike Hawke—thank you Mike and Patsy for your involvement in this parish at this time.

I remind you of our imminent ordinations: Associate Professor Bernard Walker will be ordained deacon, and licensed for ministry in the Parish of Northwest Christchurch, at 10.00 am Saturday 27 November (time corrected from last week’s eLife), 2021 in the Transitional Cathedral; the Reverend Margaret Neate, currently deacon in the Parish of Upper Riccarton-Yaldhurst, will be ordained priest and licensed for ministry in the same parish, 3.30 pm Saturday 4 December, 2021 in St Peter’s, Upper Riccarton. Due to Alert Level 2 regulations, attendance at each service is limited to 100 plus staff. If you are not a parishioner of the respective parishes and wish to be present for either service, please consult with the respective Vicars, Jo Latham and Nick Mountfort. Please pray for Bernard and Margaret as they prepare for their ordinations and participate in their pre-ordination retreat in the days before 27 November.

As I write this afternoon there is news of a Covid-19 case in Christchurch. Accordingly, our arrangements for Synod are being reviewed by Standing Committee first thing tomorrow morning. Synod members will be informed after that meeting of any changes to arrangements. Your prayers for Synod at this time would be much appreciated!

As we move closer to the Traffic Lights Framework, and the use of vaccine passes (I understand that “certificates” is not the correct term), it looks like we will be initially placed in the Orange Traffic Light, which means that for any event where we do not require vaccine passes, the limit for attendance will be 50 (i.e. not the 100 we have been used to over the past few months). What will be a test of our patience and grace is whether the Prime Minister on Monday 29 November gives any indication whether we are in Orange for Christmas or likely to change to Green before Christmas. Where vaccine passes are required for a church service, there is no limit on attendance in Green or Orange. Our near final draft Standing Committee policy re the Traffic Lights Framework will be distributed to clergy and churchwardens by the end of this week. Finalization will take place on Wednesday 1 December 2021, after the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 29 November.

Something we could be considering as we move into 2022 and the new Framework is whether we could do more church gatherings as multiple small events. 2022 could be a great year to renew ministry through small study/fellowship groups. In particular, why not plan for the next Lenten Studies series published via Theology House. Next year’s Studies are entitled Sentinels: Discerning New Life. The publication is a collaboration between Theology House, Christchurch and Wellington Diocese. “What’s a sentinel?” we may ask? The answer is in the book! Further details are coming soon re price, date of availability and so forth. Ash Wednesday in 2022 is Wednesday 2 March.

Back to Covid-19: it is tempting to become complacent about our adherence to Diocesan Guidelines and Government regulations. But we are heading towards a new season in which Covid-19 will be present in every part of our country. Now is the time to adhere closer than ever to the Guidelines and Regulations. It is tough. It is demanding. But we must do this. Please: (1) get vaccinated (2) wear masks at services and other events (3) contact trace (4) adhere tightly to rules regarding food and drink.

Our Gospel reading on Sunday is John 18:33-37 (Christ the King or The Reign of Christ). Jesus plays with Pilate as the latter presses for an answer to the question whether Jesus is a king. When we acclaim Christ as King we acclaim Christ as King of a kingdom which is not of this world. What does it mean to serve Christ and to live in his kingdom while also living in this present world?