Dear Friends in Christ,
I write to you for the first time in my capacity as Archdeacon for Regeneration and Mission and I give thanks for the welcome I’ve experienced from the Anglican Centre staff, clergy at Archdeaconry meetings and meetings with individuals. As you can imagine I am still getting to grips with the Diocesan Mission Action Plan (DMAP), the Bishop’s priorities, what I’m hearing from clergy and lay people and my own sense of discernment before God.
I’ve been able to support clergy and parishes in a number of ways already from providing feedback on Mission Action Plans, advice on website and digital media, parish policies and literature for seekers. I’ve also been invited to lead a Vestry Quiet Afternoon. Please remember that I am here to serve our parishes and enable a greater orientation toward the mission of God. Author Chris Wright described this rather provocatively in the following way: “Rather than ask what kind of mission God has for me we should ask what kind of me does God want for his mission?”
Today, being Ash Wednesday, marks the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is a time of self-examination before God, repentance and attention to the spiritual disciplines such as fasting and prayer. However, in case that sounds too sombre, it is also a delight to draw near to God and one another either on-line or in person in Lent Study Groups.
Lent is especially poignant this year as we have been invited by Pope Francis and Bishop Peter to join with Christians from around the world for a day of fasting and prayer today, Ash Wednesday, for the people of Ukraine. Ukraine military chaplain Father Andriy Zelinskyy said “I see my role as helping lean heaven toward the soldiers.” Let our prayers ‘lean heaven’ toward not only the soldiers but also the leaders of the nations involved. Let us pray for a ceasefire, the laying down of arms, respect for national sovereignty and repentance for this appalling war. Please note the joint statement of four of New Zealand’s denominations on the Ukraine situation and a number of prayers for Ukraine you can use are both found on our website under Praying for Ukraine.
In Diocesan news, Bishop Peter has asked me to mention two further parish vacancies in the Diocese; “Rev’d Jenni Carter, Vicar of Hororata since 2008, will retire in August 2022 and Rev’d Dr Thomas Brauer, Vicar of Sumner-Redcliffs, will conclude his ministry at the end of April 2022 in order to respond to God’s call to return to Canada. Both clergy will be much missed by their respective parishes and we wish them God’s richest blessings for their future.”
This Sunday, 6 March, is the first Sunday of Lent and the gospel reading is Luke’s account of the Temptations of Christ. Jesus is both full of the Spirit and led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Clearly God exempts no one from the struggles of temptation—they form part of our human condition. The temptations themselves appear to fall into clear categories—physical appetites, political power and personal fame and adulation. At a superficial level these temptations represent one way of bringing about God’s rule but at a deeper level they actually seek to replace the patient and peaceful rule of God with human centred, pragmatic solutions. For example, the temptation to use military power to achieve certain ends is writ large on the world stage but is utterly contrary to the gospel.
And some good news, the Autumn edition of the magazine with the theme of ‘Making Disciples’ is out now in churches (the printed edition), on our website, online and soon also on Facebook. Of note, there is a Lent activity in it for children (and adults) to help focus our tamariki on God through this special season of the church.
The Ven. Canon Mark Chamberlain