Dear Friends,

At the end of this year, I want to offer three words to the Diocese. The first two in this paragraph and the third word further down this message. The first words are “Thank you.” Thank you to all in the Diocese who through this year have faithfully served our Lord and God—through prayer and praise, through service and care, through witness in word and in deed. Thank you to the clergy and to all God’s people. Thank you to those who have served in ways no one sees and thank you to those who have been visible in leadership roles in our ministry units and in our Diocese. Thank you to those who have borne the weight of responsibility on vestries and church councils, on Diocesan boards and committees and in national church life. Thank you!

On Sunday morning it was good to be at St John’s in the Parish of Highfield, Kensington and Otipua for the 8 am and 10 am services. On Sunday evening it was good to be in the Transitional Cathedral for the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. The full Cathedral Choir—men, girls, and boys—were simply outstanding.

Speaking of Cathedral matters, if you are in Cathedral Square, from today there is a large screen which is operational as part of the new hoardings around the construction site.

On Sunday, the Reverends Michael and Mary-Jo Holdaway (Parishes of Methven and Rakaia) announced that Michael will become Priest in Charge of the Parish of Otago Peninsula in the Diocese of Dunedin in the new year (with date of induction yet to be confirmed). I know Michael and Mary-Jo will be much missed when they move, especially from Mid-Canterbury where they have served in the Ashburton Parish as well as in their current parishes for many years.

Some news about our students at St John’s College. First, congratulations to Ripeka Templeton Bijl who received two awards at the 2022 Valedictory: the St Hilda’s Prize for best female undergraduate essay relevant to the field of theological enquiry and transformation and the Thorpe Prize for outstanding contribution to the College Community. Congratulations, Ripeka! Then, welcome back to the Diocese to Robert and Leisa Jamieson and their family. Robert will be continuing his ordination studies in Christchurch through the next two years.

I remind readers that details about Christmas services in our Diocese can be found on our website here.

A month after Christmas, significant services in January, 2023, to which all are welcome, are:

4 pm Sunday 22 January St John’s Highfield, Timaru: Induction of the Reverend Lucy Flatt as Vicar of Highfield, Kensington and Otipua.

7 pm Thursday 26 January Holy Trinity Avonside: Induction of the Reverend Lisa McInnes as Vicar of Avonside.

7.30 pm Friday 27 January St Barnabas Fendalton: Commissioning of Dr Andrew Butcher as Senior Associate Lay Minister for the Parish of Fendalton.

10.30 am Sunday 29 January Craighead School Auditorium: Combined South Canterbury Anglican Churches Service. Preacher: Bishop Peter Carrell.

The Reverend Felicity O’Brien will be Interim Priest in Charge of the Parish of Oxford from 1 February 2023, following the retirement of its present Vicar, the Reverend Christine Allan-Johns.

This Sunday will be the Reverend Bosco Peters’ last Sunday as Priest in Charge of St Michael’s and All Angels. Thank you, Bosco and Helen, for your work in the parish since August and come back soon from your intended travels! (Until the induction of the new Vicar of St Michael’s in March 2023, the parish will be led by the wardens.)

My third word for the Diocese at the end of 2022 is “Hopeful.” At the end of this arduous year, which began with Covid restrictions and ends with widespread Covid infections, I am hopeful for the future of our Diocese through the remainder of the decade. I am hopeful because God is at work among us on the regeneration of our Diocese. The most encouraging signs of this work are the arrival of new vicars for our vacant parishes. I am hopeful because the DMAP is being engaged with across our Diocese—thank you. I am hopeful because in Jesus Christ we have a loving Lord of the church who will complete his work in us. Thanks be to God!

This Sunday 25 December 2022, Christmas, the gospel could be Luke 2:1-14 or Luke 2:1-20 or John 1:1-14. What is the meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ? In Luke’s narrative, the Word of God is fulfilled through this birth; a new era in God’s dealings with humanity begins. In John’s poetic prologue to his narrative, the Word of God becomes human, the divine enters human history and changes it forever.

This is the final e-Life for 2022—thank you for reading through this year. The first e-Life in 2023 will be Wednesday 18 January.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,