Dear Friends,

A new year for Wednesday e-life news begins. It is going to be a challenging year as conflict in the Middle East shows no signs of reducing let alone ceasing and as the “strong men” of world politics seem emboldened in their aggressive challenges to peace, freedom and prosperity for the ordinary citizens of the world. As we pray the Lord’s Prayer day by day and Sunday by Sunday, let’s emphasise the three-word prayer within it which is always relevant to the state of the world: “Your kingdom come!”

Many from our Diocese participated in one or more days of the tangihanga for Bishop Richard Wallace two weeks ago – thank you for doing so. A big thank you also to Dean Ben and the Transitional Cathedral staff who assisted with the service of thanksgiving for Bishop Richard on Wednesday, 10 January. Please continue to uphold the Wallace family and the church family of Te Waipounamu in your prayers.

All are welcome to the Induction Service in the Parish of Geraldine for the Reverend Hugh McCafferty: tomorrow evening, 7pm, Thursday, 25 January, at St Mary’s Geraldine. Clergy are invited to robe – red stoles.

On Monday morning, Teresa and I took part in a de-commissioning service for the St James and St John Church, Hari Hari (Parish of Westland). This church, with toilets, kitchen and hall (the former Anglican church there) straddles two titles, each respectively held in trust by Presbyterian and Anglican CPTs – proceeds of their sale will be shared between the Anglican Parish of Westland and the St Andrew’s United Parish of Hokitika, Ross, Hari Hari and South Westland. Thus the service was led jointly by the Reverends Kathryn Walters (Methodist Superintendent), Martin Stewart (Alpine Presbytery), Vivien Harber (Parish of Westland) and myself. It was a lovely touch to then proceed to the Hari Hari Community Hall with communion vessels (etc) to be placed in a designated cupboard in the hall for future services which will be held there.

This Sunday morning, 28 January, I am preaching and presiding at 10am at St Paul’s, Papanui when we will re-dedicate stained glass windows, repaired after vandalism some months ago. The parish is to be congratulated on putting up excellent protective screens to prevent further vandalism.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, at 4.30pm Teresa and I will be at an outdoor Mid Canterbury Archdeaconry Service – all welcome from all archdeaconries! – at St Luke’s, 55 David St, Hinds – to be followed by a BYO picnic tea – please also bring your own picnic chairs. If the weather is wet, we will gather inside the church and hall.

This week there is a changeover for leadership of the Methodist churches in the central and northern South Island. On Friday afternoon, 26 January, the Reverend Kathryn Walters (Superintendent, Central South Island, Methodist Church NZ) will be farewelled at 3pm at the Christchurch North Methodist Church, corner Harewood Road and Chapel Street, Papanui. On Saturday afternoon, at 2pm, in the Aldersgate Centre, 309 Durham Street, Christchurch, the Reverend Dale Peach will be inaugurated as the new Superintendent for the Central South Island change of leadership. I have really enjoyed working with Kathryn these past few years and look forward to working with Dale.

This Sunday is the final Sunday for the Reverend Brenda Bonnett, Vicar of Linwood-Aranui Parish. Thank you, Brenda, for your hard-working and faithful ministry in this parish since 2016. You remain a Canon of our Cathedral – thank you – and we wish you well for the next chapter of your life and ministry.

I also take this opportunity to thank the Reverend James Ullrich for his ministry as long-term Interim Priest in Charge of the Parish of Akaroa-Banks Peninsula. Please pray for Linwood-Aranui and Akaroa-Banks Peninsula parishes as we work on new ministers for each place.

One of way of thinking about all the items above is that we need to pray – for the world, for the church, and for individuals and for families as we work together in the mission of God. Responding to an initiative of Synod last year, about specific focus or foci on prayer through the year ahead, I would like 2024 to be a Year of Prayer in our Diocese and for our Diocese so that we enjoy God’s powerful presence working among us as we seek the Regeneration of the Diocese. One specific event – or series of events coming up is a Diocesan Prayer Pilgrimage over the weekend of 1-3 March, 2024. Please mark this weekend in your diary and plan to participate in it – at least in the part of the weekend which involves your region of the Diocesan – though we will be looking for prayer warriors to be praying through the whole weekend. More details will be shared in e-Life though the weeks ahead.

We also need in 2024 to begin our “Anglican Campaign” for fundraising for our Cathedral Reinstatement Project. Two events are coming up – 20 and 21 February – with details elsewhere in this e-Life. 2024 will be a Year of Fundraising for the Cathedral – please consider how you might support this amazing and important project, without diminishing your support for your local church.

The Gospel for this Sunday 28 January 2024 is Mark 1:21-28 for Epiphany 4 or, if transferring The Presentation of Jesus (2 February), Luke 2:22-40. In both readings there is a sure sense of God being with Jesus in unusual strong and favourable ways. From the wisdom which fills Jesus (Luke 2:40) comes the authority in his teaching and action which astounds (Mark 1:23) and amazes (Mark 1:27) the crowd around him. What does the “authority” of Jesus mean for us today, both as we follow his teaching and continue his mission of powerful deeds?