Message from the Bishop
We are between Ascension and Pentecost, between the limit of 10 and (from noon this Friday) the limit of 100 at Level 2. The example of the disciples, male and female, between the original Ascension and first Pentecost of the church, in Acts 1:14, is being of one accord and constantly at prayer (REB) and so through this week we pray for Christian Unity and for “Thy Kingdom Come” in the lives of five family members or friends.
Yesterday, we held an Alt Clergy Conference, using Zoom, from 10 am to 12 noon. In the pre COVID-19 world we had planned for our usual Monday to Wednesday face to face annual conference at Living Springs. We may yet hold that conference later this year, but yesterday’s event fitted our current COVID-19 context. We were delighted to have as our guest speaker, Bishop Stephen Cottrell (Bishop of Chelmsford and Archbishop-designate of York). No airfares were paid and no quarantine was required as we made use of a wonderful free service, WeTransfer, for the uploading from Chelmsford and downloading to Christchurch of Bishop Stephen’s 1.2 Gb/20 minute address.
Here is one of the questions Bishop Stephen posed: What is the big YES that God is laying on (a) the Church and (b) the world at this time?
It looks like we will be in Level 2/limit 100 for four Sundays minimum (31 May, 7, 14, 21 June). We should not underestimate how challenging these Sundays will be as our ministry units’ clerical and lay leaders work out recording of contact data, provide hand sanitizer before services and before distribution of communion (which will be in one kind only), and generally arrange seating in responsible distancing ways. The published guidelines we will be working to across the Diocese are found on the ‘Level 2 changes and what they mean‘ page.
In fact, these remaining Sundays in Level 2 will be challenging for all of us as we participate in face to face worship (as well as in other meetings and gatherings during weekdays)—or, perhaps for reasons of health, remain at home when we would otherwise wish to be at church. But we can do it—the joy of the Lord is our strength!
Incidentally, while many ministry units will have resumed services in their churches by this Sunday, some may not resume until Sunday 7 June.
A great idea has come from one of our ministry units—might you make it your idea too for celebrating this new stage of our life under changing levels, this Sunday or 7 June or both:
“This Sunday we are encouraging people to bring a thanksgiving offering of food and cans which we will then take to the City Mission.
So many of us have come through this unscathed, but we recognise that for many there is real financial hardship, so our thanksgiving offering is a way of thanking God and blessing others.” (See the advert later in this newsletter.)
If for any reason you cannot make a physical church service this Sunday or your local ministry unit is not providing an online service, other opportunities for livestream worship can be found on the ‘Doing things Differently‘ page.
A special podcast for Pentecost has been produced by Spanky Moore:
Four Images–a Meditation for Pentecost In the lead up to Pentecost, 4 people explore 4 images that are used in Scripture as Metaphors of the Spirit–and why they find them helpful. We hope this simple recording might open up for you and your friends something new this Pentecost. Featuring contributions from; Rev Annette Cater, Rev Josh Taylor, Barbara McMillan, and Fr. Philip Suelzer. Click on the image or this link: www.soundcloud.com/spankymoore/four-images-meditation-for-pentecost
Last weekend, Teresa and I were privileged to be in South Canterbury where we were able to catch up with most of the clergy and to share in two “<10” services in the Parish of Marchwiel. After eight Sundays “visiting” different churches in the Diocese, it was a pleasure to be in a church building with a physical congregation. This Sunday, Teresa and I will be at the Transitional Cathedral as part of both celebrating the Feast of Pentecost and the resumption of worship in a building with a reasonably sized congregation!
Over the past five weeks I have been providing a sermon for use—if chosen—in online services. Now that we are at the Limit of 100, the sermon for this Sunday will be the last I provide via my YouTube channel.
Thank you to the many people who responded last week for my request for holiday accommodation details for clergy for the months of July and August. Veronica Cross will compile a small directory of these opportunities and circulate to the clergy next week.
There is really only one prayer to pray as we prepare to celebrate Pentecost: Come Holy Spirit!