Dear Friends,

The worsening Covid-19 situation in India is a sharp reminder that we do not know when we are “there” in our fight against this virus. We may recall that when we went into Lockdown last year, India did also, and we both came out of Lockdown in reasonably good shape. A year later India’s humanitarian crisis is being painfully played out on our news screens, with the shortage of oxygen for seriously ill patients a lesson that Covid-19 is not “just another form of the flu.” We need to remain a vigilant, vaccine receiving, contact tracing team of 5 million. Next week I will offer some guidance in respect of distributing and receiving Communion in Level 1.

Across our Diocese on Sunday there were many ANZAC services signifying that we remain a nation committed to remembering those who have served in our forces and determined that their service and sacrifice is not in vain. Teresa and I were present for the Citizens’ Service in the Transitional Cathedral—with every seat taken and excellent contributions from a variety of citizens and military personnel.

Yet as we look back with gratitude and respect on past and present service in the cause of freedom and democracy, we notice in respect of the future that even in the past few days there is talk out of Australia of drums beating for war in our region, and we may have noticed that Taiwan is readying itself against possible invasion by China. On our behalf, as a nation whose prosperity is heavily dependent on trade with China, our Government has a delicate balancing act as it seeks to avoid offending China while remaining in alliance with some of China’s leading critics. Let’s pray to the Prince of Peace for an end to talk of war in the Pacific, for wisdom for all governments in our region including our own, and for courage to address human rights issues without fear everywhere.

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Guy Cowan to be our Youth Mental Health Educator, beginning 1 May 2021. In this role Guy will continue the work begun by Charlotte Falloon two years ago. Through the generosity of the St John’s College Trust Board we have funds for a youth mental health project which will take approximately a further year to conclude. Alongside Guy’s work with youth, youth groups and youth leaders, there will also be several important seminars/workshops open to wider participation within our Diocese and advertising for the first of these will begin soon.

Tonight at 7pm in St Nicholas’ Church, Barrington Street, Archdeacon Mark Barlow and I induct the Reverend Jeff Cotton as the new Vicar of South Christchurch—all are welcome.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Jeff Cotton for his ministry as Priest-in-Charge of Woodend-Pegasus. When I asked Jeff to undertake this ministry in 2019, the Parish and I were hopeful of being able to appoint a permanent vicar sooner rather than later. That did not happen and Jeff has remained in his post for much longer than anticipated—thank you Jeff! Your prayers for a permanent appointment—we are advertising again—would be much appreciated.

The Reverends John and Christine de Senna have indicated a willingness to continue their interim ministry leadership in the Parish of Mt Herbert for a further seven months on from their initial commitment for three months. Thank you John and Christine! Your prayer for parish and Diocesan leaders discerning the right future pathway for Mt Herbert would be much appreciated.

Please continue your prayer for God’s wisdom and guidance as the Diocesan Discernment Weekend takes place this Friday evening and Saturday at the Community of the Sacred Name.

I also ask for your prayer for the Reverend Paul Bathurst, formerly of this Diocese, who has had a severe stroke and is currently in hospital in Auckland.

Late last week the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care was in the news because of budgetary issues. The implications of the financial constraint on the Commission are not yet clear—it could be for instance that the Commission concludes its work sooner rather than later. Within our church we will continue to work on matters of redress and on policies and protocols for the present and the future, having already learned much through the Commission’s work. In due course the Commission will be making recommendations to churches generally and likely also specific to particular churches and we look forward to learning of these and responding appropriately to them.

This Sunday the Gospel reading is John 15:1-8: the vine, the branches and the vine grower. Like many of Jesus’ parables it has an exciting prospect (that we would bear much fruit) and an unnerving threat (that pruning is required in order that we bear fruit). Cue plenty for the preacher to say and the hearer to ponder: what does it mean, for instance, to “abide” or “remain” in Jesus? What is the fruit we are expected to bear?

Whatever is said and heard this Sunday, what is at stake in this passage is the essence of being a disciple of Christ (verse 8).