Monthly Archives: May 2020

Pentecost Sunday 31 May

Kia ora koutou! We join together in our apart-ness, pausing to acknowledge and grow in the presence of God in our lives. We are meeting as part of a church community, albeit a scattered one. We are stilling ourselves, our fears, our anxieties, and all the distracting things around us, to seek and delight in God’s life with us. Let us worship God!

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You blow like the wind in a thousand paddocks,

Inside and outside the fences,

You blow where you wish to blow.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You are the sun who shines on the little plant,

You warm him gently, you give him life,

You raise him up to become a tree with many leaves.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You are the mother eagle with her young,

Holding them in peace under your feathers.

On the highest mountain you have built your nest,

Above the valley, above the storms of the world,

Where no hunter ever comes.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You are the bright cloud in whom we hide,

In whom we know already that the battle has been won.

You bring us to our Brother Jesus to rest our heads upon his shoulder.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

You are the kind fire who does not cease to burn,

Consuming us with flames of love and peace,

Driving us out like sparks to set the world on fire.

Lord, Holy Spirit,

In the love of friends you are building a new house,

Heaven is with us when you are with us.

You are singing your songs in the hearts of the poor

Guide us, wound us, heal us.

Bring us to the Father.

 – James K. Baxter, ‘Song to the Holy Spirit’, in Collected Poems (ed. John Edward Weir; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), 572.

The Day You Began Your Church [written by Joy Kingsbury-Aitken]

Lord on the day when your people were offering leavened loaves and lambs in thanksgiving for the harvest they were bringing in, the grain from which to bake their daily bread, on that day you began your church.

Lord on the day when your people were recalling the fire and the thunder of your descent on Mount Sinai when you gave them the law, commandments by which to live in community, on that day you began your church.

Lord on the day when your people were reciting the psalms of David, the sweet singer of Israel, who according to folklore was born on Pentecost, and remembering Ruth, his Moabite ancestor, on that day you began your church.

Lord on the day when your people were longing for the fulfilment of ancient prophecies promising an outpouring of your Holy Spirit, transforming both old and young into visionaries, on that day you began your church.

Lord on the day when your people were gathered from throughout the world to worship you, when one hundred and twenty followers of Jesus were assembled together with one accord, on that day you began your church.

Lord on the day when you blew into Jerusalem manifesting your presence in tongues of fire, pilgrims heard the gospel in their own languages, and three thousand believed and were baptised, on that day you began your church.

Lord on the day when your people kept Pentecost and down through the centuries ever since, your Spirit has been inspiring faithful believers to boldly proclaim your gospel of hope, as was done on that day you began your church, and that day is with us, and we thank you! Amen.

Delight & Awe

This clip is a beautiful conversation between Bono (from U2) and Eugene Peterson (author of The Message). Be warned, it is 21 minutes long but it is so compelling that I doubt you will notice! You may want to give this the time now or come back to it a bit later but it is profound and certainly worth the listen.

Bible Readings: Acts 2:1-12 & Acts 10: 1-48

A reflection by the departing Mart the Rev – Inside and outside the fences

I love the inside/outside line from Baxter’s poem: Lord, Holy Spirit/You blow like the wind in a thousand paddocks/Inside and outside the fences/You blow where you wish to blow.

On this particular Pentecost Day there seems to be a range of inside and outside themes running through everything.

The Reach of Pentecost Pentecost was an existing and important festival within the devotional rhythms of the Jewish people, as Joy Kingsbury-Aitken’s litany so ably illustrates. It was on the day of this festival that the Holy Spirit swept in, and pushed against the existing boundaries; opening the eyes of those gathered to just who was among them – faithful people from within the faith-tradition from everywhere they have settled in the known world. It was wind and fire and voice and power like they had never seen. But this was just the beginning. This wind was to blow inside and outside the fences.

The rest of the Acts of the Apostles is a testament to the reach of the Spirit – reaching even, to Saul the persecutor of the early church, and across two massive divides in the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10: Gentile and Roman Centurion. All the old boundaries left in tatters! Later, Paul will write in Galatians 3:28 ‘There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.’ It was a revolution! Even on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit came upon the gathered people, they would never have imagined this reach. The phenomenon of the Spirit that day was still within the boundaries of the tradition.

But the Spirit had other plans.

Context When New Zealand went into the Covid-19 lockdown, I began imagining when, and how, we might climb out of it. It seemed to me that this would take months and months and, possibly, for our seniors and the vulnerable among us, more than half a year before it would be safe to mingle in the community. How wrong I was! From Friday, any gatherings of up to 100 New Zealanders are permitted as long as appropriate social distancing and contact tracing measures are followed. It is an amazing achievement, in just two months and four days, to have only one active Covid case in the whole country. As I understand it, there are only a handful of countries in the world that are in such control of the virus that they can step out, as we are, with any confidence. Many others are doing the stepping out, but not from that place of confidence. It is astounding! Obviously, there are many economic challenges because of the lockdown – this is the case in every country in the world – but we are in a better position to attend to them because of the decisive leadership and the strength of the community commitment to respect the lockdown measures.

Thus, on the Day of Pentecost, 2020, nearly all the strong fences we needed to erect around ourselves have been pulled down. We are coming out! Look out!

Transitions I first encountered Baxter’s Song to the Holy Spirit poem in 1982. I was staying with a friend in Wellington, and making plans to join him in a flat in order to start at university the following year. I remember, later that night, writing the poem in my journal. 1982 was a big year for me. I candidated for the ministry and was accepted and I was making plans to leave my home city and embarking on what would be six years at university.

I remember also that there was doubt in my mind (and in the minds of others!), of my capacity to achieve and sustain the study, and, I was also moving away from some of the confined ways I had understood the faith. ‘Inside and outside the fences’ resonated with me – I was doing my own crossover, and growing to understand God’s ways being wider than my ideas of them! Can you identify a similar dramatic transition time in your life?

Over the years I have had a few of these – some have been relatively smooth; and others have been a bit turbulent! I think I am undergoing a smooth transition this time – with the edges kind of softened by the fact that I have had a few months of social isolation and distancing. It has felt like a long ease out, and somewhat surreal. That my leaving doesn’t also involve a geographical shift, means that it is not so dramatic – there is only one form of uprooting going on, I think!

Fences & Clinging I noted, in the mid-week reflections the other day, that I have been wondering if I have misspent critical aspects of the thirty-one and a half years of my pastoral ministry. Aside from the list of regrets (and there are always a few, mostly around I wish I had spent more time with this person and that person), there’s a bit of wondering about the prioritisation of the church’s energy, and my part in that, over those years. The season of my ministry career has coincided with a period of ongoing decline in the Presbyterian church. The steady decline in the numbers of people choosing to be part of it, and the ongoing loss of influence. These are changing times, and I don’t think the church is respected in the way previous generations once respected it.

Some of the change is very welcome – for the church tended to assume it had a place at the head of the table, and it could act in haughty ways. I am glad to be in this season where no such assumptions can be made, and the church has to earn its right to have a conversation. This is safer ground for us, even though it is challenging to be confident or that we will even survive! But I also think that the church hasn’t paid enough attention to what God is up to outside the fences, and in this sense the church has no one else to blame.

In survival mode, the church scrambles to ensure that things keep on going in the way it has become accustomed to. In business, the decline in bottom lines leads to one of two things, repurposing or closure. I think that the church has generally opted for a third option that is not healthy. The church I have been ordained into has tended to cling: clinging to past methodologies and styles; clinging to what once worked in a cultural setting long past; clinging to the assumption that if we are open at 10am then people will come; clinging to the notion that if we look after our own then things will be fine; and clinging to doctrines, or ways of framing the nature of God at work among us, as if we had the last word on how God could be.

For example, on that latter point, the Presbyterian Church has, for the entire time I have been ordained, persisted with putting an extraordinary amount of its time and energy into deciding whether to allow homosexual people to participate fully in the Christian life, or not. What a fence! It is like Trump wanting a wall on the entire Mexican border. Shut them out! Make everything great again! To use the over-worn metaphor, the Presbyterian Church has spent the last thirty years re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, while the ship sinks. ‘If we just sort out the ‘gays’ then God will bless the church…’ What a load of stinking codswallop!! This is the worst kind of ‘inside the fences’ behaviour, and not, I would say, the leading of the Spirit of God! It is a distraction!

In the same period of time poverty has become a sorry feature of New Zealand life, our rivers have become unswimmable, the global temperature has risen at a rate far from natural, our quality of community life has diminished, loneliness and anxiety-related problems have become commonplace, the family violence numbers continue to escalate, and the divide between the haves and have-nots has widened exponentially.

But the fixation of the church has been to elevate one or two verses from scriptures and take all the steps it can to rid the church of a handful of homosexual ministers and elders. What a shameful wasteful form of institutional blindness! (There, I have finally got that off my chest! – sorry to unload!!!) If I was to offer a bit of self-critique, I would say that over the course of my years as a minister, I have played my part in channelling too much of my energy into the ‘inside’ rather than enabling the community to seek and pursue what it means to engage with the ‘outside’. I’m about to walk into a role that could look like all my energy will be directed towards propping up the institution – but I will resist that. I do not wish to be a prop, or an encourager of a clinging mentality. The church needs to listen to the Spirit! Blowing inside and outside the fences!

It was something we all should have known, but just couldn’t see for looking. I was attracted to the notion of it in 1982, and I am reacquainting myself with it again. Now, I am a little inclined to ask – what fences? Whose idea was that there should be fences? I’m far more interested in the idea of a church without walls, and the posture of the church in the world being that of exposing, and breaking down any walls, that separate people from people, and people from God.

In the days after that Pentecost Day, in the book of Acts, Peter stands in the home of a Gentile Roman soldier (having pushed past a fence as high as a fence could be back then!), and declares, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” Peter only got there, because the Spirit was blowing outside the fences, into the life of Cornelius (despite the church’s understanding of its ministry and without the church’s permission!), and into Peter’s dreams, demanding that he must step beyond the boundary of the Law of Moses and eat what is unclean. If you go on to Acts 11, you see the initial reaction of the church, and it was not happy! How dare you cross the lines! Fortunately, the bureaucracy did not win. Back then, the church was still open to the Spirit’s wilful desire to be unregulated! Amen to that desire, and again I say, Amen!

Now and Next I have been very fortunate to serve these last 13.5 years in our church communities here at The Village, where we have at least had a go at looking and exploring outside the fences. I have loved and thrived in the ‘have a go’ attitude that the leadership have given to its ministers. Long may it continue!

The aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic now invites more of the same attitude. It really does! Things are, undoubtedly, going to get harder, but that is not an invitation to retrench, or batten down the hatches. This is only a time to do what the church has always been meant to do, to go to where the wind of the Spirit is blowing – inside and outside what we already know, and get the best of your energy out to the edges and the frontiers, which are, you may be surprised to hear, right in our neighbourhoods, and over our neighbourhood fences. I hope and pray that this willingness will continue to be a feature of The Village, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I have had to play a part in this unfolding story. Thank you for your support and encouragement over the years, it has been a privilege to serve with and alongside you.

Offering & Prayer for the Road

Collectively now at this moment as we turn our hearts and minds outwards let us be grateful for God’s ongoing gifts, the many different ways we experience the generosity of God, and be grateful that many of us can still give to the ongoing life and work of our church community in various ways and dedicate ourselves to the presence of God in our various spaces.

Loving God

We bring our gifts and resources before you now and pray that they can be used to make your love known enriching lives, easing strain and bringing life.

All these years on, we are still ‘amazed and perplexed’ by life in and with you!

Delighted and awed by the magnitude of all you have created in your great love; the world around us, the life in us, the highs, the lows, the new, and the not so the familiar, and the not so.

It’s big, all of this, sometimes too big.

Awed by the scale of it all we don’t always want to accept what we don’t know overloaded as we are by what we do know.

Sometimes we feel big, as though we are on top of it all and then so small, so insignificant to really count at all

Delighted by the wonder around us and then perplexed by those who squander it, deny it, and belittle it, by acts that suggest there isn’t enough.

Perplexed when relationships hurt us, confused when others disregard us, or believe in their idea of us without first seeking to know us God, on reflection, we know that most of our concerns come from trying to do life on our own terms, trying to see with our eyes; judging from our perspectives. Help us to let go of this way and see our world, and those in it, through your eyes, building up, not breaking down, encouraging, loving.

And to be this way in all the corners of our lives, our work, our play, our daily routines, with everyone we meet, those we laugh and grow with and even those who diminish us and who we might struggle with.

Our prayer then this morning, Lord, is that like the people in Acts we find a new fire within, that burns with love for you and for your creation. That we would play a part in your love sweeping across the planet, with courage and belief, renewing, and reconciling refreshing and re-energising so that we can all live better and healthier lives, in you, for you, with you.

We pray these things in Jesus name, Amen

Go into your week confident of God’s strong arms around you, resting in the sweetness of God’s love every moment of the day and night, Amen.

Postlude – Today U2 have the last word – with their farewell lullaby to Martin Luther King – Sleep https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nN1B38uRBoQ

Sleep

Sleep tonight

And may your dreams

Be realized

If the thundercloud

Passes rain

So let it rain

Rain down on him

Posted in Services | Leave a comment

Sunday 31st May 2020

Parish Office Hours: (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday mornings). Pop in and say hello, whilst maintaining physical distancing!

South Elder Care has resumed on Tuesdays.

Foot Clinic Monday 8 June 1-4pm. New helpers always welcome.

Crafty Crafters is back!! Bring along your own craft items or learn a new skill. Thursdays 10am – 12 noon in the Parish Lounge.

Talk to Lyndsey McKay for more information about any of these groups.

Contact Tracing: If you are on the church premises you MUST fill in the contact tracing form. Groups using the facilities may record their own details and then email a copy to Anna at the parish office.

Sunday Service continues to be posted on our website: (www.stmartins.org.nz). Many thanks to Rev Anne Stewart and the team from Village Presbyterian Church for making this available to the people of St Martins.


Moderator’s live streaming of devotions every Sunday at 9am. https://www.facebook.com/modpcanz/

Watch Sunday’s service from Beckenham Methodist: the video link/s are available after 11am from their webpage:  www.bmc.nz  Services/Reflections

Cleaning Roster: volunteers required please – email the Office if you can help!

Wednesday Walkers 3rd June: Meet 9.30am at the Gardens by the footbridge. Coffee at Ilex (TBC). Please let Sonya know if you are coming.

Sit & Be Fit resumes on Thursday 11th June.

Meditation Group meets each Tuesday in the Parish Lounge from 7-8pm. New members welcome. Contact Dugald 380 5024 for more details.

The Garage Series

Here are this week’s episodes of “The Garage Series.” This is where we go out and about and find out what questions people are asking.

  
#7:Barry & Clare from Lake Hood in Mid Canterbury: 

https://youtu.be/AGyaOozI-bA


#8: Mo Morgan from Whanganui, one segment of her sharing at our weekly ministry leaders meeting: https://youtu.be/_WAtQOFKpN4


You may want to subscribe to the Alpine Presbytery YouTube channel while you are there. Maybe you have the same questions? Maybe you can talk about them in your congregation leadership meetings? Please share with us what solutions and ideas, and maybe further questions you come up with.

Unite Against Covid-19

See the source image

Enjoy going out and about, but remember to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene practices. Keep a record of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. Gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted. Stay home if you are sick.

For health advice, contact Healthline 0800 358 5453. If you are feeling unwell, call your GP before you visit.

Keep an eye on the official website – Covid19.govt.nz – for updates.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Sunday 24th May 2020

NOTICES:

Under Level 2 Covid-19 restrictions the St Martins facilities are available to be used by groups of no more than 10, with strict guidelines in place.

Parish Office Re-Opens this week: Anna will be back on site from Wednesday 27th May and normal Office hours will resume (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday mornings). Pop in and say hello, whilst maintaining physical distancing!

Contact Tracing: If you are on the church premises you MUST fill in the contact tracing form. Groups using the facilities may record their own details and then email a copy to Anna at the parish office.

Sunday Service: on our website (www.stmartins.org.nz). Many thanks to Rev Anne Stewart and the team from Village Presbyterian Church for making this available to the people of St Martins.


Moderator’s live streaming of devotions every Sunday at 9am. https://www.facebook.com/modpcanz/

Watch Sunday’s service from Beckenham Methodist: the video link/s are available after 11am from their webpage:  www.bmc.nz  Services/Reflections

Cleaning Roster: volunteers required please – email the Office if you can help!

Foot Clinic Monday 8th June 1-4pm.

NO Fireside meeting this month.

The Garage Series

Here are this week’s episodes of “The Garage Series.” This is where we go out and about and find out what questions people are asking.  

#5 – Lyn from Greymouthhttps://youtu.be/SJcRMQwcou8 – Apologies for the audio issues near the end of this clip, keep listening and do not adjust your sets!

#6 – Phyllis from Lincoln, https://youtu.be/g92krMRO9J4


You may want to subscribe to the Alpine Presbytery YouTube channel while you are there. Maybe you have the same questions? Maybe you can talk about them in your congregation leadership meetings? Please share with us what solutions and ideas, and maybe further questions you come up with.

From the Council: Unite Against Covid-19

Under Alert Level 2 you can go out and about, but remember to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene practices. Keep a record of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. Gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted. Stay home if you are sick.

For health advice, contact Healthline 0800 358 5453. If you are feeling unwell, call your GP before you visit.

Keep an eye on the official website – Covid19.govt.nz – for updates.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Sunday 24 May 2020

We are pausing to acknowledge and grow in the presence of God in our lives. We are meeting as part of a church community, albeit a scattered one. We are stilling ourselves, our fears, our anxieties, and all the distracting things around us, to seek and delight in God’s life with us. Let us worship God!

We are called into worship today with words from Psalm 68

Let God rise up, let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee before him.

As smoke is driven away, so drive them away; as wax melts before the fire, let the wicked perish before God. But let the righteous be joyful; let them exult before God; let them be jubilant with joy. Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds— his name is the LORD— be exultant before him.

Prayer on the Way (This prayer is ‘borrowed’ from the website [leadingworship] of a Mennonite pastor from Canada, Rev Carol Penner.)

I seek you, God, in the spaces of my life.

The spaces between what I’ve done and what I’ve left undone.

The spaces between my convictions and my actions,

the spaces between all that I hoped to do, and what I’ve actually done.

I come with humility, knowing that I can’t always see the way I’ve disappointed you,

nor can I always see the long-term effects of the good I’ve done.

This is a prayer for the road ahead, which is an empty space stretching before me.

Fill me with a burning compassion for my brothers and sisters, a love that will not let me go.

Give me courage to give boldly, love simply, hope deeply, risk greatly.

My light is small, my time is short, but let it shine for you, always, ever, all for you. Amen.

Bible Readings: Acts 1:6-14 & John 17:1-11

Reflection: by Martin Stewart

At Eastertime I was thinking about the view from the cross. Not the landscape – the Lord was not sight-seeing! The people-scape. Before him, the collective of people at the foot of the cross – some with their backs to him, others looking for one last miracle, others with broken faces as they wept their tears. Plus, another whole dimension of seeing: could he also see past and future from that vantage point? I like to think that he saw me, and you, from that vantage point. That the crisis of the cross would one day have an impact, not only on my life, or your life – but that all human suffering would be caught up in his suffering. And, we would know that we are met by a God who suffers for us, holds us, serves us, loves us, and blesses us. That was the Friday of Easter, then came Resurrection Day and hello, this and much much more just might be so!

This Thursday just past was Ascension Day. The 40th day of Easter. Let me tell you from the outset that I struggle, hugely, with the idea of Jesus rising into the clouds. I can’t imagine how that even begins to work out, as I don’t think of heaven as up, for when I point up, a person on the other side of the globe, who is pointing up, has a finger waving in the opposite direction! As I said in the Wednesday notes, I confess that I have not had a great interest in saying much about the ascension over the years. In thinking about why I haven’t said much is because I have a struggle finding my way past the depictions of ascension as they were represented in all the circles, I grew up in. To put it bluntly, there were far too many unhelpful pictures of a Scandinavian Jesus drifting up into the clouds for my liking! However, now that I am a grown up, I’m learning to look at this differently, rather than literally. And, obviously, I wasn’t there, thus I don’t know what the disciples saw other than what they have told of what they saw – and how are you really meant to find the language for something that is impossible to conceive? But I do accept that the Risen Jesus had to have done something to disappear from the physical experience people had had of him…he had to drift away from them. I also accept what the theologians of the church have come to a general consensus on – that Jesus came from, and returned, to the Godhead somehow, and, that his presence continues with us in the Spirit, somehow.

In that ‘in the Godhead sense’, Jesus is with us still, but not appearing through locked doors in upper rooms in Jerusalem, or on the road to Emmaus, or on the banks of the lake at breakfast time… he had to disappear. However, the ins and outs of how ascension actually works… well, I really don’t know. We can’t know. And so we don’t talk about it much. Ditto with a lot of things, by the way. We don’t know how a lot of things work. But the hand of Jesus still at work in the life of people tells us that there is more going on than we can explain. And don’t we have faith enough, to believe enough, that the life of God is among us enough, and that that seems to be enough, if you know what I mean? And I am interested in the view. The view as he ascends. I wonder, what, as Son of God, he gets to see behind. Can he see all the way back to the Word that was in the beginning, hovering over the deep and crying out and bringing the universe into being? In his ascending, I imagine him being able to see all that way back. Isn’t that quite possible when you are no longer constrained by the limitations of flesh and blood and time and space? I picture him ascending and seeing 40 days back to a tomb, and then before that to an agonising last cry on the cross, and then across Jerusalem and Judah and Galilee and Egypt and Babylon, and prophets and kings, and the sea parting, and a burning bush, and Canaan, and a wandering Aramean hearing a voice speak in the desert, and a flood, and a garden, and the lands and seas taking form, as what we would call Gondwanaland began to separate.

And let’s dare to go further, as we see stars and galaxies taking form as the whole universe snaps into life in a crescendo of light. Quite a view! And I wonder if his whispered ‘Amen’ spoken over those tumultuous millions of years, does something in that act of rising, to tie the past together to make them one in love as he is one in God’s three-in-one – an eternal dance of love. I wonder also what he could see ahead. If he could see the beginning what would he see as an ending? And, was his ‘Amen’ an announcement of love over whatever ‘next’ looked like, all the way to the completion of all things? I believe it to be so. I believe we are to understand ourselves caught up in this eternal love

And thereby picture ourselves seen from the heights of cross and ascension – our ‘particular-ness’ and our ‘part-of-everything-ness’ seen, and valued. All caught up in Eternal Love: God’s big YES from the beginning to the end, and over everything in between; even the ugly and the horrible are swept into love in a way that we cannot possible imagine because we are immersed in the thickness of things, and we have such a limited view of the whole. We need a vantage point, and where we stand is a way too low, we can’t see the wood for the trees. Most people can’t see beyond their own troubles, let alone their neighbours, let alone the good of the whole. We need a vantage point, and so we look to where Jesus is – ascended – and we find our footing in faith, and hope, and love. By the way, I think that that footing is sufficient. We learn to craft our lives in the space where faith and hope and love can work their magic. ‘But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us…raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…’ Ephesians 2:4,6 ‘What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? …It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? …I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ [from Romans 8:31-39] God’s YES.

The view from the clouds – the beginning, the ending, and all in between is held in love. Now, I have spent quite a lot of time painting a kind of cosmic picture, but to be honest, I am only really interested in exploring this way of seeing for its earthly usefulness. I think I come from the school of thought that recognises that some people have their heads in the clouds and aren’t of much earthly use! It even might surprise you to hear a minister of the church say that what is beyond me isn’t really my concern, if it appears to be an escape from reality. But that is how I see things. I don’t invest in cosmic things in order to avoid reality, or excuse myself from my responsibilities. I just happen to think that the big picture view ‘from up high’ informs how we can better be present here. It provides a framework. I get to know ‘how’ and ‘what’ to get about doing because of the ‘why’.

Thus, if I was an African slave in America seeking to make my way through the day without giving into despair, I would fasten onto the big hope of the gospel (that the slave-owners had passed on but entirely missed!): ‘Hold on,’ I would sing, ‘keep your hand on that plough and hold on!’ And, if I was a child with abusive parents, I would want to know that there is a future coming, and it will grab me and lift me up. And if I was in my dying days I would want to know that what I fear is not the full story. And every day when I wake up, I would want to know that this is the day that love has come to town and is calling me to join in its song. I think that is what the ascension means to me – that what comes from God meets us here, and is lifted back into God, and its ripples keep being played out in our daily lives in such a way that we can overcome, and be turned around, and the ugly can be made beautiful, and the light will shine in the darkness, and the life goes on, and what we think are dead ends are opportunities, and God meets us on the road – always.

Offering & Prayer for the Road

Collectively now at this moment as we turn our hearts and minds outwards let us be grateful for God’s ongoing gifts, the many different ways we experience the generosity of God, and be grateful that many of us can still give to the ongoing life and work of our church community in various ways and dedicate ourselves to the presence of God in our various lockdown spaces.

Our Prayer for the Road Adapted from a prayer from the Iona Community Worship Book, 2017.

With the disruption of Covid-19 and the ensuing simmering below the surface of many things – some of which are now beginning to come to light – some pleasant and some nastier! This prayer seems appropriate. We are not alone, God is with us but we are not to be passive in our living into the ways of God. God, where are you and what is your call to us?

Creator of this world and all its people,

We are glad that all things are held in your hands.

You have not left us alone.

And we celebrate the work of your Spirit

Encouraging people the world over

To stand up for justice and peace,

To speak for the voiceless

And always anticipate

That the best is yet to come!

If, however,

We have driven a wedge between piety and peacemaking,

Erected a wall between prayer and politics,

Associated the purposes of heaven

With only the gentler things of earth – God of justice, Show yourself!

If we have offered to pretenders

The devotion you alone deserve;

If we have dismissed the Gospel

As irrelevant to the world – God of justice, Show yourself!

If we have dumbed down your Word

And domesticated your Spirit

Because we wanted an easier faith

And a tamer dove – God of justice, Show yourself!

Wherever in our nations

The poor are endangered,

The sick are neglected,

Prisoners are refused redemption,

And strangers among us are treated with suspicion – God of justice, Show yourself!

Wherever in our world,

The lust for profit

Undermines the value of human life;

Or the greed for power Overrides the need for fairness – God of justice, Show yourself!

In the social worker

And the mediator,

In vigils for peace

And protests to protect the earth;

To all who fear for the future of children,

To those who long for a different day – God of justice, Show yourself!

We pray in Jesus’ name and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Go into your week confident of God’s strong arms around you, resting in the sweetness of God’s love every moment of the day and night, Amen.

Posted in Services | Leave a comment

Sunday 17th May 2020

Under Level 2 Covid-19 restrictions the St Martins facilities are available to be used by groups of no more than 10, with strict guidelines in place.

Sunday Service: on our website (www.stmartins.org.nz). Many thanks to Rev Anne Stewart and the team from Village Presbyterian Church for making this available to the people of St Martins.


Moderator’s live streaming of devotions every Sunday at 9am. https://www.facebook.com/modpcanz/

Watch Sunday’s service from Beckenham Methodist: the video link/s are available after 11am from their webpage:  www.bmc.nz  Services/Reflections

The next ‘Messenger’ is due out soon. Please email any contributions to anneke.howie@gmail.com by Friday 22nd May. Photos, recipes, reflections on your lockdown experience all welcome.

Sue Saunders has not been sitting idle and still has five boxes of goodies left. Please phone her late afternoon or at the weekend – 960 7657. Bottled Pears, 1 bottle Peaches, Tomato Puree (great for soup/pasta sauce etc), Tomato Sauce, 3 bottles Lemon Curd, Marmalades: Grapefruit; Lemon; Orange & Peach , Jam: Plum; Blackberry & Apple; Feijoa & Ginger; Feijoa & Pear, Chutneys: Peach & Tomato; Spicy Apple & Red Pepper; Plum & Blackberry Chutney; Lemon & Mustard, Feijoa, Pear & Ginger, Kasundi – an Indian type relish suitable for vegetarian dishes etc

The Garage Series

Here are this week’s episodes of “The Garage Series.” This is where we go out and about and find out what questions people are asking.  


Episode #3, Don from Takaka. This one is a bit longer with a bonus extra reflection from Don about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 


Episode #4, Jess from Christchurch https://youtu.be/_TMSKdN1h90 


You may want to subscribe to the Alpine Presbytery YouTube channel while you are there. Maybe you have the same questions? Maybe you can talk about them in your congregation leadership meetings? Please share with us what solutions and ideas, and maybe further questions you come up with.

From the Council: Unite Against Covid-19

Under Alert Level 2 you can go out and about, but remember to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene practices. Keep a record of where you’ve been and who you’ve seen. Gatherings of up to 10 people are permitted. Stay home if you are sick.

If you need welfare assistance, call the CCC helpline 0800 24 24 11

For health advice, contact Healthline 0800 358 5453. If you are feeling unwell, call your GP before you visit.

Call the free Government Helpline 0800 779 997 (8am-1am) 7 days a week if you need advice.

Keep an eye on the official website – Covid19.govt.nz – for updates.

From the Prime Minister:

“Play it safe. Remember that wall of defence we built together as a team now rests with every one of us. So when you’re out and about, acknowledge your fellow team mates, enjoy being out more and seeing others. Keep it small. Keep your distance. And be kind.”

Moderator’s Covid-19 Pastoral Message

The storm of Covid-19 has rocked and shaken us all. Each bubble, each person – in fact the whole nation, and maybe all of the world – are in disarray. The invisible enemy is wreaking havoc like never experienced before. We have a common foe. “Keep the faith, stand firm, do not be afraid.” These are the words of our Lord Jesus to his disciples in times of trials, fears, death and uncertainty. Our Lord speaks these words to us, today.


Please keep going forward with how you have faced this intruder in the past seven weeks. Your resolve and your desire for life is profound. There is nothing stronger in life than human will. It is a precious gift of God from the beginning of time. You are making a difference for yourself and others. You are appreciated, valued and loved.



“Keep going, do not be tired of doing good.” (1 Peter 3:13)


Beloved, this dark cloud will not subdue us or cause us to surrender or concede. We will live, we will learn, we will prosper. We hold on to our hope and to our faith. Our God is the Creator of heaven and earth. In the image of God we were created. Praise and thank God always.


For our part also, keep everything and everyone in daily prayers. Call, email, and make contact with others as the Covid-19 alert moves down to level two. Adapt, adjust and do more where you can. We must lead by example, adhering to government guidelines. Remember the “front liners” in these unprecedented times. Look out for the least, the ill and the unfortunate.


Build and rebuild the church of our Lord wherever you are. Let the Spirit of God guide and lead. Many of our church services are online, reaching thousands weekly, globally.


“Stand up, stand up for Jesus,” the old hymn calls of us today.

Blessings, 
Right Rev Fakaofo Kaio, Moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

Posted in News | Comments Off on Sunday 17th May 2020