Kia ora All Saints whānau
After our 10:30 central gathering on Easter Sunday we carried on our celebration of the Resurrection with a hunt for chocolate eggs in the vicarage garden. What a time! It was joyful chaos and filled my heart with deep joy. We had 13 kids, ranging in age from 1-12, tearing through the garden, loosing their heads a bit in the excitement.
There was joy, giggling, friendship, and sunshine. The deep joy in my own heart came from watching the youngest members of our church family build relationship and celebrate with one another.
What does it mean to live in the truth of the Resurrection together? What does it look like to celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice with those around us? For our young ones on Easter Sunday, it looked like running around after foil wrapped eggs and being deeply full of joy. For other generations in our church family it may look a bit different.
But the core is the same – joy, celebration, and rejoicing in the Lord together! I want to remind you all that Easter isn’t just one day. It’s a season – Eastertide we call it, and it’s about the lingering joy we experience as we orient our lives all over again to the reality of the Resurrection. So keep celebrating, keep feasting, and keep spreading that joy to the world around us.
Love and Blessings,
Kia ora All Saints Whānau,
Happy Easter! What’s great about Easter is that it’s not all over in a weekend. We get to celebrate Easter for 50 days - from Easter Sunday to Pentecost.
Each fortnight here in the parish we have 2 missional huddles that meet to journey together in an intentional time of discipleship. We ask questions like; “What is God saying to us? And what are we going to do about it?” We encourage one another towards making new disciples who then go on to make disciples. It’s all very transformative and exciting. I share this because every 5th time we meet together we do a mission fortnight. The last 10 days or so has been our most recent mission fortnight and the challenge this time is to spend sometime in a public place asking the Holy Spirit to point someone out to us who we can have a substantial conversation with. As I have been going about my days, I have been praying and thinking with great excitement about our groups as they practice and put themselves out into public spaces, seeking to make relationship and have conversations of depth.
In this season in the church year, we move from the cross to the resurrection. We journey through drama, suspense, sorrow, enlightenment, excitement and action of the revealing of Jesus, the Risen Christ! We remember the early church declaring the wonder of the resurrection. It’s true, he’s alive! I saw him! Those other people have seen him too! Go ask them.
I think about that wonder and passion in us for the same risen Jesus that is present to us today. What has happened to us is so wonderful, personal and transformative, yet we so often are ok with just having Jesus to ourselves. As I think about our mission challenge for our huddle this fortnight, I think about the nerves, fears, hopes and anticipation our group members might be experiencing. I think about the excitement (or lack of), the doubts about “Who am I? And why am I trying to spark up a random conversation with someone I feel like the Holy Spirit has pointed out to me?” Just like the early first century Jews, we need to be excited and passionate about the resurrection and what that offers.
Matthew 28 declares “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As we have found our identity in the Risen Christ, who so loves us radically, wonderfully and personally, may we seek to be emboldened in our faith to share it with others.
John 14: 16 “ And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” …..26”But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you”
I highlight these verses from John 14 here so that we know that the Father has sent the Holy Spirit that we continue to learn and be reminded of who we are in Christ, empowered and emboldened to know that we are first a disciple of Christ and that we are called to make other disciples so that others too can know how powerful, wonderful and ultimately personal the Resurrection is.
Greetings to you all today, in what is considered the holiest week of the church calendar. Last night, Guy sent out an activity suggestion to our young families house church. The link to the activity has a picture of pizza and fizzy drinks - not what I would usually expect from a Maundy Thursday activity. It suggests that we spend time with our families tonight, preparing our favourite celebration food and remembering that the night Jesus was betrayed was actually a day of celebration for the Jews. It was an evening spent enjoying food, friendship, and faith – remembering God’s faithfulness in delivering them from bondage in Egypt.
I woke up this morning thinking about Jesus’ disciples at the Passover meal that night before Jesus died. They were celebrating, fellowshipping together, trying their best to learn all that Jesus taught them. Were they confused? Were they wondering? What were they talking about between them? Were they scared?
The next several days for Jesus’ disciples were incredibly intense. I imagine the feeling that we all get when we are in a crisis and we draw close to those around us to survive. Is this how Jesus’ disciples felt? Did they cry together? How did they lament? Were they scared?
Because of Covid we have been in our house churches for many weeks up until Palm Sunday. My hope and prayer is that you have been able to grow more deeply together in that time. My prayer is that you all are finding vulnerability with one another, knowing each other more intimately, and supporting one another well.
Our family was isolating with Covid for just short of 2 weeks recently and our church family and particularly our house church was our village – they came around us, made sure we had what we needed and brought us treats. We felt so deeply loved and cared for. These relationships that we have with one another, as disciples of Christ, are so incredibly important. We wonder together, feel sadness, fear, and joy together, journey together.
As each of you go on your Holy Week journey this year. Don’t go it alone. Reach out to fellow disciples and journey together. This is how God intended it – for us to be in relationship with one another, and it’s through these relationships that we are able to grow even more in our intimacy with Jesus.
I pray the spiritual journey you go on in the next few days draws you close to Jesus. And I look forward to celebrating his resurrection with you on Sunday!
Kia ora All Saints Whānau,
This week we gather together for services again! And what better time than our Palm Sunday celebrations, remembering and joining with the crowd that gathered to welcome Jesus into Jerusalem as King!
I always find Palm Sunday such a conflicting event. On the one hand, it is great for us to spend some time rejoicing together and putting Jesus in his rightful place as king in our lives. It is also great to delve into the servant heart of King Jesus - not arriving on a stallion ready to ride into battle but on a mere donkey: a bumpy, much less glamorous ride.
But on the other hand, we know what happens in a few days - we set a murderer free instead of the Son of God, one of Jesus's closest friends pretends he never knew him, and we somehow get swayed by the masses to reject him also.
I use the present tense here as I think the journey of Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday, is best experienced with all its ups and downs, rather that just living in Easter Sunday. We can't read about the crowds welcoming Jesus without getting excited about the hope that Jesus is here to bring God's kingdom near! Likewise, we can't read about the crowds being fickle-minded, missing the point, and rejecting Jesus's authority, without dwelling in the discomfort that we frequently behave in the same way.
So this Holy Week, join me in living in each day, with all its ups and downs, until we join together once again to celebrate that Good News: the hope that God is restoring us and the earth, and we can live in true freedom knowing death has no power over us anymore.
See you soon,