Kia ora Whānau,
Summer here this week. Guy tells me that I have a tendency to repeat myself. It’s likely often a bit annoying, especially in a marriage. At the risk of confirming that he may be right, or sounding like a broken record, I have something to share today that is closely in line with my sermon last week. God just keeps unpacking it deeper and deeper with me. Sorry if it seems you’ve heard this before ;)
You know how sometimes you start to consider a concept or hear about something for the first time and then suddenly it’s everywhere? That often happens to me with words. I hear a new word and then suddenly I hear it everywhere and I wonder how many times I’ve heard it before I ever recognised it or knew what it meant. Our brains are such funny and complex things.
Most of you will have heard my sermon last week on the crucifixion, but some of you have not. I said in that sermon that God has had me on a big emotional and spiritual journey recently that kind of culminated in writing that sermon. I have been pondering death and noticing the way we often avoid thinking about death because it’s too scary and hard to fathom, but then realising that if we don’t consider death then we can’t ever truly understand the power of the cross.
A day and a half each week I work in private practice as a mental health therapist, so I spend a fair amount of my time and work speaking and thinking about human emotion – how complex it is, how little most people understand about their own emotions or the emotions of others, how emotions interact with one another… and so on. I also listen to a LOT of podcasts about emotion. I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to this topic. Well, in the last few weeks, and wrapped up in my process around last week’s sermon, a very clear and obvious theme has emerged – in my clients, my podcasts, my own heart and mind. It’s the theme of our incredible tendency as humans toward numbing our emotions. This is not a new concept, it’s something we are all aware is extremely common. But God has been drawing my attention to this in a new way.
There’s only one reason we numb our emotions – pain. And that pain exists because of the brokenness in the world around us. Pain tells us there’s a problem. It tells us things aren’t as they are meant to be. Pain was not a part of God’s perfect design; it came with the fall. Of course nobody wants to feel it. But when we numb ourselves from the pain, we also cut ourselves off from the good things; we can’t pick and choose which feelings to feel. So with numbing or avoiding feelings of pain, we avoid thinking about the brokenness of the world. And without consideration of the brokenness of the world, we can’t fully appreciate the fullness of life that comes with knowing and understanding the remedy to that brokenness – Jesus.
So this week, as we wrap up our Mark series and ask ourselves once again – will we run away or will we recognise Jesus as Lord and Saviour? – I want to encourage us all to remember that part of recognising Jesus and His sacrifice to us is to sit in consideration of the stark contrast between life and death. Let’s all collectively push back against our human tendencies to self-protect and avoid so that we can help the world see that which is so so good.
Kia ora All Saints Whānau,
We are so excited to gather back together again this weekend for our central gatherings in the cenre. This week we are looking at the penultimate week in our Mark series. Summer is going to be bringing us the word this week, teasing out the story of the Roman soldier and the key role he played in the recognition of who Jesus was. We have been steering this discussion all the way through our series towards the overarching question that Mark asking his readers; will you runaway or recognise Jesus as Lord.
Our challenge to you this week is to come to one of our central gatherings with a posture of reflection as we think about the last several months of this journey and with an expectation of seeking God as he reveals himself to us during the next couple of weeks.
If you haven’t yet, have a flick all the way through the parish e-news. There are loads of stuff to dig into. We would love to point you to several key things that are happening.
See you all Sunday!
Guy, Summer, Andy and Emily.
Guy preaching week 18 of our Mark series - The Last Supper - Mark 14:12-31
Kia ora All Saints Whānau,
What a joy it was to meet together again last week! I (Emily) feel so grateful that we could do this when so many in the world can't. Chris shared a great message with three pieces of advice Jesus gave his disciples, but the first really stood out to me: "Don’t be alarmed in the face of world turmoil." There are many things happening in the world right now which can feel alarming, but I believe Jesus’ words would be the same to us today - do not be alarmed. Through the Spirit we can have peace during hard times and confident hope that things will not always be this way. God's kingdom brings healing and restoration.
Perhaps this week you could consider how your heart is in this time. Are you feeling alarmed? Are you holding onto the hope Jesus offers? Are you finding ways to join God in bringing healing and restoration to our world (or maybe just to a friend, neighbour or stranger)?
As we meet together in our house churches this week, I encourage you to use the time to truly engage in your faith. Enjoy the smaller group setting, the conversation, the snacks (my favourite part), and encourage and spur one another on to help our hurting world. As you do, know that we are praying for you, and may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.
Emily, Andy, Guy and Summer