Kia ora All Saints family!
Summer here. This past week Guy shared with me how he had been thinking a lot recently about the passage from Luke 24 where two of Jesus’ disciples were walking along the road to Emmaus. They were leaving Jerusalem after everything that had happened. The Jesus they believed in, the one they thought was going to redeem Israel and take down the powers and principalities, had died. He was gone. Everything they believed in, hoped for and expected had just shattered. Here’s the bit that stands out for me: they were walking the road, not alone, but together! They were propping each other up. When it was all gone, when it felt like they’d hit the bottom of the barrel, they stayed together. I think this resonates for us particularly strongly this week because as COVID comes/interrupts/breaks us down, we must remember that we still have each other and that this is not a road we should walk alone! When big gatherings stop, or the way we are use to doing things gets broken down or hard, we still have each other.
What we are seeing here at All Saints during this time is really this truth in action. Walking this road together looks like choosing to continue gather together, choosing to shift into house churches in smaller numbers so that we can continue to worship, study the word of God, pray and support one another as we reach out into the world around us. In choosing this path we are choosing relationship, which is deeply rooted in how God made us and we are choosing together to continue to seek Jesus as we walk.
We as deacons are continuing to pray for you all during this time, we are incredibly encouraged by the amazing and exciting stories we are hearing about the different groups that are meeting during the week and on Sundays. We are adding groups continuously to be sure there are spaces for all of us to join in and accept the invitation into deep and authentic relationship together on this journey.
This week it’s important that we talk about how we are going to go forward with house churches and the reintroduction of central gatherings on Sundays. As you may be aware, there was an adjustment to the Level 2 restrictions. Whereas previously we were limited to gathering sizes of 50, that has now shifted to 100. Prior to this decision God had gone before us and we had a conversation at our Parish Council meeting discussing the best way forward for this very scenario.
So this is the decision we came to and what All Saints gatherings all round are going to look like for the next few months.
This coming Sunday 26th Sept we will remain in our house churches.
The following Sunday Oct 3rd we will gather back at All Saints for our 9am and 10:30 gatherings. You can click here to read the government guidelines for faith-based gatherings in Alert Level 2.
Now that we can meet in numbers up to 100, it would be really easy for us to go forward as we always have, with Central Gatherings every Sunday, and then those who have extra time or interest can join a small group. But what we as a community have set up in the last few weeks is a gift from God and we want to acknowledge that. We now have amazing house church network with an incredible group of leaders who are passionate about connecting us together, as well as exploring and strengthening our worship in the home. Remember, worship in the home is how it all started in those days following the Resurrection.
So with that in mind, until the end of November, we are going to alternate between house churches and central gatherings on Sundays fortnightly. On the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month we will be in our central gatherings and on the 2nd and 4th Sundays we will gather in our house churches. November has a 5th Sunday and we will send out communication about that later.
There is incredible power in gathering in the home together, to worship, pray and study. The closeness of relationship and the way we can engage with one another happens in a way that isn’t possible on a Sunday morning.
The likelihood of us moving in and out of alert levels in the months to come is high. We must ensure that we are able to stay closely connected if and when that happens, and house churches are the way to do that.
So the task before us as a parish is to give our house churches a good chance to become embedded into the life of the parish for this season of life and ministry.
If you are not in a house church already please click here to register your interest in joining one.
We are excited to gather together again, celebrate and worship with you all on October 3rd. Until then, blessings to you all and may your gathering time in your house churches be fruitful, challenging and joyus! We cannot wait to hear the stories!
Summer, Guy, Emily, and Andrew