Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa,
"Be kind and compassionate to one another" - Ephesians 4.32
It is a busy part of the church year at the moment. This weekend Synods meet. In a few weeks' time Tauiwi Strategy and then Tauiwi Stationing will be meeting, to be followed closely by Council of Conference.
At the same time, we have a general election and people are trying to come to terms with policies on offer as well as to determine how they will vote on the two referendums.
We are pleased to see that some parishes are intending to hold events focussing on the referendums. However, we encourage you to look at the website for the Interchurch Bio Ethics Council. They have some helpful resources for individuals and parishes. You can also find some information on the electoral commission website.
We are now well into this year's election cycle and the gloves are off. Each political party trying to convince us that they have the answers to our problems. Election year is not normally known to be a year in which we see the kindness or compassion of politics displayed.
However, over the last three years there have been times when the parties came together in unity – following the mosque massacre in March 2019 is a good example. The Speaker Trevor Mallard organised an inter-faith ceremony as an expression of unity and grief. Then earlier this year the house came together in a sense of unity of purpose as the country moved into lockdown in March.
It is always easy to denigrate our politicians and others we don't like or have a different view from us. In her recent farewell speech to Parliament Amy Adams noted to those remaining in Parliament "Do the right thing and let the politics take care of itself. Be brave. Stand up on the divisive issues and never lose sight of the difference you are able to make in the time you have." Good advice, and also good advice for us in the church.
Before he left New Zealand, Rev Dr Trevor Hoggard wrote in a blog for us that "New Life in Christ is supposed to make a real, visible difference to our behaviour with other parties." This applies not only as we assess which political party we would like to govern New Zealand, and how we perceive them, but also how we operate within the Church.
Trevor went on to say "speaking the truth in love is an essential foundation for any relationship – that means having the courage to say respectfully what we truly think rather than put on an act of apparent compliance with the status quo only to undermine everything behind the scenes."
Our current Prime Minister is known around the world for her compassion and kindness. On the 31st July media noted that our Prime Minister was noted as the world's most eloquent leader. Whether we agree with this or not, the article noted that "Jacinda Ardern employs an empathetic leadership style. She challenges the common perception that emotional communication shows weakness, instead choosing to approach her public with a softer touch".
In both this article and in Amy Adams farewell speech to Parliament we see compassion and kindness as a virtue and something to which we all (we hope) aspire to achieve.
In a world where kindness seems to be disappearing fast, particularly in political debate, kindness should be what we seek as part of leadership of our country, in our church life, in all our lives.
God has entrusted us to be the body of Christ – the hands and feet through which God's work is done in the world. God does not work alone, but through people – all of us. To follow Jesus is to express our faith in concrete acts of love, justice, compassion, and kindness.
As we participate in this year's election, in our Synod meetings this weekend, in our churches and everyday lives – let us remember the ways in which our lives are an expression of following Jesus.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4: 32 (NIV)
'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui.
Setaita and Nicola
| Prayer for this week
we are reminded again of your call to be one people,
the body of Christ united in faith, working together.
Forgive the divisions we allow to come amongst us
our lack of kindness for each other
our blindness to one another's needs
our reluctance to become involved meaningfully.
Give us a true concern for all,
a genuine awareness of the wider fellowship to which we belong
a real openness to each other
and a deep and sincere love for your people everywhere.
In your name we pray,