Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa,
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6
This weekend Aucklanders have another weekend of level 2.5, while the rest of the country are at level 2. However, today we go into the weekend after four days of no new community transmission. This is good and possibly on Monday there will be an announcement that the restrictions will be changed.
While this is positive, we are still walking into the unknown which brings uncertainty and fear. Edwin Talakai, Vice President elect reflects on this today. The unknowing brings all sorts of consequences and anxieties. Edwin reminds us of God's strength, so that we may see God's hand at work and we come trusting more fully in Him. We join with Edwin in being confident that the Church will rise to this challenge and follow Jesus where the need is greatest, offering practical support, wisdom, and words of hope and comfort, especially to the vulnerable and those yet to experience the peace He brings.
Last week Tauiwi Strategy and then Tauiwi Stationing met by zoom for the first time ever. We met over two and half days, walking into the unknown and being apprehensive about how this would go. The outcome was, we managed to attend to all our work. Some found the process went okay, others found it difficult. It was different from meeting face to face, particularly for stationing. A lot of reflection will be required, not only because we met via zoom, but questions about the way we continue to work. Perhaps this year is a catalyst to some change for the future. Are we listening for what God is saying to us now?
This weekend will be our last Council of Conference meeting as the Presidential team. Usually we meet face to face. This time we meet face to face over zoom. Council of Conference in meeting via zoom also goes into the unknown. How will the critical discussions and work of this partnership body be effective, when we are not together in person for some hard conversations? What we do know is that it is important for us to try to be flexible and adaptable to the unusual situation we find ourselves in over this year. We go ahead in the confidence that we will not be alone, that the presence of God will be with us as we work through whatever is before us.
Edwin reminds us that we are never alone, John Wesley says, "the best of all God is with us." So, whatever you do, however you are meeting (whether in a church building, on-line, through mail delivery system etc) remember Jesus says, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."
Thank you Edwin for your reflection this week.
'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui.
Setaita and Nicola
"Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."
26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."
What intrigues me with the two stories by Matthew of Jesus and the disciples, is that both stories take place at the Sea of Galilee, both storms that enraged the boat in which the disciples were in. Both describe the state of the disciples being terrified and crying out in fear, the anxiety and fear they had within the comfort of their boat.
Matthew chapter 8:23-27, the story is evocative of Jesus' calming the sea.
In that story, Jesus led the disciples into the boat and stayed with them, even though he was asleep. When the storm arose and the waves covered the boat, the disciples cried out, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." (8:25). Jesus questions, "Why are you afraid, O men of little faith?" Then, he rebukes the wind, and the story ends with the disciples marvelling, "What sort of man is this, that even the winds and sea obey him?" (8:27).
In the second story in Matthew chapter 14:22-33, Jesus walks on the water.
This story, however, ends by answering the question satirized in Chapter 8, The first time Jesus calmed the sea, the disciples were left wondering who Jesus is. This calming of the sea at chapter 14 ends with a declaration by the disciples, "Truly you are the Son of God." (14:33).
In Matthew's Gospel, this story is meant to reveal who Jesus is. But that revelation is only possible in the midst of the chaos. If Jesus had not forced the disciples to embark on this uncertain journey, they would have missed the opportunity to see God revealed in their midst.
During the first lockdown in Aotearoa, we were compelled to stay at home during lockdown at level 4.
The anxiety was high as everything we experienced was new. We had to do things we had not done before. Our church functions relied heavily on modern online digital technology. Churches were closed and we had to stay at home.
Now on our second wave of lockdown and because church members are being tested Covid-19 positive, the same cry of anxiety arises as the impact is felt closer to us within our communities, our churches, families, and friends. We hear cries of fear and uncertainty as people are terrified, the impact on our wellbeing as loss of jobs increases, more families requiring food parcels, and other essential needs.
We are encouraged to look at this pandemic storm with faith and to seek Jesus amongst the chaos of this pandemic storm, it is here, that we can hear his voice calling to us,
"Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid."
Jesus reminds us that we should expect trials, He also reminds us that when we fear or are anxious we should come to him in faith and confidence, drawing on his perfect peace to sentry our hearts.
I know of no better ways of tackling our anxiety or paralysis than to reach out to someone else in need. Let us continue to pray for each other as we seek to endure our fight to contain and overcome this pandemic storm within our midst. The reminder from Philippians 4:6 "6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
May we be encouraged to call on God's strength, so that we may see His hand at work and we come trusting more fully in Him. The power of prayer to uphold each other from our household.
I am confident that once again the Church will rise to this challenge and follow Jesus where the need is greatest, offering practical support, wisdom, and words of hope and comfort, especially to the vulnerable and those yet to experience the peace He brings.
Vice President Elect
The prayer for this week is this song by Yolanda Adams shared by Edwin;
"Through the Storm"
The storms of life will blow They're sure to come and go They meet us all at a time When I'm calm and doing fine
But the Captain of my soul He's always on board He rocks me in His arms While riding through the storm
While riding through the storm Jesus holds me in His arms I am not afraid Of the stormy winds and the waves
Though the tides become high He holds me while I ride I found safety in His arms While riding through the storm
[We thank you Jesus, and in your name we pray, Amen]
The link above is the you tube clip for this song. Enjoy!