Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa,


Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5: 15-16) NSRV 

Today, we both met with two people from the Electoral Commission. The purpose of the meeting was to ask how the church was encouraging people to participate in the election. The key point being to register and then to vote. We had a good conversation and they promised to send to us information on the referendums as well as the election itself. Once we receive that, we will circulate material to the wider church. The focus of our conversation was on participation in our community life.

The reflection this week has been written by Rev Graeme White. Graeme reflects on keeping our minds alert and participation in life reminding us all to keep our minds alert. Of course, voting in our general elections and local body elections it does not matter how old we are (as long as we are over 18). It is important however that we think about the issues that we are passionate about, the values we hold dear, the things that we are concerned about and what we look for from our Government. So, no matter what our age, we encourage everyone take time to research what the various policies of all parties, the pro's and con's of the referendums and to think about how these things will impact on our communities. We also encourage parishes to seek to engage with their candidates in their local area and to seek information about the referendums.

As we have seen over recent weeks, we are already in the midst of electioneering. As we consider what is important to us, we need to remember that it is not only about how we personally will benefit. We need to consider the whole, and especially the impacts on those who are the most vulnerable in our community.

Lest we think that religion and politics don't mix, we only need to open our bibles. The Jesus story is a political story. It is a story about a time of great injustice. A story of absolute power and a story of cultural revolution. Jesus, showed us through his actions that it is possible to transform the world in which we live in. The implication of this story is that we have we have a responsibility to carry on this legacy, to engage our minds, to participate, to seek the best for our nation, for our people, particularly in terms of love, justice and mercy.

Our Methodist ancestor John Wesley looked upon the whole world as his parish. He said, "If doing a good act in public will excite others to do more good then 'Let your light shine to all.' Miss no opportunity to do good."

If we choose not to take this opportunity to participate, to register, to get out of our houses, to put a tick on a piece of paper, are we denying our commitment to live a Christian life? We encourage everyone, 18 years old and older to participate in this election, to learn about the policies, to consider all the options and choose carefully and prayerfully your response.

Once again our dear fellow Methodists, "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can." John Wesley.we have a responsibility to carry on this legacy, to engage our minds, to participate, to seek the best for our nation, for our people, particularly in terms of love, justice and mercy.

Keeping our minds alert.
A few weeks ago three of us who work in the Church Offices at 409 Great South Road, were talking when one of our number mentioned about our ages. They total 214 years. There is John Murray, acting Director of Mission Resourcing, English Speaking, 71. Terry Wall, acting Director of Mission and Ecumenical 70 and myself Graeme White, Auckland Synod Superintendent ,73. Another of our number jokingly said that the church was being run by geriatrics!
John is in his position because of the departure of Rev. Trevor Hoggard, for Wales, and Terry in his position because of the departure of Rev Prince Devanandan to the Auckland Anglican Diocese. I am the Auckland Synod Superintendent for three years because, at the time Rev. Marilyn Welch retired, the obvious candidates had heavy work loads already. I enjoy my job. I enjoy the people contact and the sense of purpose that this job gives me.

Just before lock-down my wife and I travelled down to Matamata with my daughter and two of our grandchildren to visit Hobbiton. After our visit we were having lunch together when my daughter asked me what was I going to do when I have finished this job. I asked her what she meant and she replied, that she and her husband were quite worried about me, before I started the job, because, I had in their minds become quite doddery. They had seen a positive change in me since beginning as Synod Superintendent. We then had a conversation about keeping the mind and body active in older age.

As I reflect on my experience working again I noted than when I started work at 409 and was travelling back to Little Manly on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula where I live, I would often feel tired and have to stop at the BP station at Dairy Flat and have a coffee and a walk around. This was so as I could stay awake for the rest of the journey. I haven't had to do that for about a year. I have adjusted to working and coping with the day.

There has been much talk by politicians about raising the retirement age. The rationale has been that the country has not been able to afford it. That might be so, in relation to pensions, but I wonder if the country can afford to handle the health bill for people who do not necessarily have a purpose, and so become old before their time. On the other hand, there are those people who have been involved in manual work all their lives and 65 can't come soon enough because of the wear and tear on their bodies.

Work however doesn't have to be paid employment. Do we recognise each other's gifts? Do we give people opportunities or do we turn to the same people all the time rather than embracing new people. We had some folk from our parish to lunch recently and the question of things that need doing around the church e.g. being on the door, morning tea, operating the sound system and power point presentations, welcoming people, reading the bible, was raised. Suddenly we had volunteers. These people had never been asked. Also, tell people what a job involves. If you just ask for volunteers without telling people what is involved don't be surprised if no one responds.
My first job on leaving school was working for the ANZ Bank. My first transfer was from Dunedin to Wellington, and I began worshipping at Wesley, Taranaki Street, when Jack Penman and John Grundy were the ministers there. For the first six or so months I just warmed a pew. Then there was a call for Sunday School teachers. I volunteered, as I had done this for three years at Caversham in Dunedin. I was soon part of the team. Then I was approached to be a door steward. I readily agreed. I now felt that I belonged, as I had something to do, and I belonged.

As Christians there is always something to do that is age appropriate. (I acknowledge that I will probably never lead a youth group again as I am out of touch with young people's way of seeing things. – but I can talk to young people about their rugby game and whether they won and find out what is important in their lives). The very elderly may make a tremendous contribution through prayer, other people with a particular skill may offer that. I remember in one parish we had a notice board in need of good sign writing, and then we discovered a retired sign writer in our congregation just waiting to be asked.

In Ephesians 5: 15 – 16 we find these words. "Be careful how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil."
There is a saying that "you are never too old". I don't think we can apply that universally, but there are many things we can do rather than be put out to pasture. My daughter is encouraging me to look forward beyond January 2022 to something that I can do to keep my mind alert. Can I encourage us all to keep our minds alert.

Rev Graeme White
Synod Superintendent Auckland Synod

Prayer for this week

God of justice and compassion,
Leaders and outcasts came to your Son
And were received with the same love:
For those easily brushed aside he made space;
Of those with much, much was expected;
To the penitent he offered forgiveness;
For all, the new life of his kingdom was announced.
Hear our prayer for those standing for election
To serve and represent all people of Aotearoa
May we reflect on the policies and options
Looking for the common good
And pursue justice, peace and mercy .
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.