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Methodist Church Blog

23/10/20

 

Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa, 


We are enjoying the last weeks of our term of office. This week Vice President Nicola responded to an invitation that was made last year to visit the Dunedin Methodist Parish. Dunedin of course holds a special place in Nicola's heart having been part of the Dunedin Methodist Parish up until 2005. While in Dunedin, Nicola shared in worship at a Parish service, spoke at an education evening and spent time catching up with people. It was good to meet with a parish that is in good heart and to hear some of their stories. 

During this year, Vice President Nicola has been offering part time lay supply in the Methodist Parish at Devonport. Devonport Parish has been offering a Methodist witness for 165 years. It is thought that the first preacher at Devonport was a young Maori - Anatipa. Anatipa was probably a student at the Methodist College at Three Kings. Services then were held outdoors, probably on the beach near Torpedo Bay. Later on worship was held in a school room built by the Anglican Church and class meetings were established and held in the home of the signalman for the Flagstaff signal station.

Now, the parish is looking at how that witness continues in a new era – an era when technology and covid have a strong influence on how we move forward. As Devonport thinks about their future, two questions become important. These two questions are those that our young people are also reflecting on:

  1. How can we remain in connexion when we are unable to connect in person?
  2. If the lifeblood of our faith community is the regularity of being able to gather kanohi te kanohi (face to face), what fills the void when that is no longer possible?

As we both share in the celebration this weekend with Devonport, we are conscious that it is possible that more people will be joining via zoom than physically present. The Parish is excited that the President will be preaching at this service of celebration. This will be an interesting experience for us all. If you would like to join our celebration at Devonport this weekend, then you are welcome to register via this link.

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEtce6gqTwjHNxQRrJIQkJQY6sqjVKXcJ_0

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the celebration.

We are mindful that there will be many different experiences of worship this weekend – we know of parishes who will be conducting their AGM's, where some are still worshipping on-line, and for others where services will be led by lay preachers, or their presbyter or deacon. We wish everyone well as you continue to reflect and proclaim the transforming love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ and declared in the Scriptures. President Setaita reflects on the gospel reading for this week.

'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui.
Setaita and Nicola


 

23 October 2020

Love God and Neighbour

"'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets." Matthew 22: 37-40

Billy Graham once answered a letter in his daily newspaper column from someone who was upset that churches and charities don't pay a cent in taxes. The writer was upset that he had to "pay until it hurts". In his reply, Billy Graham said that if all the food banks, homeless shelters, hospitals, community centres, addiction rehabilitation centres and other organizations were forced to close, millions of lives would be hurt. If they did close, governmental agencies would be forced to fill the gap-at enormous cost to taxpayers. He closed his reply with the following words:

No system is perfect, but I urge you not to turn a blind eye to the good done by the vast number of churches and other organisations who are sincerely seeking to serve others. Christians take seriously Jesus' command: "Love your neighbour as yourself".

When Jesus was asked which Commandment was the most important, it was a loaded question. The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus, but Jesus turned the trap on them. All of the commandments were equal because they were created by God. Jesus used the opportunity to point out that all of the laws that the Pharisees came up with to make certain that the Jews kept the Commandments, were summarised by the two Great Commandments that Jesus gave us: "Love God, and love people". Both commandments are related and are of equal importance. They are the basics of Christianity.

2 Sundays ago, I worshipped at the Wesley Retirement Village in Christchurch, in a well filled Chapel with many elderly residents, some of whom were lovingly wheeled in on their beds or wheelchairs. While I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and Service taken by Chaplain Rev Jill vandeGeer, it was a blessing to once again witness that the employees of nursing homes are a good example of the fact that loving others comes from the knowledge that each person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. They treat the residents with the dignity and respect that the residents deserve. They show their love by doing their

 

jobs to the best of their ability, and by doing so; they show the love they have for the residents. They try to help their neighbours, and by doing so, they are doing what God wants them to do. This love involves denying themselves for the good of others. People don't care how much we know, until they know how much we care.

But what if loving our neighbour means that we need to listen to the world and be engaged with it? There are times when people help each other out by having building bees where neighbours come together to build houses. Other times they come together to help each other with the harvest or to care for sick neighbours or elderly parents. Those are examples of loving people as God loved us.

The way God knows that we love God is by how we treat people. Whenever we demonstrate kindness, patience or gentleness, we see the Lord's love at work through us, especially when the other person has been unkind and doesn't deserve such pleasant treatment. Our relationships with others demand priority over things that won't last or won't matter in a few years. If we love God and love people, we will naturally obey the rest of the Commandments. That's only natural. After all, the two Great Commandments are an example of the Golden Rule.

It is our faith that God loves us that makes us able to love ourselves and therefore be grateful for the gift of ourselves. This awareness of life as a gift is what we mean by loving God. When we love ourselves, we are grateful to God, and this gratitude sets us free to love other people. When we truly love people, we value them as gifts of God.

Jesus' teaching isn't just about how we feel about God and neighbour, but what we will do. We are to love God with all our lives, including our work. It is the basis of our obedience to God. It shows that our love for God is number one in our lives. Love for God and love for all of those who are made in God's image form the backbone of everything God says to us as written in the Bible. In the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 13:10, "Love is the fulfilment of the law".

 

May we all be Woven Together To Proclaim Life as we Love God and our neighbours in all that we do and say.

 

'Oku ou 'ofa atu fau mo e lotu hufia
Setaita Taumoepeau K Veikune

 


Prayer for this week 

 

Stir us, O God, with your vibrant desire.

Move us, O God, to work for your justice.

Inspire us, O God, to active service,

Keep us, O God, from complacent indifference.

Challenge us, O God, with your compassion and mercy.

Take and shape us, O God,

To live and love as your Son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Prayer: Stir us, O God. Written by Ian Black
Published in Prayers for all Occasions.

13/10/20

            
 
Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa,

We are in the last few weeks of our term of office and it does not lessen our ministries, our heart to serve and our availability for people and the church. Both of us are away from Auckland this week, President Setaita has been in Christchurch since last Friday and from Saturday this week Vice President Nicola will be in Dunedin. We also look forward to a 165th anniversary celebration at the Devonport Methodist Parish over Labour Weekend. All of this and an election as well. So please note there is still time to register and don't forget to vote.
                       
Recently all Synods and Te Taha Maori will have received a paper about the resolution of claims of historic abuse of children in care. Synods were encouraged to discuss the paper and consider the recommendation that money be put aside to help cover the costs of resolving these claims. However, money is only one aspect of the resolution.

This week President Setaita, along with General Secretary David and Jill Hawkey Chair of Methodist Alliance, have been meeting with some of the victims of abuse. The purpose of the meeting has been to offer in person an apology on behalf of the Methodist Church. It has been a week of tears and testimonies of healing, renewal and hope for new beginnings. President Setaita notes that this has been one of the highlights of her term of Presidency.

"It is having to look the abused person in the eye and saying I am sorry, on behalf of the church. For the church to be there to cry with the person, to rejoice with the person and to see the hope that the person (and in some cases their whanau) walk away with, is more than a privilege. To witness the healing that takes place when an abused person is believed, is powerful."

Each person is offered a piece of pounamu, which is received with such gratitude and brings them to tears. One of the things that has been common in all these meetings is the conviction that God is real and present – it is this that brings hope. At the end of all the meetings, President Setaita just sits and cries – tears of compassion and tears of joy.

These meetings will continue, and Vice President Nicola will be attending one in the future. Throughout our term of office, it is in the meetings with people, listening to their stories, these are the blessings. Being able to sit alongside people who are often in the background and acknowledging their service, thanking them on behalf of the Church. This is one of the highlights that we treasure as we move towards the end of our term and look to another new beginning with new leadership. This week President Setaita reflects on the change of seasons.

'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui.
Setaita and Nicola
 13 October 2020

A New Season 

"To everything there is a season, a time for every person under heaven."
Esslesiastes 3:1



We serve a God of season. We see it in creation. God created the seasons that are based upon the rotation of the Earth as it orbits the Sun. The seasons change as the earth moves, but the sun in our planetary system remains constant, and everything revolves around it.

 

Though we serve a God of season, God does not measure seasons with clocks and calendars, but with your experience in the Lord. Every aspect of our life is like a season and there is a purpose for those seasons. There is a reason for the season.

There are seasons you will prefer not to go through. But looking back, you can agree with me that, you will not be who you are today, without that season. You may not understand why you went through it, but it shaped who you are. There is a reason for that season.

Today can signify the end of one season and the onset of a new season. In just over three weeks time Te Haahi Weteriana will reach the end of the current term of leadership, ready to begin with the leadership of the next Presidential team and General Secretary. In one weeks' time Aotearoa will embrace the beginning of a new term of leadership with a newly elected government. In our journey with covid 19, Auckland now joins the rest of New Zealand at alert level 1, having ended (hopefully for a long season) alert level 2.

If the season that has just ended for you, started and ended of your own accord, we can let God begin a good work in us this new season.

New seasons come with changes. Whether you have been a Christian all your life or not, whether you have been a Methodist all your life or not, when you start a new season, it comes with change. You, have changed, remember we serve a God of seasons. Even in God's creation, God created the seasons. Each season is different from the others. Some are meant for things to grow, and other for things to die off.

Summer – plants reach optimal growth

Spring – plants begin to grow

Winter – leaves die, sustainer being the root. If the root is not solid, the whole plant will die.

In some seasons the days are longer, in others the night. 

  Looking at Peter, he entered into a new season when Jesus called him to follow Him. "As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fish for people. Immediately they left their nets and followed him." – Matthew 4: 18-20

In the morning, Peter was just an ordinary fisherman, by evening when he met Jesus, he became fisher of people. Peter stepped into a new season and was changed. He was made into and transformed into something he wasn't.

Fishing for people is different from fishing for fishes. It's not necessarily easier, but the outcome is grander. In fact, it is more challenging to fish for people than fishes. Looking around the church and the body of Christ today, I am sure will agree with me. But fishing for people is definitely more rewarding.

The new season comes with its challenges. A new terrain, new obstacles to cross, and new milestones to set. Remember, last season, you already had your routine. Whatever they were, good or bad, you had them. This new season, if you continue with the old approach, you might surprise yourself.

Members of Te Haahi Weteriana o Aotearoa, let this new season be one where God starts a new work in you. Phil 1:6 "I am confident in this that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ."

The sun remains constant, and as the earth rotates around it, the earth changes its season. In many ways we see the signature of the same artist in our lives. Much like the earth, our lives should revolve around the Son, Jesus Christ. Our lives will change, and we will enter and exit many seasons, but the Son remains constant yesterday, today and forever.

Yes, the seasons will change but if Jesus is at the centre of it, whether its spring, summer, or winter, if your root is solid, transfixed onto Jesus in the centre … while the past season might have failed you or not be up to par, THIS SEASON WILL BE A VICTORIOUS ONE FOR YOU IN JESUS NAME.

1 Corinthians 15: 58 "Therefore my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain."

'Oku ou 'ofa atu fau kia kimoutolu mo e lotu hufia
Setaita T Taumoepeau K Veikune

 


Prayer for this week

God of love, God for all,
your purposes are more beautiful than we can possibly imagine.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit.
Help us let go of all that holds us back.
Open our lives and our churches to new seasons of humility and faith, of change and growth.
Shake us up with the Good News of Jesus and show us the way. Amen 

Greetings in Fijian Language Week

Bula dear friends!

Greetings in Fijian Language week. 

Aotearoa is now reunited in Alert Level 1! Well done Auckland!
http://www.methodist.org.nz/caring_for_our_people/covid19/current_updates
As always I urge us all to beware of complacency. The latest outbreak we had was only 6 people. It didn't warrant lockdown or any other stronger measures thanks firstly to the first person getting tested early when they felt ill, and secondly to the great contact tracing efforts.

The current talk about sharing our bubble with Australia means that we must strongly continue with good hygiene, with great contact tracing and COVID awareness. We need to learn how to reopen our bubble borders, but this is not the time for complacency!

Therefore I urge you to re-commit to the basics:

- Stay home if you're sick
- Call the Healthline if you have cold or flu symptoms 0800 611 116
- Wear a face covering if you are at risk
- Keep track of where you've been
- Keep track of who visits
- Wash your hands
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow
- Clean surfaces that get touched frequently
- Maintain physical distancing
- Wash your hands again
- And be kind, always be kind

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Let us once again give thanks for our COVID-19 security we have in Aotearoa, and let us pray for those who are still badly affected in so many parts of the world.

Grace be to you, and peace.

David

02/10/20

 
Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa,
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long." Psalm 23 vs 6

September is a month dedicated to women's ministry within Vahefonua Tonga. Last Sunday over 3,000 women gathered from around New Zealand for a virtual service of worship. All these women renewed their commitment to serve God as worship leaders in the Methodist Church of New Zealand. It was a service with a difference. President Setaita was the preacher and the service was co-led by the National President of Methodist Women's Fellowship, Siniva Moli Vaitohi and the President of the Tongan District Fellowship Silila Kilikiti. This was the first time an on-line service was held for the national annual roll call of Tongan Methodist Women. The service also highlighted children's ministry with Athaleyah Veikune, a 6 year old girl who recited psalm 23 for the children's ministry.

During the week, we discovered a new children's book called the Great Realisation. This is a story of hope in a time of change. It is a poem which was first performed in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic and has a message of hope and resilience. Stories like the Tongan roll call pick up this message of hope and resilience.

Over this last year there have been many stories of hope in a time of change. Saikolone notes this in his reflection this week. As we begin to reflect on the year that has past, we are also conscious of the new leadership that will begin. Not only of a new President and Vice President for the Methodist Church of New Zealand, a new General Secretary and for the country a new Government.

We pray that the spirit of hope and resilience that has been present with us this year will continue and that our leaders both within the church and in our world, will feel the presence of God with them as they face the challenges that are ahead, not alone but with the support of us all.

This week, Synod members from Tauiwi have received an email to vote for the President and Vice President elect. We ask you to read the profiles of each of the candidates, and to prayerfully consider those you believe will take us on the next steps in our journey. Just like when we vote in our general election and referenda – take time to prayerfully analyse the policies and the issues, consider carefully how these policies will impact on people, but particularly those who are vulnerable or marginalised or undervalued, and don't forget to VOTE.

Thank you Saikolone for your reflection and the timely reminder.

'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui.

Setaita and Nicola
 
Matthew 14:22-33

In this short bible reading, the disciples were excited to see Jesus walking toward them on the water. They were also absolutely terrified even after Jesus identifies himself and tells them not to fear. Peter was the first one to make a bold move and things were going successfully until he comprehends the unfeasibility of what he's doing and starts to sink. The rest of the story echoed something we've become accustomed to in our journey with Matthew; a call out for help, being healed or being saved or being nourished, then things calm down, and worshipping God continues as normal.

In my humble opinion, an emphasis on how Jesus suspended the natural order in order to feed 5,000 men with little food and plenty of left overs, misses a vital component of Matthew's concern. Also, an emphasis on how Jesus suspended the natural order in order to walk on water misses the point as well.

Why Peter was unable to maintain himself on top of the water as Jesus did, is a good question to ponder. But answering it with the extent of one's depth of faith, is dangerous and contradicting faith itself. In our current struggle with COVID 19, using faith as a tool to suspend the natural order of things will not be helpful.

In my world (not sure about yours), you stand on water you will sink unless you use special tools or technics. The depth of one's faith has nothing to do with whether one can walk on top of the water or not. Like the disciples' excitement or the lack of it, in seeing Jesus walking on water, my journey with Matthew's emphasis on the kingdom of God conveyed new excitement for me. But in particularly, the presentation of chapter 14, starting with the two kingdom's feast (14:1-21) and the reality check for those who want to be a fellow kingdom builder with Jesus (14:22-33).

The reality check in Matthew 14:22-33 is an affirmation that building of the kingdom of God here on earth or working to make sure that God still rules the world, was not and is not and will not be easy.
  It is also an affirmation that it is a step we must take if we are to be true followers of Jesus or if we still want to make a difference to this world.  

Matthew in this passage alluded to the vital tool for this building project and that is faith. Faith (according to Mother Teresa) is love in action and from my experience, faith is the willingness of the heart to step into the unknown trusting that God will be there regardless of whatever happens. Faith is both the willingness of the heart and the stepping out into the unknown, which Mother Tressa define as "love in action". Feeling excited in seeing Jesus walking on water is important but putting one's feet into the water is also or maybe more important.

I know from personal experience that sometimes the
heart is still willing but the feet never wish to step out, especially when things aren't going the way it should. I am often too easily consumed by my own fears that I stop faith(ing).

Participating in building the kingdom of God in our
world now, even with faith that can lift mountains, is seemingly more impossible. But Covid 19, reminded us of something we choose to forget, that kindness and compassion is our true nature, and in the midst of chaos, we can still bubble up a community where all live well, all have enough and all have a decent life.
Now I wonder if what seems impossible might just be that we've stopped stepping out into the unknown. We have been assured that there is no storm, no chaos, no dark and no despair that will prevent Jesus from being there with us when we step out into the unknown. None of us are outside of Jesus' reach, even me, with all of my little faith who always argue with God in my moments of doubt.

The upcoming election is another opportunity
presented to us, so that we show our true nature. We
follow Jesus (our fellow kingdom builder), and step
out in faith, trusting the promise that all will be well.

Rev Saikolone Taufa
Kaeo Kerikei Union Parish
 
Prayer for this week
O God, O Love,
even in these difficult days we know that you hear us,
that you care, and we ask that your love and compassion
and justice may be incarnated in us,
as we go about the work of healing your world
and all its peoples, to work for the
coming of the your Reign on this earth.
Let it be so.
Amen and amen.

24/9/20

Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, 

tena koutou katoa, 

On the 17th October we will all be going to the polling station. As well as voting for who we want to represent us in parliament we will also be asked to vote on two referendum. This week President Setaita signed the attached joint statements along with the leaders of nineteen other national churches of Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Recently, Trinity Methodist Theological College staff circulated a statement noting, it is our moral imperative to engage in informed participation in our country's collective ethical discernment. Their statement was not a prescriptive statement telling people what to choose. Rather, it was raising some points for serious consideration as people come to make their choice. 

During this week we have become aware of some churches holding information evenings focussing on these referenda. We congratulate the parishes who have organised forums to help their communities engage with the issues. These are complex questions and there is no one Christian response, but please be prayerful and engage with others in conversation so that when you go to the polling station, you go informed and ready to cast your vote with confidence. 

We have also been engaged in a conversation with Michael Lemanu, Tauiwi Children, Youth, Families Ministry National Coordinator. Our young people have been engaged in conversation about the future and what they have learnt following the Covid-19 experience this year. Shortly they will be introducing two new programmes: 

1. TYTANZ Youth Service Online: This will be the start of a monthly online streamed 'service' for young people of the church, run by the Tauiwi National Youth Ministry Team. The main vision is to create a new Virtual Connexion for our young people to be part of. 

2. TYTANZ Talanoa Podcast: This is a new venture being explored where our young people will interview people from around the church and talanoa together. In the spirit of talanoa it is intended to be an informal type of conversation with a loose structure but, is mostly intended to hear the stories and thoughts of our people. 

We congratulate Michael and his team for these initiatives and are looking forward to supporting these programmes. We encourage you to find out more details from Michael and support the work of Tauiwi Youth. We are also excited to see the vision and creativity of TYTANZ who are offering leadership and exploring new ways of being in connexion. 

'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui. Setaita and Nicola 


A joint statement by the national leaders of most New Zealand church denominations 

We urge people of Aotearoa New Zealand to vote very cautiously in the two Referendums, because both decisions carry the risk of inflicting serious long-term damage on our society, endangering vulnerable people, and making our country less safe for everyone. 

1. The End of Life Choice Act 

As church leaders, we are very familiar with people being terminally ill and dying, and we have great empathy for the sorrow and anxiety they often go through. 

We understand the reasons why euthanasia appeals to some people, as a way of alleviating individual suffering in the context of very serious illness. However, we do not support the End of Life Choice Act. We believe it would be an unethical and dangerous step for New Zealand society to allow doctors or nurse practitioners to actively end someone's life or to assist them to commit suicide. We believe that is a line New Zealand should not cross. 

We are confident that with good palliative care most people die with pain well controlled, and very often peacefully. 

We believe that the End of Life Choice Act is too loosely framed, is more liberal than euthanasia laws in most other countries, and that it lacks enough effective safeguards, particularly against coercion: there is no 'last resort' clause, no requirement to see a palliative care specialist, no mandatory requirement for psychological assessment, no mandatory cooling-off period, no requirement to consult or tell family, no independent witness, and no adequate protection for doctors who object to euthanasia on spiritual or ethical grounds. 

We note that overseas provision for euthanasia has almost always been widened to include other conditions, and those under 18, and has also been associated with an increasing incidence of involuntary euthanasia. We believe that those who will ultimately suffer most from euthanasia are society's most vulnerable: the aged and frail, the poor, cultural minorities, and disabled people.  

We respectfully encourage New Zealanders to help keep our society safer for those who are very vulnerable, and to vote against the End of Life Choice Act. 

2. The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill 

We support the recent new provision in law (2019) for cannabis-based medicine to be available on prescription. 

We also support the general move towards decriminalising cannabis users, and instead concentrating on a non-punitive health-based approach of helping those being harmed by cannabis use and addiction. We note that police are generally no longer prosecuting recreational cannabis use (and we want them to apply that discretion without any bias). 

However, we do not support the legalisation of cannabis use, as proposed in the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill. We believe legalisation would help normalise cannabis use and increase its use (as has happened overseas). Cannabis use remains addictive and dangerous for some people, especially those under 25, and can induce psychosis, depression, loss of cognitive function, lung (and other) diseases, suicidal tendencies, and foetal harm. 

Legalisation, and the rise of a cannabis industry with a network of retail shops in many communities, would undermine societal messages about reducing drug use (and also undermine the campaigns against smoking, and about driving under the influence of drugs). 

The evidence from overseas is that legalisation would not end the black market in cannabis. In Canada, over 70% of cannabis is still purchased on the black market). Illegal dealers including gangs would continue to sell cannabis (at lower prices, with unsafe levels of THC, and also to those under the age of 20). 

We are concerned that legalising and normalising cannabis use will increase domestic violence, cannabis-related road deaths, work place accidents, and educational failure. We are also worried that society's socio-economically disadvantaged groups are likely to suffer most from the increased availability and use of cannabis. 

We suggest that voting 'No to the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill carries significantly fewer risks of long-term damage to New Zealand society than a 'Yes' vote. 

We also suggest that a 'No' vote still leaves space for New Zealand further decriminalising cannabis law in relation to users, while retaining penalties only in relation to producers and dealers. At the same time it could strengthen a health-based approach towards those affected by drugs, while continuing to message society about the risks of all drug use. 

Signed by Leaders of nineteen churches. 


Prayer for this week
E Ihowa Atua,
O nga iwi matou ra
Ata whakarangona;
Lord of justice and peace,
we thank you for the freedoms we enjoy
to choose our leaders
and shape the course of our common life.
Give us wisdom to use the power we share for the good of all,
the relief of those in need and the furtherance of wholeness and truth;
God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Through Jesus Christ.
Amen.