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Methodist Church Blog

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.


 

 

23/9/20

Dear Friends

Again with relief, our Alert Level changes are heading in the right direction again.

From this last round of Alert Level 2 and 2.5 we know that Contact Tracing is very important. Make sure your building has its own COVID Tracing QR code and make sure you keep Contact Tracing even at Alert Level 1! We know that if you get COVID-19 the health officials will want to trace your contacts from around five days before you noticed symptoms.

Did you know?

You can have your own QR Poster at home. This is useful if you often receive visitors. Create your own poster using the instructions from http://www.methodist.org.nz/caring_for_our_people/covid19/supportinformation#contact%20tracing2

You can order a NZ COVID Tracer booklet if you can't use the smartphone Contact Tracer app. Available to print and in many languages. Twenty years from now it may even be a collectors item!
https://covid19.govt.nz/health-and-wellbeing/protect-yourself-and-others/keep-track-of-where-youve-been/#nz-covid-tracer-booklet

Our plan shows where we may differ from our CV partner churches. Look for the red/yellow marks through the Alert Level charts. Inform Trudy if you know of more differences!
http://www.methodist.org.nz/caring_for_our_people/covid19/alertlevels#church

You can print mini QR Posters to stick on the back of chairs in the chapel. Lets face it - we often forget to scan codes at the door, and then are to embarrassed to stand up and go scan the code! Take a print screen of your QR code and shrink it. You should be able to fit six or maybe more onto an A4 piece of paper.

Our editable Play it Safe Posters have been updated for Alert Levels 1 and 2. Check out all the new download files!
http://www.methodist.org.nz/caring_for_our_people/covid19/downloads


These are not the easiest of times. When in doubt, breath in, breath out, pray and repeat.

Let us enjoy the upcoming changes for our services at our reduced Alert Levels.

Yours in peace, grace and singing the roof down (safely) at Alert Level 1

David

Rev David Bush

General Secretary

18/09/20

 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. Read more…