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The Methodist Connexional Office is located at:

Weteriana House
50 Langdons Road
Papanui
Christchurch 8053

Postal address
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PO Box 931, Christchurch 8140

T. (03) 366 6049   I. 0800 266 639

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Methodist Church Blog

Rising Above Our Fear 21 Apr 20

Rising Above Our Fear

In many countries around the world people are living in fear and lockdown as a result of covid-19. So, when we think of it, we get a better understanding of the fear experienced by the disciples in the days following the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Currently due to coronavirus there are heightened security at airports, supermarkets, pharmacies and other essential services. They have security operating at the entrance to limit the number coming in and going out.

In addition to the virus threat, terrorism scares us, and many people wonder if we will ever truly feel safe again. How will we rise above the fear which permeates the whole fabric of our being? I think we need to realize that we all have fears. All of us are born with a set of natural fears such as, of falling, of the dark, or speaking before an assembly etc. I would say fear could be of different types. One type of fear could be that which weakens our ability to trust or an unhealthy fear. Another type is perhaps a healthy fear. Healthy fears are those which makes us sensitive to the dangers that are a part of life while helping us keep safe and stay alive.

The disciples were engaged in healthy fear. John tells us that, "…the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews…." (John20:19 NRSV). They had watched as Jesus, their Master, leader and most importantly a good friend had been terribly treated, crucified and died. Truly, the disciples must have been really afraid. They were the remaining members of a new group that was deemed by the authorities to be seditious and dangerous. Their leader had just been executed by crucifixion according to the cruel system of Roman justice. They were right to think that they may be next in line. No wonder, they were so concerned for their safety? They didn't want the same thing to happen to them.

But they were also engaged in an unhealthy fear that trapped and controlled them. Even though they had received Mary's message of Jesus' glorious resurrection, still they kept themselves confined due to their fear. It was a prison of their own making which prevented them from sharing the ministry that they had been given. Then, Jesus appeared to them and blessed them with these words, "Peace be with you." This quickly made things to turn around. These words, together with Jesus showing them his hands and side brought great joy among them. Their fear slowly died out as they saw Jesus with their own eyes alive and standing amongst them. So, Jesus instructed them to continue with the ministry of healing, caring, loving and forgiving that he had initially prepared them to do with these words: "…Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." (John 20:21). 

Thus, Jesus got them going. He took away their fear.

Do you believe in the Risen Christ or has fear led you to grasp onto something else for comfort? Even though we haven't seen him, His blessing is upon us, despite the fear of covid-19. So, are you still afraid of what the future holds?

God sent Jesus Christ to live among us and be our Lord; not just to inspire us with fine words when we are anxious, although he does that; not just to encourage us with his deeds and miracles when we need a lift, although he does that, too; but God sent Jesus Christ as a reminder that he cares for us.

At the present time the coronavirus is causing so much difficulties and uncertainties. Some people are worried, some are afraid. That's certainly understandable at a time like this. But God will help us find a way out of it. In the meantime, abide by the directions given by the government authorities and pray for our scientists that they may discover a vaccine or some treatment to eliminate this menace. Also pray for doctors, nurses and those helping around the clock trying to bring relief to those who are suffering and are in the middle of this painful situation. Furthermore, have no fear for the love of Christ is already moving towards us, even before we asked. The good news is that he comes to us; he breaks down our locked doors and shows himself to us and empowers us.

Our Risen Lord will help us to rise above our fears. All he asks is that we should have an open heart towards Him, so that he can lead us, and keep leading us, from unhealthy fears and doubts to honest faith and life without fears. Because of him, our lives won't be defined by our fears, but by the grace of God we have received through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Rev Suresh Chandra
Presbyter, Upper Hutt Union Parish

From David's Desk

Connexional Office staff are all continuing to work from home. The lockdown has brought many questions and requests for help from around the church and new processes, such as applying for the wage subsidy to be mastered.


Sometimes the broadband link back into the office is slow or the document you really need is not available but mostly the work is going smoothly. A big well done to everyone in Parishes, Rohe, Boards, and Missions who are finding new and creative ways to be an active caring church.

Later this week and early next week as the conditions to move out of lockdown become clearer we will reflect on what that could mean for our congregations and our members. We anticipate that older persons and those with health conditions will be asked to continue to self-isolate and that there will be continuing limits on the numbers of people who can gather together. The clear goal is that as we as a whole community work together to eliminate the risk of virus infections. Could this mean that we are more conservative in our response than the Government might require?

We live over the road from a lake. A very long time ago it was the course of the Avon River. In the very late Autumn of 2007 from our bedroom window we could see a pair of black swans building a nest. It was a large dome shaped pile of vegetation rising more than half a metre out of the water. When completed the eggs were laid on top and the swan sat on the eggs. This was a year when winter came quickly. Cold winds and frosty mornings and then unexpectedly snow. From the bedroom window the swan could be seen on top of the nest, so totally unmoving day after day that I became convinced it was dead and if it were not dead then surely the eggs would have become chilled and the long wait on the nest would be in vain. The adult swan did not seem to move, but after a couple of weeks I thought I saw something, a different patch of colour. Binoculars confirmed there was a grey white head sticking out from under its parent. Later it was confirmed that there were xx cygnets.

On the first day of the lockdown I walked down to the local dairy for milk. Out on the lake there was a pair of Black Swans with 7 cygnets. I don't know why the swans on this lake don't build nests and hatch their young in the spring. Maybe it's because they know they come from a long line who even braved snow to nurture new life. Maybe one of the adults I saw on Thursday was hatched in a snowy June.

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

Matthew 6:26-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)



Presidents Blog

Greetings Te Haahi Weteriana, tena koutou katoa,

We hope you are all well. Last week Vice President Nicola offered a reflection and this week President Setaita offers her reflection to the Church. We have continued to be engaged in our work with people through using zoom a lot more than normal, and we are really beginning to feel the lack of person to person contact. We want to thank the many people from around the connexion who have shared their on-line videos, printed reflections, and resources. We are all learning new ways of doing things and your willingness to share helps everyone through a difficult period.

However, in our conversations with people from around the connexion, and also other church leaders, we have noticed there is a sense of achievement in that we have managed to get this far through lockdown and we are seeing some very positive signs not only in terms of Covid-19, but also in changes happening in our community.

Our politicians are working together to ensure that New Zealand remains safe, our communities are supporting each other, we have seen many examples of New Zealand humour and people putting people first. We also see some positive changes in our environment. Unfortunately, we also see increases in family harm and it was important that during the week a document was circulated to assist us with dealing with such matters. We can't sweep these under the carpet, we need to own them and work collectively to ensure that we do better and don't use Easter as a time to justify abuse.

If nothing else, perhaps this time of lockdown is helping us recognise that what we understood as "normal" previously, is not "normal". Whatever a new "normal" might be, we pray that we will not go back to our precovid'19 existence. We will not normalise greed, inequality, exhaustion, isolation, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, poverty, discrimination, and hate. This Easter perhaps for the first time in our lives we can truly see the real impact of Easter and become people that live what we say we believe; that we can truly offer selfgiving love for God, for the world and for each other.

Stay safe, stay home, stay connected and save lives.

'Ofa atu fau, Nga mihi nui.

Setaita and Nicola

Statement from the President 3 Mar 19

Statement from Methodist Church,

Te Haahi Weteriana o Aotearoa New Zealand

 20 March 2019

Mourning

After the deaths of fifty people who were in the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre at prayer on Friday, the Methodist Church joins in the grief of those who bear these losses directly, and in the public grief at this violence.

Spiritually we join in prayers for those who have died and join in mourning for their families and loved ones. We pray for the recovery of the injured who are in hospital care. We give thanks for medical, police and all other forms of support being marshalled and volunteered over the days of this tragedy. 

We are aware that for many who bear these deaths New Zealand is a newer home which held the hope of being a safe haven from violence and bigotry. We as New Zealanders are shocked and deeply lamenting this assault on people of Islamic faith, and on the safety of Islamic communities.

We acknowledge with sadness the endeavours to draw attention to threats to the Islamic communities, spoken about by Islamic Women's Council spokesperson Anjum Rahman on Nine to Noon, and regret the inattention to these warnings.

During these days of burial we continue the vigil of prayers, mindful of this time of lent and repentance. For the days and weeks ahead we, as people of faith will turn to our Muslim communities to build relationships and bridge the divides of peoples and faiths.

Our hope is to find pathways of respect for differences of faith, ethnicity, history, culture – sharing what brought us here and opening ways to an inclusive future.

 

Rev. Setaita Taumoepeau K. Veikune
President
Methodist Church, Te Haahi Weteriana o Aotearoa New Zealand


20/20 Vision - Towards discerning our Future

We live in challenging times. How does the Church share its life-giving message in ways that can be heard? How can smaller, and aging congregations be supported in their work? If only we could see into the future.

In 2017 Council of Conference asked a small work group to meet and consider how a significant budget deficit could be addressed. Rather than drawing a red pen through the budget the group decided to think about how the church might work in ways that were more sustainable. The 20-20 report is the result of that work.

The hope is that you will see the report giving permission to explore and to consider what could work in your setting.

Read the 20-20 document here.

David Bush
General Secretary