The Methodist Connexional Office is located at:

Weteriana House
50 Langdons Road
Christchurch 8053

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PO Box 931, Christchurch 8140

T. (03) 366 6049   I. 0800 266 639

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April 2010


After the groundwork is done

Rev Alan Upson

I am writing on the day that marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Land Wars of Taranaki. On March 18th, Prime Minister John Key formally began the Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiation process with Te Atiawa iwi at Owae Marae in Waitara. The local newspaper has begun a series of articles and the Museum has opened an exhibition entitled 'Te Ahi Ka Roa, Te Ahi Katoro Taranaki War 1860-2010, Our legacy – Our Challenge. A lot of groundwork has taken place for this time of Taranaki awakening.

It is much the same in my study. No wars other than with paper. But in order to have things at my fingertips I had to change my filing system from that of a parish presbyter to that of a president. With a few days free of travelling the job is now done, and I have laid the groundwork for a greater efficiency.

Rev John Roberts and vice president Lana put a lot of groundwork into preparing their trip to the Solomon Islands on behalf of the Mission and Ecumenical committee. But cyclone Ului may have changed their plans. To borrow a phrase, the best laid plans of reverends and vice presidents...

The groundwork for Easter was laid out long ago. We can't say with any certainty just when it all began, as the Bible writers express a range of theologies. There is some consensus, however, that Jesus became clearer about his path ahead through the course of his three year ministry. His ministry formation however, started long before his time of public healing and teaching. John's Gospel for one, points to a beginning before the time we know as The Creation. That's a long time coming!

We followers can get caught up in a flurry of activity that springs from nowhere and sometimes returns to the place it came from. The Methodist Church of New Zealand has prided itself in being pragmatic, suiting its governing to the conditions of the day.

Someone remarked to me that "the church has been re-structuring for 25 years." But like Jesus' ministry, I think changing the structures started long before that. Much depends on the groundwork.

On a quiet morning I watched the sunlight gradually slide down the hall wall as the sun rose higher. Exhausted by perfectionism I'd given up and noticed the world about me. Gardens have a fallow time and for everything there is a season. I'm inclined to forget that.

The church season of Lent is a time of spiritual waiting, groundwork for Easter, and a time of watching in wonder at what comes out of the waiting! The mystery of the resurrection comes out of the groundwork of God's grace and love. So in anticipation of Easter Sunday, I hope you find time for some spiritual groundwork and quiet space to get in touch with God.

May your Easter rejoicing be filled with God's Spirit.