The Vicar Writes . . .
If we haven’t already met, since Christmas, then a Happy New Year to you! I must admit that Christmas and the New Year all seem rather a long way away now, as January turned into a rather busy month, but Sarah, the family and I did manage to ‘get away’ for 12 days, exploring more of our beautiful land. [For those who are interested, we travelled up the West Coast (in good weather!!) and on to Abel Tasman. Many many Km travelled and Too much to take it all in!]
Whilst we were away though, you have never been far from our thoughts as is right. Being part of the church is being part of God’s new family. It is not that being part of church is ‘like being part of a family’, rather the other way round. Our human families, with all their joys and sorrows point us to the fundamental Family that we are part of through our baptism into Christ. So that you were on our hearts and minds is entirely natural.
Being this New Family of faith, with our friend, brother and Lord, Jesus will be the focus of our teaching and thinking in the year to come as together we seek ‘to build up our common life’ in the Peace that only Christ can bring. This Lent (which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 5th) we will be thinking together about how we might move deeper into the reality of our shared life. We will explore how we might grow deeper into praying and worshiping, sharing in hospitality and mission, and revealing the Life of God amongst us. As before there will be opportunities to do this either on a Tuesday afternoon, or a Sunday evening. I would encourage you all to make this a priority in your diaries for what I hope will be a time of mutual growth and envisioning for our future life together.
Of course talking of families reminds us of two significant new additions to our family here at St Johns this month. As in our thinking about families and the family of the church, we tend to get our thinking back to front on this. It would be understandable, but wrong!! ( 🙂 ), to think that the arrival of our new curate The Revd Andrew Barlow and his family as the most significant arrival. Certainly it is wonderful to be able to welcome them all more fully into our midst, but THE most important arrival in our family will probably have happened by the time you read this, as we baptise Freya Beaton as a member of the Body of Christ. (As our human families are only signs of the deeper reality of the family of faith, so the ordained are merely signs pointing us to the deeper reality of the life of the baptised!!)
Two final brief items. 2014 is the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the gospel on these shores. In response to this 1) During Lent we will welcome a brother from Kenya, one of a team of evangelists spending two weeks with us here in Dunedin. I will give more details through all the channels available as soon as I have them. He will be with us from 27th March until Palm Sunday, April 13. Help will be needed with hosting etc. etc. etc. but more anon!!
. . . and 2) and just as important, Bishop Kelvin will through Lent be walking the length and breadth of the Diocese on a Hikoi of Joy, as part of our Diocesan Celebrations. There will be many ways we can join together in this reminder of our Life Together, from shared prayers, to walking a leg of the hikoi ourselves (indeed one leg is a journey on the Taieri Gorge Railway – the train is booked and we can take 600!!). We will start this with a renewal of our Baptismal vows, across the Diocese, early in Lent. Reminding ourselves that ‘we are the Body of Christ, and individually members of it’ 1 Corinthians 12:27
With Much Love, Eric