The Gathering at Lincoln was an excellent event. It was an inspired idea to run towards our friends in Christchurch to identify with their story on their turf. We were all inspired to hear their stories and feel the anxiety that is now part of the new normal for the Christchurch community. But more so we celebrated how the Christchurch churches have seized the opportunity to be Jesus to their communities in such a myriad of creative and sacrificial ways. I was also inspired to see long service awards being given to those who have served our Baptist churches for 30 years or more. It’s good for our family of churches to acknowledge and honour those amongst us who have served and lead well. Mark Holman brought a refreshing view on faith and family that gave us insights as to how we can strengthen faith beyond the walls of the church building. There were so many takeaways from the Gathering which included for me a beautiful korowai (cloak) and a taiaha as symbols of my new role. (Rodney is pictured laying the taiaha down, below.)
Over the next 2 months I’ll be building relationships with our Baptist Union ministry leaders. During this time I aim to grow my understanding of the goals and aspirations that these very capable people have for their areas of responsibility. We’re also in the process of calling for applicants for the National Administrators role given that Kelvyn Fairhall will be retiring in April. Lindsay Jones has now started his new role at the Auckland Tabernacle where he’ll be serving for 3 days a week. This leaves room for changes as to how we serve in the Church health and development area. In 2012 I’ll be hitting the road to get out and amongst our churches and ministries. This will essentially be a listening tour where I want to create the opportunity to hear from our church leaders what the Spirit is saying to the church and how our National team can best serve you to meet those needs. You’ll hear more from me in the near future about this plan. So I look forward to spending that time with you in 2012.
A grand conspiracy
I recently attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. Once again there were some outstanding speakers. The Mayor of Newark, Cory Booker said that “each of us are the result of a grand conspiracy of love”. What he was saying is that we all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. “A grand conspiracy of love”, there could not be a truer word said when it comes to the history of the church. The church is built upon the sacrificial love of Jesus death and resurrection. But given that the faith has been passed down from one generation to the next for 2000 years then we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. We get to carry and live out this message of love and responsibility for a short time and then we pass it over to another generation. My hope is that what we pass over is in better shape than when we received it.
December can be a very busy time for us as we lead our communities towards Christmas. It can be challenging to hold a true course towards Jesus during such a busy time of the year. At the beginning of each year I (we) have a tendency to plant into our calendar a number of goals and activities. But by the end of the year these plantings have often grown to the point where we’re making our way through our diary with a machete trying to keep control of our time and obligations. The words sabbath or shalom are like quiet pools that draw us aside for refreshment at this time of the year. For Michaela and I that means gathering the family together and pulling out the old tent and finding a lake to unwind next to. I trust that each of you have your traditions that serve you well to reflect upon the past year and recharge for the next.
Giving and receiving
2012 promises to be a year with lots of promise and challenge. My prayer is that the National resource team can help you engage with the promises and challenges that all our churches face together. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be that from the national centre or from another pastor down the road. We are all part of this “grand conspiracy”. Anything we have to give is something that we’ve simply received ahead of another brother or sister. In the spirit of Christmas and family ask the question of yourself. What can I give and what can I receive? There will be someone close by who can draw from your experience so don’t be afraid to offer a hand. Equally if you need help don’t be afraid to ask.
Giving and receiving is what a family does.
So from the little community of Bethlehem where I write this note I pray that God will protect you and restore you over the days ahead as we lead our churches and ministries to that humble stable where Jesus was born.
Immanuel - God is with us.
Yours in Christ,