Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 29 May 2016

Te Pouhere Sunday Isaiah 42: 10-21, 2 Corinthians 5: 14-19, John 15: 9-17

A fortnight ago we celebrated Pentecost when the church came to being among the believers through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Last Sunday we celebrated the revelation of God as Trinity: one God in three persons.  In the Book of Genesis we hear the intention of God to make humankind in our image, according to our likeness, and so on.  This helps us to understand that ‘image and likeness’ has much more to do with persons in community than standalone human beings which leads us even more towards a vision of the Church.  Last Thursday we celebrated Corpus Christi and gave thanks for the gift of Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist.  This gives the church, the Spirit inspired assembly of the baptised, its sacrament of unity.

A sacrament has an outer form, which points to an inner essence. The celebration of the Eucharist has been called the Sacrament of the Church.  This means that in the celebration of the liturgy of the Eucharist the deepest reality of the Church is to be found.  Each week and each day we celebrate this here so that we can constantly be presented with all we are called to be as Church 24/7.  Each time we come back to the Eucharist we make our general confession realising our failure to fully be the Church.

We can also say that the Church is a sacrament of the Kingdom of God.  This means that all that God desires for the world is can be found in essence in the Church.  The Church is not the Kingdom of God, any more than the outer forms of bread and wine are actually the flesh and blood of Christ or our celebration of the Eucharist is actually the heavenly banquet: it is but a foretaste.  Yet we are drawn into those realities through the Holy Spirit who transforms our offerings of praise and thanksgiving, imperfect as they are, into acceptable ones.

The mission of God for the Church it is to extend the kingdom.  Our part is to celebrate with as much reverence as we can muster the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and to allow it to transform us into a Church which is an authentic sacrament of the Kingdom.  It is, as Paul writes to the Corinthians, the love of Christ which urges us on. We are so often, as Isaiah observes, deaf and blind to the things of God.  This is why God has magnified his teaching and turned up the volume through the love of Christ.  Those who are in Christ are to be a new creation.  We are given the ministry of reconciliation which is the pathway from the old to the new.  This is the heart of our work.  In our own life as church this needs to be obvious if we are to be a believable sacrament of the Kingdom of God.

The Anglican Communion is well placed to be a sacrament of the kingdom internationally. We are neither a centrally operated hierarchy, nor are we simply a collection of churches who share a name and a history.  We contain within ourselves great differences in culture, history, ethnicity and theology.  These things give rise to tensions among us, which is why we pray every day for the Archbishop of Canterbury and our communion.  These tensions and even divisions are not a sign of failure.  They are a sign of life; they are a sign that we matter to each other; they are a sign of communion: they are a sign of our need for God.  The world is full of tensions and divisions that lead to separation, alienation, war, starvation and death.  The Anglican Communion is a sacrament that points to life in all its fullness, indeed a new creation.  This is what it means to be a sacrament of the kingdom.

In Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia we have developed a way of ordering our life called Te Pouhere.  In 1857 the Church of the Province of New Zealand agreed a constitution, which at the time was world leading.  The Church of England, in England is what we call an ‘established church’.  This means it was, and still is, the official church in England.  This was not to be in New Zealand.  Our constitution was formed on the basis of ‘voluntary compact’ which means that people join it voluntarily and it has no official standing in the state.  One implication of this is that the assets of the church were contributed by its members, predominantly the laity.  This constitution pioneered the practice of the laity and clergy sharing responsibility and authority in the church.  This happens at all levels including the parish and is reflected as we commission the Wardens and Vestry today.

The revision of our constitution in 1992 recognised that since colonisation New Zealand had in effect two Anglican Churches:  A missionary church among Maori and a settler church transplanted by the colonists.  As with many things the Maori part became overrun by the settler part.  Their dignity as tangata whenua was not honoured in the church or in the nation as a whole.

Anglican missionaries had been instrumental in the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. In the 1990’s General Synod realised that our church had a special responsibility and opportunity not only to talk about justice but to make it manifest in the life and structures of this Church. Our province also contained South Pacific islands who wanted to remain part of it, so the third tikanga, Pasifika was formed to complete the three tikanga.  All this is most clearly seen at General Synod. I have attended this four times and seen a marked growth in the way these relationships are conducted.  This revision of our constitution has been costly to us, yet it is a significant sign of reconciliation and peace.  We have played out part in developing a new set of relationships and expectations between Maori and Pakeha in this country for which I give thanks.

Te Pouhere means a pole to tie waka up.  The pole is Christ, and the three tikanga are waka so tied. The time is coming when we have to look for another image that keeps us tied to Christ and each other, but recognises that waka are meant for sailing not for tying up.

To be a convincing sacrament of the kingdom this church must now tackle issues such as child poverty and abuse, homelessness, climate change and so on with the kind of energy we have until now reserved for grappling with issues which challenge our unity.

Letter from Claire Preston 29 May 2016

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Dear Friends,

Thank you to all who came to our celebration of Corpus Christi, when we welcomed our friends from S. Luke’s and heard the words of their Vicar, Revd Jenny Wilkens. Thank you also to those who were able to provide supper for us all.

Today is Te Pouhere Sunday when our celebration can reflect the life of our three Tikanga Church. I am interested to read that tikanga is a Maori word describing ‘the way of doing’ and as such it allows us each to exercise ministry in the way of our own culture, which we may do by putting God first and showing his love to all.

Also today at the 10:00 am Mass we will commission our Churchwardens and members of Vestry. If there is something that troubles you about the parish, these are the people to mention it to, as we continue to support and pray for them in the discussions, decisions and work that we have chosen them to do on our behalf.

As winter sets in, please remember what we can do for those suffering from the cold.

Yours in Christ,

Claire Preston

 

St Michael’s Vestry 2016

Vicar: Fr Andrew Starky

Churchwardens: Michael Graveston, Gloria Moyle

Synodspeople: Jane Evans, Michael Graveston

Elected Members: Dorothy Burrows, Jane Ellis

Anne Ladd, David McFerran

Vince Moreton, Virginia O’Donnell

Claire Preston, Kirk Spragg

 

Parish Notices

  • Christchurch Marathon traffic disruption next Sunday: see map on notice board, copies available at the back of the church.
  • Parish Roll update: the current parish roll is available at the back of the church for you to check your details. For any changes and for new families/parishioners please either email details to Louise or fill in the form, which you may return to the parish office, give to Gloria Moyle (352 3117) or leave in her pigeonhole.
  • The Sales Table and the Book Swap are now fundraising for new choir robes. Check out the variety of goods on offer in the hall after Mass on Sundays, and in the book corner in the parish lounge. The organisers plan to make marmalade available again soon, and would welcome donations of sugar, oranges, lemons, mangoes and grapefruit. Details Terry Elliott (326 6030) or Anne Ladd (981 5012).
  • Lunch at Regatta on Avon: today at 12:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
  • You are invited to a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
  • Walsh House (City Mission) Clothing Appeal: the Women’s Fellowship is collecting knitting wool, beanies, scarves, hottie covers, gloves, socks etc for the women who come to Walsh House. If you can help, place your contributions in the box in the parish lounge. Knitters please speak to Jill Woodside (338 9590).
  • Bible Study Group meets tomorrow at 7:15 pm in the school staff room. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
  • Meditation Group meets on Tuesday, 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
  • Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 7:00 pm.
  • Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
  • Cathedral Book Sale: Lynda Patterson collection at the Cathedral from Thursday.
  • Informal discussion of distance study of theology: Theology House Thursday from 5:30 pm, refreshments. Peter Carrell, director@theologyhouse.ac.nz for details.
  • Concert: Our Voice with Consortia and the Vocal Consort at Knox Church, Thursday at 7:30 pm. Details Alice Bates (022 415 6538).
  • 1:00 pm Lectures at the Cathedral: Geoff Haworth. 7 June The Story of our Anglican Prayer Book, 14 June The History of the Christchurch City Mission.
  • Free Concert: Courtney Carter, who is sitting her Performance Dip ABRSM for Voice, is performing her exam repertoire on 9 June, 1:10 pm at S. Augustine’s.
  • Advance notice Organ Recital: Jeremy Woodside 31 July, 2:00 pm at the Cathedral.
  • Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts.

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 22 May 2016

Trinity Sunday Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31, Romans 5: 1-5, John 16: 12-15

One of the most touching moments of in a wedding is the first dance.  The formality of the liturgy is past, the speeches have been said, the cake has been cut, and the couple can relax and enjoy each other in a dance of love.

It might surprise you to know that the Church Fathers used this image to describe the Trinity.  The Greek word ‘perichoresis’ indicates the mutual indwelling of the three persons:  ‘Peri’ means ‘around’ and ‘choresis’ a ‘dance’.  This is the root of the word choreography which is how to plan and execute a dance routine.  It is used, quite appropriately, to describe the moves that we make during the liturgy.  Indeed in the liturgy and particularly the sacrament we learn the steps, so that we can join in this dance with the Trinity.

The image picks up the active life of God the Holy Trinity in creation which is expressed in the reading we heard from Proverbs.  One of the mistakes of Christian thinking is to see creation as something God did long ago and stopped.  Indeed the incarnation, the coming of God’s Son into the world, underlines God’s continued active involvement in creation.

In these days of ecological crisis Christians must urgently recognise and collaborate with the redemptive actions of God in creation.  I applaud the activity of the Climate Action group in this parish who seek to do just that.

In this regard some useful insights come from the thought of St Francis of Assisi who lived 800 years ago.  St Francis expressed in his Canticle of the creatures how the Trinity and creation are related.  Creation is not a mere external act of God like an object on the fringe of divine power.  Rather it is rooted in, and overflows from the goodness of God’s inner life.  This means that creation shares in the revelation of God as Trinity and is holy.  St Francis regarded himself as brother, therefore, not just of all humanity, but also of all creation.

People have long realised that creation reflects the power, wisdom and goodness of the Trinity like a mirror.  This reflection can be seen sometimes as a trace, sometimes as image or sometimes as likeness.

Every part of creation from a simple grain of sand to a star system expresses a trace of the Trinity in its origin, its reason for being, and its destiny.  What would it be to meditate on some material thing with that insight in mind?  We might consider that the first person of the Trinity is reflected in the power that holds it in being; that the second person is reflected as the wisdom by which it is created, and that the third person is reflected as the goodness that will bring it to fulfilment.

Genesis tells us that God said, “Let us make humankind in our own image; according to our likeness.” (Genesis 1: 26)  All people are made in the image of God because they possess insight and the capacity for union with God if they choose.  Every person is holy and should be treated with reverence as one made in the image of God.

Those who are shaped by grace also bear the likeness of God.  The likeness of God is most perfectly seen in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Those who love God and seek to serve him grow in this likeness by following in his Way.  In Baptism we take up this Way and join the Church in the celebration of the Eucharist, the prayers, studying the bible, in ministry and so on.  But it is through his grace that we can, as Paul says, boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.  We come to realise that such a life will involve suffering which will produce endurance which in turn will produce character which will give rise to hope which will not disappoint. The hope of course is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus the Son.  Those who are called to bear the likeness of God are to live Christlike lives.  They cannot tolerate personal satisfaction and comfort while other parts of creation and humanity continue to suffer.  It can sometimes seem as if the church suffers, and people suffer to be a part of the church.  When we reflect on the debates of General Synod around same-sex marriage, climate change, family violence, we realise that people suffer in the present because of our collective lack of courage and generosity to move forward on these and many other issues.  If when we pray, we identify with the poor, the hungry and them that mourn then we experience anguish because we love them and feel impelled to join in their cry to God for mercy.   This life is only possible because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Otherwise we could never sustain prayer and ministry at any level and we would soon lose hope.

Through grace we are drawn into the intimacy of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit as three persons who are one, each reflecting in their own way the oneness of God’s love.  This love joyfully overflows into a creation groaning in labour pains as it awaits its fulfilment when the Son comes again to draw all things into God.

In the meantime, and while we wait, the dance goes on.  Through liturgy and sacraments we learn the steps of this holy choreography in this rather odd sort of dance class we call the Church.

 

Letter from the Vicar 22 May 2016

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends,

 

Welcome to S. Michael’s on Trinity Sunday, and a special welcome to the Young Voices and School Servers and your families. Today we celebrate the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

 

In the liturgical calendar of the Church our major festivals and seasons focus on the key movements of the incarnation as seen in the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. For us as Christians, these movements mark out the distinctiveness of our faith and reveal to us the nature of God as Trinity. We see that Jesus, the Son of God, never acts alone. He is always obedient to his Father in heaven and empowered by the Holy Spirit, yet he has to face all the temptations and trials of human life just as we do. The mystery of a God who is three and also one leads us ever more fully into an appreciation of God’s love.

 

As you prepare for worship today, and when you come for Communion, you may wish to focus on Rublev’s famous icon of the Trinity, which is placed in front of the altar today. Notice how the Son and the Holy Spirit have their heads bowed in respect to the Father. Notice the Father’s finger sending the Son and the Holy Spirit to go into all the world. Notice the ‘cup’ that lies between them. This is the cup of suffering that our Lord Jesus chose to embrace in the Garden of Gethsemane, as he prepared to go to the cross. Especially notice the space that is available at the table, which seems to beckon those who contemplate the icon to join the Holy Trinity in communion. As we do this we bring our own suffering, along with the suffering of the world, to be transformed in the communion of the Most Holy Trinity.

 

The Feast of Corpus Christi is on Thursday. We are glad to welcome our friends from S. Luke’s to join with us, and their Vicar, the Revd Jenny Wilkens, will be our preacher. This festival is a special opportunity for us to give thanks for the gift of the Eucharist, in which we experience the divine life of communion with the Holy Trinity with renewed joy in the light of the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, and the gift of the Spirit.

 

Yours in Christ,

Fr Andrew Starky

 

Parish Notices

  • Keeping the church open: we need to organise a meeting of all hosts to discuss the new health and safety measures which apply to us. Please phone Alastair Scott (343 5153) to arrange a suitable time.
  • Walsh House (City Mission) Clothing Appeal: the Women’s Fellowship is collecting knitting wool, beanies, scarves, hottie covers, gloves, socks etc for the women who come to Walsh House. If you can help, place your contributions in the box in the parish lounge. Knitters please speak to Jill Woodside (338 9590).
  • Donation receipts are available at the back of the church.
  • Sales Table: Sundays in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
  • Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish.
  • You are invited to a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
  • Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
  • Lunch at Regatta on Avon: next Sunday at 12:15 pm. Details Kathryn Starky.
  • Bible Study Group meets next on 30 May at 7:15 pm in the school staff room. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
  • Concert: several of our choir members are involved in Our Voice with Consortia and the Vocal Consort at Knox Church, 2 June at 7:30 pm. Details Alice Bates (022 415 6538).
  • Free Lunchtime Concert: Travelling through time with Courtney Carter. S. Augustine’s Church 9 June at 1:10 pm. Details on flyer.
  • Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
  • Advance notice Organ Recital: Jeremy Woodside 31 July, 2:00 pm at the Cathedral.
  • Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts.

 

Corpus Christi on Thursday

Please come to the 7:00 pm Mass and welcome the people of S. Luke’s.

St Michael’s parishioners are asked to contribute

a plate of finger food for the shared supper after the service.

Sermon by Fr Andrew Starky 15 May 2016

Pentecost 2016 Acts 2: 1-21, Romans 8: 14-17, John 14: 8-17

One of the highlights of the General Synod was the contribution of tikanga Pacifica where they explained to us the effects of storms and climate change on their island homes.   They gave us the gift of a slightly expanded Easter acclamation which is particularly appropriate for Pentecost.  It goes like this:  Christ is risen Alleluia!  He is risen indeed Alleluia!  We have work to do!

Pentecost is the moment when the disciples became the church and began to get on with the work of the risen Lord.  They became bold proclaimers of the resurrection.   The fire of the Spirit in their very being gave them courage and gifts beyond imagining.

Today’s epistle underlines the new identity that all who are led by the Spirit of God possess as children of God.  This identity, this confidence, is based on a relationship with God the Father through the Son. The Church is ever tempted to fall back into fear.  Trouble looms whenever the Church becomes either rule bound or united around a cause, however noble such rules or causes may be.  This is because when the church does this it submits to something less than God.  It is the presence of the Holy Spirit, indeed the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive which inspires and challenges the church to settle for nothing less than the love with which Jesus has loved us.  He said, “This is my Commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This is the work we have to do. 

That was the work the General Synod had to do.  This kind of work is never easy.  We need the help of the Holy Spirit most of all in the most painful and difficult moments.  This was most deeply felt on the evening of the first day.  All the delegates from Tikanga Maori assembled at the front and Tikanga Pasifika delegates sat on the floor near them.  Archbishop Brown Turei delivered a heartfelt apology on behalf of Tikanga Maori for two motions at the previous General Synod which had been proposed and then withdrawn that had caused offence to Tikanga Pasifika.  If you know any of the tortured history between Maori and Pasifika in our church this was a remarkable and defining moment.  Tikanga Pakeha delegates watched on amazed as our partners, in the power of the Spirit, taught us a lesson about the work we have to do.

For much of the next three days the synod grappled with the A Way Forward Report.  At first Tikanga Maori and Pasifika found they could accept the report, but Tikanga Pakeha was deeply divided.  As it all went on Maori and Pasifika acknowledged that they also had a number of voices on this, yet they offered Tikanga Pakeha manaakitanga: hospitality, kindness, generosity, support.   Their act of generosity and kindness was borne out of a desire not to leave anybody behind.  There were actually no winners in this.  In the end we all felt like losers standing at a distance from the cross and from each other… watching.  We realised there is so much more work to do.  

 In the synod there was a huge desire to remain together from all sides, yet a growing realisation that some greater degree of separation may be necessary so that these two very strongly held theological convictions can somehow be held in one church.  This hasn’t been achieved anywhere else in the communion, but this church is not going to rest until we find a way.    In the meantime the provisions for recognising same gender civil unions and marriages under Motion 30 passed in 2014 remain.  As does the apology offered in that motion for the church’s failure both to speak out against hatred and violence against those with same gender attraction.  Our determination is to accord them full dignity as children of God.  We have work to do!       

The Holy Spirit helps us in the life of the Church so as to open the doors that we might bear witness to the risen Lord.  Our work, as Pope Francis has said recently, is to liberate people from feeling like an orphan.  Many people these days feel left behind, unloved and valued only for what they can do and what they can buy.  We have work to do!

When people come for baptism they receive adoption as a child of God, and a special gift of the Holy Spirit to equip them for their ministry as part of the mission of the Church.  On this Feast of Pentecost those of us who are baptised might reflect on how we are using that gift.  Are we keeping the Spirit locked up in our hearts?  As we come forward for the anointing of our hands will we open the doors of our hearts?  Anglicans are generally good at using our hands for the practical help of others and that is great: May the Holy Spirit give us also the words of grace to speak about Jesus and discernment so we know when to use them.    We have work to do! 

Christ is risen Alleluia!  He is risen indeed Alleluia!  We have work to do!

Letter from the Vicar 15 May 2016

Fr Andrew Starky small

Dear Friends

 

Welcome to S. Michael’s on this Feast of Pentecost. Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples. As we gather, we pray that the Holy Spirit may kindle God’s love in us also.

I write this letter from Napier where the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui is in session. We are meeting in a tent very close to the seashore. It makes me think of the tent of meeting where Moses would go in and speak with God. We have prayed, celebrated the Mass, studied the Bible, and there has been much talk! Today I have had the privilege of moving the motion from our diocese that responding to climate change become a priority for our Church in the decade of mission. The motion was well received and speakers from many parts of our Church added their support. Thank you for your prayers and support while I have been at General Synod.

Today we come, not into a tent, but into this beautiful church to meet with God. During this Mass we offer the opportunity for anointing of your hands. This is a poignant action which recognises the gifts of the Holy Spirit within each of us, given for the common good at our baptism. Our prayer is that God may stir up his grace in us, so that we may serve his purposes in the world with renewed joy.

 

Yours in the Spirit

Fr Andrew Starky

 

Parish Notices

 

  • Keeping the church open: is anyone available to help on Thursdays? At present the church is locked all afternoon from midday. If you can offer even a couple of hours please speak to Louise.
  • Donation receipts are now available at the back of the church.
  • Sales Table: Sundays in the hall after Mass. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
  • Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge. Koha to parish.
  • Guest Speaker: all parishioners are invited to a presentation by Naomi Anderson (MA, Pastoral Leadership) on Growing in God’s Grace. Today, 11:45 am in the hall. Light lunch will be provided by the Women’s Fellowship.
  • You are invited to a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
  • Bible Study Group meets tomorrow at 7:15 pm in the school staff room. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
  • Michael’s Women’s Fellowship meets on Tuesday after the 10:00 am Mass. Margaret Maclagan will speak about her recently published book Talking Baby. Kevin Boyce Room in the school. All welcome. Details Pat Evans (358 0127).
  • Meditation Group meets on Tuesday at 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215) or Kathryn Starky (385 0197).
  • Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Kathryn Starky.
  • Luke’s in the City—Spirited Conversations: Susan Krumdieck will discuss Life in the 21st Century, with reference to fossil fuels and urban planning. Thursday 6:00 pm at Your Place Café & Bar, 254 High Street. Cost $10. Park on Hereford St or in the ReStart carpark.
  • World Vision: Chelsea Yeoman, a 2016 Youth Ambassador for World Vision, will speak about her experiences in Syria and the refugee crisis there. Friday 3:50 pm in the parish lounge, all are welcome.
  • Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
  • Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts.

Letter from the Vicar

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s on this Sunday after the Ascension.
Last Sunday we held the AGM of the parish and it was pleasing to have a good
turnout of parishioners attending such a positive meeting. The meeting heard about
various recent developments in the parish, including the appointment of Alice and
Shaun among the young people, the Climate Action group and the Women’s
Fellowship. We heard reports from the School, Parish Trust and Wardens, as well as
from the many groups and activities which make up the life of our parish. This
meeting also gave a clear signal to the Vestry and Parish Trust about the desire of
parishioners to see a vicarage provided on site. This will give those bodies confidence
to develop plans to this end without delay, whilst keeping parishioners fully informed
and consulted.

In the elections we gave our thanks to Claire Preston, the retiring People’s Warden,
for her many years of wonderful service. Gloria Moyle was elected as the new People’s
Warden. We are fortunate indeed to have someone of Gloria’s calibre and experience
who can continue Claire’s good work and serve as Warden alongside Michael
Graveston, our Vicar’s Warden and Synod Represenative. We acknowledged with
thanks the service of Joy Coulter and Gerald Ginther who have stepped down from
the Vestry, and welcomed new members, Jane Ellis, Dave McFerran, Vince Moreton
and Kirk Spragg. Claire Preston and Jane Evans (Synod Representative) remain on
Vestry, as do Dorothy Burrows, Anne Ladd and Virginia O’Donnell. The
commissioning of the new Vestry will be on Sunday 29 May at the 10:00 am Mass.
This Vestry had its first meeting on Tuesday, and among the discussions was a
proposal to appoint a new Head Server. The main purpose of this position is to assist
with the training and encouragement of our servers and also to facilitate the
bi-monthly servers’ meeting. I am delighted that Steve Woodside has agreed to
accept this appointment. He will work alongside Lawrence Watson, who continues
as Head Sacristan.

In this season of Ascensiontide the Church devotes itself particularly to prayer for
Christian unity as it awaits the coming of the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to attend a
service of Prayer for Christian Unity to be held at S. Mary’s Roman Catholic
Pro-Cathedral in Manchester Street at 7:00 pm on Wednesday. Please also keep our
own General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui in your prayers over these days.

Yours in the risen and ascended Christ,

Fr. Andrew Starky

Letter from the Vicar

Dear Friends,

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Welcome to S. Michael’s today as we come towards the end of the fifty days of Easter.
The readings begin to anticipate both the feasts of the Ascension, which we are
celebrating on Thursday, and that of Pentecost, two weeks from today.

Ascension Day also marks the beginning of General Synod this year, which I will be
attending as a representative of this diocese. It is very helpful that we are meeting
during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Much of the focus leading into it has
been around the report A Way Forward, which seeks to find a possible way for the
Church to move forward on the blessing of same-sex relationships whilst maintaining
unity with those who disagree. This is one of the most divisive issues that the Church
has faced in recent times, and we find sharp differences of opinion expressed at all
levels from families, congregations, dioceses, provinces and the Communion
worldwide. In some of the weekday Masses this week we have been reflecting on the
account of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, when the young Church sought to
address issues which arose through the Spirit’s outpouring on the Gentiles, alongside
readings from John 15 about the Vine and the branches, and the need to abide with
Jesus in the Father’s love so that our joy may be complete.

O God, from whom all good things come, grant that, by your inspiration
we may discern what is right, and by your merciful guiding may do it;
through Jesus Christ who is alive with you, in the unity of the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Today following Mass we will have our Annual General Meeting, and I encourage
you to attend. You will have seen the written reports, which the meeting will largely
‘take as read’. This is a good opportunity to reflect on the life of the parish as we look
ahead, and to elect a Vestry and Wardens to carry things forward.

As I mentioned, this Thursday is Ascension Day, and as well as our regular Mass at
10:00 am we will be joining once more with S. Luke’s in the Knox Centre at 6:00 pm
for Mass, followed by supper. This year the preacher will be the Venerable Dr Peter
Carrell. I encourage as many of you as possible to be present at this important festival,
and to support our friends at S. Luke’s.

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Fr. Andrew Starky