Letter from the Priest-in-Charge

Dear Friends,
Significant events in our lives stay in the memory, and sometimes even the dates of
those events are locked in as well. Today, 28 August, is one of those for my family. It
is the day on which we arrived in New Zealand, at the invitation of the Bishop of
Wellington, thirty-five years ago. With this anniversary looming, I have reflected
during the past week on what I am about. Writing a report for the monthly Vestry
meeting helped focus my thoughts, and I was pleased to find that the Epistle reading
appointed for the Vestry Mass was from 1 Thessalonians 2. However, I then
discovered the Lectionary was selective and certain verses were omitted—among
them the one that had captured my attention: ‘So deeply do we care for you that we
are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves,
because you have become very dear to us’ (verse 8). These words seem to speak
volumes about the kind of outlook I would hope for in parish clergy.
But there is another profound insight that comes immediately to mind, from the
beginning of Paul’s letter to the Romans: ‘I want to be among you to be myself
encouraged by your faith as well as you by mine.’ I am constantly thankful for what I
receive in this way from parishioners. I am also increasingly aware of the wide
variety of ministries that extend outwards from S. Michael’s into the city and the
wider community. And, for all of us, when we feel we are not achieving or offering as
much as we would like to, Paul reminds us that ‘by the Spirit at work within us, God
is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine’ (see Ephesians 3: 20).
Recently, we have been blessed by the gifted music ministry of The Oxfords, who
have enriched our worship over the past weeks. We thank them for their special
contribution to our Parish Choir and wish them ‘Godspeed’ as they return home.
Thanks be to God.

Canon Craufurd Murray

Letter from the Priest-in-charge 21 August 2016

Dear Friends,

Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of S. Bernard of Clairvaux and, at the end of the month, we keep the Feast of S. Aidan. These figures in Christian history have been influential on my own understanding of living one’s faith, and I was pleased when they were both included among a number of entries I was invited to contribute to Dr Ken Booth’s marvellous resource, For All The Saints. However, at the point when I made a personal commitment of faith I was unaware of them! As is natural for those raised in Christian families my knowledge of God was, for many years, second-hand. That is to say, it was received rather than experienced personally. I did not doubt the information and belief-structure that was shared with me, and I accepted the reality of God, but I had no awareness of actually meeting this God in whom we live and move and have our being.

The turning-point came in a moment of self-surrender. I can still remember exactly where I was, as I’m sure is true for many who have had similar moments. I soon learned, as a result of this act of consciously inviting God into my life, that such commitment alters one’s life in radical and unexpected ways. It was, I now see, the first of many conversions—although that is a word I did not attach to it for some years as it seemed to hold uncomfortable connotations.

Curiously, even though I had willingly opened my spirit to the influence of God’s Spirit, it was a long time before I could pray with honesty and conviction, “Loving God, I put myself at your disposal…” I had yet to learn to trust! I was suspicious that my surrender might require a kind of self-renunciation, subordinating my personality. I was to discover that the opposite is true—that God comes into one’s life to enrich and enhance the person we have been created to be, and does not violate our freedom or in any way impair or diminish our being. Rather, God works through our decisions and choices—even when they are the wrong ones, as our wilfulness often means we take back what we have surrendered.

All this brings me to one particular observation: it is that as God accepts us as we are, the person we are changes. We can never be the same again. God accepts us as we are, but that very acceptance has a changing effect on our lives.

Thanks be to God.

Canon Craufurd Murray

 

Parish Notices

  • Congratulations to one of our choir members, Courtney Carter, on achieving a DipABRSM. Also on her successes at the Nelson singing competitions, including winning the award for the most promising female vocal, based on performance and passion.
  • Sales Table & Marmalade: Sundays in the hall. Please put your empty jam jars, (Rose’s brand preferred) in the box in the lounge. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
  • Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge.
  • You are invited to a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
  • Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 7:00 pm.
  • Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Jill Woodside.
  • The Oxfords: Free lunchtime recital Thursday 1:00 pm at Christ’s College.
  • Lunch at Regatta on Avon: next Sunday at 12:15 pm. Details Ann & Dudley Jinman (347 8290).
  • Bible Study Group meets next on 29 August, 7:15 pm in the school staff room. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
  • Anglican Living AGM: 31 August 4:30 pm, Community Room, 276 Hereford St. Speaker Darral Campbell, Alzheimers Canterbury: Living Well with Dementia.
  • CBS Music presents the Christchurch Choral Festival 3 September, 7:00 pm at S. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral. Entry free.
  • Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
  • Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your gifts of groceries and other household items.

Pastoral Care Team

West: Claire Preston 342 4650 Central: Michael Goodson 355 5374

North: Brenda Withell 383 2422 South: Jill Woodside 338 9590

East: Stella & Alistair Kinniburgh 021 0240 3247

 

Letter from the Priest-in-charge 14 August 2016

Dear Friends,

When Alistair was sharing details of his recent walk on one of the routes of the Camino de Santiago, he made a comment about the prayer our Parish Choir offers in the vestry before entering for worship. He said it was so easy to say the familiar words without entering fully into their meaning. This remark caused me to ponder on that prayer we all know so well and pray regularly—the Lord’s Prayer. I have to confess I get quite distressed if a congregation romps through it at great speed, without the measured pacing that allows everyone time to consider—even if only briefly—the magnitude of each phrase. This ability to reflect also needs to be true even when we are chanting. I remember once being gently and kindly taken to task by a priest from Tikanga Maori for leading the chanting of the Lord’s Prayer in Maori too quickly during a Marriage!

There is the story of a saintly person who used to spend a long time in prayer each day, but was said only to use the Lord’s Prayer as the trigger for these devotions—yet he never ever got further than the first phrase!

I am grateful to those who, Sunday by Sunday, lead us in intercession during Mass. These intercessions demand thoughtful preparation and can often remind us of people and issues we might not normally include in our praying. Our tradition is always to draw the intercessions to a conclusion with “Hail Mary…”. Once again, it is easy to allow the familiarity of these words to obscure what we are really saying. This is true, of course, throughout the communally said and sung parts of the Liturgy as well as in the hymns—enjoyment of a tune can distract attention!

Another example, which I have had to address for myself, occurs when we make our confession. It is so easy just to rattle off the words and receive absolution without any real and remorseful consideration of things we regret about our behaviour, of our waywardness or those aspects of our lives that have gone askew.

There is a constant risk that, in both public and private times of prayer, we allow a faithfully familiar pattern to set our spirits at ease rather than stirring them to life!

May God bless you all.

Canon Craufurd Murray

 

Parish Notices

  • Inasmuch basket: The City Mission helps as many people as possible, families and individuals, who are struggling to cope in winter conditions. Please continue to support them by putting your gifts of groceries and other household items in the basket at the back of the church.
  • Sales Table & Marmalade: Sundays in the hall. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
  • Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge.
  • You are invited to a cup of tea or coffee after the evening service each Sunday.
  • Bible Study Group meets tomorrow, 7:15 pm in the school staff room. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
  • Women’s Fellowship meets in the lounge Tuesday at 10:45 am (after the 10 o’clock Mass). Speaker Revd Anne Price. All welcome. Details Pat Evans (358 0127).
  • Meditation Group meets on Tuesday, 5:15 pm in the parish lounge. Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215).
  • Vege Co-op: orders and deliveries on Wednesdays. Details Jill Woodside.
  • Luke’s Spirituality Centre—Voices of Aotearoa: Trevor James on J.K. Baxter. Wednesday 6:00–7:30 pm at the Mary Potter Community Centre, 442 Durham St North. $10. All welcome.
  • The Oxfords: three singers are expected at our services today. Free lunchtime recital Thursdays 18th and 25th August, 1:00 pm in the Christ’s College Chapel. Free concert with Christ’s College Choirs Saturday 20th August, 6:00 pm in the Christ’s College Assembly Hall.
  • City Mission AGM: Thursday 4:30 pm at the Community Room, 276 Hereford St.
  • Anglican Living AGM: 31 August 4:30 pm, Community Room, 276 Hereford St. Speaker Darral Campbell, Alzheimers Canterbury: Living Well with Dementia.
  • Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).

Pastoral Care Team

West: Claire Preston 342 4650 Central: Michael Goodson 355 5374

North: Brenda Withell 383 2422 South: Jill Woodside 338 9590

East: Stella & Alistair Kinniburgh 021 0240 3247

 

Letter from the Priest-in-charge 7 August 2016

Dear Friends,

Two days ago, the Olympic Games opened in Rio. All the revelations about drug-taking in sport have soured the build-up to these Games and may have created an atmosphere of cynicism towards new records. Inevitably there is suspicion that drugs will still be used in the hope they evade detection. This is disappointing for the ‘clean’ athletes who have dedicated themselves to their particular sports and proudly represent their countries.

Problems associated with illegal drug-taking and its anti-social effects are now daily news items. There is a frequent cry that the Government should be doing more both to reduce and prevent such behaviour. Often these comments seem to lack any appreciation of the place of personal responsibility. People choose to take drugs. Their action may be caused by many different influences and motivations, and there is no doubt that some of these are tragic and require a compassionate response. But we cannot live our lives without self-discipline. It is a sign of our respect for who we are as well as for others.

I have been wondering whether issues surrounding drug-taking reveal a spiritual vacuum in our society. That is to say, does it reveal an emptiness of the soul and a longing to fill it with something that seems to offer happiness or solace or which acts as an escape? These may be short-term outcomes but they ultimately prove to be illusions that sadly can lead to addiction.

But let us not conclude by thinking these issues are invariably ‘someone else’s problem’! They raise questions for us about our own will-power and also the extent to which we fill our lives with things that ultimately turn out to be illusory. The Rio Games motto is: Live your passion. For us, living our passion should mean a dedication to live Christianly—i.e. allowing ourselves to be open daily to the Spirit of Christ in every dimension—every aspect, relationship and environment—of our lives. This is incredibly demanding and we know only too well how often we fail through our weakness of will. But let us take heart from each other, from regular sacramental sustenance, and in the knowledge (as Scripture reminds us) that God’s grace will always be sufficient for us.

Even though we may have cause at times to question our fitness, let us enjoy ‘running the race’ of faith in Jesus Christ.

May God bless you all.

Canon Craufurd Murray

Parish Notices

  • Inasmuch basket: The City Mission helps as many people as possible, families and individuals, who are struggling to cope in winter conditions. Please continue to support them by putting your gifts of groceries and other household items in the basket at the back of the church. Clothing and larger items may be delivered directly to 276 Hereford Street.
  • Sales Table: Sundays in the hall after Mass. Freshly made marmalade is now available. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
  • Book Swap: Sundays in the hall and weekdays in the lounge.
  • 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 Jill Woodside.
  • Parish Trust meets Wednesday at 5:15 pm in the parish lounge.
  • Celebration of the Festival of the Holy Name: Saturday, 10:30 am at CSN.
  • Saturday Breakfast: 13 August, 9:45 am in the parish lounge. Details Anne Ladd (981 5012).
  • Bible Study Group meets next on 15 August, 7:15 pm in the school staff room. Details Peter Oakley (960 0974).
  • Luke’s Spirituality Centre—Voices of Aotearoa: Trevor James on J.K. Baxter. 17 August 6:00–7:30 pm at the Mary Potter Community Centre, 442 Durham St North. $10. All welcome.
  • Needlework Group meets monthly. Details Ros Calvert (322 6078).
  • Pastoral Care Team

West: Claire Preston 342 4650 Central: Michael Goodson 355 5374

North: Brenda Withell 383 2422 South: Jill Woodside 338 9590

East: Stella & Alistair Kinniburgh 021 0240 3247