Letter from the Vicar – 25 December 2016

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s as we gather to welcome the Christ Child into our hearts
this Christmas. Over the weeks of Advent our prayers have been that within us the
longing for Christ’s coming might grow. In the glorious liturgies of Christmas we join
with the angels to give full rein to the joyful message that Christ has come. Indeed,
God is with us.

Children understand naturally the great excitement and expectation of Christmas.
As presents build up under the tree, family gathers and preparations are made, they
instinctively know that something amazing is about to take place. What they look for,
indeed what we all look for at Christmas, is love. The heart of Christmas is that deep
knowledge that we are loved by God, and that he sent his Son into the world to show
us that beyond doubt. The birth of Jesus in a humble stable shows us that God’s love
comes to us in vulnerability and tenderness. The first people to witness this are
humble shepherds, who are told by the angels and then come and meet Jesus for
themselves. They marvel at what they see and then tell others the good news.

As we prepare to give thanks for all God’s goodness in this Eucharist, and most
especially for God’s coming among us, may our hearts be filled with praise and
thanksgiving. As we catch sight of the baby Jesus in the manger, may our hearts skip
for joy at the knowledge that, indeed, God is with us and that hope is restored. As we
receive him in bread and wine in Communion, may we be deeply open, like those
humble shepherds, to the message of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace for those he favours.” And in the days to come, may we then find
the words to tell others the good news, “Do not be afraid, look I bring you good news
of great joy for all the people, for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour
who is the Messiah, the Lord.”

May you and your families have a very happy and holy Christmas,

Father Andrew Starky

 

Parish Notices

  • The parish office reopens on 10 January
  • Sunday Evening Services resume on 29 January
  • St. Michael’s Church School reopens on 30 January

Letter from the Vicar – 18 December 2016

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s. We have come to the final Sunday of Advent and our
expectation grows as we light the last candle on the wreath, leaving only the centre
Christ Candle still to be lit.

Last Sunday we saw the Wise Men begin their journey at the east end of the church.
Today they come a little closer on their way to Bethlehem as they follow the star.
We also can think of the journey that Joseph and Mary undertook to arrive in the
place where the star would eventually come to rest, and we see how the manger is
awaiting their arrival. As we hear these stories once again, their very familiarity can
blind us to the amazing providence of God, guiding all these journeys because the
characters were people of deep prayer and devotion.

When we recognise that, we come to know that God also wants to guide our steps, if
we will but imitate the humility of these people by praying and listening for God’s
prompting of us. Amidst the rush and bustle of Christmas preparations this can be
quite a struggle.

During the week I found myself accidentally in the car park of one of our major
malls. As I drove around trying to get out, it reminded me of the frantic nature of
this time of year for many people. The preparations we make to celebrate Christmas
with our families and friends will probably entail a visit to this kind of throng. If we
believe that God is in all things then we can expect to find God even on our visit to
the shopping mall. In fact we are to be God’s ambassadors there, and we might do
this by being particularly attentive and kind to the shop assistants and others we
meet, so that they may also experience the joy of Christmas.

Remember, ‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some
have entertained angels.’ (Hebrews 13: 2)

One of the real gems of Anglican tradition is the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols
which we offer this evening at 7:00 pm. The service has its roots in England and
provides a sequence of readings complemented by carols which help us to
understand how the birth of Jesus fulfils the deep desire which God has planted in
the human heart. This service prepares us beautifully for the celebration of
Christmas next week.

Maranatha—Come Lord Jesus!

Father Andrew Starky

Parish Notices

-CWS Christmas Appeal envelopes are available today. Please return these in the collection at Christmas.
-Christmas Flower Donations to Jill Woodside today please.
-Last chance to buy tickets for the Christmas raffle as it is to be drawn today.
-Sales table with marmalade and lemon curd in the hall today.
-Crib & Carol Service: Monday 19th at 6:00 pm, followed by children’s party.
-Festive Farewell Concert: Courtney Hickmott. Monday 19th 7:30 pm in the hall.
-City Mission Carol Service: Wednesday 7:00 pm at the Cathedral. This will be followed by a farewell to the retiring City Missioner.
-The working bee will now be on Friday at 10:40 am.
-The Parish Office will be closed after Friday until 9 January.
-Book Swap: Sundays after Mass and weekdays in the lounge.
-Invitation from Barry & Lesta Smithson to a Mass of Thanksgiving for 50 yearsof marriage: 21 January, 10:00 am at S. Thomas’ Church, Runanga.
Celebrant: Fr Peter Williams, Preacher: Fr Andrew Starky. Followed by drinks and a pot-luck luncheon. No presents please.
-S. Michael’s School reopens next year on 30 January.
-The Christchurch City Mission: the need continues during the holidays for food and household goods. For Christmas they still need: supplies for the Mission Dinner (meat, vegetables, desserts, soft drinks) and presents (unwrapped) for all ages. Gifts may be placed in the Inasmuch Basket today or delivered to 276 Hereford Street.

Letter from the Vicar 11 December 2016

Dear Friends,

Welcome to S. Michael’s on Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning
‘Rejoice’. Advent is a time to identify with those who share a great desire for the
coming of Christ. Often this desire arises out of the experience of suffering and
trial, yet with the coming of John the Baptist, the herald of Jesus, we experience
the joy of expectation that indeed the Saviour is about to appear. We live long
after the first coming of Jesus, which we remember and celebrate at Christmas. In
Advent we pray and long for the second coming of Christ and the fulfilment of his
kingdom in the reign of God. We can also talk of a ‘third’ coming, that of Christ
into our hearts now. It is this ‘third’ coming for which the season of Advent
prepares us personally and as a community.

Kathryn and I were delighted to return to S. Michael’s last Sunday and receive the
warm welcome of the parish. We know how well the parish has been served by
Canon Craufurd Murray as Priest-in-charge and the school chaplaincy by Revd
Anne Price. I thank them both warmly as well as the Wardens and all who have
helped support the parish in these months. My Study Leave has been an important
time of rest, reflection, learning and prayer, and I look forward to sharing our
journey with you in due course and the fruits of what I have learned.

Last week it was wonderful to see the special Christmas Sales table set up in the
hall and I want to thank Pat Evans and the Women’s Fellowship for all their efforts
and generosity towards this sale. More than $1,200 was raised towards the cost of
new robes for our excellent choir.

Next Sunday we celebrate the Nine Lessons and Carols at 7:00 pm. This is one of
the highlights of our church year at S. Michael’s. We would like, once again, to
offer a supper in the hall following this service, so please, if you are able, bring a
plate of finger food to share.

Maranatha—Come, Lord Jesus!

Father Andrew Starky

Letter from the Priest-in-Charge 4 December 2016

Dear Friends,

‘Through us God spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing
Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 2: 14).

Advent is the season when we prepare for the stunning revelation of God’s love for
humanity through the birth of Jesus. But this will have no impact on us unless we
allow God’s love to transform the way we see and to influence how we choose to
live. In other words, any celebration of Christmas that ignores the need for the birth
of Christ within us is little more than a form of self-indulgence! My hope is that our
primary goal at Christmas will be to respond in worship to the God who first loved
us. As we do so, we cannot avoid the reality of a world unchanged in many ways
from the one into which Jesus was born. It is still a world rife with power politics,
families fleeing as refugees, people being beaten and killed for their beliefs,
intimidation being used as a weapon to instil fear and exert control, and where the
sacredness of human life is too often ignored. Against such a background, we need
to reflect on the extent to which our lives reveal the divine spirit of love (cf. 1 John
4: 7–12), as it is through the attitudes and behaviour of those who are the Body of
Christ that the Incarnation overflows.

One of the enduring and appealing aspects of Anglican spirituality is the emphasis
on living ‘Christianly’—of accepting the challenge to identify with Christ in our way
of life. Dr Wilfred Grenfell once remarked with wonderful insight that our religious
life is written in our actions. This, as we know only too well, is easier said than done!
I have long appreciated the observation of a French philosopher (Michel de
Montaigne), “I have never seen a greater monster or miracle in the world than
myself.” Light may be shed on our motivation as we weigh up our reaction to
S. Paul’s description of a loving spirit (1 Corinthians 13). Are we patient? Are we
kind? Are we envious? Are we boastful? Are we arrogant and insensitive? Are we
ever rude or unpleasant? Do we insist on getting our own way? Are we irritable or
resentful? Do we store up grievances? Do we get satisfaction from gossip or hearing
about the problems of others? Is our love conditional or selective? Does our love
never falter? S. Paul’s opinion is that, without love, we lose sight of what really
matters, so even our finest achievements are worthless. Thomas Merton’s words
provide some comfort: ‘There is no spiritual life without persistent struggle and
interior conflict.’ However, this Christmas there may be more for us to disentangle
than just the wiring for the lights on the tree!

‘Be careful how you live your lives; they are the only Gospel most people will ever
read.’ (Dom Helder Camara).

Welcome Home. Today we warmly welcome Fr Andrew and Kathryn as they
return from leave to our S. Michael and All Angels community. We look forward
with a sense of anticipation to all that they have to share from their time away.

Yours in Christ,

Canon Craufurd Murray