Responding as the people of God at this time
Updated: 4 days ago
Tēnā koutou katoa, Bula vinaka, Mālō e lelei, Noa'ia, Ni Hao, Magandang araw, Greetings,
It’s been a week of significant change for our nation and our world.
Globally, we have watched on as the world strains under the weight of Covid-19.
Locally, I’ve observed an increase in uncertainty as New Zealanders grapple with the implications of Covid-19 for their lives. We have remembered the 15 March anniversary of the Christchurch mosque shootings, but in a muted way as we reflect on the wisdom of large scale gatherings. We’ve started to grow in awareness that the economic and social implications of the pandemic will be a long-lasting challenge.
How might we as the people of God respond in such a time? Here a just a few reflections on what we are called to.
We are called to:
Hope is not a platitude, nor an empty strategy. Hope is what exists in the face of dark circumstances. Hope rests on the foundation of God’s sovereignty. Hope rests on the promise of Jesus that this world does not get the final word. Hope rests on the truth that the Holy Spirit is present with his comfort and peace in the midst of turmoil. Hope looks like remembering that "they are us", walking with people fearing the loss of jobs, staying connected to those in quarantine, praying for a world in crisis and speaking love, not fear, into our communities.
We live in an individualistic society where toilet paper hoarding has become a metaphor for self-preservation. We are called to practice the art of community in a season where our proximity is reducing. This will test the depth and authenticity of our community claims. Quarantine should not become isolation. Those who are in quarantine, represent vilified ethnic groups or who have compromised immunity need the power of connection more than ever. There will be many living closer to the fringes who need to know they are loved. Kindness speaks loudly in these moments of grief, uncertainly and isolation. Jesus moved towards those who were shunned by their community – we have the same opportunity to offer Jesus.
Resist Fear and Act Wisely
Perhaps one thing that is spreading faster than the virus, is the climate of fear that these kinds of events can inspire. Left to itself, fear turns inwards, away from others. We are called to the kind of wisdom that recognises the realities and consequences that demand action, but does not fan the flames of fear. One significant way we can live wisely, and not fearfully, is to seek out and share good quality information with our churches and communities. Checking the sources of overstated body counts, miraculous cures and politicised statements will help us stall the spread of misinformation. Staying connected to the regularly updated information available on the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation websites, along with our own Wesleyan Methodist resources will keep us grounded in wise thought and action.
My thanks to Pastors and Servant Leaders who are working diligently to maintain Wesleyan Methodist churches as communities of hope, connection and wise action. We also owe our National Secretary, Rev Peter Benzie, a huge debt for the work he is doing in providing resources and guidance to our movement along with support from our Health & Safety Committee Chair Warren Jack and HR Consultant Phil List.
I leave you with this exhortation from the Apostle Peter who was speaking to the Christian community as an exiled people and whose words echo in the current moment:
1 Peter 1:13-16
13 Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. 14 Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. 15 Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Brett Jones National Superintendent (Acting)
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