It was a bit of a shock to learn mid-evening Saturday that by 6am the next morning we would be in Level 2, with a number of things needing to change for every church service in the Diocese, and with severe impacts on some planned special services and events.
One of those severe impacts was to the re-opening celebrations for St Peter’s Church, Upper Riccarton-Yaldhust. With Archbishop Philip flying into Christchurch on Saturday night and with no certainty that a postponed date would not itself be subject to a Level change, we pressed ahead with the dedication service in the morning with limited numbers and cancelled the festive morning tea and evening dinner which had been planned to follow. I acknowledge the disappointment of many present and former parishioners who were unable to share in the service. I am grateful that Vicar Nick Mountfort and Wardens Jo Winfield and Corin Murfitt are working on a date when—hopefully—we can gather to celebrate with an overflowing congregation the achievement of re-opening this beautiful church. Elsewhere in this e-Life are links to news reports and a video.
We will not have clarity about what Level we will be in this coming Sunday 7 March until later this week. Vicars and Priests-in-charge are free to plan for Sunday as though in Level 2, whether we are mandated by the Government to be in Level 2 or not.
I know there are signs that the “team of 5 million” is getting a bit grumpy about moving in and out of different Levels. I suggest it is important that Christians are seen to be encouraging the team to remain strong and cohesive. One way we will do that in this Diocese, is through our visible commitment to adhering to Level 2 Guidelines. [If you need a reminder about those, visit our website.]
This week the House of Bishops (all the bishops from the Three Tikanga of our church) were due to meet in Christchurch for a two day meeting—Pakeha and Māori attending in person, Polynesia attending via Zoom. Level 2 skittled those plans but we have been able to have a shortened meeting with bishops participating via Zoom. One disappointment for me about the change of plans is that I was looking forward to the bishops visiting the Cathedral site to see progress being made on stabilization of our Cathedral.
I have the privilege of sharing with Archbishop Paul Martin in a book launch in a few weeks’ time—the details are advertised elsewhere in e-Life. The book is The Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor: Hearing Justice in John’s Gospel by Kathleen Rushton RSM. Sr Kathleen’s scholarship focuses on passages in the three-year cycle of the Roman and Revised Common Lectionaries. All are welcome to this event on the evening of Tuesday 23 March.
This Sunday, Lent 3, the Gospel is John 2:13-22, a passage in which Jesus cleanses the Temple of the traders who have corrupted its primary function as a house of prayer. Sr Kathleen comments, “What Jesus does is to shut down the temple as a place of worship. Where is God’s dwelling place now?” (p. 43). Jesus’ answer to that implied question is to look ahead to his resurrection. We already know God dwells in the humanity of Jesus (John 1:14). Now Jesus assures his disciples that God’s dwelling—the eternal temple where we encounter God—is always Jesus.
We journey through Lent with Jesus to the cross but our pilgrimage does not stop at the cross. Beyond the cross is resurrection life, a world and a Temple made new. (These brief comments scarcely do justice to the many aspects of John 2:13-22. Deeper digging via an internet resource is possible with Ian Paul’s exegesis at www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/the-cleansing-of-the-temple-in-john-2).