Christmas Eve celebrating 200yrs

20141224_232314The Choir gather on Christmas Eve

For Bishop Ross, being at Christ Church on Christmas Eve, during the celebtations at Oihi, was his desire and intention. With Archbishop
Philip Richardson presiding, and Bishop Ross preaching on 200 years of Christianity in New Zealand with its beginnings at Oihi when Samuel Marsden brought the gospel message to those assembled, the service was
highly significant and memorable.

Advent and Remembrance Service on Advent Sunday

During the singing of ‘The Lord is my Shepherd’ the bell tolled 29 times and candles were lit.
A tribute was paid to the miners who lost their lives by David Scoffham, a director of NZ Oil and Gas, who has been directly involved with Pike River Coal mine. He brought the events of the disaster even closer.
This was Christ Church, Russell’s tribute to the Pike River Coal mine disaster held in conjunction with our Ecumenical Service for Advent. This was a service of sadness and hope.
The address given by Revd Chris Swannell focused on the lone miner’s hat found in the mine with its light still shining…….
This was a very moving service which we were pleased to share with our Catholic brothers and sisters .
At Christ Church this year we have in place of the traditional Advent wreath an Advent cross. This represents the four central stars of the Southern Cross which shine permanently above us.
May Christ’s light shine on you this festive season and on the families and friends of the Pike River Coal miners who lost their lives on Friday 19 December 2010.


Prayers and flowers were placed around the Cross after the tragic Pike River Mine disaster.

Our Patronal Festival

This year our church is 174 years old. We will be celebrating her birthday at a special service to be led by the Bishop of Auckland, the Rt Rev’d Ross Bay.
This will be held on Sunday, 5 December at 10.30am.
All are welcome to attend this joyous occasion.
This will also be the first official visit of the newly appointed Bishop of Auckland to our church.

Rt Rev'd Ross Bay, Bishop of AUckland

Rt Rev'd Ross Bay, Bishop of AUckland

St Francis Sunday

Reflection given by Jacqui Knight on Sunday, 4 October 2009:

‘Apprehend God in all things,
for God is in all things.
Every single creature is full of God,
and is a book about God.
Every creature is a word of God.
If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature–
even a caterpillar–
I would never have to prepare a sermon
so full of God is every creature’

(Those words were written by Meister Eckhart, a 13th century Christian mystic)

“So full of God is every creature.”

My parents loved Nature. They taught my three brothers and me to have respect for flowers, trees, birds and other animals. We had dogs as we grew up, always had a succession of dogs. For a long while, too, there were tumbler pigeons and chooks.

Funnily enough, though, there were some things my mother hated. For such a kind and gentle person, it is strange to look back and recall how much she hated some things. Some animals, and some plants.

Each time she saw mangrove swamps she would always remark how ugly they were. I didn’t ask why–just accepted that mangrove swamps were… ugly.

When I was in the garden she would often comment how she hated oxalis with a vengeance. Dock, too, was another enemy. I grew up thinking that mangrove swamps, dock and oxalis, among other things, were bad.

And when shopping it was the norm to seek perfection, the big, red perfectly-shaped apples were sought after, while the little one with flaws or a bug in the middle were rejected.

My thinking began to change about 35 years ago when I became a mother. Wanting to give my children the best of everything I began to look for more natural choices. I started to learn more about relationships.

I started to realise that an apple that had a live bug in it was probably safer than one that no insects would go near, because they had had a dose of poison. I began to plant a few more vegetables so that some could be sacrificed to birds and insects.

Each time I see a kawakawa bush (it adds a wonderful peppery flavour to food), I think of the Maori adage that says select a kawakawa leaf that has insect damage, because the insects know the best ones to eat!

I think it was over at Rawene that I began to understand about mangrove swamps, sorry, wetlands is the PC expression today, and their place in Nature. Mangroves become prolific where there has been a large amount of pollution or sediment into the bay, and while they act as a nursery for marine life, they also purify the polluted water. Spend some time looking around a mangrove forest and you can learn so much about marine ecosystems.

On my farm I learned that dock grew in areas where the soil has been badly compacted and in fact with its long taproot system it brings valuable minerals up to the surface to help restore the texture and health of the damaged topsoil.

We are too judgmental! What right do we have to decide that something is ‘bad’ or ‘ugly’?

Over the last 30 years I have been learning more about insects. It began with an interest in the monarch and has spread to other butterflies. The more I learn, the more my interest grows. I am learning more and more about host plants and predators and parasites. It is all fascinating.

Did you know that the first monarch was seen in this country the year after the Treaty of Waitangi was signed? Did you know that scientists believe they flew/blew here from North America?

And it wasn’t until the Swan plant arrived that the monarch was able to breed here. But did you know that the Swan plant comes from Africa?

Do you know how the Swan plant came to New Zealand? We believe settlers coming from Britain round the Cape of Good Hope went ashore and bought a cushion, pillow or mattress which had a swan plant down filling. At some time after they had settled here, the item was no longer needed, and dumped. Amongst the down was a few Swan plant seeds and soon the plant was growing, and the Monarchs could breed.

As my interest grew I began to dislike the predators and parasites that attack the monarch butterfly. Did you know there is a little wasp that lays its eggs inside a newly formed chrysalis? Instead of a butterfly forming 40 or 50 wasps will emerge from each one, and leave to attack other chrysalises. I began to hate these predators and parasites with a vengeance.

However, one day it occurred to me that the relationships are just as they are meant to be. Not all caterpillars are destined to be butterflies; they also provide food for other species. One species is not meant to be predominant. As one species thrives another one struggles. For instance where we have healthy seawater we will have ample fish. Where there are plentiful fish you will find plenty of fishermen, birds, and marine mammals. An area becomes too popular, the fish become less, so the fishermen go away to find new areas. And so it goes on.

It’s all about balance. There are high and lows. Nature swings in a boom or bust cycle. It is the way it is meant to be.

Sadly, however, nature is affected badly by one of our worst vices: greed. A classic example of this was seen in the media this week: a dairy farmer not content to own one farm and make a reasonable living through hard work, but who owns many farms  and does not have the time or respect for the cows he owns.

It is heartening to me to see that more and more people are becoming aware of environmental issues and our need for wise stewardship of the planet. People are being gentler, people are generally showing respect and responsibility for other beings, animals and plants. We’re not quite there yet, but more and more people are beginning to make a difference.

It wasn’t long ago that we would have shrugged our shoulders and said about that farmer that ‘that’s life’, but it’s different today, we do take action.

You may remember I mentioned how my mother hated oxalis. If you look around the churchyard outside, you will see a bright little pink flower popping its head up all over the lawn. That’s oxalis! It’s a stand-out plant, adding to this church’s charm. And only people who think lawns should be only grass, and green, and neat, would be bothered by it. Each time I see that pretty pink flower, I think of my mother.

Today I hope that we can leave this church and reflect on how we can improve our own relationship with Nature. To have respect for all that is around us, the green leaves, the flowers, the trees. The plant in the wrong place. Insects and birds, pets and farm animals. And those in the wilderness too. We know in our hearts if we are doing the right thing by Nature. We only need to think of how God asked us to behave, in the way that we care for others.

Celebrating St Francis / Creation Sunday

I hope you will enjoy this reflection given by Jacqui Knight (Madam Butterfly) on Sunday, 5 October.

There were numerous dogs (and their owners) in attendance, a cat, a kitten, and a caterpillar! It was a very moving service – moving hymns, thoughtful prayers. Two beautiful quilts – one crafted by Maureen Trotter (Russell) and the other by Judi Ferguson (Wellington) decorated the walls.

As usual the church liturgical team put together an inspirational service. You can see photographs here:

Photographs

Here is Jacqui’s address:

Today is Creation Sunday, and we particularly remember St Francis.
He was an Italian, born in Assisi (and we often say ‘St Francis of Assisi’) about a thousand years ago, the son of wealthy parents. He saw the dangers of being rich – and chose to live in poverty and peace.
A few minutes ago we sang the prayer that’s attributed to him, ‘Make me a channel of your peace’. Beautiful words, aren’t they.
Can we become a channel of God’s peace? We can. There are some valuable lessons in creation. Let me share some that I’ve learned from Monarch butterflies over the thirty or so years I’ve been studying and learning about and delighting in them.
Firstly – I must tell you that Monarch butterflies are NOT endangered. There are too many people who love them, who plant their host plant, milkweed, and enjoy the beauty of the life cycle. Everyone knows the Monarch butterfly.
However, the phenomenal migration of the Monarch in North America may well be at threat – 3000 miles or more from Canada to Mexico, every autumn. It’s at risk from such things as pesticide use, global warming and genetic engineering. Deforestation – the trees that they overwinter on in Mexico are being chopped down and sold by people who don’t have any other way of earning a living, even though the forest is protected, and doing so is illegal.
Also it’s at risk from things like development and the removal of ‘weeds’ and wild places from the countryside. People’s selfish demands on Nature. (A similar migration in Taiwan, with the crow butterflies – the government has created a corridor to allow them safe passage over a motorway… but that’s another story!)
When I flew to the USA recently, I reflected on the amazing journey that the Monarch had taken to New Zealand – what an adventure, carried by wind and wing-power all the way to the Hawkes Bay from somewhere in the Americas, around about the same time that this church was being built. Here I was, lying back in my seat on an Air New Zealand 747, being fed and entertained, while that little insect had used its own wings to travel all those miles! Isn’t that amazing?
Over in the USA there is concern that some children have become completely removed from Nature and there’s a huge movement through schools to educate Canadians, Americans and Mexicans about Monarchs. This year I became part of the Monarch Teacher Network when I trained with them in New Jersey.
Now here in NZ we all know that Nature is all around us, it’s perfectly normal to live with ants and weta and all sorts of insects and birds and fish. But many children in the US have never experienced this or the ‘outdoors’.
The Monarch is a wonderful ambassador for Nature. Watching a Monarch go through its changes is a beautiful experience that can stir up interest and intrigue – and one gets hooked on the whole Monarch-milkweed-pest-predator relationship.
At first you ‘love the Monarch’ and ‘hate the aphids and wasps’ that destroy your Monarch or its food – but then you kind of get a perspective on things, that when a female Monarch lays her 300 or 400 or 1000 eggs, it would be pretty lopsided if all of them were to survive. So you begin to be more relaxed about Nature being in control, and realising that WE are NOT in control of Nature.
It’s a bit like that in the real world too. If everything was LOVELY, and there were no wasps or aphids to give life its bumps and ups and downs, it would become quite a lopsided world. If we don’t have the bad things happen – the losses, the failures, the accidents, death… we wouldn’t REALLY appreciate the good things – and life – and being alive.
None of us can expect to be here forever. We all have to die. It’s sad to lose someone, but death is a part of life… and while we treasure memories of someone special or a beloved pet, they are never really dead to us.
Death of the caterpillar… and the beautiful butterfly emerges. Look through eyes of hope, and see a butterfly inside the caterpillar. Hope knows that beauty is waiting to be born, in the unlikeliest of places…
The people who I come into contact with in the Monarch world are inspiring. There’s one particular woman I’m thinking of in the USA, and she has taught me a lot. Not just about butterflies – but also about focusing on the good things in life.
Now we all know that caterpillars’ skins never grow. That when they grow too large for their skin, they crawl out of it, or moult. They have a new baggy skin underneath which allows them to continue growing. Well watching caterpillars moult brought a question to Edith’s mind: What is keeping her from growing as a Christian?
She realised that some of it is ‘not letting go of yesterday’. And I do that too. Negative things I tend to hold onto, and I go over and over and over them. For instance, I need to grow out of dealing with negative relationships.
Judging people! Having expectations of others.
Time spent in negative thoughts is wasted time. I need to ask forgiveness or forgive, and move on. Let it go!
My metamorphosis is a continual growing in the life of Christ. Reviewing my failings, and trying to do better. Trying to be less envious of those who have more than me. Judging people who don’t agree with me. Eating more than my body needs. Being humble instead of boasting about, or boring others with my achievements… I’m sure you can all identify with that.
Monarchs will lead me on new adventures as I continue to grow as an environmental educator and a Christian. I can see there are some exciting things in the future; Monarchs have led me on an inspiring journey in my 59 years – and there’s more to come.
I am not sure who wrote the following, but this prayer helps me with my metamorphosis:
I asked for Strength… and I was given difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for Wisdom… and I was given problems to solve.
I asked for Prosperity… and I was given a brain and talents to work.
I asked for Courage… and I was given obstacles to overcome.
I asked for Love… and I was given troubled people to help.
I asked for Favours… and I was given opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted… but everything I needed.
Live life without fear, confront all obstacles and know that you can overcome them.

Taizé Service, August

Candles in the windows and on the altar provided a focus at a recent reflective evening service featuring Taizé music.

John Boulter conducted the choir. Jo Beattie accompanied on the organ, and a special touch was added with Gill Jones’ violin and Alan Trethowen’s guitar. Briony Bradford, Alwyn Cumming and Emil Nye were soloists.

Taizé is a small village in Burgundy, eastern France with an ecumenical Christian community. Thousands of visitors, especially young people, journey there each year. Taizé music is popular all round the world.

See www.taize.fr for more information

Service celebrating Matariki

Matariki – a time to reflect – a time to harvest – a time to give thanks.

Matariki is the Maori recognition of New beginnings or a New Year. At Christ Church we celebrate this festival each year. This year, on Sunday 22 June, we invited the children from a local Maori school to join in the service.

What a treat! The children sang a waiata and again during Communion. The Old Testament Lesson was read by an 11 year old in both Maori and English. A tangible sign of our bi-cultural heritage.

We were also treated to a most colourful but inspirational address by the Principal from the Waikare School. In essence -‘children of today are the future of tomorrow – cherish and nuture them all as they are all our responsibility’.

This uplifting service was conducted by our Maori Sacramental Minister who is also a senior teacher at the Waikare Total Immersion school. Following the service a luncheon was enjoyed by all present.