Bishop Ross Bay preached at the Induction of The Reverend Brendon Wilkinson as Priest-‐in-‐Charge of Northern Wairoa Mission District. The service was held on Tuesday 18th February in Holy Trinity, Dargaville. The readings were Jeremiah 29:11-‐14 and Luke 9:1-‐6.
It is a pleasure to be able to preach at this service because it is a very exciting time in the life of this Mission District. Once again, to Brendon and Lesley, and your family, a hearty welcome to this part community of faith but also within the wider communities that make up the geography of the Northern Wairoa Mission District.
It is a pleasure to preach but I do want to tell you that it will not be a super long sermon. There are sermons. But more pragmatically tonight, your Bishops need to get in the car and drive back to home.
I have already made mention of the Northern Wairoa Mission District, easily off the tongue as the Parish of Northern Wairoa. The title represents some structural change in the way in which you exist in relation to the Diocese. But more importantly I think it represents a
shift in emphasis, a change of focus, an intentional grappling with the reality of what you face together as a church community.
are issues that we face right around the diocese: aging congregations, decline in attendance,
dwindling finances, a reluctance by people to commit. These issues represent a growing crisis for the what we might do.
We can ignore it, become like ostriches with our head in the sand and hope that when we come up for air somehow things will have fixed themselves and we can just get on as we always have. Well those of us who have faced personal crises in our lives, which is probably all of us, will know that it out like that. Things change whether we like it or not and we get overtaken by the change they dig a hole, wrap themselves in their emergency rescue blankets and wait for the fire to pass over nothing else left around you.
The other broad option is to face the reality of crisis when confronted with it. We try to get to grips with what it implies and make some decisions about what we can do and how we will change so that we stay in or even ahead of the game, and can get on with our lives as positively and hopefully as we can.
things and deal with them. Bgreat challenge it can be debilitating and disempowering
Now, I make those comments not in particular about Northern Wairoa, but in general about the
Church as a whole and the Church within our Diocese. And Northern Wairoa is affected by those
things just like many other places are.
structural relationship with the Diocese. I see it as flagging a hope and an intention about the very existence and purpose of the church communities within the Northern Wairoa district.
in the church for an awful long time, long before I was a bishop, and
a good thing. We need to be mindful always of just what it is that the church exists to do. But therein lies the problem. We might know that, but when it comes to exactly what we should do about it, we really struggle.
the answers. One of the things I know is that the answer is a little bit different in every place. The answers for Northern Wairoa will be different than they are for Whangarei or Maungaturoto, just as they will be different for each of the churches of urban Auckland, and of those in Hunua and the Coromandel. Anglicans are a contextual people. We form church communities within a wider local community and come with a desire to serve that wider community as disciples of Jesus Christ. We believe that we bear the hope of the good news of Jesus, which is life in all its fullness, for all people.
Can we regain confidence in ourselves as that kind of disciples?
sending out the 12 disciples to extend the work of mission that he was doing. The 12 had a task of proclamation and of compassionate service. They were to make known the Kingdom of God and they were to heal. In simple terms, those remain the tasks of disciples in the church. We have a good news story to carry with us to others and we are to plant ourselves in communities and to live and act in such a way that we make a difference for good in those communities. We bring healing and that is a sign of the good news that is ours, the good news of Jesus.
what you should be doing. I am not here. You are here. Each of you is a strong part of the communities within which you live. You know those communities. You know their needs, the ways in which healing might come to people and places. Those are the mission opportunities which God opens up before you.
community involvement, our service of others, but we are renowned in a very understated way. We are not good at connecting that with this good news that we believe and bear. That is where we must regain confidence. Confidence that it is good news; confidence in its transforming power in our own lives; confidence to tell others about it.
We rejoice that Brendon has heard the call of God to come amongst you as a priest and be part of that with you; to be both a leader and a participant in it with you. And we, your Bishops and Archdeacon, and others in the wider Diocese, will pray for you and encourage you, and support and resource you in whatever way we can to help you do it.
a passage full of hope and encouragement. It belongs of course originally in a particular moment in latter part of 7th Century BC right through the period when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonian empire and many people were carried away into exile.
It is believed that Jeremiah himself was taken off to Egypt, and that he died there, maybe in some ways a broken person because all he had sought to avert had ended up happening. Jeremiah had a tough ministry. It was one of constantly warning of impending doom and he suffered greatly for it.
But like all the prophets, amongst the anxiety and the warnings, there is always a strong message of hope, and the words which we read tonight capture something of that message of the good news that Jeremiah held in his heart for his people.
God’s plans are for good. God’s plan are about a future with hope. God hears are heart felt heartfelt prayers. God will find us and gather us and restore us. Let us then be a hopeful people,confident in the good news that is entrusted to us, confident about who we are and what we do. So may God bless this new chapter of the mission which you share together here