From the Vicar

Sunday, 25 April (ANZAC Day)

One of the greatest privileges which we all share as New Zealanders is that of living in a country at peace. It seems incredible that a little over 100 years ago young men were leaving their homes to fight in one of the most brutal conflicts the world has ever seen (including my own grandfather, TOL Jenkins, who left from Kaipara Flats railway station on 16 October 1914).

Among those who served at Gallipoli was Chaplain William Grant, a Presbyterian minister. He landed at Anzac Cove on 12 May 1915 with some of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade. On the steep hills of Gallipoli, under regular fire, the 56yr old Grant stuck with his men. He carried biscuits and water up the ravines to the trenches, retrieved wounded men and assisted in dressing their wounds. Each Sunday he held a service in a wide trench, offering communion from a biscuit tin.

Part of his duties was the terrible task of burying the dead. Even under fire, Grant ensured that all the deceased were given a burial and their names and army number recorded on a primitive cross. Some of the dead included men Grant knew from his home in Poverty Bay. One was a young Jim Forsyth, who had been a boy in Grant’s Bible class. Another he knew was Ernest Stewart, whom Grant buried on a spur with a view over the sea - like the coastline between Gisborne and Tokomaru Bay. Grant would later write Stewart’s family, “we are dying in these smoking trenches for all the world.”

Grant became a familiar figure on the beach of Gallipoli, carrying water to men waiting for evacuation to a hospital ship and moving around to ensure that each man was seen and spoken to. On the 27th August, following a bloody assault on Hill 60 the previous day, Grant went out searching for wounded troops. He stumbled onto a Turkish position and was shot dead. A fellow chaplain buried him on the same hill, alongside his flock.

Of course the “war to end all wars” would not live up to its name, and a quarter of a century later another generation of young men was called up to fight in a second world war. It is right that we should mark their service and their sacrifice. We also give thanks for those, like Grant, who sought to minister the light and the love of God even in the midst of the dark horror of war. We will remember them.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

You don’t really expect a piece of fish - broiled fish at that - to be of great import. But there it is taking a starring role in this morning’s gospel reading when the newly risen Jesus asks for some to eat. A good Bible teacher would be able to spend quite a lot of time explaining the significance of that particular piece of fish: what it says about the bodily resurrection of Jesus, and what this means for us and the promise of eternity and our own resurrection. But it is the fact that Jesus chose to eat it that interests me.

There is a challenge for the disciples in each of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances. The challenge is whether they will be able to overcome their own wonderment, hesitancy and sheer disbelief; the challenge is whether they are willing to have faith and believe. And that same challenge comes to all of us, for in the end Jesus demands a response of faith.

Now faith doesn’t mean we can’t have doubts or questions. As we saw in last week’s gospel reading with doubting Thomas, Jesus is willing to engage with us in our questioning (indeed he does so again this week with that infamous piece of broiled fish). Nor is faith meant to be unthinking; one writer of theology described faith as “reason gone courageous”. What he meant was that faith is not the opposite of reason - but it is something more than reason alone. You can’t have faith without an element of risk.

The point is that the life of faith is more than an intellectual puzzle. It is more than a series of questions and academic answers. Ultimately it is about getting to know the one in whom we have faith: it’s exploring and working out our faith with Jesus. As the author Philip Yancey explains:

Faith means striking out, with no clear end in sight and perhaps even no clear view of the next step. It means following, trusting, holding out a hand to an invisible Guide.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

I have some bad news for those who have already finished their chocolate eggs but Easter hasn’t ended, in fact it has only just begun. In the Church’s calendar Easter is not a single day or weekend, it is a feast, a celebration, that lasts for 50 days until the day of Pentecost. And that’s a long time to make your chocolate eggs last. (Though, thinking about it, this might actually be good news for any looking for an excuse to have more easter eggs!)

Now liturgical seasons aren’t really the sort of things that people get excited about (and understandably so). But the Church uses them to help teach and remind us of certain things. In this case it is to remind us of a very important truth: we are a resurrection people. Our identity as Christians, as part of the Body of Christ, is formed much more by Easter Sunday than it is even by Christmas. For it is the truth of Christ’s resurrection, and the promise of our own, that defines us. As the Apostle Paul says, if there is no resurrection from the dead then our faith is useless; “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Cor 15). So why not take 50 days to celebrate it!

The main point is that Easter Sunday wasn’t the end of our Lenten season of preparation and repentance, it was the beginning of a new season of grace, joy and thanksgiving. And so perhaps this is a good opportunity to re-engage with the church community where God seeks to make this resurrection life known.

There are a lot of things taking place around the Parish over the next few weeks, not least is our Easter Study which begins the week starting 18 April. And of course there are our regular Sunday services where we get to celebrate and experience God’s grace. I invite you to consider how you will be celebrating Easter this year.

Easter Sunday, 4 April 2021

A few years ago I was with some colleagues - all of us dressed as priests - as we set up for a sunrise service on the beach on Easter Day. A man walking his dog stopped to watch us and then asked, “What are you lot celebrating?” We wondered if he had ever heard of a small holiday called Easter.

What are we celebrating? Why are Christians across the country and right around the world making such a big deal about today? Because

today is a day like no other. Today is a day of creation, a day of fresh

starts and new possibilities. Today is a day of healing and restoration. Today is a day without death. For today is the day of resurrection.

In the resurrection, God shows that he is without limits. That he will not accept dead ends or brick walls, that he will not be limited even by our own refusals or failures. On Easter morning God declares: I can bring life out of death, I can bring newness out of that which is finished. There is nothing, no end so certain, no hole so deep, no failure, mistake or wrong so great that I, God, cannot overcome it and start anew. For Christ is risen from the dead!

Christ’s resurrection is not just a metaphor or a symbol - it is the reality of Easter morning and the reality of life in Jesus. Jesus is alive, and all the old power of death and ending are gone; there is no more

sting, there is no more hopelessness, there is now nothing that is beyond God’s redemption and re-creation.

It is right then that we, and all of the Church worldwide, should celebrate with praise and with thankfulness this incredible thing that God has done. But the Good News of Christ’s resurrection, of the new life, the new beginnings, that he offers, is not just for Easter. The story does not end there. The life-transforming truth of Christ’s resurrection is a daily promise and a daily call. Jesus brings us life everlasting, and it begins today. Well after all the hot cross buns and Easter eggs have been consumed, we should still know the joy of this morning’s song, “Christ is risen!”

He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Sunday, 28 March 2021 (Palm Sunday)

A lot can be covered in a week: why it’s even possible that a single week just might encompass a whole lifetime. As we embark upon our journey through Holy Week, it strikes me that much of our lives as Christians will be reflected over the next seven days. And it will be reflected not just in the highs but also in the lows. For if we are honest the Christian walk is not a life of ceaseless triumph, free of mistakes or discouragement.

Yes, there are many days when we find it easy to praise our God with cries of hosannas. But there might also be days when we will find ourselves angry with God and so tempted to turn our backs on him. Or, perhaps out of fear or heartbreak, find ourselves denying him. In our lives we will experience the beautiful intimacy of relationship with Jesus, as did those who gathered around the table with him at the Last Supper. But we may also experience the desolation and confusion of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, when the purposes of God seem to have failed and God himself appears to be missing. And then there are those days when, like Judas, our mistakes and failures catch up with us and we wish with all our soul to take back those things which we have no power to undo.

And yet, lest the darkness of such seasons threaten to overwhelm us, we must remember how this holiest of weeks ends. With the dawn light of a new day and the resurrection power of God; a power that forgives our wrongs, heals our hurts and undoes even that which cannot be undone.

For Holy Week is the week of Christ’s victory, of his ultimate triumph. And the thing is, despite all appearances of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, despite all the noise and the hosannas of his arrival, this victory was in no way dependent on the actions of the crowd that welcomed Jesus that day. Whether the crowds praised him or condemned him, Jesus was always going to walk the way of the cross. Whether his disciples stood by him or ran from him, Christ was always going to defeat the power of sin and death by giving his life. And so with us, when we put our lives into Jesus’ hands, it is his victory we rely on - not our own. Just as with Easter morning, our destiny is assured not by our efforts but by Christ’s actions. One writer comments:

Our response is one of faith. No matter how fickle that faith may seem, God accepts us through the crucified and risen Lord. So on this Palm Sunday, as we head together into this most holy week, let us be encouraged as well as challenged by our most holy Lord.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Following Jesus was a very puzzling experience for the disciples. He didn’t always act - or react - how they expected him to. One habit which seemed to cause them great confusion was his tendency to withdraw to a solitary place to pray. It was perhaps not so much the choice to pray as when he chose to pray that would mystify the disciples. It seems that whenever Jesus enjoyed a great success, after seeing crowds respond to his message or powerful healings or miracles take place, his response was to go away and pray.

The disciples’ confusion is evident. Why are you here, they ask him. “Everyone is searching for you!” Their point is plain: things are going so well, now is not the time to disappear. Yet for Jesus that is precisely the time for prayer, precisely the moment to spend time with the Father. For Jesus seeks to be guided by his Father’s will, not by the course of events - not even successful ones. Nor indeed would Jesus let the darkest times guide him. Tellingly, Jesus begins his passion in prayer at Gethsemane. Through prayer he was able to find the strength to face the trauma of the cross.

One author explains why Jesus prayed so often:

Jesus prays because he needs to. What is at stake in Jesus’ prayer is his very identity and his mission… Prayer is at the heart of Jesus’ life because it shapes his identity, it feeds his relation to the Father, it keeps the love flowing..

In short, Jesus prayed because he is the God the Son. Prayer was a part of his very identity and being. He could not be the Son if he did not pray. For us too, as the Body of Christ, prayer is part of our identity and it should be part of our being. We cannot be the Church if we do not pray. Whether it be collectively in our worship, in small groups or in private on our own: whatever else is happening, let us aspire to be people of prayer.

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Sunday, 14 February 2021

There is a train station in Japan with no entrance or exit. Seiryu Miharashi has no ramp, no stairs, no gate - nothing. The only way to get on to the station is by disembarking from a train, and the only way to leave is by boarding another. This is not the result of some bureaucratic foul-up. The station (whose name means Clear Stream Viewing Platform) was intentionally designed as a place to help travellers pause, slow down and admire the beauty of nature. Being completely isolated you have no choice but to wait until the next train comes along - no matter how hurried you might be feeling.

Hurry and busyness are very much features of the modern age but, as we saw in last Sunday’s gospel reading (from Mark 1), God will still bid us to stop, pause and wait awhile with him. At the start of his ministry, with crowds flocking to him, Jesus still made sure to take himself away to a quiet place to pray and spend time alone with his heavenly Abba. In doing so Jesus revealed that prayer is not peripheral nor is it an optional extra: rather it is the very lifeblood of faith. The theologian George A Buttrick expresses it like this, “Prayer is more than a lighted candle. It is the contagion of health. It is the pulse of Life.”

Setting aside time to pray is about so much more than making sure we take a break or practice mindfulness. It is about our relationship with the living God. Our relationship with God is built on our communication with God: it’s built on prayer. And like any relationship sometimes it requires effort on our part, sometimes we have to be intentional about talking with God. This week we enter into Lent, a season of preparation before Easter. Typically we approach Lent by choosing to give something up but we can also choose to take something up as a Lenten discipline. Would you like to see your relationship with God grow? Then perhaps this Lent you might want to start the practice of setting aside extra time each day for you and God.


Sunday, 31 January 2021

A couple of years ago a curate in the Diocese of Liverpool decided to write a book called A Field Guide to the English Clergy. In the book he recounted tales of some of the more eccentric English parsons - and boy did he have a lot of material to work with. Some of his subjects might be thought influential, such as a former Rector of Cadeby who used to drive a steam engine he called Pixie around a railway track in his garden and who apparently was the inspiration for the Fat Controller in Thomas the Tank Engine. Among others were the useless - such as the Rev Sab Baring-Gould who at a children’s party asked a young girl who her parents were, to which she tearfully replied “you are Daddy!” (in fairness he did have 15 children to keep track of) - and the useful, while a chaplain in the navy the diminutive Rev Launcelot Fleming (later a Bishop of Norfolk) used to be wrapped in cloth and pulled through the ship’s guns to clear out the barrels.

It does make modern iterations of roller-blading or YouTube dancing clergy seem rather boring and staid. But it’s a reminder, if we needed one, that the Church is made up of people, as ordinary (or occasionally eccentric) as you might find in a local cafe. In the Bible the original Greek word used for church, ekklesia, meant “a gathering of people.” Meanwhile the only church building which the New Testament talks about is a building made of people (Eph 2:22). Jesus is the cornerstone and each of us are the “living stones” with which God makes his holy temple. Put another way, God uses us - all of us - to build his Church and so to be Christ’s Body in this world.

We saw the importance of this in last week’s Gospel reading from the 1st chapter of Mark where Jesus begins his ministry to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom of God and immediately calls the first disciples. As one author puts it, “Jesus proclaims that the Kingdom of God is near and then calls the disciples and says to them, now you follow me and make it near to others.”

I mention all of this because, after all the disruptions of lockdowns last year, I think it is important to remember how essential we all are - how essential you all are - to the life and ministry of our Church. Our worship, our fellowship, our prayer life, our ministry and our mission only happen when we all gather and play our part. As we move into February I look forward to embarking on a new year of ministry with you all.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

At the risk of being out of time (since we are now three weeks into January already) may I wish you all a very Happy New Year! What a blessing it is to have been able to celebrate the new year and enjoy summer with few restrictions. There is something to be said for being an island nation!

This is often the time of year when plans are made, when governments, managers and yes even vicars sometimes like to set out what they hope to achieve over the next 12 months. Of course, as 2020 taught us, all our plans and intentions can very quickly be overwhelmed by events. But as I have been looking at the year ahead I was reminded of the hymn “God is working his purpose out, as year succeeds to year”.

There is something both profound and deeply reassuring in knowing that the purposes of God are ceaseless in their activity, no matter the circumstance or the season. Unlike us, God is not rattled or confounded by events. As Psalm 33 says, “the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” What are those purposes? They are that which Jesus begins to proclaim in this week’s Gospel reading from Mark: the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God. For it is in God’s Kingdom that the peace, reconciliation, justice and love which He intends for all of creation will be found.

As members of Christ’s body we of course have our own part to play in these purposes, for it is through the Church that God has chosen to make His Kingdom known. But we must always remember that this is first and foremost the work of God – and there is no point our trying without him. As the last verse of the hymn says:

All our efforts are nothing worth

unless God bless the deed;

vain our hopes for the harvest tide

till he brings to life the seed.

Yet ever nearer draws the time,

the time that shall surely be,

when the earth shall be filled with the glory of God

as the waters cover the sea.


Sunday, 6th December 2020

According to the Church of England guide to Advent the season “falls at the darkest time of the year, and the natural symbols of darkness and light are powerfully at work throughout Advent and Christmas.” Writing this with the late-afternoon sun baking my study I confess I don’t immediately connect with the depiction of a sparse and wintery time of reflection. Even were the mercury not rising, there is too much colour around us in blue skies and bluer waters and all the vibrant brightness of a New Zealand summer.

But though we might miss out on the atmosphere of cold, austere mid-winter nights we need not miss out on the heart of Advent. In this season of expectation we are encouraged to prepare; not for Christmas, but for the coming (adventus) of Jesus to be with the world at the first Christmas and for his final advent at the end of time. For this reason our readings point not only to the birth of Jesus but also towards the final judgment. Here the Church of England guide offers something of greater relevance for sunburnt Kiwis, noting that it is by way of these Advent readings and liturgies that the Church “challenges the modern reluctance to confront the theme of divine judgment.”

Who wants to talk about judgment just as we are preparing for holidays and celebrations? Almost no one I would expect. But Advent reminds us that, just as Christ came that first Christmas, so he will return. The good news - and it is literally Good News - is that because Jesus came to us at Christmas, because of the Son of God in a manger, we need not fear the last judgment. Instead the question which Advent asks us is are we people of expectation, people who live in the truth of that final day? Are our lives marked by the knowledge of the coming of Jesus?


Sunday, 15th Nov 2020

If you are someone who is constantly flooded with emails you might want to take a leaf from the late H. L. Mencken. An American journalist, Mencken often wrote contentious commentary pieces that would result in mail bags of letters coming his way. To these, usually argumentative, correspondents he would send the same reply: “Dear Sir or Madam, You may be right. Sincerely yours, H. L. Mencken.” Of course these days phones and computer programs are happy to suggest replies for us so we don’t even need to think of a response, just click a button and off it goes.

I sometimes worry that I adopt a similar approach to prayer; praying rushed, hurried pleas while I race to do something else. For if prayer is foundational to my relationship with God, if it is through prayer that I can know God’s love and peace, it deserves much more than the equivalent of a quick “Ok” text.

That is undoubtedly true but it is also true that the pressure to make our prayers sufficiently “religious” or “spiritual” can equally be a barrier to discovering the rich fullness of prayer. In his book Say It To God the Benedictine monk Luigi Gioia reminds us that, as part of our personal relationship with God, prayer should be entirely free and exquisitely personal. He suggests four directions as useful to growing a life of prayer:

  • Keep it simple: As we often see in the Psalms, a sentence, a cry, even just a word are enough if it expresses what you are going through.

  • Keep it short: Pray only as long as you need to, in time you will find yourself drawn to pray longer out of desire (not obligation).

  • Keep it frequent: The bells of a monastery will ring each hour to remind the monks at work to say a prayer, even if just a whispered thanks to God. Make a habit of stealing ten seconds each hour to do the same.

  • Keep it real: The most important reminder of all: there is nothing we cannot say or bring to God in prayer, so say it all to Him.

In a couple of weeks we will enter Advent, a time when we are bid to a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. It is also for most of us one of the busiest times of year and, therefore, not the most conducive to the types of studies and disciplines familiar to that other season of preparation, Lent. But, at the end of this extraordinary, disruptive year, perhaps a good preparation would be to follow the suggestion of Brother Luigi to take whatever is on our hearts or minds and say it to God.

Sunday, 8th Nov, 2020

My earliest political memory is of being in primary school and sending a card to a classmate who was away ill for a month. To cheer him up I included the biggest joke of the year, “What goes up and never comes down? Muldoon’s prices!”. The tragedy for me was that the 1984 snap election then took place with Muldoon losing, so by the time my friend returned to school he told me that my joke was all wrong and that it should have said “Lange’s prices”. Such was my introduction to the vagaries of politics.

This last month has been something of a festival for political junkies with first our own election and referenda and then, this past week, elections in the United States. Of course, like a World Cup final, the nature of elections is to have winners and losers and so some of us will have been delighted by the results of our own ballot and others of us will be counting the years to the next vote and a chance to try again. The elections in America are more distant but, this year in particular, I think we have all been keenly interested and might even have had our own (sometimes strong) views about who should win or lose.

Is there any guide for Christians when thinking about politics? Can we claim that God is on one side or another? In the past I have heard preachers claim exactly that - unfortunately they don’t always pick the same side!

This year I have been reminded that a lot of what Jesus spoke about is very relevant to the political season, especially perhaps in countries where the divisions are the greatest. What am I thinking of? Teachings like, “love your enemies” or “bless those who curse you, bless and do not curse” and even “turn the other cheek”. I am not suggesting that as Christians we shouldn’t be interested or involved in politics, nor am I saying that we shouldn’t campaign and advocate for those ideas, policies or values that we believe in. Quite the contrary, I believe that part of our call as Christians is to be active in the public space - to use the opportunity we have as citizens of a democracy to influence our nation.

Politics matters, as do elections. But the Kingdom of Heaven is much bigger than who sits in the Beehive (or the White House) for the next term. In a world where politics is about winners over losers, which (in some countries at least) sees political differences as grounds for division and hostility, we should remind ourselves that for Jesus the priority was not to beat our opponents but to love them. For in doing so we testify to the power of the Gospel to transform our world.


Sunday, 18th Oct, 2020

The cathedral at Salisbury is considered one of the best examples of Gothic architecture, although it is its spire (at 123m the tallest in the United Kingdom) that gets all the attention. Visitors come to marvel at its spiky heights, or to look with unease at its supporting pillars - which noticeably bulge from carrying the weight of the tower. Perhaps such unease is warranted, it has now been discovered that some of the cathedral is held up by workmen’s lunch wrappers (well, in a manner of speaking).

This week it was reported that masons working on the restoration of the cathedral have discovered that gaps between the stones have been plugged with hundreds of oyster shells. It is believed that these were the remnants of medieval stone masons’ lunches, they would have carried the oysters up with them and (when done with lunch) used the shells to pack out the stones as they were laid. Today’s restorers use more modern techniques but still, struggling to replace one block that weighed 380kg, they marvel at what masons in the 13th century were able to achieve.

There is of course something of a parallel between the restoration of an old church building and the process of renewal in a local church. Indeed, the Catholics call this process divine renovation. Renovation is a concept with which we, as DIY property-mad New Zealanders, are familiar. It is not about the full-scale demolition of what has gone before but at the same time it is more than a fresh coat of paint. It’s about getting in and restoring and reinvigorating what is already there, while also updating and replacing where needed. It is divine because as we seek the renewal of our Church – and this should be our constant prayer – we are asking God to be the builder.

As Anglicans we are proud to enjoy a wonderful heritage of worship. But that doesn’t mean there is no need for renovation. To a certain extent elements of our worship have always been changing and so from time to time you will notice some changes in our services or music. The intent behind this is the same as with any renovation, it is to enhance what has gone before by bringing what is needed for a new generation. As we begin to plan for ways for bringing children and families back into our Church life, these are things we will have to consider and try. In the meantime, hearing the story of Salisbury’s physical renovation I am very grateful for our (comparatively) younger, and easier to repair, old wooden buildings!

Sunday, 11 October

I recognise that my writing this probably guarantees the next few days will be overcast and chilly but some of the weather recently had me believing that spring was done and summer already here. Clear skies, warm sun, and light evenings (thank you daylight saving) it felt more like late December than early October. (Though one or two intrepid swimmers tell me that the water is still very much September temperature).

And so we enter that strange period of seasonal adjustment, where one afternoon you find yourself putting on a jumper or turning on the heater and the next you are leaving the windows open and enjoying the early evening warmth - only to go back to the jumper again the next day. Such variety can make planning things more complicated: should we order a tanker now or hold out for more rain, will next Saturday be good for a picnic or should we arrange to go to a cafe instead? Though perhaps we should be grateful for the variation, I heard it once said that the reason the English talk about the weather is that it is always changing and so is interesting and worthy of comment compared to, say, the weather in Spain which barely changes.

I have mentioned before that there is then something of the promise of eternity in the spring. That as a time of transition it both offers us a glimpse of what is to come (summer days) while also reminding us that we are not quite there yet (cold nights and rainy Sundays). In the same way, we as Christians live a life where there are times and seasons that offer us a glimpse of what is to come, in blessings, in answers to prayer, in experiencing the closeness of God, but we also experience cold evenings and rainy Sundays that remind us we are not there yet. Theologians call this living in the tension, the reality that the Kingdom of Heaven is here - but not yet here in its fullness. Just as we might have to wait until summer before the water is warm enough for swimming, so there are some things that we will not experience fully until that time has come.

But as we have seen in some of our readings from Philippians recently, the knowledge that summer is coming (or rather that God’s kingdom will come in its fullness) is meant to encourage us, to help us to continue with hope and even rejoicing. As Paul says in this week’s reading, “rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice”. Like a sunny spring day the Bible reminds us that we are people who have something to look forward to, who have a hope that we can rely on - the greatest hope in fact. While not every day will feel like it, every day can be enlightened by it: the certainty of eternity and our hope in the new life of Christ.

Sunday, 4 October

Returning to services after six weeks of gathering at home and online it’s perhaps understandable if one or two things are a little rusty. At least I hope so, as I try and remind myself what Sunday services look like. I think I’m getting there but if you see me looking lost on a Sunday morning just point me in the direction of the sanctuary and we should be good to go!

Truth be told the two lockdowns that we have experienced have been very disruptive to the normal routines of church life, and understandably so. We must also acknowledge that we are not yet back to “normal” and may not be for some time, even after we return to Level 1. In one sense this no bother, as a Parish I think we have shown ourselves to be very capable of adapting to the challenges of the year with great faithfulness.

As we slowly move toward Level 1 my feeling is that our focus now needs to be on renewing and rebuilding the rhythms and habits of our worshipping life. As I mentioned in my sermon last Sunday, St Augustine wrote about how our hearts are built to search for God’s and that we are therefore defined, our lives determined, much more by what we love than by what we know. Part of what we do in our weekly church services is to make time for, and to tend to, the love we share with God: in our worship, in our prayers, in listening to his Word. You might call these things rhythms of devotion - ways we teach our hearts to speak the love languages of God.

For the last few months of this very up-and-down, disrupted year, then, I think it is enough that we focus simply on renewing these rhythms of devotion, on re-establishing the habits of worship and prayer that help form us and tend to our love for God. It is in fact a significant thing to gather together weekly in God’s house, with God’s people, in God’s presence and we are grateful to be able to do so once again.