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Moderators Christmas Message: Christmas for the Lonely

Richard Dawson (Moderator PCANZ), 22 December 2017

Dear Friends
Christmas is a struggle for the lonely. Nothing compounds feelings of loneliness quite like seeing others celebrate a festival for families, and being asked common pleasantries such as if family are coming to visit. It’s not the fault of Christmas but it’s what happens. Christmas is hard on the lost. Who can begin to be found when everyone’s so busy with each other that no one’s even looking for the lost?
Christmas is tough for the unlovely. Those who feel rejected because of something they can’t help, struggle to feel valued at a time when value becomes synonymous with price. Christmas is great but I feel for the marginalised people who are forgotten at this time of year: the lost, the lonely and the unloved.
I wonder if we could focus on making a difference this Christmas, even for just one person who lies completely outside the circle of our own family, someone who just won’t get to celebrate unless we include them in some way.
Perhaps it’s a person living on their own. Perhaps it’s a solo parent living down the street. Perhaps it’s a couple of little ones you’ve seen playing around your place and you’re pretty sure they won’t be getting much in the way of Christmas fare on the 25th. Whoever and however you choose to help, if we each make an extra effort it would make a huge difference.
I recently watched a wonderful video talk by Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of The Justice Initiative, which among other things has saved many people from death row in America. The key phrase which still rings in my soul from that talk was the first point he made about justice: true justice requires proximity. That is, it requires us to get close to those who are suffering injustice. Isn’t this what Jesus did by coming to earth on this amazing day we celebrate as Christmas? Isn’t this the universe changing version of getting proximate? I certainly think so. I want us this year simply to ask ourselves who we are going to bring into our inner sanctum, to share with and to learn from, who is in the lost, lonely and unloved category.
I hope and pray that you might be greatly blessed this Christmas. Thank you for all you work and commitment to our Church. It makes a huge difference to me and to so many who travel with us in this journey of faith.
God bless you and yours this Christmas,
Richard Dawson Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand



Christmas Call English & Te Reo

Richard Dawson (Moderator PCANZ), 25 October 2017

Let us Pray!
Dear Friends,
As we approach Christmas and the end of another year I want to call the whole Church to prayer. I
am particularly aware of how important Christmas is both for the Church as a family and for her
witness in and to the world.

Christmas and Easter are still universally recognised as Christian festivals even if the depth of
understanding is not great. Many people only come to church on these special days. It is, therefore,
important that we recognise the opportunities we have at these times to bring a message of hope
and mercy to those who live outside the Church family.

I know many of you do engage the community in all sorts of creative ways at Christmas and I also
know that many churches put on special services to mark the occasion. Can I encourage you to
continue these traditions and to work as hard as possible to raise the Christ-child up at this time?
However, I also know that this is a very busy time for staff and especially for Ministers, so I want to
call the Church to prayer for our Christmas witness and especially for these people for this period.
Can you please distribute this letter as widely as possible amongst your people and so call them to
prayer for the areas I’ve listed below and can you engage in at least one special time of prayer in
your parish where people can come apart and spend some quality time in praying for these things?
The Church marches on its prayers. Let us, then, march together this Christmas.

Points for prayer:
1. That our witness this Christmas may be gracious and effective.
1. That we may find many ways to bless those who struggle with Christmas, especially the poor and distressed.
2. That we may bless our Ministers and staff through the Christmas period and ensure they get
3. adequate rest and refreshment over summer.
4. That we will find the needed resources to staff churches over summer.
5. That we will all experience peace and provision this year, which is at the heart of the Christmas tradition.

In Christ

Richard Dawson (Moderator PCANZ)

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Christmas Call Tongan

Richard Dawson (Moderator PCANZ), 25 October 2017

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Christmas Call Samoan

Richard Dawson (Moderator PCANZ), 25 October 2017

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Christmas Call Cook Island

Richard Dawson (Moderator PCANZ), 25 October 2017

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Christmas Call Korean

Richard Dawson (Moderator PCANZ), 25 October 2017

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Christmas Call Chinese

Richard Dawson (Moderator PCANZ), 25 October 2017

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Let's be the best we can be

Kristin Jack, 23 February 2017

As we move into 2017, there is a real sense that God's Spirit is wanting to do something special here at Leith. It's a newness that will build on the many gifts, passions & dreams he has already planted in our hearts & that are just waiting to be fanned into flame. One of the things I love about our community here is the breadth & diversity of perspectives we have. We have folk from all kinds of theological & church backgrounds worshipping side by side, & learning what it means to simply follow Jesus - & help each other follow Jesus. I want us to keep building on this beautiful glimpse of they Kingdom among us, this pulling together of so many strands & creative ideas. Let's be the best & richest community we can be, drawing on our smorgasbord of traditions! Let's draw on our Word-centred tradition that honours & studies the Scriptures, seeking to apply it to all of life. Let's tap into the charismatic stream running through our community, & draw the best from it's love of worship, & Spiritual gifts; let's draw on the contemplative stream in our community, learning to be more prayerful & better listeners; let's draw on the passion for Social Justice & Peacemaking that's among us, & be propelled into action 'for the least'; let's draw too from our incarnational stream that sees God's presence & sacredness in all creation, & that responds to that with awe & a commitment to greater creation care. Let's be the best, most whole community we can be, drawing from the streams of every tradition that we have amongst us - all of which ultimately flow from Jesus himself. As Jesus said: "Whoever believes in me, streams of Living Water will flow out from deep within them" (John 7:38)



December

Kristin Jack, 14 December 2016

December - how did that get here so quick?! So often this is a month not so much about frankincense as franticness; not so much about myrrh, but about blur. It can be a frenetic month as we try to get work stuff ‘sorted’ before the year ends, while at the same time wrestling with plans for Christmas & for the summer break (if we can afford one.) For many people December is the most stressful month of the year. For many others, Christmas is the saddest and loneliest time.
And so we need the message of Advent - that Christ has come and is coming again - to really sink into our hearts. More than that, we need to continually invite Jesus in to be Lord of our hearts, our lives - and our schedules. Now more than ever, we need Jesus to be the core, the centre from which we operate. Psalm 46:9-10 says: God makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow, shatters the spear, and burns the shield. God says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Jesus says: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you….don’t let your hearts be troubled, & don’t be afraid” (John 14:27)
Make a conscious decision not to be overwhelmed by either busyness or loneliness this season, but to make Christmas a time when your relationship with Jesus is reborn. If you need to talk with someone, or pray with someone to help you get to that place - myself and Nancy and all the other dozens of ‘ministers’ we have at Leith are totally available.
Many blessings.



Accidents

Richard Dawson, 16 September 2016

The other day I ran up against one of those chaotic moments in life which makes you wonder where God is. A person turned in front of me at an intersection without looking and seemingly not understanding that straight through traffic had the right-of-way. I jammed on the brakes and just managed to stop in time but the dipping of my suspension meant that I touched her left hand bumper and did significant damage to it whilst leaving a little scratch on my bumper. She was suitably contrite and apologetic and I was left with her business card and that weird feeling that this shouldn’t have happened.
Later I was watching the Rio Paralympics which I’ve really enjoyed and heard a wonderful interview with our hero of the day, Sophie Pascoe. She said a remarkable thing. Referring to the accident which left her without the lower part of her left leg she said that she now felt that this accident was a blessing because it had lead to so many good things in her life! Amazing really. I’m sure she and her family didn’t feel that way for a long while but in the fullness of time something good has come of it.
I wonder if you’re in that place of regret right now? I wonder if you’re facing the fallout from one of those chaotic moments which has left you or a loved one damaged, maybe even permanently? I wonder if your life is full of regrets and ‘what-ifs?’ If that is the case can I say to you that God has not forgotten your suffering. Our God is a God who brings blessing out of chaos and loss. As with Sophie Pascoe it perhaps takes considerable time to see this come to fruition but it does, because we have a faithful God who is aware of the chaotic world we live in. Today, know that God does not leave us in this state of grief and shock but will work, in His time, to help us realise the triumph in the tragedy.



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