ahiahi pai/ Good afternoon,
I was remiss when doing my last letter under the duress of Covid that I forgot to include the 25th celebrations of our Uniting Church brothers and sisters at Johnsonville. I have decided to run a letter this week to rectify this situation.
I am slowly getting over the symptoms of Covid. It certainly slowed me down. Thanks for the kind support I received.
I have also attached a grief liturgy following on from a request from some PFG people to celebrate the life and beauty of friends we have made in your PFG’s who have since departed this life but still remain with us in spirit and love. With our remembrance of All Souls and Saints days on 1st and 2nd of November respectively I think this months is a welcome opportunity to acknowledge those who have died.
The reading this Sunday have a strong theme of humility of one not seeking honour or titles rather acknowledging our need to see that God is our centre and when we live as our best selves others notice the Christ light within us shining through. All those values and principles of being a follower of Jesus mark us as people who point to a great reality then ourselves.
Jesus is highly critical of those who seek honour, those who lord it over others those who do not seek to understand the plight, pain and suffering of those doing their best. The way we dress and appear to others can make them seem unworthy or less but the gospel is full of example where Jesus shines a light on those who seem unworthy and praises them in the sense that they are not far from the kingdom.
We must be diligent in our reality that alone we can do nothing but it is a blessing of what God can do through us. Humility seeks the path of ‘Servant leadership’ raising other and the passage makes sense “The greatest among you must be your servant’ – “whoever humbles himself/herself will be exalted”
Have a good week – God go with you,
Scripture reflection: Thirty first Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 5 November 2023.
Did not one God create us?
Almighty and merciful God, by whose gift your faithful offer you right and praiseworthy service, grant, we pray, that we may hasten without stumbling to receive the things you have promised.
First reading: Malachi 1:14 – 2:2, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 130(131)
Second reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12
Link to readings – click here
In our readings today, we hear how easy it is for human pride and laxity to diminish or even falsify God’s message. Instead, let us follow the invitation to honour God in humility, sincerity and truth. In the First Reading, the prophet Malachi does not mince his words. His message is hard-hitting: the priests are reproached for their spiritual negligence and failure to instruct the people properly, as well as for their half-hearted service of God.
Religious leaders are also criticised in the Gospel. Jesus castigates their hypocrisy: they are more concerned with drawing attention to themselves and exploiting their social position, rather than committing themselves to the message they preach. This type of self-aggrandisement and pride is the exact opposite of what the followers of Jesus should aspire to. Jesus himself is our role model: he teaches us that the route to leadership is through service of God in all things.
In contrast, the Second Reading presents Paul as a truly devoted pastor: enthusiastic, hard-working, full of love for his people; endlessly sharing the living word of God with this community. To follow Christ is to serve him humbly; and humility, together with complete trust in God, is the theme of today’s Psalm.
Let us pray this week: Lord God, you are both Father and Mother to us. We beg you: help us to be sincere and joyful in our practice of faith and prayer; to serve you in our daily lives; and to be even more alert and awake to your presence in nature all around us.
Update: A reminder that the Passionist Institute will be held on the weekend of 25th-26th November 2023. You are welcome to join via Zoom or personally. You will need to RSVP. Please find the timetable and poster attached to this newsletter
Please keep Hamilton Cathedral/St Matthew’s in your prayer this weekend as we relaunch Passionist Family Groups.
Promotion to raise interest a for a relaunch of Passionist Family Groups in 2024 in Levin will be on the weekend of 11/12th November
I will be away on a short holiday in Australia with Clare from 25th November return on 4th December
Beginning the P.F.G.M. at Johnsonville Uniting Church.
It is 25 years since the PFGM began in Johnsonville Uniting Church and our Minister Tony Wood asked me to say a few words.
Many of you will recall that we were without a minister in 1998, Pastoral Care was not working and a Parish Meeting was held in the lounge to discuss a way forward.
Karen Billing’s had learnt of the PFGM through a friend who was participating in the programme here at St Peter and St. Paul’s.
With work commitments she did not have the time to investigate further, but as Pastoral Convenor at the time I was happy to make enquires.
St. Mary’s in New Plymouth was the only other Protestant church at the time participating in the PFGM.
During the following year I met a number of wonderful people ; John and Kerry Kleinsman, John and Mary- Ellen Leen, Father Brian Traynor, Lynne Hill and a number of other Parish Co-ordinators in the region and come to understand how inspired and how many benefits the programme provided.
It was launched here, with at the time four Family Groups established. There are three now. Amazing leadership and belief in the programme was shown with people stepping up to co – ordinate the groups. In the beginning it was Nancy and Graham Cochrane, Ray and Faye Michelle, Eileen McKinlay and Karen Billings and Andrew and I as Parish Co-ordinators.
We attended Training Days and weekend camps to further our understanding of the programme. These showed how cross denominational the PFGM was and they were a lot of fun. More recently we’ve attended training days with Paul Traynor.
At a 1st Foundation Day at Connolly Hall Father Brian Traynor led us and welcomed us. Catholic and Protestant no more, we are ‘family’. We were a part of this, with nothing said just an invitation to all and it was a very moving occasion for us.
Ray and Faye moved to Melbourne where they introduced the PFGM to their church and this was successful for a time. Ray was a leader and just loved the idea of getting to know the multi generations as had happened in Johnsonville .
He recalled the older Boyd kicking a football with young Andrew Stirrat and his son Kyle.
Over the years many people have co- ordinated their group so successfully and with wonderful, original initiatives and while the events have been social gatherings there has been underlying care. It was stronger than a monthly event as smaller groups can care in a more tangible way, really get to know each other, providing meals following operations or bereavements, driving for hospital appointments, gardening AND sharing in celebrations of a birthday, a new home or a new job.
The ethos was simple but sincere and so effective… “ To Love As Jesus Loved” to be a Family For All and on a practical note to keep events low cost or no cost. Love can break down differences and barriers.
25 years and 25 years older, however Graham’s photos are testament to the very many thoroughly enjoyable, often original events we’ve shared and frequently the invitation is extended to all in the Parish. There have been well in excess of 700 events.
I think I can say it has been ‘the glue’, a blessing, in the Parish on the occasions we’ve been without a Minister.
It has been and is an amazing programme and one where Judith and Boyd Dunlop as Parish Co-ordinators have been constant in maintaining the links with St Peter and St Paul and the wider PFGM Co-ordinators.
Arohanui Prue. – Prue Simm
Johnsonville Uniting Church celebrating 25 years of PFG’s
Reminder: 5 Aims and Goals
- share & celebrate life & faith
- support one another (especially in need)
- reaching out to & include others
- build community/extended family
- show example to children