TE POUHERE SUNDAY
Psalm: it is recommended that a suitable psalm be chosen by those planning a celebration for this day.
[A colleague calls our church, "The Church of Or," which is, unfortunately, rather underlined by this set of readings!].
Slightly quicker could be to go to www.anglican.org.nz/Resources/Lectionary-and-Worship
Readings: Isaiah 42:10-20; 2 Corinthians 5:14-19; John 15:9-17
Solution: peace, harmony, communion via reconciliation
Problem: we are divided, different and diverse.
Observation: often Christians rise to the challenge of working to overcome differences within one shared culture (tribe, language, nationality, race) but find it is another level of challenge to “love one another” across significant human boundaries, especially boundaries of race and of culture.
Within the life of the church, have we ever noticed how it is relatively easy to find harmony within the Anglican church, and almost impossible between, say, Anglicans and Methodists or Presbyterians and Catholics.
Now, our church, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia:
For a long time, most of us, mostly being NZ Europeans or Pakeha, thought we were doing pretty well on the church unity and harmony measures of passages such as are our scriptures today.
But we weren’t so good at asking whether the Maori members of our church felt the same way.
And when, in the spirit of the 1970s and 80s, with a new look at the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi, we began to really listen to Maori concerns with a view to doing something about them, we found we hadn’t being doing so well.
For example: Maori for years and years had wanted a bishop. Ratana. Relented. 1928. But then only as a suffragan, and no vote at General Synod. And, Simkin of Auckland … Finally, in 1978 the Bishop of Aotearoa became a full voting member of our General Synod and a bishop equal in status to the bishops of the dioceses.
Further collective soul searching took place.
How could we shift, to take up language from Isaiah, from “For a long time I held my peace” to “Sing to the Lord a new song”?
How could we be one united church with a true share in power and resources for Maori as well as for Pakeha?
How could any new way of formal relationship be aligned with (for example) our NT readings this morning, speaking of love for one another and a ministry of reconciliation?
So, we settled on an arrangement in 1990 (with the inclusion of the Diocese of Polynesia) in which Te Pouhere, a new constitution, would bind us together as one church in Christ, yet living in Three Tikanga or cultural streams.
The reality of the challenge of working together across the boundaries which race and culture make for human beings was recognised; yet the aspiration of finding ways to avoid one race or culture dominating in times of being together: General Synod, committees to determine sharing of our resources, was given full flight.
Veto powers to ensure no abuse of power, no overlooking the voices or needs of our weaker partners.
How is it going? A mixed bag but better than pre Te Pouhere. Work to be done, especially re resources.
Here’s the rub. Effectively, in the language of today’s political concerns, we have had 30 years of co-governance between Maori, Pakeha and Pasefika.
It can and does work. It is a way to ensure justice matters in decision-making.
For Aotearoa New Zealand, we must ask the question, How just is the way we live, in our cities and in our rural districts, in our housing provision and schools and healthcare? Who is shouldering the burden of the change climate change is bringing to our way of life? Searching questions; the answers must involve the voices of Maori and Pakeha, of long settled Kiwis and new migrants, of property owners and those feeling despair at ever owning property.
There are no further comments on the readings for Te Pouhere Sunday; there are comments below for this Sunday if treated as 12th Sunday in ordinary time.