Here is a message from our Vicar Andrew:
As I sit here in my office to write this article it is only a few days out from the Day of Pentecost, when we celebrate the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus and the birth of Church. It is also one day out from the ordination and installation of assistant-bishop elect, Rev Dr Ellie Sanderson. She really wanted to be ordained bishop as close to the feast of Pentecost as possible. As a diocese we have been praying for her, and for the Holy Spirit to come and transform our lives, our parishes, and our local communities, during a diocesan week of prayer from the Sunday after the Ascension through to Pentecost. Once you read this Ellie will already be a bishop, our Pentecost Prayer Vigil will be done and dusted, and Pentecost may have also been and gone. Thus, the disadvantage of writing for a magazine, rather than writing a (live) blog for the internet.
What an exiting week as we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of a new bishop, and as we think about the gift of giving during this our stewardship season.
The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift of Jesus to his followers. With the resurrection and the ascension of their Lord, the first disciples no longer had Jesus to lead and guide them. They had an amazing message of forgiveness and reconciliation to announce, but they had been told by Jesus to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the gift of power from on high. On the feast of the first-fruits, or Pentecost, the Spirit was poured out upon them, and they received the gift of the indwelling presence of God within them. This was more than a supernatural infusion of divine energy and power, it was in fact the person of God’s Spirit taking up residence within them: an Advocate to guide them into all truth, a Helping Presence to lead them as ongoing followers of Jesus and to equip and empower them to spread the good news about Jesus and to participate in the breaking in of God’s kingdom. This gift of the Spirit is available to all followers of Jesus. It is the Spirit that brings us new life and makes us new creations in Christ.
The Holy Spirit raises up some believers as gifts to the body of Christ. The ministries of apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher, and evangelist are such gifts. In our tradition as Anglicans we also have deacons, priests and bishops, the ordained ministry set aside as gifts to the body of Christ, to serve the church and to equip its members for ministry. When ordained as a bishop and installed as Wellington’s Assistant-Bishop, Ellie Sanderson will become a gift from Jesus and the Holy Spirit to our diocese, enabling the church to move ahead in its mission and ministry. With Bishop Justin moving to the north of the diocese in the not too distant future Ellie will play an important episcopal role in this part of the Diocese. Thank you God for the gift of Ellie to our Church.
With the abundance of God’s grace flowing into our lives, we are called to be channels of God’s blessing, rather than dead-end dams! The gift of giving is one way of expressing gratitude to God for all that God has done for us, in us, and through us. The ability to give generously is in itself a gift of grace, a work of the Spirit within us, enabling us to share with others what we ourselves have received. During this Stewardship Season parishioners are being asked to prayerfully discern their level of giving to Holy Trinity Avalon Parish. I am incredible grateful to the many people in our parish who give generously to the ministry and mission of our church. For a church of our size, the amount that is given is commendable. We do face challenges financially with a sizable deficit this year. Vestry is very appreciative, therefore, of your ongoing financial support. Our Day of Giving this year is Trinity Sunday, June 11, also our patronal festival.
May you experience afresh the gift of the Holy Spirit and participate in the work of God through the gift of financial giving. May the Holy Spirit kindle within us the fire of God’s love.
Rev. Andrew Barlow
Vicar of Holy Trinity Avalon Church