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On being Prophetic and the Treaty of Waitangi

Kia Ora mai

Happy 2019, one month down already. Hasn’t it been warm? I am pleased to say I was able to have a swim during the hottest parts of the day last week.

This past Sunday, February 3rd was the anniversary of the Napier Earthquake in 1931. I am always aware of this day because 9 people lost their lives at our seminary at Greenmeadows, Napier. Some of those killed were just starting out as seminarians full of hope and zeal. It was the first day back and the students and staff were praying in the chapel when the earthquake struck, and the organ loft collapsed killing members of the student body and the staff. They are all buried in the Taradale cemetery. It is very poignant to see their names and ages and the common day they died.

Natural and man-made disasters are tragic events as we have witnessed with the dam collapse in Brazil recently. How precious and fragile our lives can be. My heart and prayers go out to those families affected.  

Today marks Waitangi Day. I hope you have a wonderful day. The Treaty is such an important and foundational document in the history and ongoing life of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Treaty settlements in our present era contribute towards redressing the injustices of the past endured by the tangata whenua. I wish to acknowledge all the good will that exists to making this country a more just and equal society - of course, very much ongoing.

I know some of these efforts have been problematic, anger, tension and irrational fears can arise. It is interesting in last Sunday’s Gospel account from Lk 4:21-30 what Jesus had to experience in his own home town. He said, ‘No prophet is ever accepted in his own country’. When it comes to standing up for the rights of people, challenging unjust systems, working for social change that acknowledge and respect the dignity of people, all prophetic actions, some people don’t want to hear it or let it happen for all kinds of reasons. Education and conscientization enables us to see with new eyes. You will recall from last week  Jesus quoting Isaiah, ‘The spirit of the Lord has been given to me……. he has sent me to give the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives…to set the downtrodden free……He was setting the stage for his whole ministry. Prophetic people, and Christ was certainly a prophet par excellence, can be labelled as stirrers and ostracised. You will be familiar with many historical figures who have followed in the prophetic footsteps of Christ.  Many imprisoned, many killed but they continue to be shining lights in a world that needs so much healing and understanding. And that goes for us too in this country as we commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The second reading in Sunday’s liturgy was the famous extract from Corinthians - chapter 12 St Paul’s teaching on love.

‘Love is always patient and kind: it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited……Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth……Love does not come to an end.

May that kind of love which delights in the truth motivate our thoughts, our conversations and actions in our relationships with one another at home and our wider community, and in the light of the Treaty of Waitangi, our partnership as Maori and Pakeha.

I was at Waitangi in 1990 for the 150th commemoration of the signing.  I listened to official voices and voices of protest co-existing as I lay down upon the treaty ground. I remember the day was very hot then too. Listen to Track 2 - ‘He waiata mo Waitangi’ from ‘Under Southern Stars’ which was my response after being there that day.

So many positive things have happened since then. So much still needs to happen. May we as a people and as a country have the courage and determination to keep moving forward.  

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