Saturday 27 October 2012

News from New Zealand - 1

Saturday 27 October - I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, after midnight today (Friday night/Saturday morning) after almost twenty four hours of travelling, including a lot of waiting in airports – almost a day and a half after setting off, if you include the time difference. This is my first visit across the Pacific as up till now my travelling has all been trans-Atlantic. We landed in Sydney and from the sky I could see that this is a beautiful city. My son knows it better than just a view from the sky, having spent a term here on a school exchange last year. From Sydney it was a flight of 2hr 40min to Auckland, and by the time I arrived, I had technically lost a day.

It is always exciting to be at meetings of the Anglican Communion. Yes, there are concerns about money and the cost of travelling, but nothing can replace the importance of literally putting flesh on what communion is, in all its beauty, with its dignity of difference and yet unity of purpose in mission. This was the feeling this morning, as retired Bishop John Peterson welcomed us and gave us a dry run of the welcome we were to receive from the mayor and the host province. Our team of three ACC reps from the Anglican Church in Southern Africa (myself, Revd Canon Janet Trisk, and Louisa Mojela) has been joined by Canon Delene Mark, CEO of Hope Africa, who participates in the Communion’s Peace and Justice Network, and Revd Canon Dr Rachel Mash, our Provincial Environment Coordinator, who serves in the Communion’s Environmental Network. Together, we form what is possibly the most representative team of them all in terms of ecclesial and social labels.

We have had the most wonderful welcome, as you can see if you follow the news on the Anglican Communion News Service, or Episcopal News Service websites, Facebook or Twitter. I hugely enjoyed being part of a panel, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church, at a youth forum, where the young people asked us a whole range of questions about God, theology, ethics and Scripture. ‘What shoes would God wear and why?’ was, for me, a searching and beautiful question. One question directed to me specifically was what does an Archbishop do and am I happy with my pay?!

Following this, we gathered at the cathedral to be oriented about the program. It was a good start, with warm weather in this lovely, clean, bright, city. I love the architecture of the cathedral, which combines old and modern, using natural light, and chairs that can easily be moved to create an Indaba context for groups. Afterwards, I took a long walk into town and along the harbour, just to orient myself physically too.

In sum, Communion is about God's people sharing the love of God through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in them and in their context. It is less about structural issues, important though these are, and far more about ‘incarnation’: it is about an encounter with God and one another, at God’s chosen place.

Please keep us in your prayers, and follow our news via websites or twitter, and I will send more updates when I get the chance.