By Rev Dr Rangi Nicholson
NZCMS Board Member
Members of the NZCMS whānau, along with international guests from CMS UK and Asia CMS, attended the Wānanga Symposium on November 16 — 18, an event held at Waitangi. This symposium featured leading international and New Zealand scholars exploring Christianity, the Māori World and colonialism in Aotearoa New Zealand. NZCMS Board Member Rev Dr. Rangi Nicholson reflects on this event through the lens of three selected passages of scripture.
Tēnā koutou katoa. Greetings everyone. The Wānanga Symposium held at Waitangi on 16–18 November this year was a hugely blessed learning opportunity and mission challenge. Despite recent political developments, this augurs well for the future of the Treaty of Waitangi, the Church and the nation in Aotearoa New Zealand.
I give thanks to God, our Mediator, Saviour and Redeemer, for bringing us safely to Waitangi and safely home, for the willingness of NZCMS to learn more about our national church history and to commit to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as a sacred covenant. I am also thankful for all those brought across our paths on this extraordinary pilgrimage, including the tangata whenua, the organisers and the presenters.
Renewing old friendships and making new ones was a highlight for me. It was a time for building relationships with the NZCMS whānau and others. It was also a time for acknowledging and witnessing the Gospel of God’s love, justice and peace, the Gospel that the missionaries brought to Aotearoa New Zealand.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he writes in chapter 13 about love which is patient and kind, truth-seeking, hopeful and enduring. It was evident in spadesful in each presentation that I attended at this gathering. Paul also clearly states what love is not: jealous, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, irritable, unforgiving and happy with injustice. I did not come across jealousy, boastfulness, pride, rudeness, selfishness, irritability, unforgiveness and injustice. Instead, the fruit of the Holy Spirit prevailed from start to finish at this Wananga Symposium.
Justice was progressed significantly by many inspirational presenters. It is not every day that you hear a Supreme Court judge encouraging the Church to work for such justice. Te Tiriti o Waitangi was again acknowledged as a sacred covenant regularly through these discussions.
As I’ve reflected on this call to seek justice I’ve thought of Isaiah 42: 1–9 and asked the following questions:
Are NZCMS, and others who attended the Wānanga Symposium, the chosen servants who reveal a character of gentleness, encouragement, justice and truth? Are we all called by God to be servants of Jesus Christ and to share in Christ’s mission while demonstrating God’s righteousness and bringing his light? Are we willing to let God’s light shine in us before we can be lights ourselves?
In Jesus’s sermon on the Mount, he gives us the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 1–12. As we realise the need for God, and mourn the bad and the ugly of Aotearoa New Zealand’s history, we are called to be humble, to hunger and thirst for justice, to be merciful, pure in heart, work for peace and experience persecution. By these things, we are blessed by God. This standard of conduct leads to joy and hope for the Church and Aotearoa New Zealand as a nation. Heartfelt, faithful obedience to God is the challenge for us as followers of Jesus. We were challenged at the Wānanga/Symposium to not only listen but also be proactive as bold, loving, change agents in the future.
Finally, Bishop Te Kitohi of Te Tai Tokerau encouraged us all to have the confidence, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the strength of God, to explore new mission and ministry pathways.