Facing an election from a Biblical perspective

By Father Neil Vaney Very soon we face a general election. As committed Christians, we may be confused for whom and for what we should vote. Or even gripped by a certain cynicism whether it is worth voting at all, given the reprehensible behaviour and mental states of some members of parliament. The good news is that there are still solidly Christian MP’s and others, more grounded in humanism, who still hope and work for a more just and caring New Zealand. Various parties and interest groups will propose differing policies and structures to achieve such goals. It is not my role to comment on these. What I put forward are various values and principles drawn from our common biblical heritage against which such strategies and goals may be assessed.

A reflection on living through the Covid Pandemic

By Father Neil Vaney Living through the Covid-19 pandemic has made many of us sharply aware of something we thought we knew but largely ignored. It is the omnipresence of microbes. They dwell on our hands and faces. They can live briefly on doorknobs and railings. They may congregate on an apple that we pick up at the supermarket. Many are friendly; without them we could not live. Others like Covid-19 are concealed weapons able to penetrate nearly all human defences. As we have become aware of these tiny lethal creatures we have been brought short by this reminder of human frailty and vulnerability. We are journeying creatures, destined to death. We have seen two extreme reactions to this truth. The first has been to try to close oneself off as much as possible, in an effort to construct a fortress around ourselves and our families. The second is to accept paying a price to cling to the lives that prosperity has brought. Those who adopt this position argue as follows: certainly, many of the vulnerable will die but in time a vaccine will appear or herd immunity will gradually develop. Fear lurks unacknowledged behind both these options, as well as an unspoken denial of human fragility.

Holy Spirit Acting as an “Antivirus”

Did you know that the power of the Holy Spirit works better than any disinfectant? Lately, we all have had the experience of regularly disinfecting our hands. But even if doing so is reasonable and necessary, no disinfectant can give you the comfort and sense of security that the Holy Spirit brings. I, too, have experienced that because of his work, I managed to overcome many fears regarding the uncertain future and found the strength for new creativity.

Daily Reflections – DAY TWENTY EIGHT

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   RECREATION SETTING: colours, pictures, lights depicting hope. Prayer: The empty tomb laughs in the face of death and calls for love to embrace the world. You, O God, have set the pattern for our future – to love as Jesus loves with a joyful heart, kind and caring. Help me, and all of us, to move out from our “tombs” with new found energy and love for one another, leaving lockdown, becoming locked in to love kindness joy   The empty tomb is death’s open wound. A gaping hole exposes the power of love unable to be contained, even by death. This is the spark that opened graves, dispelled fear, brought people out of hiding and transformed them into proud, unyielding witnesses. The empty tomb spells the resurrection of Jesus and signals the undying hope of Christians.

Daily Reflections – DAY TWENTY SEVEN

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER SETTING: a statue or image of Mary, mother of Jesus. Prayer: Togetherness has a new meaning these days. We are together in this lockdown time, in this time shared by people everywhere, but we are separated, apart, and cannot even stand close to one another. This separateness fights a cruel and lethal virus. O God, may we not lose sight of what togetherness really means. Help us cling to unity once restored for we need each other to give life health and meaning.   “We’re in this together” has been a clarion call through the nation during the Covid-19 alert, urging the population to act as one – to stand together against a common enemy. But this “togetherness” has meant separation. Social distancing, living a “bubble life”, has emphasised isolation and for many has brought loneliness and sadness. Not being able to be at the bedside of a relative dying of the disease, a most difficult consequence.

Daily Reflections – DAY TWENTY SIX

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   LANGUAGE SETTING: Prayer: You speak to us in so many ways, Lord, telling your love and calling our names in rainfall and birdsong, in laughter and tears, in good and bad times, in sickness and in health you let us know you are with us. It can be hard to recognise your voice amidst the rushing and the noise. But now, I hear you in this gift of quiet with routine broken and separation bringing us closer than before. Yes, your voice is here telling your love and calling our names. Help us to listen, and to learn.   Language is usually associated with spoken words. Voice and sound are vital ingredients. But language is also present in sight and touch and smell and taste. All our human senses relate to language. Each is a channel of communication, tying us to one another, even unconsciously, linking us to and helping us celebrate life. It’s body language.

Daily Reflections – DAY TWENTY FIVE

Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?   ENCOUNTERS SETTING: a lit candle and flowers and/or coloured cloths/ribbons Prayer: To encounter your Word, O God, the Word made flesh in Jesus, is to encounter a living voice a loving voice calling, inviting, challenging, revealing, offering faith, instilling hope, expecting only love. In this quiet time, tune me to your Word that I may encounter Jesus, risen and glorious to hear his voice and to gift myself for your glory, for the good of those dear to me and for all the world.   Today’s prayer time is itself an invitation to come alongside the people who “encounter” Jesus as recorded in John’s gospel narrative. Each of John’s 21 chapters is an episode in which a particular encounter involving Jesus becomes a life-changing experience – one way or another. Here is a sketch of each chapter. Spend time with one or two of them and prepare for your own encounter.