Telling the stories of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia

Remember the shepherd's tools

Here is the sermon that Amy Page-Whiting preached at the ordination of Bishop Eleanor Sanderson on Friday 2 June 2017.

Amy Page-Whiting  |  03 Jun 2017

My name is Amy Page-Whiting, originally from Feilding, but based inChristchurch with my husband Bevan & two children Mya & Levi. Forthe past 11 years I have had the joy (and pain!) of being the SeniorPastor at Cashmere New Life.
It's one of my greatest privileges to have been asked to speak today, toshare both in Ellie’s ordination and to be with you - I love the AnglicanChurch, and in particular Wellington Anglicans - because you areleading the charge in mission and discipleship in New Zealand.
In fact, Ellie and I met in a shared pursuit of missional discipleship – inpioneering a new way of being the hope of the world that the church iscalled to be.
The friendship that has grown is one of much sharedexperience, of journeys full of both joy and pain – of many late nightsover a cup of Horlicks putting the world right! We have a sharedpassion to see followers of Jesus step into all they are created andcalled to be – and that there would be no limits to that – not race,gender or class...we dream and pray and work towards that - and onhard days I draw comfort and strength from just knowing that Ellie ishere.
Ellie is gifted as a pioneering prophet – she sees, hears and sensesGod – she perceives and discerns dangers and she can see the path thatleads to life. She is a lover of truth and of justice – and this is deeplyinformed by her passion for Scripture.
She is also wired with a deep and inclusive love – one of her distinctive graces is that she sees andempowers and amplifies the voices of people who are often invisible –women, children, and people of all ethnicities. She leads amongstpeople – and she calls and challenges people to step into their trueidentities as loved and liked children of God.
In our reading from Jeremiah today I think there is a real sense ofpromise to you the people - “I will place shepherds over them whowill tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, not willany be missing,' declares the Lord” – there is a significance andresonance here – God has placed Justin & now Ellie in this role ofshepherding in this place, for this time.
They have different giftings, wirings and styles – and God has placed them both here to shepherdyou – to lead you into the next season. If you will respond to theirleading and guiding there is the promises of stepping into a spacewhere you are no longer afraid, or terrified or any are lost.Now hear me right - this is not a promise of a cosy existence – butrather one where you are equipped to reach out to the lost, last andleast without fear.
Shepherds had two tools they were furnished with – two tools tolead and guide with - throughout Scripture we see these mentionedand explained –– in Psalm 23 these words are said of Jesus – our GoodShepherd - your rod and your staff they comfort me...once again – notcomfort as in cosy lets put on our slippers and wait for Jesus to comeback – no remember this is in the context of being led by theshepherds through the valley of the shadow of death – your rod andstaff they comfort me – that word means I can breathe easy – in thisplace of danger and peril, in this place that requires courage andperseverance – I can breathe easy because of the Shepherds rod andstaff...
Rod/Club/Sceptre is a stick for discipline, fighting, ruling – this iswhat kept the sheep safe from wolves and wild animals that wouldseek to destroy them, the rod was also what kept the sheep on thestraight and narrow!
That sense of Kingdom authority – the rod is what calls us into ourtrue identity as sons and daughters of the King. Ellie as you Shepherdthis is one of your tools – to speak the words that bring truth,correction, and call people into their true identity - and to use it toprotect against the enemy.
There are times when that is costly to the shepherd – when to fight for what is right and to stand your ground will cost. In those places I believe Gods word for you today would be theimportance of maintaining vision - "for the joy set before Him Jesusendured the cross."
Cultivate and Let your vision drive you. Keep the vision fresh andstrong. Don’t let your mind be consumed by your immediate pain andobvious limitations. When you interpret your pain as bigger—moreimportant, more threatening, more comprehensive—than your vision,you’ll redefine your vision down to the threshold of your pain.
Focus onthe big picture and let your anticipated legacy give you the courageyou need to face each day’s troubles. Your vision will continually renewyour hope, restore your courage, and refresh your perspective. It willenable you to pay the price to face the pain and take the next stepforward.
You are also gifted a Staff = which speaks of: The staff carries therole to protect, sustain - it's the picture of relationship, rest andconnection and trust - that sense of "nor will any be missing" this isthe specific grace and way you shepherd...
You are wired and gifted to the carving out of new sacred spaces ofensuring the pace and way this church operates includes the expressionof whanau, household, oikos- the weaving together of people to morerichly express the Kingdom reality of equality- I believe this will bepart of your legacy here.
This too has its own challenges, sacrifice andpain within it...and the picture I had for you was one of thecharacteristics of a shepherd’s staff was it became like a journal.Every time a shepherd encountered a difficult circumstance – everytime they beat off a predator with their rod, every time they saved asheep, they would put a notch in their staff as a reminder of the story.
That notch became a physical reminder of every time andcircumstance the Lord had helped – had protected – had provided.
Ellie I was moved by the image of shepherds in the night hours onguard for predators – that in those dark places – when fear has thegreatest potential to effect you... they would run their fingers up anddown their staff – they would retrace the story of God’s provision,protection and presence – they would find comfort and strength there.
It isn't lost on me that we stand on the church calendar this weekendat Pentecost - where the church was birthed with the outpouring of theHoly Spirit on men and women - You are modelling something beautifuland powerful here - where men and women lead alongside each other,using their wiring, gifting and style to more fully express the realitiesof heaven - I admire you for your courage and pray God's favour andprotection as you lead in this place and in our land.