Ko te tangata kei te wāhi ngaro o te Runga rawa tōna kainga, ka noho ia i raro i te taumarumarutanga a te Kaha rawa. Ka whakakīa e au a Ihowa, ko ia tōku piringa, tōku pātūwatawata, tōku Atua. Ka whakawhirinaki ahau ki a ia. Nō reira, kia whakakorōriatia, kia whakamoemititia te Atua kaha rawa. Koia tonu ra tō tātou piringa, tō tātou kaha. Koia tō tātou kaiwawao i te wā o te raru, tō tātou kaimanaaki i ngā wā katoa.
Kei āku nui, kei āku rahi, kei āku whakatamarahi nei ki te rangi, kei a koutou katoa e hika mā tēnei rā te mihi maioha me te mihi arohanui. Tēnā rā koutou e hika mā i runga i te Ingoa a tō tātou Ariki a Ihu Karaiti. Tēnā hoki tātou i o tātou mate huhua. Kia rere rā te mihi arohanui kei taku manu tātāriki ki te tāpuhipuhi o te taumata okiokinga a ō tātou mātua tīpuna, ki a rātou katoa rā kua riro atu ki te pō. He tika kia maumahara tonu rā ki ō tātou minita, ki ō tātou tino tangata, ki ō tātou whānau katoa kua wehea nei. Nō reira, kia tuia rātou te hunga mate ki a rātou i runga i te aroha nui me te aroha noa a te Karaiti. Kia mau tonu a rātou waihotanga hei whainga, hei whakarauorangatanga mā tātou ō rātou waihotanga nei kia tuia tātou ki a tātou i runga i te aroha, i runga i te rangimārie.
Kāti, kei a koutou anō e ngā poumahi, e ngā pouwhakapono o te Haahi Mihinare puta noa i Aotearoa hōrapa, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, kia ora hoki mai tātou katoa.
“E Pā, ehara tāku i te inoi mō ēnei anake, engari mō te hunga e meinga e tā rātou kupu kia whakapono ki ahau: Kia kotahi ai rātou katoa; me koe hoki, e Pā, i roto i ahau, me ahau anō i roto i a koe, kia kotahi ai hoki rātou i roto i a tāua: kia whakapono ai te ao, nāu ahau i tono mai. Kua hoatu anō e ahau ki a rātou te korōria i homai e koe ki ahau; kia kotahi ai rātou, me tāua nei hoki he kotahi. Ko ahau i roto i a rātou, ko koe hoki i roto i ahau, kia tino tūtuki ai rātou ki te kotahitanga: kia mōhio ai anā te ao, nāu ahau i tono mai, he rite hoki tōu aroha ki a rātou ki tōu aroha ki ahau.”
“Father, I pray for my disciples, but not only for them. I pray also for those who will believe in me through the message that my disciples preach. I pray for them all, and I pray that they may all be one – in the same way, Father, that you and I are united as one. May they also be united with us so that the world may see and believe that you have sent me. I have given them the everything you gave me, that they may be united as we are one— I with them and you with me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Only when they unite will the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
He Kōrero In the last moments before he was betrayed by Judas, Jesus turned to the heavens and prayed for all believers. He prayed and asked the Father “.. that they may all be one.”
Some people say that this is the one and only prayer of Jesus that has yet to be fulfilled.
Jesus was a minister of signs and wonders. He turned water into wine, he fed the five thousand, he walked on water, cured the blind, healed the leper and the cripple, calmed the storm, and even raised the dead back to life.
Why then would Jesus’ prayer for unity remain unfulfilled, even to this day?
Perhaps it is easier to reanimate a dead corpse than it is to reach terms with a living ego.
Let’s be clear, it’s our ego – our pride and selfishness – that gets in the way of unity. Unity requires humility. Unity requires the ability to lay aside petty differences, to no longer be demanding and self-seeking, and instead seek only for the greater good.
Unity requires hard work. Even in the time of Jesus, believers found unity very difficult. It seemed easier for them to gather in different places and worship on different mountains than it was for them to put differences aside and unite as one.
And yet, Jesus prayed for unity. He prayed to the Father “… that they may all be one.”
We can’t take unity for granted. It doesn’t always come easy.
It takes hard work, patience, and persistence. It was Jesus who taught his disciples that “A kingdom divided against itself will fall to ruin, and a house divided against itself cannot stand” (Matthew 12:25). Unity and division cannot exist in the same space. They are polar opposites, and holding on to one means turning your back on the other.
Psalm 133 says “When we dwell in unity, God commands a blessing.” Unity is the key to blessing. Maybe we should stop focusing on what divides us and makes us different. Maybe we should focus on what can unite us instead.
The theme of our Rūnanganui this year is “He tini ngā wāhi, kotahi tonu te tinana.” It is taken from that famous passage in St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, where St Paul describes the unity that believers share as the Body of Christ:
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honourable we clothe with greater honour, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honour to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Cor 12:12-27
In Christ, unity is not uniformity. Diversity is not division.
Though different, we are one because we belong to the same body. We may come from different iwi and rohe, and from different pāriha and Hui Amorangi. We may represent different kāhui and different Holy Orders. We may speak different dialects, and may even have different theologies. But as Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa we are united as believers. Though different in part, we are one body in Christ.
When Jesus prayed for unity he prayed not only for those who were with him then, but also for those believers who were yet to come. By way of his prayer, Jesus united his disciples with future believers.
In the same way, the unity we have in Christ is not limited to those who are with us today. We are united through Christ with all believers both past, present, and future.
We are united with those who first brought the Gospel to Aotearoa. We are united with those first Māori evangelists who spread the Gospel throughout Aotearoa. We are united with those who first dreamed of a truly Māori Anglican Church. We are united with those who fought and sacrificed in order to establish Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa. And we are united with those who have loved and served Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa ever since.
We are one in Christ with Ruatara, with Rota Waitoa, with Wiremu Te Tauri, with Mānihera and Kereopa. We are one in Christ with Piripi Taumata-ā-kura, with Ngākūkū and Tarore, with Ihāia te Ahu, and with Te Wera Hauraki.
We are one in Christ with the first Māori Bishops of Aotearoa, with Pererika, with Wiremu Nētana, with Te Manuhuia, with Te Whakahuihui, and with Wiremu Parāone.
We are one in Christ with the first Māori women clerics, with Puti Murray, with Esther Heni, with Heni Paniora, with Jane Hanna, with Emmaline Taukamo, with Pare Hovell, with Keeni Priestly, and now with the first Māori woman to ever become a Bishop in the entire Anglican Communion – Waitohiariki Quayle.
We are united with those who were with Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa in the past, are with it now, and will be with it in the future. To dwell in this unity is not only an incredible gift, it is a sacred calling. It is something we must nurture and protect not only for ourselves but for all the generations to come.
But while Jesus prayed for unity, he did not wait for unity. He did not wait to be about the work of his Father. Neither can we wait to be about the work that God has called us to do.
Ms Toni Morrison, the legendary African-American author who sadly passed away just last month, had a powerful insight that – while about racism and not about unity per se – has important relevance here:
Ms Morrison called racism a distraction. She said that the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps us from doing our work. Racism demands that you engage with it, defend yourself from it, and explain and legitimise yourself and your own existence again, and again, and again. If you participate, it will only be to your own irrevocable detriment.
I feel this way sometimes about division and discord. I feel sometimes that we give ourselves over far too much to negativity and complaint. We pour time and energy and resources into resolving petty upsets and unhappiness, instead of getting on with the work that God has called us to do.
We can’t afford to be distracted from the work.
Right now, we are facing a huge epidemic of adult and teen suicides in our country – the statistics among our people are the highest in the OECD and climbing. We know also that we have to overcome the social and economic ills bequeathed to us by colonisation – those such as deprivation and deep impoverishment, of homelessness, of substance abuse, of poor health statistics, of critical climate change, and of the massive burden of social and economic inequity that our indigenous peoples suffer under.
We simply can’t afford to be embroiled in our own internal politics. We can’t afford to be distracted from the real work. When a teacher asked “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?,” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like the first: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
The hinge upon which our salvation depends is God’s love. God’s unconditional and unfailing love.
The real work of Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa is to help incarnate the unconditional love of God throughout Aotearoa and all the world – and to do so through radical whanaungatanga and radical manaakitanga.
Imagine if Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa became known as a place of irrepressible kindness, unwavering generosity, and relentless positivity. What a radical notion that would be.
Imagine what it would be like if we decided to turn our back on resentful gossip, and began to gossip the Good News of the Gospel instead.
Imagine if we made the decision to be light instead of darkness, hope instead of despair, love instead of hatred.
Imagine if we stopped being conditional, and began to love unconditionally.
Imagine if we Christians decided to be more like our Christ.
This gathering of Te Rūnanganui o Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa, the twentieth such gathering, is an opportunity for us to be about the work of our Lord, and to do so as one body.
He tini ngā inoi, kotahi tonu te Wairua. He tini ngā kupu, kotahi tonu te korero. He tini ngā taputapu, kotahi tonu te mahi. He tini ngā kaihoe, kotahi tonu te waka. He tini ngā wāhi, kotahi tonu te tinana. Kia kaha rā tātou ki te mahi a Te Karaiti. Toitū Te Pīhopatanga o Aotearoa hei Haahi Mininare tūturu, e meatia i ōna mahi katoa i runga i te aroha me te manaakitanga, e kawea ana i te Rongopai ki te ao katoa.
Arohaina, manaakitia, kia tipu te mahara, kia tipu te whaihanga, ki tipu te oranga.
Waiho ngā Rongokino. Kawea te Rongopai.
Ngā manaakitanga ki a koutou katoa e hika mā,
The Most Reverend Don Tamihere Te Pīhopa o Aotearoa