Kua ara Te Karaiti!
He pono tonu, kua ara a Ia!
It’s been said a lot lately, but it remains true: We are living in unprecedented times.
For just over two weeks now, Aotearoa New Zealand has been in ‘lockdown’ and at Alert Level 4 in response to the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has swept the globe. Our schools, our non-essential services and businesses, and our borders have all been closed. We have all been asked to stay kind, stay safe, and stay home, in order to defeat the threat of COVID-19.
During the lockdown we continue to be served by frontline health workers and essential service providers who, despite the risks the pandemic brings, are helping to serve and protect our whānau, our communities, and our nation. To them we extend our deep gratitude and thanks. Without you our nation would be suffering.
Our ministers and congregations, our kaumātua and leaders, have found new ways to care for and serve our iwi and communities, especially in the offering of pastoral care and karakia to whānau who are sick, suffering, or who have lost loved ones during the lockdown. To them we extend our heartfelt mihi and acknowledgement. Without you our whānau would be feeling hopeless and lost.
Some of our whānau have even taken to the roads, protecting regional entrances in all weather and around the clock, turning away those who have flaunted the rules of the lockdown and in so doing have put the health and survival of some our most isolated and vulnerable communities at risk. To these protectors we extend our acknowledgement and respect. Without your example, some of our communities would be less safe and more afraid.
For many of our whānau, this pandemic is not the only major challenge to be faced. Some of our people have lost income and employment, and are struggling. Others who were already in bad situations have now seen that situation get worse through no fault of their own.
We are conscious that some of our whānau in the Pacific are facing the extraordinary challenge of a severe tropical cyclone that has already spread destruction across Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. While some of us are safe and well in our ‘bubbles’, many of us are not.
So how do we respond to the challenge of unprecedented times?
We need to respond in unprecedented ways.
The story of Easter teaches us that God’s love can overcome any challenge. When we reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we see that it was God’s love that sustained Jesus against unprecedented challenges and in unprecedented ways.
That’s why Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another. He knew that they would be tested and challenged. He knew that they would face unprecedented times. He knew that they would need God’s love to sustain them.
While we may not know what to expect from the weeks and months ahead, we can be certain that there are still many challenges for us to face and overcome. But if we can be kind to each other, love each other and love our neighbours as Jesus taught us, then we can overcome whatever challenge may lay ahead, and we can do that together.
So please, do all that you can to stay safe and ensure the safety of others. Do all that you can to be good and to be kind. Do all that you can to love each other, and to love your neighbour in the same way that God loves you.
May God’s unprecedented love give you hope and sustain you this Easter, and for all the days ahead.
Archbishop Don Tamihere
Te Pihopa o Aotearoa
Archbishop Philip Richardson
Senior Bishop of the New Zealand Dioceses
Archbishop Fereimi Cama
Archbishop of Polynesia