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Remember - Pastor's Pen for 11th February 2024

Abandoned Cottage, Meeanee, Hawkes Bay

Earlier this week, on the occasion of my mother's 80th birthday, I had cause to remember what my parents were like in former years, their sharpness of mind and ability to navigate life independently. The birthday lunch that we travelled down to Napier for had been forgotten by them, in spite of three reminders that very morning by my brother. So I guess it became a surprise party, an added bonus. We still had a good time, and my children got to reconnect with their grandparents.

Theologian and scholar John Swinton, in his book Dementia: Living in the Memories of God writes; "We continually move backward and forward in time as we use our stories to describe who we were, who we are, and what we hope we will become." It's instructive that as my parents' range of stories diminishes, and they struggle to recall the details, some few really important ones about family and vocation have remained quite intact.

Everyone has personal stories, family stories, and things they like to recall of significance to them. Some of us have several running victory stories which we like to recycle. Please remind me not to share them with you multiple times, a simple yawn and eye roll will suffice to check the flow. Within families, we often receive and tolerate repeated stories because of love for the person, perhaps because the teller comes from a place of brokenness, forgetfulness or a feeling that they were never listened to. Even quite difficult, repetitious things can be buffered by love and patience.

Also this week, we remember the Treaty of Waitangi. I've never really been to a Waitangi celebration, as my mother and my brother both have birthdays on the 6th, so there is normally a party of some sort to attend.

Today, I watched the first part of the video of the dawn service from Waitangi and found myself deeply moved by parts of it. From 25:30 Angela Pehi gives a heartfelt testimony and waiata about how Jesus delivered her from alcoholism into the new life of Christ. The sermon from Dr. Alistair Reese at 30:30 frames the sometimes difficult stories and broken promises of our history in the love of God and neighbour. He reminds us that people of faith did their best to shape the treaty appropriately. He invites us to consider te tiriti as a covenant of love, urging us towards "an ethic that seeks the best outcome for the other."

Perhaps we need to remember that within our families, churches and even our nation, the love of God in Christ can inform all of our responses to the stories we hear, and the love of neighbour can shape our attitudes and how we approach others who are different from us. May the Holy Spirit give us help. Shalom.

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