It never ceases to amaze me how, at every church gathering, God graces us with the presence of someone whose holiness calls us to think in new ways, to pray with renewed trust, and to sing with a joy inexpressible. At the recent Primates’ Meeting in Dublin, that someone was Archbishop Winston Halapua. Winston is one of three archbishops who share the ministry of the primacy in the province of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, also known as the Tikanga Pasefika.
As we reflected on the nature and exercise of primacy, he introduced us to tikanga, a Maori word meaning, “the place where you stand.” Winston described it in this way: “You do not own it. It owns you. It is given to you, for a time. It is a gift.” He described it as “that space in which you stand on the past with the future pressing down on you.” With that image he moved us to reflect on the office each of us holds. This space we inhabit is sacred. We are placed into it by the people of God and by their prayers we are sustained in the apostolic responsibility entrusted to us. We exercise our ministries, mindful both of our heritage and of our hope in Christ, for the church and for the world.
At the end of an intense conversation, Winston led us in singing:
Be still, and know that I am God.
I am the Lord that healeth thee.
In Thee, O Lord, I put my trust.
With that prayer on our lips, we made our way from our sacred circle to the ends of the earth, there to serve the Lord in the place where we stand, for a time.
Winston’s image, song and prayer are influencing the way I am endeavouring to keep Lent this year.
As a child of God, I will reflect on my need for daily grace to live a holy life, devoted in every way to serving Christ.
As a brother to others, I will reflect on my indifference to suffering, my need for repentance, and renewed commitment to works of compassion and justice for all.
As a steward of God’s creation, I will reflect on my responsibility to walk gently upon this earth—to tend it as a garden so that those who come after me also may enjoy its splendour and bounty.
I enter this holy season grateful for my friend Winston and the grace with which he is teaching me the humility and wisdom of tikanga. I pray it inspires my life and yours as well. Ω
Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.