He tangata

Feb 26, 2024

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While my ministry often takes me away from my home diocese, I’m especially enthusiastic about opportunities to serve in the local church for which I am a diocesan priest, the diocese of Christchurch.

In the past week I have worked with Jenn & Tim to offer Lenten reflection sessions on Vocation and Marriage for the people of the Waimakariri parish, and I spent a retreat day with parishioners of Stella Maris (Christchurch East) parish.

When communities invite me to visit, and ask me to lead a reflection, it seems that they are hoping I will offer them some encouragement in faith. Perhaps I do – since Jesus doesn’t miss an opportunity to use any of us. But in every gathering, especially when people relax and get chatting with each other about their experience of God in the complex and messy reality of their lives, the sharing which results is inspiring beyond measure.

This was certainly my experience in the past week.

While a priest may have had an opportunity to study theology, and a privileged access to the joys, hopes, griefs and anxieties of people in daily ministry, for me it is the people who shine forth as professionals in faith as they survive and thrive through crises of family relationships and financial struggle.

One of the online commentaries reflecting on today’s first-reading prayer of Daniel suggests that “Daniel knew that effective prayer comes out of knowing and praying both God’s word and our present circumstances”. 

I like that. The call to pray both God’s word, AND to pray our present circumstances.

Praying our present circumstances. Yes. That’s what I need to do more. and my teachers in this are the professionals, the people.

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata he tangata he tangata! What is the most important thing in the world. The people. The people. The people!

So we people need to take every opportunity (and make every opportunity) to chat about our lives and our faith.

A couple of years ago I invited FFF readers to initiate a one-hour gathering at a local cafe or bar – simply by sending me the name of a cafe with a date and time, and turning up to spend time with anyone who sees the invitation at the bottom of each day’s FFF post.

The response was remarkable with gatherings of people, sometimes a few and often many more, I offered a broad starter for conversation: chat together about your present personal experience of Jesus Christ. That seemed to be sufficient guidance and when I gate-crashed a couple of the gatherings the conversation was focussed and lively.

So, let’s try it again.

Send me your first name and the name of a cafe or bar you will be at sometime in the next few days. So that people know which table you are at simply scribble FFF on a table napkin, take a seat and wait.

Send your first name,
cafe name
and day and time to

john@fff.org.nz

 

2 Comments

  1. I really loved this idea and tried it in Upper Hutt. Only one another person came but until then I didn’t know them, we meet now and again in passing and sometimes at Morning Mass, not in any regular or formal way, but I’m sure like me she feels we have a connection and an agreed opening to share on matters of faith. Can’t wait to do this again thanks and will do.

    Reply
  2. FFF cafe gathering at Zenders Cafe and Venue 44 Hopkins Rd Hamilton 3286, on Wednesday 28 Feb 10:30am. Christina

    Reply

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