Helen Brereton is Transition Pastor at Nelson Baptist Church. Last week in a newsletter to pastors and chaplains, Charles Hewlett, Baptist National Leader, asked how local churches and ministries commemorated Waitangi Day. Here is Helen's response:

Kia ora Charles,

You said, "We would love to hear how you commemorated Waitangi Day in your church or ministry this Sunday...drop us a line." So here goes:

As well as the surprise of visitors from Malaysia and Samoa, we were blessed to have the Chin Glory Evangelical Church youth music team lead us in sung praise at our Waitangi Sunday service. This group of high school and tertiary students lead us in worship every six to eight weeks, learning new songs in English for our sake. They are so generous to us, and we are very blessed indeed!

The first song they led this morning was the National Anthem. My heart was so full, seeing 1.5-2nd generation new New Zealanders leading our older New Zealand congregation in the te reo Māori and English verses of God Defend New Zealand. The final song they led us in was Revelation Song, so we got to experience a pre-taste of heaven where all tongues will sing praises to the King of kings.

During our prayer time, in addition to prayers of thanksgiving and petition, we prayed for our Christian brothers and sisters facing persecution in Somalia. We lamented our nation's failure to fully uphold the commitments and promised hope of the 1840 covenant between settlers and tangata whenua. We imagined what Aotearoa New Zealand might have been like today if we had been faithful covenant keepers. Perhaps we might now all be bilingual, and there would be no suspiciousness when te reo Māori was spoken in our worship services (oh, imagine how wondrous that would be!).

Then we reflected on the role of whakapapa and knowing who and whose we are as te whānau o te Atua (the family of God)—resting in 2 Corinthians 3:12-18, the wondrous news that God's glory has been fully revealed in Ihu Karaiti (Jesus). Te Wairua Tapu's (The Holy Spirit's) ongoing mahi (work) means the veil obscuring God's glory is lifted off all who call Jesus Lord, hallelujah! 

This freedom in Christ equips us as Baptists to be faithful covenant keepers, be they covenants of membership, marriage, parenting or nationhood. We Baptists are he iwi kawenata tatou (we are a covenanting people), after all.

We finished our service with communion, feasting at te tēpu o te Reme a te Atua e waha atu nei i ngā hara o te Ao (the table of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world). And imagining the sumptuous food we will get to feast on as we sit kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) with Jesus. For me, it will be a fresh fruit salad with luscious berries, juicy mangoes and stone fruit of all kinds. What dish do you hope to enjoy at His table?

We finished with "Take my life and let it be", and I pray that our heart's song "Take our love oh Lord we pour - at Your feet, its treasure store - Take us all, and we will be ever, only, all for Thee" was a sweet sound in our good God's ears.

Thanks for the opportunity to celebrate with you the sheer joy of Nelson Baptist's worship this morning.

Photo supplied: Chin Glory Evangelical Church youth music team leading singing at Nelson Baptist Church on 5 February 2023.

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