Like many of us, living in New Zealand we cannot be unaware of a diversity of religions. Linda and I are particularly aware of how Islam works in practice because of the Muslim part of our family in Cairo and our involvement with our Syrian friends here.

Of course what happens in the mosque is very different from what happens in a church, but we are aware that both faiths agree on how we should treat others. Both Christianity and Islam tell us to care for the poor and those suffering in any way. The “Golden Rule” of treating others as we would want to be treated is equally central to both faiths. I believe that is what really matters.

After taking part in a Muslim prayer meeting during Ramadan, Linda and I asked each other “what is a key difference between our faith and other faiths?” What do we Christians have to offer that is unique? I suggest that one significant difference is music. In Christian worship music and singing plays a very central role. 

Music touches the heart, lifts the spirit. For me that is vital to my faith. As I will say on Sunday, my faith is very much a faith sustained by my emotions. Now at Christmas time our music and our songs and hymns have those romantic Christmas stories given to us by Matthew and Luke as the material which we can bring even further to life in the carols we sing.

For people like me Christmas is the time above all other times when my heart sings to that music and romance. I look forward to our feast of music and those romantic stories continuing as we celebrate Christmas.

Part of that feast has been the Council in Concert performance at St. A’s on Tuesday, and it was a feast of talent expressed with joy and humour. Those people are the modern scribes and Pharisees, the successors of those who opposed Jesus 

I couldn’t help but look at them brought there by music, performing under the cross representing Jesus displaying the joy and creativity that I believe Jesus brought, and think “You won!”

Norman Wilkins

Kia ora e tē whanau,

As I write this the weather has gone from hot and sunny one day to cold, windy and wet the next – Wellington at its early summer best!

The mix of weather reminds me of the Christmas season, a mad mix of colour, noise, busyness and family. Then other moments of sorrow, wistfulness and loneliness, it is a very evocative time of the year. How often our human experiences are both light and shade. As one of our community who is making a slow recovery from a serious illness wrote: “I feel blessed that with vulnerability accompanying this illness and recovery I also get to experience so much kindness”

We celebrate children and grandparents being together, bring friends into our homes and look forward to travelling to be with people we love.

And yet, we also remember those who have died, the space at our table and in our hearts, we wish we could be together with others who are too far away, and at its very worst, family being together brings stress and violence.

At St Andrew’s during this time of year, we go from being a ‘gathered’ community, to a somewhat ‘scattered’ community, as many travel far and wide to be with family and friends.

And of course, others come home and celebrate with us here in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

There are rich and varied worship offerings during the next few weeks – Norman Wilkins reflecting on ‘love’ for the fourth Sunday in Advent this week, Jim Cunningham leading the Christmas Eve service preceded by our usual sherry and Christmas cake, and Fiona McDougal on Christmas Day, followed by a potluck brunch for those who would like to stay. In whatever way you are able to be part of our Christmas at St Andrew’s, you are always welcome.

However this Christmas finds you – alone, together, tinged with sorrow or full of joy, may you find peace within and between, as the Child of peace enters our world and hearts.


Catriona Cairns

Interim Moderator

Pastoral care for Christmas and New Year:

Catriona is away from 21st December until 5th January. For urgent pastoral matters please contact Norman and Linda Wilkins, phone 04-9701010.

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