Kia Ora Koutou,
Below are some scribblings from Sunday that I think are really important. The value of WHAANAU is very real to us. We believe that if we truly pursue Godly whaanau then we will be walking the way we are meant to. No-one has a monopoly on biblical whaanau living, no culture, no ethnicity, and no tribe however there are certain approaches through te ao Māori that help us re-imagine it well.
(noun) extended family, family group, a familiar term of address to a number of people - the primary economic unit of traditional Māori society. In the modern context the term is sometimes used to include friends who may not have any kinship ties to other members.
Te Rautini believes that being whaanau the way Christ intended means to carry the invitation of belonging
The invitation to belong is at the heart of God, and people experience that love through invitation. After Jesus has been filled with the Holy Spirit and been tested in the desert what was the first thing he did? He went to the outcasts with an invitation to say “come follow me”. Jesus, filled with love, and with what was maybe the most undervalued part of all the miracles he performed, he carried the miracle of acceptance. He caused people who did not belong to belong. Andy often talks about the scripture in 1 Peter 2 that says
'Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.'
Whether you feel like you belong or not does not matter. When you belong to God, you must make others feel like they belong too, and that happens through invitation.
Hospitality is the practice that keeps the church from becoming a club, a members-only society. —Diana Butler Bass
Te Rautini believes that whaanau is real when we treat people like mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, koro and kuia
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
The Māori picture in it’s purest form is the biblical picture of whaanau living. The term is used to remind people of their status amongst one another. You belong. You belong. You belong. If we want this church to grow with people that don’t know God, than we need to know how to call people to belong. If we treated every person like a mother, daughter, father, son, imagine what the atmosphere would feel like?
Te Rautini believes that reconciliation is our responsibility as believers. We believe in fighting to be reconciled to one another and letting nothing get in the way of whaanau wholeness. Whaanau reminds us of how and why we belong not how or why we don’t.
Disunity is the absolute enemy and antithesis of whaanau. You know one of my pet hates is when we as christians do not fight and do our all to pursue reconciliation. Offence, lack of forgiveness, unwillingness to take the low and humble path, desire to hold on to hurt, judgement, gossip, malicious talk, running away from confrontation, passive aggressive behaviour, ignoring or neglecting honesty, blame…do these sound familiar? Of course they do because we have all fallen prey to the temptation of each.
If whaanau is to only ever be a good idea, a tokenistic take on faith filled belonging, then what I mentioned will remain ever present amongst us. If we can’t represent reconciliation, the Spirit of Jesus, humility, forgiveness, confession, ownership well, we won’t have time to invite people into our worlds because we will be self-indulged, and when we do invite, the invitation might not be received.
As believers we have a responsibility to give people not what they deserve but what Christ has given us, reconciliation. Sometimes relationships will be forever affected for worse, sometimes the actions have been so bad that there are other consequences to be face. But Christ was radical, his love and acceptance had no level, no degree, no threshold too far gone for reconciliation to be impossible. He gave it freely.
It’s tough to let go of hurt isn’t it? It’s tough to spend more time looking in the mirror than at the other person. If you are a follower of Christ, then reconciliation isn’t an option but a responsibility to demonstrate to the world what you have received.