Ngā mihi o te tau hou (Happy New Year)!

We can be right with God if we have faith, concludes today’s korero [readings below] from Romans. We might say, being right with God means being fully human, being all we can be, using our gifts and skills.

At this mid-point in the calendar year, we’re invited to celebrate Aotearoa New Zealand’s new year. Sometimes awakening skills, trying new things, even carrying on with familiar ones can be daunting—so I’d like to reflect briefly on living with faith.

Psychotherapist and creative coach Eric Maisel works with artists and creative writers. I recently read his advice in The Writer magazine:

Believe you have something to say. Consciously decide that you and your writing matter. Say, ‘I intend to matter’, or better yet, ‘I matter’, as many times a day as you can. It would be nice if you also believed that you matter, but say that you do whether you believe it or not. Eventually you’ll believe it.

That’s how I perceive faith: Saying that you do [or are] whether you believe it or not. And eventually you’ll believe it.

Faith, for me, is “living as if”.

Trying to live as if the world is beautiful and the glass isn’t half-full but brimming over, and people are well-meaning and good will always win.

It’s trying every day to think and speak the best about people and things, sometimes despite the evidence.

If “in Christ”—or in a faithful life—there’s neither Jew nor Gentile, does this mean there’s neither tangata whenua nor manuhiri? Neither indigenous nor colonist, migrant nor refugee? No! I don’t believe we should ignore differences between us, but rather, act to reconcile them. And to do this, we need to live act as if that’s possible; under Matariki’s stars, living as if God’s eyes are on us.

Living in faith means
— living as if the same Wairua Tapu inspires us all;
— as if we share the same ancestors: Rangi and Papa, Adam and Eve, the explosion of energy that created suns, moons, planets, the stars whose ashes we are;
— living as if we are whanau, we are one—not the same, but one in our striving for justice.

Then, we will not fear, “though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, ‘though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

It’s great to have a new year every six months! It gives us a chance to start again, to remember our resolutions and act on them before too long has gone by; it reminds us to share our gifts, enjoy the abundance of the universe; to honor our past, and create the future.

In the mingling of our wairua in the hongi; in passing the peace of Christ from hand to hand; in the manaakitangs of our shared, sacred meal, we create a reality in which manuhiri and tangata whenua become one whanau.

This year, live in faith; live as if you matter.

Ngā mihi o te tau hou! Happy New Year!References:
Indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand, the Māori peoples, celebrate Matariki in the middle of the year, the Southern Hemisphere’s winter: Matariki: Aotearoa’s New Year 

Lectionary reading for 1 June 2008: Romans 3: 22, 27-31 (adapted) – New Living Translation

“Focus on your writing” in The Writer magazine [date unknown]. See also A Writer’s Paris: A guided journey for the creative soul by Eric Maisel. October 2005, Writer’s Digest Books. ISBN: 1582973598

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You can use this written work under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

All image credits © bronwyn angela white (2017), Kāpiti, New Zealand

More liturgy resources

Prayers at Matariki

Lights of the world

He Waiata mō Aotearoa (Song for Aotearoa)

MĀNAWATANGA  (Blessing)Word in texts aka Scripture readings below

Kōrero tara o Te Paipera Tapu (The Word in Texts)

Psalm 46 (Today’s New International Version) 
Romans 3:22, 27-31 (New Living Translation) 
Contemporary reading: “Kōrero Māori i ngā wā katoa, i ngā wāhi katoa” 

Hear a waiata from the Psalms of David.  It was written “to the music director”; listen for the chorus, and the cadence of its lyrics:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, ‘though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, ‘though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; God’s voice is lifted, the earth melts.  Almighty God is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what God has done, the desolations God has brought on the earth.  God makes wars to the ends of the earth. God breaks the bow and shatters the spear; God burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Almighty God is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Now, listen to this korero from the Book of Romans:

We are made right with God by… our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are… Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith.
So, are we made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law? After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t God also the God of the Gentiles? Of course!  There is only one God, and who makes people right with God only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles.
Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

During Matariki we celebrate our unique place in the world. We give respect to the whenua on which we live, and admiration to our mother earth Papatūānuku. Throughout Matariki we learn about those who came before us. Our history.  Our family.  Our bones.
Matariki signals growth. It’s a time of change. It’s a time to prepare, and a time of action.
During Matariki we acknowledge what we have and what we have to give. Matariki celebrates the diversity of life. It’s a celebration of culture, language, spirit and people. Matariki is our Aotearoa Pacific New Year.
Matariki is a time to prepare; to learn, to share ideas, and to celebrate the future.

Tihei mauri-ora!
Behold, there is life!
Tihei mauri-ora!
Behold, there is life!