2014 is upon us, a year of great significance and expectation. Next week we celebrate Waitangi, and although controversy has often marked this day, we are again invited to reflect upon the significance of a covenant that is foundational to our nation. Next year marks the 175th anniversary of the Treaty, and along with the bi-centenary this December of the first gospel message preached upon these shores, these events are ones that have shaped our nation. It’s encouraging to realise that the gospel of Jesus Christ is at the foundation of our wonderful nation, first declared by Samuel Marsden, after a period of time eagerly embraced by Maori, although the land wars tragically undid the early impact, the gospel remains the ‘power of God unto salvation’.
Te Rongo Pai is the Maori term for gospel, a beautiful metaphor that contextualises ‘good news’, or literally ‘good hearing’ (Rongo meaning hearing). Perhaps we need to hear again the beauty of the gospel; the power to transform not only individuals, but societies. Which circles us back to the Treaty of Waitangi. Scripture is very clear that at the Cross “two became one”, thus forming God’s family, not based on ethnicity, gender or social standing, but based on their response to Jesus. As so for us as a nation, the words of Governor Hobson to each Maori chief that signed the treaty in 1840 still echo today: He iwi tahi tatou, (We are now one people).
Through the framework of the gospel we surely can understand this, two people forming one nation, ultimately inviting all nations into this partnership. The invitation still remains for the church in this nation, and for us here in Christchurch and environs, to not only hear, but do, to embody the true intent of both the Treaty of Waitangi and Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let 2014 truly be a year of both the declaration and embodiment of Good News/ Te Rongo Pai for all.
Nga mihi nui