INSTALLATION SERVICE OF THE ARCHBISHOP OF POLYNESIA: Aug 1st
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my unworthy heart be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord, my strength, my hope. Amen.
Warm Greetings to you all in the Name of our LORD! It is indeed a privilege to be standing here as a member of the youth of our Tikanga Pasefika, and called to be a channel of CHRIST’S message to each of us today on this unique occasion - The Installation of the new Archbishop of the Diocese of Polynesia and also formally recognize Archbishop elect Winston Halapua as one of the 3 Primates of our Anglican Church of New Zealand, Aotearoa and Polynesia.
I acknowledge the presence of GOD in our midst as we celebrate this historic event – TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY, HONOR AND PRAISE. I also acknowledge the presence of the Primates; our Archbishops, the House of Bishops of our 3-Tikanga Church and visiting Bishops from other provinces of the Anglican Communion, the House of Clergy, House of Laity, the families of Archbishop elect Winston, and each of you my Brothers and Sisters in CHRIST!
1. [YOUTH STATEMENT]
4 months ago, our Diocese gathered together in an Electoral Synod to elect a new Archbishop for Polynesia. The voice of the young people was heard at this Synod and we came out with a strong statement. Our Youth Statement humbly called upon the elders of the Church to carefully consider and seek God’s guidance and Will as they chose a new leader to lead the church forward. In our point of view as young people, their choice of the new Joshua to lead the Church, would directly affect the future of our rising youth generation in the mission of the Church in this 21st century.
The Youth Statement had a wish list of 8 qualities we thought would define a leader for our church. The 8 qualities of a leader for our Church, in our definition, were:
1/a GOD-FEARING person 2/a VISIONARY person 3/someone who was able to SERVE
4/an APPROACHABLE person 5/a HUMBLE person 6/someone able to LOVE ALL RACES
7/someone able to CHALLENGE UNJUST STRUCTURES 8/a ROLE MODEL - not just for our young people, but for the Church as a whole.
As we presented this Youth Statement, we were aware that the person we were trying to describe probably didn’t exist in real life and in some sense; we were describing only CHRIST JESUS Himself. But as we prayed as a Church, God answered our prayers in His own Will giving us His servant – Winston.
2. [LINK TO THE EPISTLE – COLOSSIANS 3:1-11]
I stand here today, together with the younger generation of our Church, grateful to God for the support and confidence of our Primates, to show the Church their support for youth ministry. Whilst the focus is on God’s calling of Archbishop elect Winston to a new role as a head shepherd for the flock, it is also a breakthrough for our youth generation to feel that the Church continues to celebrate Youth ministry as an integral part of the Great Commission of our Lord.
This is a true reflection of our Epistle of today – where St. Paul stresses, not only to the people of Colossae, but also to the people of our Church today; In the image of our Risen Christ, there is no longer a distinction between Jews nor Gentiles, no longer circumcised or uncircumcised, no longer slave nor free, no longer male nor female, no longer high class nor low class, no longer older generation nor younger generation, but we are all ONE in Christ – for Christ is ALL and Christ is in ALL.
As believers in this 3-Tikanga Church; a multi-racial, multi-cultural society, CHRIST requires us to journey forward together in union with HIM and with one another in this mission. CHRIST requires of us to continue to set our eyes and minds fixed on HIM and not on earthly desires.
3: [LINK TO THE HOLY GOSPEL: THE RICH FOOL]
In the Gospel we heard this morning, Jesus tells a parable of a rich man – one who was blessed with possessions, with talents and blessings. but this man was a greedy and selfish man. Rather than acknowledging GOD – His provider, he set his mind on earthly desires.
I’m sure each of us have been a victim of the sin of greed at one point or another in our lives. And this doesn’t just happen to us as individuals but also on a global scale. There are a lot of issues that have arisen like the global issues of poverty, the Global recession, Climate change and Global warming - as a result of Greed.
With the advancement of technology throughout the world every minute, despite its benefits, improved technology has also made people become greedier in a way. Today, just like the rich fool, it’s always about “me” or “I”, “I will do this, I am that, I want this, I don’t like that” etc. and most times, there is no place for God in our daily lives and decisions. Today we even have “i-pods”, “i-pads”, ‘i-phones’, “i-macs”, etc. We live in an i-world.
And this individualistic sort of living of the rich fool is also affecting our community way of living here in the Pacific islands. The days of sharing resources, sharing food, sharing homes is slowly fading away. The Scriptures continues to encourage us to keep our eyes focused on CHRIST first in our lives.
4.[WAKA & MOANA THEOLOGY]
For most of you who know our Archbishop elect - Bishop Winston personally, or have had a chance to work with him, or even have had a chance to spend a 5-minute conversation with him, will realize he is a man who uses words that motivates. Bishop Winston is a scholar that likes to contextualize the Bible into our own cultural context. His favorite words are Moana – ocean, and Waka [Maori] – Boat/canoe [English], Waqa [Fijian], Vaka [Tongan], Va’a [Samoan]. Last year I attended a conference where some Bishops were present, and as Bishop Winston got up to speak, one of the Bishops I sat with, jokingly said, soon we will get seasick. It was funny at the time, but we know there was a point in this Moana theology.
My understanding of our journey on this waqa, is that we as Christians, as Anglicans, as a Diocese of Polynesia, are all part of this waka, all in the journey TOGETHER. Sometimes, we the youth generation feel like we are left out on a little dinghy or lifeboat, patiently waiting to be told when to jump on board.
Tikanga Pasefika is Blessed to have Archbishop elect Winston as the captain of our vaka, and the church is also blessed to have Bishop Apimeleki and Bishop Gabriel as the co-captains, and each of us as members of the crew.
There are two most important aspects of this va’a and journey we are in.
1. Every waqa must have a compass – a direction. In order for our canoe to move in the right direction, CHRIST MUST be our compass and our Captain Winston MUST faithfully continue to set his eyes on CHRIST to guide us in the direction CHRIST wants us to follow.
2. There is a saying – It’s the rough seas that make the sailor skillful. What this means is that life is all about encountering challenges and hardships. It’s not plain smooth sailing. As we journey on in this vaka, we will definitely encounter rough seas, rough tides, stormy weathers, tsunamis in the form of challenges and struggles, hardships and pain. But whilst the sea will be full of these, we as Christians must also remember that the moana also carries the fish – and there are lots and lots of fish out there in the open sea that need to be caught – souls that need to be won.
Our mission is to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom, to teach, baptize and nurture the new believers, to respond to human needs by loving service, to seek to transform unjust structures of society, to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation.
As a young person, I believe that while the older generation of our church have the experience and skill to know where to throw the nets, we, the younger generation feel we have the energy and enthusiasm to help throw out the nets and help draw the nets in. For in the image of our Risen CHRIST, we are all ONE for CHRIST is all and CHRIST is in all.
5: [OUR JOURNEY IS NOT A NEW ONE ]
And the journey of our va’a is not a new one. This journey has been a long going one from the past – from the time of our ancestors, from the time of our predecessors, from the time of Bishop Willis, Bishop Kempthorne,/ Bishop Vockler, Bishop Fine Halapua,/ Bishop Holland, from the time of Archbishop Bryce and Bishop Viliami. And the journey continues today with our Archbishop elect Bishop Winston, Bishop Apimeleki and Bishop Gabriel.
As I come to a close of the message for us today, I felt this would be an opportune occasion to share with you all a story about one of the Bishops I’ve mentioned - the late Bishop Fine Halapua, the father of Bishop Winston. As I grew up, I heard a lot of stories about Bishop Fine. One particular story that has touched me is the walk of Bishop Fine many years ago back in Tonga. As you all know, Tonga is a small island, surrounded by the sea. Bishop Fine was a man who knew the tides well and would often take walks along the seaside on Saturdays when the tide was out. A lot of children, his own, and kids from the village would follow Bishop Fine, and be busy picking up shellfish, little crabs and edible seaweeds along the shore to fill into their noke or small baskets and buckets. At the end of the usual Saturday walks, kids would go back to their homes with basketsful of food to help provide a meal for their family. This walk, while it helped feed a family, it was also a mission of Bishop Fine, and many of those kids that walked with Bishop Fine, have grown up to be valuable assets of the Anglican Church in the islands.
Archbishop elect –Winston: the walk your father took many years ago molded a lot of young children and won a lot of souls to CHRIST. It is the same walk we look forward to take with you under your pastoral leadership as our Primate. May CHRIST always be your guide and may He also guide your family -Sue, Anthony, Joseph, Aunty Daisy, Mele, Silila, Elenoa, Sitiveni, Litia, and the family as they be your greatest supporters in this journey ahead.
To the Church today: each of us also has a responsibility in this mission journey under the guidance of our new Archbishop – for CHRIST is in each of us. Today’s Scriptures reminds us that we continue to focus our eyes on CHRIST first and everything else in our lives will fall into place according to HIS WILL.
Lastly, to the young people of our Diocese- [Youths on balcony stand!] - those here today and those who have been praying and fasting with us these past 3 months in all parts of the Diocese and 3-Tikanga: The road to where we are today hasn’t been an easy one. As we prepared for our participation at this historic occasion, you and I as young people have faced our share of rough waves, storms and tsunamis in the forms of being ridiculed, mocked, looked down upon, questioned, etc. by certain people. But let this not deter us from being a part of CHRIST’S Great Commission. In the Scriptures, GOD used people of all ages as channels of HIS MESSAGE to the world. So let’s continue to keep our eyes fixed on HIM to guide us forward. To the small children present here today, I pray that this message is also an inspiration to you as your grow up in the faith of CHRIST. Remember the story of David and Goliath - the Israelites looked up at Goliath and said “WOW! He is sooo big!!! How will we win??” but young David stood there with his sling and stones and said “WOW! He is sooo big! How could I miss!” Young David, kept his focus, his trust, his faith and his relationship with GOD and that is ALL that is required of us.
Brothers and Sisters in CHRIST, allow me and your young people to conclude this sermon with what we believe, is the heart of what GOD calls us together for in HIS Misson.
Prayer-action song “The Power of Your Love” – written by Geoff Bullock of Hillsong Music Australia.