Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn spoke words of comfort, reassurance and hope, with reference to Christians working for justice, at an ecumenical service to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in June.
Bishop Dunn gave the sermon at the service held at the Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral in Parnell on the evening of
Others who helped lead the service included Anglican Bishop of Auckland Ross Bay, Fr Bishoy Mekhaiel (parish priest of St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Church), Rev. Prince Devanandran (director, mission and ecumenical, of the Methodist Church), Most Rev. Fakaofo Kaio (moderator, Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand) and Very Rev. Anne Mills (Dean, Holy Trinity Cathedral).
“What a beautiful thing it is on the feast of the Holy Trinity to gather in this beautiful cathedral, dedicated to the Holy
Trinity, to pray for unity,” Bishop Dunn said in his sermon.
The theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, chosen by churches in Indonesia, was “Justice, only justice, you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy).
Bishop Dunn reflected on the action of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, with particular reference to the Gospel passage
which was proclaimed at the service (Luke 4:14-21) — where Jesus reads from the scroll from Isaiah at the synagogue at Nazareth, saying “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”.
This passage, and others, said Bishop Dunn, “ . . . remind us that all mission has its origins in God. And the great mission is very clear — good news to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom for captives, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”.
“All through the Scriptures,” Bishop Dunn said, “we know that God constantly reminds Israel that they are to welcome
strangers, and to be kind to captives. Because they are reminded — don’t you forget, you were once strangers in Egypt, in Babylon. You were once captives. And they knew that God sides with those who are on the margins, on the margins of society. God is the defender of the widow, of the orphan, God stands with the stranger, with the captive and he expects us to do likewise”.
However, Bishop Dunn said, “during this week from Pentecost to Holy Trinity, we are reminded that, as we undertake this task, we are not expected to do it on our own”.
“That as we seek to act justly, to care for the poor, to work for unity, to support those who are in need. . . we are never left on our own. That the same Spirit who led and guided and supported Our Lord is now shared with us — that Spirit is in us and through us.”
Bishop Dunn referenced some lines from a work known as “The Prayer of Oscar Romero”, which was actually written by a Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, for a homily by Cardinal John Dearden, in 1979, at a celebration of departed priests in the US, according to Caritas Australia.
“We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. . .
“This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow.We water seeds already planted, knowing that they
hold future promise.
“We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.
“We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realising that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.
“We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
“We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.”
“It is a lovely reminder,” Bishop Dunn said, “that as we undertake the great mission entrusted to us, that it is actually God’s work, so we don’t have to get too stressed if we can’t quite manage to save the world on our own. It is a lovely, reassuring reminder.”
The service also featured singing from five different choirs — from Holy Trinity Cathedral , the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Cook Islands Community Choir, the Coptic Orthodox Church Choir and the Mother of Divine Mercy/Ta’i Mua Youth Ministries.