Thoughts on Pentecost

Bosco Peters reminds us that Pentecost is the last day of Easter. “Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost do not form three seasons. The Easter Season celebrates the three dimensions of the resurrection, ascension, and the sending of the Spirit. These fifty days, a seventh of the year, form our great "Sunday" of the year. Just as Sunday is the first and the eighth day, so the "great Sunday" of the fifty days of Easter begins with the day of the resurrection and continues through eight Sundays, an octave of Sundays, a "week of weeks."[1]
Today also marks the birth of the church, when a group of terrified men and women were given the strength, courage and wisdom to continue Jesus’ ministry of living God’s love for all. Because of the events we remember today this group who hid behind locked doors took the gospel through Persia to India, North Africa and down to Ethiopia, north to Armenia and beyond, and west to Rome. Many were martyred. We stand on their shoulders today.
Another miracle of Pentecost is people heard the gospel being proclaimed in their own language. Generally religions worship in the language of the founder.  For Jews that is Hebrew. But from the beginning God’s Spirit led the disciples to preach and pray in all languages. God met people in their own language and culture. Today we understand this to mean that the risen Christ in present in all cultures, waiting for his followers (us) to join in God’s mission.
Over the last week, in our lectionary, we have remembered missionaries who took the gospel around Aotearoa, and particularly around our Diocese. They are all Maori.[2] It began on Monday 13th when we commemorated Ihaia Te Ahu of Nga Puhi. We continued with a series of commemorations of Maori Christians chosen from many Maori Christians of their time as representative of the outstanding Maori witness that caused the gospel to be sown and to take root in many parts of Aotearoa.
Ihaia was one of the earliest of the Maori clergy. He went with Thomas Chapman of the Church Missionary Society to Rotorua and then to Maketu. On Chapman’s retirement in 1861 Ihaia was ordained, serving first in Maketu and then in 1882 becoming the first vicar of the Ohinemutu Pastorate. Ihaia’s godly, patient ministry in complex and challenging circumstances was very influential. He died in 1895.
On Tuesday 14th we remembered Ngakuku, father of Tarore, and a Ngati Haua chief of the Waikato. He accompanied Archdeacon A.N. Brown on some missionary journeys and also became a missionary in his own right in the Bay of Plenty, Urewera, and East Coast areas. He was involved in pioneer work in the Opotiki area. After the tragic death of his daughter Tarore in a raid in 1836, he was able to forgive those who took her life and encouraged others to do likewise.
Wednesday 15th was the commemoration of Piripi Taumata-a-kura of Ngati Porou. Piripi was responsible for introducing the gospel to his people in the East Cape area in the early 1830s. He had been influenced by the gospel in the north, and on his return had taught and preached, using short prayers and hymns, referring to Bible texts written on scraps of paper. He successfully negotiated restraint based on Christian principles in an inter-tribal battle in 1836. He gained great mana among his people and eventually made the way possible for a missionary training team of nine young Maori from Paihia to carry on his work.
Te Wera, a Nga Puhi chief was remembered on Thursday 16th. Te Wera settled at Mahia on the East Coast, creating peace with his former enemies there and providing a mantle of protection and solidarity throughout a large part of Ngati Kahungunu. Because of the peace and order he introduced, hospitality towards missionaries became possible. By the time of his death in 1839 an indigenous Maori Christian mission was growing within the kinship networks of the area.
On Friday May 17 we commemorated Wiremu Te Tauri, Missionary in Wanganui, and Tamihana Te Rauparaha, son of Te Rauparaha and Missionary to Te Wai Pounamu on Saturday May 18th.
At this Pentecost may we pray for the courage, strength and wisdom of these our tipuna in Te Haahi Mihinare, and join the Risen Christ in God’s mission.

[1] Bosco Peters, on Easter is 50 Days. <>

[2] Most of the following is based on For All The Saints, A Resource for the Commemorations of the Calendar, revised edition. Edited by Ken Booth,
© The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, 2005