In the depths of mid-winterish Christchurch, when the cloud and fog hang low over the city, we can be tempted to hunker down at home and go into hibernation with the cat! For some of us that’s just the right thing to do, especially those of us who need to steer clear of winter ills – of the Covid kind or otherwise. I am fond of Australian Michael Leunig’s poem: We give thanks for the blessing of Winter, season to cherish the heart 

To make warmth and quiet for the heart 

To make soups and broths for the heart 

To cook for the heart and read for the heart 

To curl up softly and nestle with the heart 

To sleep deeply and gently at one with the heart 

To dream with the heart 

To spend time with the heart 

A long, long time of peace with the heart 

We give thanks for the blessing of winter 

Season to cherish the heart. 

If you need permission to hibernate, there it is! But of course there are many ways to stay at home and still be in touch with us at St Barnabas – through our website, where you can join in on Sundays to our livestreamed 9.30am service or our 8pm Night Prayer on Zoom; through this magazine or our other printed resources like the weekly pewsheet (also on the website) or the In Touch devotions booklet with daily and weekly Bible readings and some sermons and prayers. We also have the St Barnabas Connect email that goes out to hundreds of parishioners, the Lifestreams weekly email, and our St Barnabas page and Lifestreams Family group on Facebook. Contact the Parish Office if there’s one of those you’d like to receive or link up with. 

If you start to get cabin fever in the deep midwinter, then July gives us a run of Sundays that have themes that take us out of ourselves and into the big wide world that God loves and asks us to care for. July 5th is Refugee Sunday, when we are mindful of the 1 in every 95 people on earth who have fled their home due to conflict or persecution, and of the 1500 refugees resettled in NZ each year. Thanks to Olive Lawson and our Outreach Team who offered 2 employment seminars to migrants recently, helping new Kiwis learn new skills and find out more about employment in NZ.  

July 12th is Sea Sunday when as an island nation surrounded by sea, we give thanks and pray for those who work at sea, in our port at Lyttelton and for the Seafarers Centre there which offers vital support and advocacy for those whom Covid has kept at sea for many months away from their families. Sea Sunday is a good time to reflect on how we can better protect our oceans and sealife, by reducing our use of plastics and paying attention to waste disposal.  

July 19th is Bible Sunday when we thank God for the gift of God’s written word which reveals to us Jesus, the Word made flesh. It’s a good time to get out favourite Bibles, or those with a story for us or our family; also to commit to sharing God’s word with those around the world still longing for a Bible in their heart language. That’s 1 billion people according to the Bible Society of NZ. 

July 26th is Social Services Sunday when we pray for those who offer and receive the community ministries of the church through Anglican Care: the Christchurch City Mission; Anglican Community Development, and Anglican Advocacy for social justice. The deep mid-winter is a great time to remember those who find winter a struggle and bring in some groceries for the City Mission baskets. We are also collecting children’s and babies’ blankets to share with families in our Christchurch community who would appreciate some extra warmth – you can drop them into the parish office and we’ll pass them on. 

Let’s focus inwards but also focus outwards this winter – the best kind of double vision!