Today, for the first time, Matariki is a public holiday in Aotearoa New Zealand. We do not want the Matariki public holiday to be simply another money-making day with Matariki sales and Matariki specials. We want things to benefit Matariki and what it stands for; we do not want people profiting from Matariki. Similarly, I tried to indicate, we want church practice to benefit Matariki and not colonise Matariki for pakeha benefit.
This is why, although I have long been a strong advocate for indigenising our inherited Northern Hemisphere church celebrations, and with that, noting that the Nativity of John the Baptist coincides well with the Southern Hemisphere Winter Solstice, I am now particularly conscious that we do not use Matariki for the benefit of the church. Rather, I am keen that the church find ways of appropriately Celebrating Matariki. And I encourage churches to dialogue with Maori in this development.
Matariki is the new year for the Maori (lunar) calendar (Maramataka). The Maramataka varies a bid across our land. Today’s public holiday comes in the lunar phase known to many as Tangaroa Whāriki Kiokio – about ten days after the Full Moon. I am always keen that people pay more attention to the natural world, the phases of the Moon, the viewing of stars and planets. You will often have seen me emphasise the Full Moon as integral to the Easter Day celebration. May people’s getting ??
Having said all that, today is the commemoration of the Birth of John the Baptist, so here follow some reflections around that.
ALMIGHTIE God, by whose providence thy servaunte John Baptiste was wonderfully borne, and sente to prepare the way of thy sonne our saviour, by preaching of penaunce; make us so to folowe his doctrine and holy lyfe, that we may truely repent accordyng to his preachyng; and after his example constantly speake the trueth, boldly rebuke vice, and paciently suffre for the truethes sake; through Jesus Christ our Lorde.Book of Common Prayer 1549
John the Baptiser has his birth feast day six months prior to Christmas eve, on June 24. This celebration is one of the oldest, if not the oldest commemorating a saint. The celebration of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, August 29, is nearly as old as his nativity. In the renewed Church Year and lectionary, John the Baptiser is a central figure in the second and third Sundays in Advent.
In Advent 2 Year C, the Gospel reading concludes “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:6). This starts as a familiar quote from the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 40:3-5. But it is the Septuagint , not the Hebrew Bible that Luke is quoting. “Salvation of God” is not in the Hebrew Bible as we have it. “Salvation of God” is, of course, Jesus’ name. The underlying Hebrew is the feminine word yeshu’ah. Jesus’ name is Yeshua’. And all flesh shall see yeshu’ah…
Yochanan the Immerser (John the Baptiser) is immersing on the far side of the Jordan – the East bank (John 10:40 – Bethany East of the Jordan is different to the Bethany near Jerusalem). Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus) crosses the Jordan from East to West into God’s promised land with the words of Yochanan’s cry for justice still ringing in the air… Might the authorities be reminded of an earlier Yeshua/Joshua and his similar crossing of this river? Are we?…
Almighty God,Church of England’s Common Worship
by whose providence your servant John the Baptist
was wonderfully born,
and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Saviour
by the preaching of repentance:
lead us to repent according to his preaching
and, after his example,
constantly to speak the truth, boldly to rebuke vice,
and patiently to suffer for the truth’s sake;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John theBCP (The Episcopal Church)
Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of
your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to
follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent
according to his preaching; and, following his example,
constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently
suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Here is ANZPB/HKMOA’s reworking of the 1549 BCP collect:
God our strength and our hope,A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa page 652 (or 723c online)
grant us the courage of John the Baptist,
constantly to speak the truth,
boldly to rebuke vice
and patiently to suffer for the truth’s sake;
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.