At our noon service on 12th September 2010, Bishop Tom Brown of Wellington New Zealand, in the guise of SL resident Kea Cedrus, came to the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life as the guest preacher. It was a wonderful event at which more than thirty members of our community were gathered. Despite some concerns that the technology might let us down, all went very well indeed. We had a much appreciated opportunity to chat to Kea after the service. Several members shared what being part of our community means to them.
We hope to have an audio recording and perhaps some video footage available soon so watch this space.
Bishop Tom chose as his text Matthew 5:1-12 and told a story of the Maori people and the spread of the gospel among them as the result of the exercise of servant leadership by several different people. He challenged us to recommit ourselves to such leadership, as shown to us by Jesus. The text of the sermon is given below:
Tarore of Waharoa was the daughter of Maori chief Ngakuku. A raiding party invaded their campsite and while the others fled Tarore did not and was killed. The man who killed her took from under her pillow a small book, the Gospel of S.Luke, and in due course read the gospel and was dramatically changed. He went to Ngakuku and confessed his wrongdoing and the chief, who was still in mourning, forgave his daughter’s killer instead of seeking utu, or revenge, as was the custom.
Pages of that same gospel eventually found their way further down the North Island of New Zealand to a settlement at Waikanae on the west coast just north of what is now the capital city of Wellington. The son of paramount chief Te Rauparaha and others were converted by the message and subsequently sought a missionary teacher to come to their aid. The missionary was twenty three year old Octavius Hadfield, later to become the second bishop of the fledgling diocese of Wellington. He worked tirelessly among both the Maori people and the settlers despite ill health. Tamihana the son of Te Rauparaha went on to travel to the South Island to preach the good news among his father’s enemies. So Tarore of Waharoa is remembered as something of a catalyst for the spread of Christianity among her people and the settlers.
What is of particular interest in the story is the way the main characters displayed traits of Servant Leadership, i.e. being a servant first and a leader second. The Beatitudes in the gospel of Matthew 5:1 to 12 address the theme of servant leadership evident in the actions of the people in the story and in doing that ask of us if we are endeavouring to be what Jesus has called us to be – servant leaders in our respective communities.
Matthew 5.10 – God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right, they belong to the kingdom of God. Certainly Tarore was treated badly and would have entered fully into God’s Kingdom. And alongside that is the one who treated her badly but was transformed by the gospel to show courage, even risk being killed. There was Octavius Hadfield too, who had become a missionary in his early twenties despite an extreme illness which at one point saw him bed-ridden for a year.
Matthew 5.7 – God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy. Tarore’s father Ngakuku showed great mercy to his daughter’s killer and forgave him when the code of conduct of the time among his people was in such circumstances to demand utu – revenge. Professor Drury, a respected Maori historian, suggests that until the gospel arrived in New Zealand there was no equivalent word in Maori for forgiveness.
Matthew 5.9 – God blesses those people who make peace: they will be called his children. Tamihana Te Rauparaha at great personal risk took the Good News of peace and truth to his father’s enemies in the south.
Matthew 5.5 – God blesses those people who are humble: the Earth will belong to them. We can see several of the characters showing humility. Imagine for instance, Hadfield arriving at Waikanae to find 600 people already worshipping God. He was moved by what he experienced.
There are two further traits of servant leadership that the story touches on: 1 – being open to wisdom and certainly Te Rauparaha showed that, and 2 – the willingness of people to walk in faith, i.e. to take risks for Christ’s sake: Tarore’s father, her killer, Hadfield and Tamihana Te Rauparaha.
May we learn anew of such virtues while celebrating the saintly impact of Tarore on so many people. And may we recommit our lives to the ideals of servant leadership given to us by Jesus who is our role model for such leadership. Be courageous, humble, wise, caring and just in all you do to the glory of God.