23 February 2018
The Gift of Many People - Seven Years On.
Seven years ago, on the morning of December 18th 2005, I walked into the old foyer, before the Sunday morning church service, to discover that the front windows of the church had been attacked with great force.
The first stained glass windows had been donated in memory of the early settlers by the Runciman family in 1966. These were in need of repair and were replaced and installed by the then Board of Managers in 1976.
The next windows were of a very strong, thick, acrylic material which was designed to be much stronger than a conventional stained glass window in the hope that they would not be attacked like the previous windows.
At the time nobody could give us any idea of how or if the acrylic could be repaired. Later, as we planned new buildings, the insurance company agreed that we wait until the total plans were worked out. Also as our insurance excess at that time was $5000.00 replacing the windows was not a high priority for the parish budget.
Since then, after the building project was finished, the Board of Managers were still waiting for the insurance company to pay out. After negotiation and the gift of the help of lawyer [and elder] Alistaire Hall, we finally received the insurance claim, including the cost of protecting the windows.
On November 20th the Papatoetoe-Otara Local Board resolved to grant us the difference between the payout and the actual costs of the window, [which at the time of applying was $6044.00.]
The new windows have symbols for the early settlers of the wheat and the grapes, and a wood pigeon. Symbols speaking to us of the bread and the wine of Christ among us. The centre panel has the Celtic cross of our Presbyterian roots and a menorah of the Jewish Scriptures with the dove above. The first testament and the second, Father Son and the Holy Spirit. The third panel is about the parish, the symbol of St Philip and the chalice of St John with a trinity of fantails. The church moving out into costly mission in the world through the ages and now.
The old windows they replace are echoed - Jesus being the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Way of the life and death of Jesus, the truth in the scriptures and interpreted by the holy spirit and the Life of faithful living in the dynamic presence of God. There is more to unpack for not only are these rich in colour, but also in carrying the story of the gospel in this place.
Susanne Johnson of Glassworks, who designed the new burning bush window designed these also.
On Thursday December 20th, at 2.00pm we are inviting the Local Board members to join with St Johns people for a brief dedication of the windows. Many people have helped this happen and the enthusiastic support we have from the local community has been humbling.
May this be part of our telling THE story this Christmas of Godís coming among us with good news of Great Joy for all.
May the blessing of the child of Bethlehem be with you and gift you with love as you travel, as you celebrate, as you remember others this Christmas.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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