200 years is a momentous milestone in a nation as young as New Zealand. But that is the milestone we celebrate this year of 2014.
It is two centuries since the Rev Samuel Marsden came ashore at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands and held the first Christian service in this land. It was an auspicious day – indeed it was Christmas Day, 1814.
Nga Puhi chief Ruatara had gathered his people on the grass above the beach and it being Christmas Marsden preached from the gospel of Luke 2:10 – “Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy – te harinui”.
Marsden later wrote in his journal:
“In this manner the Gospel has been introduced to New Zealand, and I fervently pray that the glory of it may never depart from its inhabitants, till time shall be no more.”
Christianity went on to have a huge impact in early New Zealand. An impact that reverberates to this day. The Treaty we celebrate next week would never have happened without the influence of Te Rongopai – the Good News. However that is a story for another day. Indeed there will be many such stories to remember and reflect on this year. And we need to remember, for the seeds of our future lie in our past.
For now let us start the year by joining with Marsden and praying for the glory of the Gospel to shine ever brighter across our nation. For there is unfinished business in the land…