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From Warren's Bunker!

With this sudden Lockdown now upon us, I couldn’t help thinking about how many of God’s people in the Bible down through the ages were put into Lockdowns. Noah and his family were locked down into a boat during a flood. Jonah was locked down inside the smelly belly of a whale. Joseph was locked up in a prison cell. The people of Israel were locked down as slaves in Egypt for years. The great Prophet Elijah went into a lockdown inside a cave. The Apostle Paul was forced into lockdowns on numerous occasions which included house arrests and prison cells. John was locked down on the Greek island of Patmos. And of course Jesus Himself was locked in and placed inside a 1st century tomb which was sealed by a one ton rock at the entrance. Lockdowns seem to be a common occurrence in the Bible for the people of God. But it is also clear that God is completely sovereign and in control and used all these lock downs for His good purposes and plans. Noah came out of lockdown and God used him to start afresh. Jonah came out of his lockdown and God used him to turn an entire city back to God. Joseph came out of a lockdown and became a great leader in Egypt. God used Israel's enforced lockdown in Egypt as a way to show His power which eventually lead to freedom in the promised land. Elijah came out of his lockdown and was greatly used by God. Paul wrote most of the New Testament when he was in lockdowns. John met powerfully with Jesus on Patmos during his lockdown and gave us the Book of Revelation. And of course Jesus Himself displays the most amazing outcome of a lockdown under God’s sovereignty by being raised from the dead to proclaim and show the world His mighty resurrection. May God give you patience, peace and a sense of His creative resurrected presence during this lockdown. Remember, the Lord is sovereign, in control and will even use lockdowns for his purposes and plans in our lives and in the world.

Over the next seven days we will be keeping in touch with everyone by phone, email and the Cedar Center Facebook page. Please do stay in touch with each other by phone especially checking in with anyone you know who needs a chat. There will be an online Sunday Service this Sunday August 22 and we will let you know how to access this.

FYI Bishop Ross, our Bishop of Auckland has been in touch and writes the following important information:

It is important to remind ourselves of the strictness of this highest alert level as we have not been in it since April 2020. In essence, we need to remain at home within our bubbles. There can be no physical gatherings of any kind. Clergy and other ministers must not visit people or conduct events such as weddings and funerals. Level 4 is a true lockdown.

You can access the current version of our response chart and the information for ministry units to see more detail about the current alert level. Please also pay careful attention to particular instructions issued by the Government.

Worship this Sunday will therefore be in virtual formats once again. My advice would be to plan for that for the following Sunday as well, as the usual pattern is that we step back gradually from a higher alert level and so I would expect that we will still not be able to physically gather by then.

I will lead Night Prayer on Sunday at 7pm weekly again while we are under gathering restrictions, and you might like to let people know that service will be happening and can be accessed through the Bishop Ross Bay Facebook page.

Our concern needs to be to show care for others, our whānau and ourselves. People will be experiencing varying degrees of stress and uncertainty because of this development, and so will we. Please go carefully and be gentle with yourselves as you seek to be faithful in your ministry. Pray for one another and for those entrusted to your care.

When we first headed into Level 4 in March 2020, I offered this verse of Scripture, and it is good to be reminded of it again:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

May God bless and sustain us all.

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