Attended prayer@parliament last night.  This is an annual gathering of churches to pray for our leaders and issues of the day from the seat of power itself.  We usually try not to be partisan at all, instead preferring that all parties would adhere to Godly principles.
It was fascinating this year.  Here’s why:
  • All five verses of our national anthem were song with unusual gusto.
  • As usual, Pastor Rasik Ranchhod was MC.
  • Gordon Copeland was our host.
  • Brian Caughley from Intercessors NZ opened our gathering.
  • Ann Jamieson (wife of former police commissioner John Jamieson) gave an Old Testament reading.
  • Commissioner Garth McKenzie (head of the Salvation Army in NZ) gave a New Testament reading.

The first prayer track was "The Anti-Smacking Bill"

  • This is where things got interesting.  Instead of the usual platitudes about praying for wisdom for our leaders, this time there was 100% agreement from the front that this was bad; very, very bad.
  • Gordon gave his perspective on the bill.  He attempted to explain his reasons for backing Chester Burrows ammendment, none of which hold water with me:
    • The hand is for blessing, not punishing.  Nor does it deliver the sting necessary to make the point.
    • The rod or stick is for punishment.  The act of getting up to get the wooden spoon is part of the cooling off period so that punishment can be applied appropriately and dispassionately.
    • Supporting Chester’s ammendment is an admission there was something wrong with Section 59 to begin with.  There isn’t.
    • If a common law definition of "reasonable force" is "transitory and trifling" then no further definition of the term is required.
  • Judy Turner gave an excellent summary of representative democracy (what we have) with "direct democracy" (via referendum).  She acknowledges the strengths and weaknesses of both.  She explained the 60/60/60 principle: on conscience votes, we should have either 60% parliamentarian support or a referendum with over 60% voter turn-out and over 60% in favour.  Her ammendment was (not surprisingly) overturned, as it would severly diminish this nations politicians from doing whatever they wanted to do against the wishes of the peole.
  • John Jamieson then spoke from the police perspective and warned that where there might be spousal enmity, then false claims will be made and families will be further disrupted.  The police will be unable to turn a blind eye to this legislation.  Regardless of whatever any politician says now, when the law is passed, the police must enforce it, as it is written.
  • We prayed, and I found it hard to be gracious to the idiots proposing this bill.

The second prayer track continued the theme: Citizen’s Initiated Referenda:

  • Specificially, Larry Baldock’s two referenda to attempt to overturn what the politicians are doing.
  • He explained that with 80-90% of polls in favour of the referenda, it will be jolly difficult for any potential government party next year to campaign on the platform "we will ignore this referenda."  In effect, this will be the closest thing to a binding referendum NZ can manage at the present time.
  • To Rasik’s call to "Wake Up, Pray Up and Speak Up" Larry added the phrase "and Sign Up." 
  • Numbers are going well, but we need all the help we can get.
  • I’m a collector of a hundred signatures: that’s my goal.  Matty J. is my co-ordinator: he needs to sign up 10 collectors.  I introduced him to some more people who agreed to be collectors for him.

The third prayer track was "For those in Authority over us"

  • Learned that our new Governor General, Anand Satyanand (which means Truth & Joyful), apart from being a godly Christian, is also one of the few GG who has never been a Mason.
  • Prayed for all the leaders of all the parties in parliament today.
  • Personally, I prayed for "every man, woman and Helen" on that list.

The fourth prayer track was "The Easter Trading Bill"

  • Big business wants to cut down non-shopping days from 3.5 per annum to 1.5.
  • Quite apart from the desire of Christians to be able to worship in peace on Christmas and Easter, we believe that even non-Christian families desire a better work/life balance that enables them to come together.
  • Gordon spoke; we prayed.

The fifth and last prayer track was "Pursuing Social Justice"

  • As Convenor of the Faith-Based Communities Network for the United Future New Zealand Party Ohariu-Belmont Electorate (try saying that three times fast), I was interested to learn that Maxim Institute are hosting a forum on this.
  • It is covering many of the topics which were raised in our inaugural meeting last year (more about this later).
  • Unfortunately, it’s in Auckland, so I won’t be attending.
  • Prayed for it’s success, Friday 30 Mar.

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