image of Smithsonian museum of African American History & Culture

A Message From Our Kahu

“Welcoming Our Centennial Year!”

“Kia Ora!” is how people greet one another in New Zealand. It’s their way of saying “good morning,” “hello,” and “farewell.” It is also a phrase used to express appreciation or blessing.

After just returning from the land of the kiwi, I am filled with appreciation in countless ways:

  • For over a week and a half hiking in some of the most beautiful places on earth, such as Tikitapu (Blue Lake) high in the mountains of the North Island (in the photo above)
  • For the stunning and rugged coastline of NZ
  • For the abundance of waterfalls
  • For the beautiful and interesting birds everywhere I traveled
  • For time spent with my colleague in ministry, John Carr, his wife Abigail, and their two sons Hosea and Moses
  • For learning about Maori culture, language and art
  • For the opportunity to visit two new botanical gardens
  • For coming home to a loving and affirming church family

As the season of Lent approaches—beginning one week from today on Ash Wednesday—we typically spend time in the Christian Church in reflection. We usually reflect on God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice, on the important words of Jesus and especially on those during his final week of his life on earth, and on our mortality and hope in the afterlife.

I would also invite you this Lent to reflect on appreciation. Consider the following questions:

  • What are some things in life you really appreciate?
  • Who is someone to whom you might express appreciation?
  • How might you live in such a way that your life is an expression of appreciation to God for your blessings?

As you reflect on appreciation during these days leading up to Easter Sunday, please know how much I appreciate each and every one of you!

Kia Ora!
Kahu Alan Akana