Manaakitanga - Sunday 27 August



Every now and then a word comes along that captures our imagination and enlightens our consciousness in deep and meaningful ways. Not only do words enhance our vocabulary but they catalyse an incarnational agenda in order to transform our way of being. When words become flesh they recalibrate the way we live. The words we use to describe our faith journey often need to evolve if we are going to stay a vibrant and compelling conversation piece. What we once said to explain the divine conspiracy has become over-familiar and outdated and in need of an upgrade, especially if the ancient beauty of our gospel (good news) story is going to find a new generation of buy-in.

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity". 

 - Yehuda Berg

Last week at the LinkNZ Hui one such word caught my attention with its alluring need for clarification. When I heard the word ‘Manaakitanga’ used in its cultural context, I was not only enthralled by its poetic annunciation but its rich meaning and potential application in my life.

The Maori dictionary describes Manaakitanga as … (noun) hospitality, kindness, generosity, support - the process of showing respect, generosity and care for others.

The greater hidden meaning of this word as a verb is understood as.. 'the response we give when we understand what it means to surrender our time and space to people and beings that enter our world’.

In the gospel of Matthew Jesus sends some of his followers on a local campaign with this mandate, proclaim that the ‘kingdom of heaven is near’ and then demonstrate in really practical ways what it looks like up close and personal. Be ‘manaakitanga’ to the immediate community, give your life away by caring for those who are struggling with physical ailments, breathe life in to those who are dying inside and feel lifeless, include the outsider and marginalised, those who society (and the institutional church) cannot figure out how to accept and affirm, and extend grace to those who are suffering in their darkness and dealing with their demons. This is my take on ‘heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons’.

Manaakitanga is 'Bringing heaven near’, the munificent experience of a shared faith journey.

You have been treated generously, so live generously.   (Matthew 10:8)


Clint Gibson