A Sketch: Summer Offering Reflection

Simeon Whyle and his wife Briana live in Ōtautahi, Christchurch with their six-month-old son Ezra. Simeon works as a Mechanical Engineer for Hamilton Jet and Briana is a Paediatric Oncology Nurse at Christchurch Public Hospital. They also both serve on the music team at their local church and are involved in projects across the city that create community and help others on their faith journey. In February, Simeon and Briana took part in the Venn Summer Offering in Christchurch. This was their first Venn event. Here, Simeon shares some of the impact of this weekend on their faith.

My wife Briana and I originally heard about Venn through two of their books: The Insect and the Buffalo and The Hare and the Tortoise. We are part of a group in Christchurch called Āta and through this group, we had been studying the overarching Biblical narrative and our place within it. We were made aware of Venn Summer Offering through this group and it was an easy decision to attend.

We began the weekend by working our way through Revelation 4 and 5. We started to see God’s heart for creation, how he truly intended for us to exist within it and how he is continuously willing creation into being, despite its brokenness. I particularly loved the time we spent on the subject of worship. A phrase that has stuck with me since is: “The worship of God is the heartbeat of the Cosmos.” God is most glorified when we exist as he created us to be. This was an encouraging reminder of how broad and all-encompassing our worship actually is. God glories in our creativity, enjoyment, relationships, and rest (to name just a few). He simply glories in our existence and his continual willing of our existence is proof of that.

On the second day we spent time looking at God’s plan of restoration of the earth and the role of his Church within it. We had times for personal reflection, prayer, and listening to what God was saying to each of us through the teaching. There was such a refreshing rhythm to the weekend: not only were our spirits fed, but so were our souls and bodies. The food was delicious and a real depth of relationship was able to be formed with each other and the Venn team. We finished the weekend rested, encouraged, and with a renewed sense of purpose.

Since last summer we have really learnt to slow down life a lot and have found that we have more time and energy to live lives of worship, to serve others, and to grow personally—this is all despite having our new baby son, Ezra! We are feeling more alive and more keenly attentive to where God might want to use us as a part of his continual plan of restoration.

We appreciated learning different aspects of Tikanga Māori that the Venn Team incorporated throughout the weekend, since this is new to us. We also really appreciated the mihi whakatau at the end of the weekend, where every person was given a chance to share a short reflection on their weekend and bring any challenge they might have to the group.

(Image: Simeon, Briana, and Ezra. Supplied by Simeon Whyle)