My city is needing to be rebuilt. So is my spirit. Just as the first step of rebuilding the city will be to establish its foundations, I think the first step of rebuilding myself emotionally will be re-establishing my spiritual foundations.
I said in my previous post that at my core I found faith. Even when I feel numb and empty I still believe that God is real, and walking through this stuff with me. So having found my core, where from here?
It’s about connectedness, about community. The memorial service last Friday highlighted that to me. We've come through this as a community, by working together. The greatest accolades at the Memorial service were for the emergency workers, the USAR teams, the volunteers. But there was also tribute paid in the speeches to each person who’s helped their neighbours in many small ways.
As humans, in time of crisis we reach out and connect with each other. I’ve noticed that each time I talk to someone I haven’t seen since 22 February the first thing we do is take time to listen to each other’s story of where we were, and how we’ve been coping. Once we’ve regained the connection that was shaken in the quake we can start talking about other things.
But there’s also the spiritual need to connect back to God as well, which is the harder bit.
I feel there’s a fundamental link between my sense of needing to re-connect with other people and the community, and needing to re-connect with God. Jesus told us to love God with all our being, and love each other just as much as ourselves. The two go together.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1John 4:7-11)
The thing is, this is like Christianity 101 – the basic stuff that I’ve believed for decades. God loved us enough that he gave Jesus to die for us – the whole message of Easter. It’s foundational belief, at the core of my faith.
Later in the same passage it says “We love because he first loved us.” (1John 4:19). My first foundation is that God loves me, and wants to reconnect with me. Then that is the source of the second foundation: to love others.
The connection with the community is so far only on one level - most of what I’ve done has been “surface” connections, day to day survival stuff. To be able to make a deeper, more spiritual connection with other people, I need to first be connected back to God.
The World-famous-in-Christchurch Steve Graham preached a sermon back in November (between the quakes) about living with the awareness of “The Ancient of Days”. I listened to it again the other day. If you have a spare half hour it’s well worth listening to. He said it doesn’t need to be highly religious stuff, it’s just doing the every day stuff in the presence of God and with the awareness of His love.
I can’t put it any better than Steve did: “I live my life in the presence of an Eternal God, whose covenant love never left, and who wants to partner with me to help me do life well and honour him with the little choices of every day life”