Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
For the Fallen
by Laurence Binyon
FOR THE FALLEN.
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
April 25 is Anzac Day in New Zealand and Australia - our Memorial Day, the anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp" troops landing at Gallilopi in Turkey, 25 April 1915. Here's some background for anyone interested: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day
Monday, April 16, 2012
New Cardboard Cathedral announced
A “temporary” Anglican cathedral will be constructed on the St John’s site on Latimer Square, overlooking the CTV site. (In Christchurch “temporary” means about 20 years or so).
Actually I quite like the look of this design. It’s not the same as what’s been lost, but it’s uplifting.
There’s been a bit of debate going around about the de-construction of our Anglican Cathedral. The Bishop has come under a lot of criticism – and some of it seems to be getting quite venomous and personal. One of the most vocal opponents is the Christchurch Wizard, who claims to have spoken curses against the Bishop and Church leadership.
I was always taught that in intelligent debate, when one side resorts to personal attack, it’s often a sign of lacking rational argument.
I was pleased to hear about this:
An open letter of support from 70 churches and Christian organisations was presented to the Anglican Bishop of Christchurch. The photo shows ministers from Pentecostal, Baptist and Brethren churches, as representative of the many denominations.
As a city we need to work together, with unity, as we rebuild. I found it encouraging to see the unity of Christian Churches working together. A lot of this is “below the radar” and “behind the scenes”, but in my own opinion, if it wasn’t for the Christian Churches in this city working together in the aftermath of the earthquakes, we’d have been in a lot worse state city wide.
Yet these feeling of hope are clashing with a more sobering news issue:
The “New Homelessness”
There have been stories emerging of lower income tenants being pushed out of the rental market, as a shortage of available rental homes, an influx of tradespeople working on the rebuild, and displaced homeowners moving out of “red-zoned” houses. Rents are becoming more than many people can afford. When houses become available, 20 or 30 prospective tenants will apply, and often begin trying to outbid each other.
Here are three stories that have been in the press this week.
I am also personally aware of others that haven’t been reported, but are in similar circumstances. My concern is that the reported stories are just the tip of the iceberg. My fear is that it will only get worse. While there is political debate about this, politics can’t magically make houses appear, and winter is only a month or so away.
And just announced today:
Temporary closure of the Museum
When I put it into the perspective of everything else happening in my City, the closure of the museum may not seem to be such a big deal, but it’s the cumulative effect that’s upset me. Just when it feels like life is starting to come back to some kind of normal, it’s a reminder that there is no more “normal” here.
I am powerless to do anything about all of this, but pray for my City. And to ask all of you to pray for Christchurch. There is still a marathon ahead of us.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
I walk in the door after a full day at work. My husband is in the kitchen working with music playing. The children are in the lounge. One is playing on the computer, the others are watching a video. I sit on the sofa, and the video-watchers clamber over me, squabbling over the space on my lap.
Once the children are fed, cleaned, and herded into bed, my husband and I collapse onto the sofa. I pick up the laptop to browse the Reader and Facebook. My husband holds the TV remote control – after the News he flicks through the channels.
I begin to feel restless and fidgety. I long for some space with silence. I retreat to the bathroom, light a candle, and begin to fill the tub.I soak in the stillness and silence, as much as I soak in the hot water.
I consider the things that help me “recharge”. Like soaking in a hot bath or going for a long walk. The common theme I find is the solitude. I need solitude, yet it’s so hard to find space for that in my day to day life. I’ve found I need to make an effort to create moments of solitude for myself.
At lunchtime in the office, I choose to take my sandwiches and find a sunny corner in a park to eat them in solitude.
Sometimes I retreat to the library.
When I can I go for a walks.
When I don’t make the space to “recharge my batteries” with solitude, I become crabby and scratchy. Making time for myself gives me the ability to become a better spouse, parent, employee and friend.
I’m learning the key is not to fill up the solitude with too much doing. I need to create the space to “be”, to open up the real me and letting the real me out.
How do you “recharge”? And who are you when you’re alone?
Sunday, April 8, 2012
(From John 20, NIV)
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
Before dawn, still in darkness. The tomb is already empty, but for Mary and the disciples, it’s still dark. They’re still grieving, lost.
So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
Running. Confusion, fear, panic. Still not knowing what was going on.
He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
John saw and believed. He did not yet understand, and I don’t know exactly what he is believing at this point based on what he was seeing. Hope mingles with bewilderment. The sky lightens with the first light of the dawn.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
Mary does not yet grasp what’s happening. I don’t think I would either, in the circumstances. After all, whoever heard of a dead man coming back to life before?
At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
The sun rises above the horizon. It is now day. The man who was dead on Friday, with a spear thrust in his side and through his heart, is now revealed as alive.
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!”
Do the disciples believe her? John believes, but doesn’t understand. After all, she’s just a woman. But there’s a glow on her face that wasn’t there before. An unbounded joy that can’t be suppressed. And she says she’s seen the Lord.
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
What do we do now? After everything that’s happened, the enormity of it all is overwhelming. Easier to go back to what we know, to the kind of life we used to live. Let’s go fishing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
Jesus has done this before. Miraculous catches of fish are a familiar part of hanging out with him.
As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
I’ve always loved the image of Jesus cooking over a campfire on the beach. “Come and eat” he invites us.
An empty tomb, then breakfast on the beach.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Today is a day-between-days, a day of waiting. The Gospels are silent between Friday and Sunday. There are no services offered at my Church. Instead, our family carries on with normal life, we finish housework, my daughter has her birthday party. We eat some more Hot Cross Buns.
But back then, the disciples didn’t know they were supposed to be waiting for anything. Despite Jesus trying to tell them what was going to happen, they had no concept of resurrection. After all, whoever thought of a dead man coming back to life again? For them this was just a day of grief, all their hopes dashed, their world shattered.
We know what happens next. We’ve peeked at the end of the book. It’s with the perspective offered by the Resurrection that we can actually make sense and understand the Crucifixion. It wasn’t until after the Resurrection that the disciples began to understand the Hebrew scriptures that the Christ must suffer and die. And it was the risen Jesus that explained it to them.
In some ways, it seems that the world I live in today is in Saturday. Jesus walked the earth nearly 2,000 years ago, died for our sins, rose again, then to all appearances seems to have vanished from the picture leaving it up to me to muddle through with what’s left. I live in a world today where there is still suffering and pain and grief. I live is a city that lies in ruins, waiting for a promised rebuild some time in a distant future when the Insurance industry figures out how it will be paid for. I live in Saturday, but I can’t really say I know what I’m waiting for. I read hinted prophecies and scriptures that promise one day God’s Kingdom will be somehow fulfilled on earth. Images of no more mourning, no more suffering, God walking with us as he did in Eden. When I’m honest, I don’t really know when that will come or what that will look like. And I live my daily life without any real expectation of that being fulfilled in my lifetime. I’m unconvinced about any “rapture” type predictions.
I can carry on doing what I’m doing, working, raising my family, praying, worshipping, and trying (with varying success) to make my faith relevant to my everyday life. But what would my life look like if I kicked it up a notch? What could I do to practically bring more of Sunday into my Saturday world?
I recommend liturgy.co.nz for some further reflections.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Last Sunday, fog hugged the ground in the early Autumn morning.
I walked to the broken church, boarded up and fenced off, a red label on the door. A small blackboard sign said “Church” with an arrow pointing to the adjacent hall. Pews were laid out in the small wooden hall. Although a visitor, felt like I was among family.
The liturgy stirs the distant recesses of my memory. The words and prayers are familiar, yet the distance of time has made them fresh again to me.
We do not presume to come to your Holy Table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness.
I’m a long way from being worthy. I’m not even close to being the kind of person I’d like to be. My patience runs short. There are times I rub up my husband and children the wrong way. I open my mouth and speak when I should listen.
I file forward. The wafer softens on my tongue before I swallow. I take a sip from the silver chalice, just enough to taste the strong wine on my lips. The familiar words of the ritual are spoken.
The body of our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for you. Broken bread, broken body. A city of broken buildings and broken hearts.
The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which was shed for you. The sprinkled blood of sacrifice. I receive and accept again the sacrifice that was made for me.
Good Friday, a field on the outskirts of the city. A wooden cross, a crucified saviour.
I walked the road to the cross, reading placards that tell the story of another road, 2000 years ago in Jerusalem.
I knelt at the foot of the cross.
Others have written prayers on paper, and stuck them on the cross. I laid my hand on the wood, letting go of my failings, my weaknesses, my sins, to receive and accept again the sacrifice that was made for me.
Footnote: I had a lovely chat to the widow of the man who built the “Jesus”. The Halswell Cross has been running now for seven years at the Halswell Quarry Park, near Christchurch. It is put up on Good Friday each year, and runs until Easter Monday, supported by nine local churches. If you’re in Christchurch at Eastertime, I’d recommend a visit.