My wife and I traveled to Christchurch this weekend to celebrate my young sister’s sixtieth birthday with my family. It was a good Saturday night when we enjoyed a cabaret with some clever people entertaining us with music appropriate for a sixty year old. We had two of our children there and their partners and they were able to catch up with cousins. On the Sunday we went around to my sister’s place and had lunch with family there. All of my siblings and their wives were there so we caught up on each other with lots of conversation and some memories.
It was interesting being in Christchurch again after my two stints there assisting with earthquake recovery. The place still looks very beaten up. On the Sunday morning I got up and had a run down Blenheim Road, around part of Hagley Park and back home. I started running about 7:50 and on the frosty morning it was so cold that my hands hurt. I was jogging around the park when the sun got high enough to shine through the trees (very picturesque – I wished I had brought my camera) and by the time I was running home it was warm enough to enjoy the day. Two things - I ran along and saw all these big green sewerage tanks strapped together in front of these buildings. As I looked at these I realized it was outside the public hospital! There is so much work poor old Christchurch needs to have done to repair the earthquake damage! (There were at least two aftershocks while we were there.) Secondly as I jogged around one part of the park I was reminded of running around a park in Amsterdam. The scenery was very similar. I got to wondering what Christchurch would be like if it fostered a bike culture like Amsterdam? It is flat. I am sure it would do people good to bike and also clear the air of a lot of pollution. If I was mayor of Christchurch that is what I would be looking into, it would be a great asset.
We caught up on lots of people over the weekend. While driving home we were talking about these people, and then went on to talk about the many people in our lives. A number of people we know have faced or are facing the dreaded cancer, with uncertainty about their future. Quite a few among our contacts and extended family have experienced a break up of their marriage or live with a marriage that is not nearly as supportive and life giving as it could be. And finally, a number of people struggle with life because of the on-going unwise choices that they keep making. Our hearts were heavy as we thought about all the struggles, stresses and pain people we knew were facing. We also felt incredibly fortunate and just lucky to have the life we live. Cherish life and look after the people you love.
Out of step again?
I got talking to a minister and he started talking denominational politics and who represented who, how to maintain control of churches, what was right and what was wrong. I had two reactions at first. My first reaction was to say under my breath, “Tell someone who cares!” Such things no longer interest me. I am wrapped up in representing Jesus in the community and I have lost interest in the politics of the denomination. My second reaction was to then feel guilty. I have been the president of our Denomination in NZ. I have been on the Conference Council. I was employed by the hierarchy as a fieldworker for two years. Shouldn’t I as a minister be concerned and involved? But I am so out of step that I can’t be bothered with the issues any more. They seem irrelevant to where I am at in my faith, my ministry and my Christian involvement in the community. But I felt a bit guilty when this minister reported that someone he was talking to complained that “David does not go to conferences any more!”
I got to thinking about Jesus and his reaction to internal political arguments among his band of disciples. He basically said that sort of thinking was “of the world” and not “Kingdom thinking”. I am not sure Jesus would have wanted the imperialistic structures that are formed in his name! I think he too would lose interest in such internal politics. I decided that my view off Jesus was very different than much Church thinking… but to quote another religious rebel, “Here I stand, I can do no other!” (I just got an email; the hierarchy of my denomination wants to meet with me… oh well?!)
I have enjoyed driving our 1990 Nissan Bluebird. She travels so well on the open road and is so comfortable. … but I noticed that when starting the starting motor did not buzz as well as it ought to have. We got to Timaru on the way home and took a leisurely stroll through the shops. When we arrived back at Wanda she would not start even with jumper leads. A nice young man pushed us and we drove to our favourite motel in Oamaru. We unloaded our luggage and parked Wanda on a hill for a roll start tomorrow morning to go the final leg home. We’ll have to get her fixed when we get home. Tonight we will relax in the luxury of this expensive motel and pretend we are rich. Overall, so far, it has been a nice weekend off! Back to the real world tomorrow.
Photos: The music at the cabaret... ABBA and Tina Turner imitation.... good fun.