Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Sunday, December 27, 2015

He will not let me go!

My daughter with her niece, my latest grand daughter. 
My grandson (light blue shorts) with his father look at a digger. Christchurch has many big diggers at work and my grandson (Stanley) loves diggers!
Memorial Arch under repair still.
New Regent Street in Christchurch city... Christchurch is slowly repairing itself after the big earthquake 5 years ago. 
I am turned off Church. I was invited to go to the Anglican Cathedral in the centre of Dunedin (St Paul's) to take part in a service called "Nine Lessons and Nine Carols." I was to read one of the lessons as a representative of the Dunedin Night Shelter Trust. It was a choral service with the cathedral choir singing lots of numbers. There was pomp and ceremony. At the appointed time the verger (dressed in an appropriate gown) came to my seat, she had a silver tipped staff, bowed in my direction and I was escorted to the reading lectern and bowed at again. When the choir finished its number, I read my appointed reading in the translation ascribed with the introduction typed out for me to read. I was then escorted back to my seat, bowed to again as I took my seat. The Bishop was in residence sitting up by the Choir though he did not do anything in the service. Everything was conducted with dispassionate looking decorum. The thing that got to me was that the songs the choir sang, when I could understand them (- though they did provide a brief english summary as a translation.)  the prayers, the carols we sang all had great christological claims about the Christ child that I have come to believe Jesus of Nazareth would reject.  We were in a building that must have cost millions, probably still costs thousands to maintain with all sorts of pomp and ceremony remembering a life reported to have been born in a stable, who mixed with prostitutes and outcastes. - It all seemed incongruous and out of step with the Jesus who "sits on my shoulder" these days.  I hear of millions being spent to rebuild earthquake damaged churches here in Christchurch where I am holidaying. There are millions spent on restoring or earthquake proofing other elaborate Churches. I just feel that Jesus of Nazareth would not approve! I am unhappy attending my local Church, I would not fit in most Churches I am aware of, the language, priorities and dogmatics would not fit me.  There is a part of me which says that in spite of the fact that I have been in Church ministry forty odd years, I should dump Church involvement all together, walk away and don't look back, as so many others have and are doing. "Why not?" I ask.

Somehow "He" will not let me!  The Church is the only place the "Jesus of Nazareth story" is kept alive, grossly distorted though it may be. And I cannot dump Jesus. He still makes sense. I took the two quotes below off facebook. They ring bells for me. Somebody commented on the Leonard Cohen one, "It is up to us to reform our Churches." I guess so. ... He will not let me go!

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