Teresa and I, along with 4 million plus Kiwis were blessed this post-Christmas holiday period with some hot summer weather. It was not obvious before Christmas that this would be so. Nor, indeed, the day before we left Christchurch when I watched a day's cricket at Hagley Oval with a nippy wind in my face!
That eventual heat made us appreciative of opportunities - sometimes quite briefly - to be in some of our special Down Under summer spots, with special reference to water: Kaikoura Coast, Tahunanui Beach, Pohara, Tata Beach, Gisborne, Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay, Te Araroa, East Cape, Raukokore, Opotiki, Gisborne (again), Mahia Beach, Lake Waikaremoana, Napier. Also appreciative of cars with air conditioning!
Exploring the East Coast of the North Island was new to me. I had been to Napier and Gisborne before, but never driven the road between these two towns, nor driven the coastal route from Gisborne to Opotiki. Our journey took in some memorable places, generating some pics below.
|Memorial to Sir Apirana Ngata, outside St Mary's Memorial Church, Tikitiki|
|Extraordinary stained glass window in east wall of St Mary's Memorial Church, Tiktiki. Two WW1 Maori Battalion soldiers kneeling at the foot of the cross, the crucified Jesus and slain soldiers set within Paradise.|
|Christ Church, Raukokore - the North Island's corresponding church to the South Island's Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo?|
|Hicks Bay - one of a series of famous East Coast beaches.|
|Mahia Beach - arguably as nice a beach-to-have-a-holiday-home-beside as any beach in Aotearoa NZ!|
Now, these brief reports do not tell the whole story of all places and churches visited recently, nor or people met and books and articles digested. And, in comments on my previous post, below, there continued to be much food for thought. And, and ... I notice continuing "events" in the wider, global Anglican story of our times ... and I note that these mostly continue to be about That Topic. So my "holiday musings," here below, are not solely catalysed by our East Coast adventure.
Musing 1: holidays can be an opportunity to recall, again, what an extraordinary world we live in. I thank God not only that God created our wonderful world but also that we have One whom we can thank. A musing through these past few weeks has been about whether as church we bear witness to the God Whom We Can Thank for the gift of life and of love. We worry about whether atheists pray or not when in a foxhole on the battlefield, but what do atheists do when absorbing the beauty of an East Coast beach?!
Musing 2: holidays can also be an opportunity to be reminded that many Kiwis are happy and contented with their lives. Finding well patronised restaurants and cafes in holiday places, with happy, laughing patrons, or walking the beaches and meeting people enjoying sea, sand and sun, I find myself musing that the progress of the gospel Down Under is difficult because life here is so darn good for lots of people. Now - of course - I do not wish for misfortune to drive us back/forward to God but my musing is that we continue to have a huge challenge communicating to fellow Kiwis that God is worth bothering about, that the truest, deepest, enduring secret to life (Colossians 1:27) is Christ and not Kiwiana! Working also from Colossians - an epistle I have been reading especially these past few weeks - our question today is how we can make the secret "clear" to our fellow Kiwis (Colossians 4:4).
Musing 3: nevertheless, while not wishing this to be so, I have also been musing on whether we are very close to (climate) catastrophe? That same summer heat at times has felt unusually hot. We know the climate is changing. Recent news reports have talked about the heating of the planet's seawater and the probable acceleration of general global warming as a result. How close are we to a global catastrophe with respect to climate?
Musing 4: I have kept reading Jenson's Systematic Theology, including his chapter on the resurrection. Coincidentally, there is an emerging controversy over the newly appointed Interim Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Very Rev'd Dr John Shepherd, because of some remarks he once made about the resurrection (see news reports here and here). Jenson himself is very careful and nuanced about the resurrection and would have words to say to Shepherd's critics (to the extent, e.g., that they throw terms like "literal" around without nuance). But Jenson makes one of the best points ever about why the tomb was empty: concluding discussion on what "body" means in respect of human bodies, the body of Christ in sacrament and as the church, he writes
"The organism that was Jesus' availability - that was his body - until he was killed would have as a corpse continued to be an availability of this person, of the kind that tombs and bodies of the dead always are. It would have been precisely a relic, such as the saints of all religions have. Something other than sacrament and church would have located the Lord for us, would have provided a direction for devotion; and that devotion would have been to a saint, and so would have been something other than faith and obedience to a living Lord. The tomb we may therefore very cautiously judge, had to be empty after the Resurrection for the Resurrection to be what it is." (p. 206, Vol 1 Systematic Theology).
UPDATE: Shepherd has responded to his critics here. AND we could add this in here (Rowan Williams on John Spong ...).