Over the weekend Teresa and I had the pleasure of entertaining some friends from the UK. Yesterday we did some exploring in central Christchurch city. That led us to Turanga, our brand new central city library which is spectacular and on the evidence of yesterday, excellently patronised.
Once inside Turanga, there are multiple stairs to climb but the ascent to the highest level is worth it as this gives access to a viewing platform for which the foremost building on display is our Christ Church Cathedral.
I took a photograph ...
As I work my way in to the role of being the Bishop of Christchurch, I am, on an almost daily basis, being brought up to speed with all that is expected of me as bishop in relation to the cathedral. To be honest, this is pretty exciting and I am meeting some very interesting people who are being drawn into the reinstatement project.
I also note that even while the project is getting some steam up and forging ahead, there are continuing arguments in the Christchurch Press letters' page about the cathedral ... well, this past week, cathedrals, since some news about the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch's thinking about their cathedral has prompted a new flurry of letters.
In the midst of these public debates about buildings is a simple-but-complex question: what is the public character of our faith?
Our faith is not in buildings but buildings house faithful Christians. Within such "houses", Christians pray and praise God. Houses of prayer. Bit by bit such spaces, from their design and intentions through to their actual use, become sacred spaces - spaces which attract Christians and non-Christians and people who define themselves somewhere in between those two descriptions. Attachments form. Our faith may not be in buildings such as cathedrals but cathedrals engender some kind of faith, from well articulated, theologically formed faith through to incoate faith - faith in some kind of divine something through to faith in the God of Jesus Christ, whose story is told in Scripture and whose definition is set out in orthodox creeds.
However the future of our cathedrals in Christchurch is worked out, we are privileged to be part of a city where cathedrals matter!