How stretchable is Your Story? Could it adapt to the earthshattering experience of Christchurch, New Zealand? On 22nd February 2011 an Mw 6.2 earthquake rocked Christchurch at 12:51 p.m. Parents lost children, children lost parents; neighbours, siblings, colleagues and friends died in the devastating disaster. Beside the Avon River, within earshot of England playing NZ at cricket, I read the names etched in stone of the 185 people who perished through that fateful day and further moved by 185 individually unique white seats, giving vent to ghastly grief and eternal hope.

 

Directly across from these sobering seats rises the ‘Transitional Cathedral’, standing triangular like a tent, its rafters, pulpit, choir stalls and empty cross made up of cardboard rolls. The original cathedral, a ruin since 2011 is soon to be renewed. It was a joy to join with their high Anglican Easter morning service, candles, bells, smells and all. The sanctuary is designed to offer sanctuary for church and community throughout the week and to withstand earth tremors, but, at the end of the day for each one of us there will be no hiding place from the shake and quake of death. And here is where the Christ Story stretches to embrace all our sorrow, suffering and death.

 

Reaching the tomb where the killed Christ had been laid, the two Marys’ world was literally rocked by angels 1st telling them Jesus was alive. Prior to this in Matthew 27, the veil in the Jewish Temple, separating sinful humans from holy God Almighty, was torn from top to bottom, the earth shook and the dead in Christ appeared in Jerusalem alive.

 

Hope, for life beyond our creations’ crumbling and the decimation of our dreams, is born and found in the God who, rather than pontificating from on high, comes in person to ‘be with us’, ‘die for us’ and promises to ‘see us through even death’s shadow’.

Dorothy and I have been truly privileged to journey through New Zealand’s North & South Islands. We’ve found the people so friendly, scenery staggeringly beautiful, and roads refreshingly quiet. Easter Monday we fly north to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and a chance to serve in the Athletes Village. I’m reminded that us humans are always in ‘Transition’.

Vistas of Milford & Doubtful Sounds with their crevice carved valleys, towering mountains like Mt Cook, quirky 4 million year old Moeraki Boulder volcanic droplets lying on a beach impressed. In view of the millions of years it took to fashion such beauty we were humbled to be in the here and now to witness it. Ending our NZ safari in Christchurch marks our transition to the Gold Coast. It’s a city refinding and rebuilding itself, and reminds me of Christ’s Church in Scotland, NZ & all around the World, which is also in transition. Christ’s death and resurrection continues to shake our preconceptions and give birth to new worlds.

Church is people, not buildings, indeed Christ’s crucifixion was the death knell for the Jewish Jerusalem Temple, which would come crumbling down in 70 AD. As sports and work place chaplaincies demonstrate, Jesus is all about going to be where people are rather than trying to coral them into a building. It’s more about relationship than religion, an intimate personal relationship with the Almighty God, who loves us forever in Christ. Easter Blessings to and through us all!