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Sunday, March 27, 2016

He is Risen!

Three ways I have celebrated Easter this weekend:
Sunrise, Flowering of the Cross and an excellent movie.

Sunrise at Orewa Beach this morning:

Flowering of the Cross as part of our Easter service at Ponsonby Baptist Church.

And finally... If you get the chance to see the movie Risen do go. It is an excellent presentation of the events of the resurrection of Jesus from the perspective of a Roman Tribune who was given the task of finding out what really happened. It is a full length very professionally produced movie with great insights into the culture, history and political reality behind the story we know so well. Some very moving depictions of Jesus and the disciples after the resurrection. In my view it is very sensitively done without the Hollywood hype of some religious movies.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Harrowing of Hell

This might be a rather confronting title! The term itself is not heard very often these days, in the circles I live in anyway. It refers to the time between the death of Jesus and his resurrection. Tradition (including the Apostle's Creed) has it that Jesus "descended into hell" before he rose again. What exactly that means has been interpreted in various ways. Currently I'm re-reading Cynthia Bourgault's book The Wisdom Jesus, specifically her chapters on the Easter events. I am pondering her discussion abut the fact that in our world darkness and light have to co-exist. That's just how the world works. In that case it isn't about trying hard to blot out the darkness so there is only light. Think about events in our world right now where people are trying to "blot out" what they consider to be darkness. The result is that both sides see the other as representing darkness and themselves as the light. And so the terrible dimensions of hell continue.
"The resolution doesn't lie in collapsing the tension of opposites by cancelling one of them out. Something has to go deeper, something that can hold them both". That 'something' is the love expressed in Jesus' life and death and in this time between death and resurrection.
Bourgeault suggests that Jesus was willing to "sit with... all the collective faces of the false self... the anguish of Judas, the indecision of Pilate, the cowardice of Peter, the sanctimony of the Pharisees; sitting there in the midst of all this blackness, not judging, not fixing, just letting it be in love. And in so doing, he was allowing love to go deeper, pressing all the way to the innermost ground out of which the opposites arise and holding that to the light. A quiet, harmonising love was infiltrating even the deepest places of darkness and blackness, in a way that didn't override them or cancel them, but gently re-connected them to the whole." p123

The word "harrowing" generally means something extremely distressing, agonising, hard to bear. To sit with all the darkness as described certainly fits that description. The other meaning of  "harrowing" is related to farming - turning over the soil, digging deeply into it to prepare it for planting and new growth. Perhaps this is also an apt way to use it. If love can infiltrate even the deepest places of darkness and blackness in ourselves and in our corner of the world there is hope for us all to be "gently re-connected to the whole" and thus participate in this way of "harrowing hell".

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sculptural beauty

A quick post today - just to capture the beauty and creativity of a variety of sculptures I've seen this weekend.
A stainless steel piece called "Eyelet" by Rebecca Rose
at the harbour View Sculpture trail in Te Atatu. This trail closes on 28th March.

On the same trail this piece is by children of Te Atatu Intermediate School.
It is called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It is made from plastic bottle tops and is part of the school's awareness of how much plastic waste clogs up our oceans. 
This fits nicely with the Lent themes of recent weeks!
Finally a wonderful sand sculpture right here above Orewa beach! The whole 360 of this one is amazing but just one photo here. There was a public sand sculpture competition on the beach yesterday as well. There were some very creative pieces.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Creation care

This week's theme in Living Lent is about connecting with, and caring for, creation. Yesterday's challenge was to go for a walk in natural surroundings to appreciate the inter-connectedness of all creation. I am fortunate that I do that almost every day so this wasn't actually a "challenge"! This is what I profoundly enjoyed on my sunrise walk yesterday:
As well as being so grateful for the blessing of living in such a beautiful place - and the health and strength to enjoy it - I am very aware of those for whom this would seem like "heaven" in comparison with the "hell" they are living in through no fault of their own.

A challenging paragraph from today's Living Lent:
"when you throw something away, where is ‘away’? There is no such place. Things have to end up somewhere. It turns out that ‘away’ is a polluted community, a polluted ecosystem, a sick child or a dead albatross. The world over, rubbish dumps and landfills are concentrated in areas where the poorest live, while parks are concentrated near the rich. In God’s ecology, little is wasted. What one organism discards as waste, another consumes as food or home-building material. What wisdom!"
(The underlining is mine.) 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

It's easier than you think!

Changing to a new bank... I am happy to report that it is much easier than I thought. I spent one hour with a very efficient and delightful young woman at Kiwi Bank who talked through what my banking needs were. She set me up right there and then with all I needed. Less than a week later the Eftpos card and Credit card arrived in the mail. The best thing of all is that Kiwi Bank transfers all my automatic payments and direct debits information into my new account without me having to laboriously do that myself! I do have to personally notify the people who pay into my account but I was even given a printed slips to give out to my clients with the new account number on it! I was also given an official letter to take to WINZ so that my superannaution gets paid into the new account. In other words she thought of everything - even things I hadn't!
So go Kiwi Bank! 

This kind of un-related - but in a way very appropriate to add. Here's a five minute conversation between Oprah Winfrey and Brene Brown on the link between gratitude and joy (and how we sometimes restrict our joy.) 

Monday, March 7, 2016

Reality check!

This Living Lent series is motivating me to action that is far more challenging than simply "giving up something for Lent". The past week has challenged us to check out whether our banks invest in fossil fuels - and if they do to change to a bank that doesn't.

I've known for a while that ANZ (the bank I've always used) is one of the biggest investors in fossil fuels. I've written to the powers that be expressing my concern and received the usual polite reply that in a roundabout way justifies their actions. But changing to another bank has always felt too much of a hassle! Now the "reality check" is: am I prepared to put my money where my mouth is! So I am in the process of investigating changing to Kiwi Bank. I'll keep you posted about how it goes!

The four biggest banks (here in NZ) ANZ, ASB, BNZ and Westpac are all big fossil fuel investors. Kiwi Bank, Rabobank, TSB and Heartland are not. (Just saying ... in case you want to act too!)

As another interesting "reality check" I recently received this You Tube link to a 17 minute presentation called Reality's Rules: Ten Commandments to Avoid Extinction. The presenter Rev Michael Dowd is an "evolutionary eco-theologian and pro-future evangelist". You may not agree with (or even like) what he has to say in this Video but it is very well presented and has a great deal of food for thought.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Twice the size of France..! Really?

Yes, apparently there is a mass of plastic waste twice the size of France swirling around in our ocean. And I do mean our ocean. This is "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch". Click here for more information. Sadly there are several other plastic garbage patches around the world.

I felt both sad and angry when I read the information at the link above. But I use plastic! Sure I re-cycle plastic shopping bags so I use them many times, but in the end they go out in the rubbish as we use them for bin-liners. A lot of plastics these days are re-cycleable and that's great. But the scale of this existing and on-going problem is so enormous that it is easy just to give up. However, the excellent news on this site is that someone is doing something really significant about it. I am more than happy to contribute to this effort. Maybe you can too. But even if you can't, being informed may help us all find small ways we can avoid contributing to the problem.