Thursday, March 27, 2008

Redeeming the Arts

We have had a wonderful journey through Holy Week at St Mary's in these recent days. I count it a privilege to have been a part of it. How beautiful to celebrate a meal together on Thursday night, modelled on the Passover, remembering the Last Supper of our Lord. Then on Friday morning we traveled through a beautiful and deeply moving narrative centering on the cross of Christ, with drama, dance, procession, music and readings from the scriptures. Sharing in Hot Cross Buns after the service—traditional Good Friday fare—drew us into a precious time of fellowship. Friday evening’s Tenebrae service embraced us in a moving reading of John’s Gospel, as the sun set and the darkness of dusk fell over the city, bringing Good Friday to a close. Then on Easter day, the magnificent floral cross declared God’s gift of exuberant irrepressible life. How lovely also to hear the rebuilt organ pumping out the Messiah’s praises for the first time!
The Good News declares that the renewal of the world has begun in Jesus Christ. This Easter we have been celebrating the full majesty and power of the King breaking into and renewing this world. The Resurrection demonstrates the intention and power of God to redeem and renew his world. The book of Genesis describes the creation of a good world: again and again it is said ‘it was good’. Part of the goodness of this world is the gift of beauty. This is why, in the Christian faith, it is right and good for us to celebrate every beautiful thing in this world. God did not place us in a dull, drab and ugly world. He made it beautiful and wonderful. The use of flowers on Easter Day, and all the expressions of dance, drama and music which we been touched by in recent days—these express confidence that God is redeeming his creation. As part of this redemption, he is releasing the arts, for there is no good and beautiful thing which does not have a place in his new world.
It has indeed been a blessing that so many people with creative gifts have gathered in St Mary’s congregation. What a delight to see the Lord releasing these gifts into his service during Holy Week and Easter.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On Trees and Things

While I was in New Zealand recently I familiarized myself with the characteristics of the Kauri pine. The Kauri is one of the great trees of New Zealand.
We have a very large one at the front of our property (on the right as you come in the driveway). It seems ours is just coming out of its ‘juvenile’ phase, even though it is already the tallest thing on the site! After 100 years, the tree probably has another 900 or so years of life ahead of it, and will expand century by century to be 2-3 metres diameter at the base. The lower trunk will lose all its branches, and a huge crown will expand at the top coming to dominate the site, from 20 metres up in the air (see photo - a Kauri pine in New Zealand). This is already taking place, as the tree is losing its conical shape and thinning out the lower branches.
It really amazes me, the capacity for vision of someone who would plant a tree like that. Jesus several times compared the Kingdom of God to a tree. A single tree can be host to a huge community of wild-life, with birds and animals finding rest and protection in its cover. Do you think about what the seeds you sow in Jesus’ garden might turn into, even years after you are long gone? We know that some seedlings do not survive — as Jesus'parable of the Sower explains — but others have a vast impact in their season. Jesus compared faith to a tiny seed: small in size, but huge in impact for God.