Here is an Easter reflection from the Right Rev. Hamish Galloway, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand.
Resurrection and Restoration
The Easter message of death and resurrection is powerful on so many levels. Much is made in our contemporary Christian culture of the individual impact of this on our lives but there is also a powerful collective community impact that can be easily overlooked. I was struck by this when I was in the Hawke’s Bay to preach at a combined service held in the wake of the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle. The lectionary text for the day was Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones, a vision received while he languished in exile in Babylon lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem. As I worked with the text it came to life for me as a message about the resurrection and restoration of ravaged communities.
In my research, I came across the comment that the passage is ‘a quintessential vision of human disaster’. And then the Sunday Star Times newspaper on the morning of the service stated that the ‘cyclone caused a horticultural apocalypse in the Hawke’s Bay’, Ezekiel’s vision in real time!
The Lord asks Ezekiel if the dry bones can live again, and he correctly throws it back on the Lord! To Ezekiel the scale of the devastation looked beyond human intervention. Some in the storm ravaged regions of the North Island express similar human hopelessness. The same newspaper article reports that, ‘Federated Farmer says some families will call it quits after generations of working the land. This Cyclone may prove to be the last straw for some farmers’.
A beautiful thing about Ezekiel’s vision is the way the Lord uses human agency to speak and breathe the bones back to life. As I listen to the stories of our Christian communities reaching out to their neighbours in places like Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne and Wairoa, I see the same thing happening – God inspired hope-filled human agency, or should I say ‘angel-cy’, at work helping to bring communities back to life.
In the Hawke’s Bay, the Art Deco restoration of Napier following the devastating 1931 earthquake stands today as a beacon of hope, just as does the eventual return of the faithful remnant of the Jewish people to Jerusalem in 538BC!
And I have watched community resurrection and restoration here in my home of Ōtautahi Christchurch in the wake of the devastation of our earthquakes. First, it was the springing up of street art, then the rehousing of the displaced, and then rebuilding of the CBD … increasing signs of hope and resurrection everywhere I look.
We Jesus people are Easter people. We are resurrection people, carrying with us a message of hope to the most devastated of our communities, cities, and circumstances.
Our Easter services
Maundy Thursday, 6 April, with our friends at Zion Hill – at their church. 7.00 p.m.
Good Friday and Easter Sunday Services at 172 Hinemoa Street. 9.30 each day.
We will share a positive and inclusive message for all ages and stages.