Faith in Taranaki: Christianity - my choice this Easter
OPINION: Up to about a century ago, if you born into a European culture you really didn't have a choice whether or not to be a Christian. You were because the only explanation of the world that was generally available said that God made it.
You knew that because the Bible said so or the Church said so and the social structure you lived in gave no encouragement for opting out. If you were bright enough to be unconvinced by this cosy little universe with God in the middle you usually kept quiet.
Today all that cuts no ice. We have choices, choices dripping from the ceiling, choices oozing from the floorboards, therefore how can we take seriously a belief system like Christianity that says this is how it is, believe it or else?
Because that's not why people like me have chosen to be Christians. I am a Christian because the Christian faith has spoken to me as nothing else has. Far from being some pious fantasy past its use-by date, it is very real about all aspects of life- the ugly facts of existence as well as the good things. It's uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassing, because it speaks to the parts inside, as well as the parts outside that are easier to acknowledge.
Let's face it - the world's in a mess. At the moment there seem far more signs of chaos than of order. That's why a blue sky, unreal, religion is not enough. And why Christianity can stand the test of time.
Christianity is not a blue sky religion. It's not a blue stocking or blue blooded religion either: the honest truth is that it's a bit common - Christianity's got no class. Far beneath the dignity of any god worth worshipping today when there are so many glossier alternatives. In all shapes. Gods who will massage your ego and will not ask awkward questions.
But is that to be preferred to 2000 years of changed lives?
Christianity is often set aside because it is called unbelievable and difficult and offensive. And of course it is. One man died so that we may not. That's our faith.
The Easter message is Jesus Christ's victory over death. When Christ was raised from the dead it did not mean that the cross had been left behind. The risen Jesus is always the Jesus who was once crucified.
And the Resurrection says that the final enemy, death, is not the end of all things. This precarious, beautiful, burdensome thing we call life is not just snuffed out at the end of a certain number of years, and that makes a difference to the way I live.
If this life is only the first scene in a play that has no final curtain, then I'm going to play it very differently from the way I would if I thought it was the last and only one in which I was ever going to appear.
The Resurrection says that death need not be a dark infinite universe of nothing into which we fall for ever.
Easter is the wild assertion by God that the long, flawed history of human kind is not without meaning and purpose. We are not without meaning and purpose. God desires us so much that it hurts- and Christ is risen!
Submitted by The Reverend Jacqui Paterson, Holy Trinity Fitzroy