I was in a café recently and asked the man sitting next to me where he was from. Christchurch, he said. And then: Originally I came from Egypt. We talked for a bit about Egypt, my experiences there, and how it has changed; and about Christchurch, the earthquakes, our homes, and the future here.
Then he asked me what I did. I told him I am a priest. He said he is a Christian also. A Coptic Christian, I ventured; their church has been munted* by the quakes and I expressed my sadness for them. He smiled, it was no huge deal. We can worship the Lord anywhere, he said. The building is munted – the church is fine, I suggested, and we both laughed.
I stood by where the Oxford Terrace Baptist Church used to be. An old sign said, our building is cracked – the church is fine and meeting at… The sign was old, because after further quakes, the building is not merely cracked, it is now a pile of rubble.
I regularly say, we are the church – the building is there to stop the church getting wet.
I fantasise about a Christchurch/Canterbury-wide ecumenical movement with slogans/straplines such as, “our buildings are munted – the churches are fine”. Maybe a simple logo: simple, stick-like figures holding hands spiralling from a munted building to serve amongst rubble and in a community with munted buildings, maybe carrying a cross… Used on letterheads, newspaper advertisements, websites, banners. At each location where a church building used to be, a map and information also indicating where other Christian communities are now meeting nearby, whatever their denomination. An ecumenical website with a map and pins with information where Christian communities are currently meeting…
I can fantasise…
*munted – probably one of the most commonly heard terms around Christchurch – meaning: wrecked, damaged
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