As we journey around this holy places, I have a deep awareness that Jesus is no more here than he is in Nelson Creek, Glenavy, Avonhead or Arrowtown or Christchurch.
It is very evident that many people who travel to this country do so with a strong awareness of the historical events that took place here. Yes Jesus was born here. He preached here. Jesus suffered and died in this land.
It is important for these people with their historical agendas (or blinkers?) to know that Jesus probably sat on this stone, preached on that hill, or slept in that boat. These people are tourists who hopefully, by the grace of God, will (in their journey) become pilgrims.
I do appreciate their need, and at times I too allow my curiosity about historical detail to cloud the true reality of the experience of Jesus present today.
So many churches we have seen pretend to be older than they are by imitating Roman or Byzantine style. Such architecture reinforces (albeit subconsciously) the sense that the life of faith was important to people a long time ago.
The danger always is that we slip into the pattern of looking back with romantic nostalgia to a time when we think things were better.
But this is not faith! It is romance. It is nostalgia. Faith an event that is alive in the present. Jesus is not simply the God-Man who walked this land two thousand years ago.
Jesus is alive today in Sockburn and Hornby, in Tonga and on the Chatham Islands.
Faith is not a willingness to be guided by a wise teacher who lived a long time ago in Galilee. Faith is a contemporary reality since Jesus is alive today. This shift is essential if one is to truly live.
This came home to me again yesterday when we visited the town of Cana. Remember the miracle? Jesus changes all that water into great wine.
But imagine how that experience was for the friends of Jesus who had brought him to the wedding. The apostles Bartholomew and Nathaniel were from this town and it may have been them who brought their new friend Jesus to the wedding. Jesus was their friend. They liked him.
But when they left the wedding after the miracle, things would have been very different between them to say the least. As hard as I try, I cannot find a friend who has the ability to, on the spot, turn tap water into good wine. But this is what Jesus did.
They would have walked home wondering; ‘what the…’ ‘how the…’ ‘who…’
With this first miracle the apostles and locals had begun to see, ‘we are truly in the presence of someone remarkable.’ In the months following they came to name this greatness: ‘truly this is the Son of God’.
This same relationship with Jesus is the heart of my life today. This intimacy with Jesus that I long for, and at times even feel, unfortunately is not always reflected in my words and actions, but God is working on that.
The fact is that faith is not primarily an historical event, but, because Jesus is alive, faith is a present reality.
As we take a boat out onto the Sea of Galilee today we carry our prayers with you. Your requests continue to come in by email and we welcome them.
Please offer your own prayer for the intentions we carry, especially one received yesterday for a young boy (aged four) Angus who has been diagnosed with cancer and is receiving chemo in Christchurch this week.
Love this John…..Faith is not a willingness to be guided by a wise teacher who lived a long time ago in Galilee. Faith is a contemporary reality since Jesus is alive today. This shift is essential if one is to truly live.