Chatham Islands Wharekauri is one of the hidden gems of Aotearoa.
As Parish Priest I visited several times each year over a nine year period and looked forward to my visits to this unique, rugged landscape home to a people of grounded and practical faith.
Following the 2-3 hour flight from NZ (even though the Chathams is a part of NZ the locals refer to it as if it were a different country), and the 20 minute drive to Waitangi township, then crossing the bridge, there is the often photographed sign which always brings a smile.
What more do you need, hospital, bottle store and church.
There’s also a cemetery up the same road which would complete the sign-post well.
Anyone who was looking for the Waitangi church, the bottle-store or the hospital would be happy to see this sign, evidence that they were headed in the right direction and the destination was near.
But people looking for these three places never stop at the sign.
After my first visit I didn’t need the sign. It had served it’s purpose and while it still made me smile more often than not I didn’t even notice it.
There are several ways of reading Jesus’ comment in today’s gospel reading: “So you will not believe unless you see signs?”
How would you answer Jesus asking you: “so you will not believe unless you see signs?”
Is Jesus reprimanding, stating a fact, or innocently asking a question?
I’ve thought about this. My answer is “No.”
Not only will I not believe, but I cannot believe unless I see signs of Jesus present and active in my life.
I might want to believe, and try to believe, but I am only able to believe if I have signs, when I see and experience evidence of Jesus’ present.
A child will believe simply because others tell them. However mature adult faith needs personal experience and evidence.
So what do we do?
Here’s my suggestion.
Ask Jesus for signs of his presence and action in your life.
Be bold in your asking.
Try it now.
I guarantee that within hours you will notice signs that encourage, challenge and inspire you.
The reason is not that Jesus will suddenly start to send you signs – although this may happen.
While Jesus often responds directly to our prayer, what also happens when we pray is that we become ready, open and expectant to receiving what we pray for.
Prays for evidence of Jesus’ personal presence and you will begin to notice that you are never alone.
God is with you.