I spent most of last week in Southland. I preached and talked to people and drove and celebrated the eucharist and drove and talked to people and drove and talked some more. Wynston and Lorraine Cooper gave me somewhere to sleep and provided me with interesting conversation and showed me some of the parts of the countryside I had never seen before, for example Curio Bay where there is a petrified forest. Amongst the slowly eroding composite rocks ancient tree trunks lie exposed to the actions of surf and wind and rain. Some of the trunks lie straight along the ground, scattered around like pick-up-sticks. Others are stumps of trees that must have stood upright when they were petrified sometime in the Jurassic period; that is sometime before even birds and flowers were invented. More ages ago than my mind can get itself around these long straight patterned rocks were living things. Now they are being turned to sand and are slowly being washed onto the ocean floor. At some equally unimaginably vast distance in the future they will, I suppose, be compressed into rock again, and then, who knows? be lifted and bent into hills and covered in dust and guano and dirt which will grow trees or some as yet unknown thing descended from trees.
Standing there in that place, with the old trees set into the rocks and the shallow bay where the Hectors Dolphins like to come and feed within feet of the shore and the terns wheeling in the updrafts I was overcome with a sense of the great continuing pulse of the Universe. Things come into existence; they are, they move (some of them), they live (some fewer of them), they cease to be (all of them). Then again (all of them) they become something else. Birth - Life -Death -Resurrection. It is the way of all that is. It is the way the universe is made.
Today I remember the one whose life gives me the clearest possible picture of the great mind which conceived this pattern. The life of Jesus shows the self giving love which gives rise to all things; and, clearer even than the patterns of life in a petrified log, he lived out for us the great design of the universe: Birth - Life -Death -Resurrection. What else could we expect?
This is how things are, so this is how he is.
And this is how we are.