Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Middle East. Day 1: Auckland
It was pouring with rain in Napier this morning and cold with it. I slept well in the guest flat beneath the Bishop's house where I was ensconced because my lack of a sleeping bag precluded my staying in the more spartan boarders' quarters at Napier Boys' High. It was good to sit up into the evening comparing episcopal experiences with David Rice, and then, this morning, to attend a workshop at the National Youth Forum
The workshop I opted for was run by Justin Duckworth of Urban Vision. Justin delivered one of those addresses where you have an uneasy feeling that no matter what process of selection and choosing I may have thought I went through to be there, the real reason was that the Holy Spirit had grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, dumped me into the little plastic seat and said to me "Now my lad, just keep your trap shut, and your eyes and ears open. This is for you. Understand?" He talked about the non negotiables of Christianity: obedience to Jesus, authentic community and 'giving your best for the least". That is, that the right place for the church to be is with the marginalised and overlooked. I don't know quite what the diocese paid to get me to Napier this morning, but this hour and a half was worth every cent.
There were a few anxious moments later, looking out of the window at the rain lashing down on the runway of the Hawkes Bay airport, and at the visibility taking leave of absence, but Air new Zealand are champions. The little plane landed and took off undaunted with me aboard, and here I am in the Emirates lounge with coffee and wifi and a range of Middle Eastern type lunch dishes spread out for my perusal, and an enormous airliner with lie flat seats waiting 100 metres away. Which is all about as far from what Justin was speaking about this morning as it's possible to be.