photo (c) Wynston Cooper 2014Today was almost a rest day. We had a leisurely breakfast with our hosts, Liz and Evan Cheyne before making our way to St. John's for the 10 am service where I was preaching. After the service we held the first of our regional events outside under the trees. As the rain was threatening we kept it brief. I acted as MC, Phil Clark spoke with his usual witty eloquence and John Franklin prayed a blessing on the city. We had a pretty good turnout, most of whom stayed for lunch afterwards and a few of whom walked with us in the blustery wind and light rain across the city to Gladstone. It was a day for talking, making links between Christian communities of our own and others' denominations, and listening to what is going on this energetic little city
Invercargill is a beautiful town, which I knew already but knew even more so when I had walked through Queen's Park and down a couple of leafy little walkways known to the locals. I stopped to have my photo taken, naturally, beside a sign which said "Kelvin St." and another which advertised "Kelvin House" whose business is, apparently, budget mixed mature accommodation.
We arrived at All Saints Gladstone after about an hour, having traveled by way of Holy Trinity North Invercargill. Richard Aitken then took me to a cycle shop where I bought white, padded, leather-look handlebar tape to fit to Te Harinui. This tokotoko isn't merely a ceremonial stick but is a practical walking stick which is used for hours a day and needs an absorbent, non stick grip. I have done my best not to detract from its aesthetics. Over the course of the past couple of days scores, perhaps even hundreds of people have used Te Harinui or at least handled it. Phil used it as an object lesson in his talk this morning, as a symbol of the Gospel, whose purpose is not to be carried about as some sort of highly decorated burden, but is a practical support to be used and leaned upon as we walk the path.
Tomorrow there is another long flat straight haul over the Southland plains and ditto Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday we will no doubt be competing fiercely for the use of the walking stick.