Many people know of Leo Tolstoy, a famous Russian writer, and his book War and Peace. He was born and brought up as a nobleman and was proud of being rich. He wrote many books. However, he was not satisfied with this and realized that he could not find real happiness in his life even though he was renowned through his many books. His frustration continued. One day he encountered a farmer passing by a road in the country. In the eyes of Tolstoy, the farmer looked very peaceful. Tolstoy asked the man how he could be so peaceful. He said, “Once I learned to depend upon God, I felt that I was full of peace at all times.” After this happened, Tolstoy decided to receive Jesus as his saviour and Lord. Later he met God personally and the peace of God changed his life and there was no more distress and sadness upon him.
Easter Sunday is a glorious day in the Christian calendar. But before Jesus’ disciples arrived at that day they had to live through the sadness and confusion of the crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus. Although Jesus had given them big clues about what would happen, they had no human framework to anticipate the resurrection. From the disciples' point of view Christianity was over, dead and buried. Jesus was a failed false messiah. Whatever hope there might have been, died irretrievably with him.
Today we have carried the cross from St Barnabas, through Mt Eden village to Greyfriars. We carried the cross of Christ; the cross which symbolizes the connection between heaven and earth, between God and his people, and which, on this day, symbolizes the suffering and death of our Lord, Jesus Christ. This cross also symbolizes the love of God, who so loved his people that he gave his one and only Son to save them from their sins. We believe that the meaning of the cross has never changed.
When I was a boy, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited Invercargill for a very important reason. It was the biggest event of my childhood. Everyone came to welcome her: Cubs, Scouts, Girl Guides, Girls' and Boys' Brigades, anyone with a uniform lined the way; dignitaries, ladies in hats, the Mayor with mayoral chains, cheering and waving. All this so the queen mother could unveil a statue of … Peter Pan and Tinkerbell!
Imagine going out for a treat to a nice restaurant and discovering you had to clean and set the table, make the meal and do the dishes yourself – how would you react? When we go to a restaurant, we go with the expectation of being served. If we don’t get good service, don’t like the food or the setting or something else we leave and don't return. There are many restaurants to choose from and we are spoilt for choice. What is our attitude when we come to church? Do we come with a consumer mindset, like when we go to a restaurant?