I Don’t Want to Recover

Recovery after a major disruption can feel comforting. We just want to get back to the way things were – the warm blanket of the familiar and the easy, after all the stress, and change, and challenge.

Mark Gibson, from New Brighton Union and Port Hills Uniting Churches reminds us, however:

“Recovery is not a biblical or theological word used in our corporate life as a church. That is why I suggest ‘renewal’ as an alternative because it is. I personally prefer the more vibrant option of ‘regeneration’, which is a more ecological word and suggests a more holistic, community-focussed pathway.

“I think that we learnt a bit about ‘recovery’ here in Canterbury after the earthquakes. It was the official word for a long time and I believe it didn’t serve us well because it didn’t encourage us to break with the old mindsets. It didn’t create an understanding of crisis as a time and opportunity for change.

“One of the reasons that Aotearoa New Zealand is physically and spiritually such a beautiful place is because it is dynamic. It is still being made. Change is built into our landscape and the people who call it home need to embrace this and integrate it into who we are. We are not here to settle, but to grow.

“I’m already hearing… about the strong inclination of some… to get back to the way things were. This will not serve us well and we’ll miss the opportunity to innovate and change. The season of Pentecost should be a season for change, renewal, and regeneration. Bruce Sanguin calls it the Season of Emergence. He describes church as ‘a domain or habitat for creative emergence’. I like that.” 

In this country, it is not only Pentecost, but we also celebrate at this time the season of Matariki, signalling the Māori New Year. It is a time of renewal and celebration that begins with the rising of the Matariki star cluster. It’s a great time to reflect, reset, and look forward. This year more than ever, I believe we are called to reflect, reset and look forward – rather than slink back into the cosy comfort of recovering the familiar. Check out these great suggestions for celebrating Matariki from the All Right? campaign, and don’t forget to join us in our Matariki celebrations on Friday 17 July. (rsvp@aldersgate.org.nz for catering.)

COVID-19 and the lockdown taught us much about what is really important when the chips are down. It reminded us of the centrality of relationships, caring and connecting. It helped many of us slow down – at least a little bit. It gave us a glimpse into a world where the bird song could be heard again, where the air was clearer, where our neighbourhoods where dominated by real people out and about rather than speeding anonymous cars, and where we could escape our dependence on that which is suffocating our planet.

As the God of Pentecost calls us, as the stars of Matariki remind us, may we have the courage and faith to imagine beyond recovery, so that we can Reflect, Reset and Regenerate.

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