It was wonderful this morning in our time of trouble to hear the voice of our Bishop, Victoria Matthews, speaking of hope in a time of desolation for so many relatives of the Dead and Still Missing in the ruins of our Central City Business District, and in the Port town of Lyttelton, whose main street has been the scene of almost total devastation.
Her soft Canadian accent, and the passion with which she delivered her message on the radio this morning, must have given hope to many who are just lost and bewildered by the sense of utter desolation they are feeling in their time of grief and uncertainty.
Already, the Bishop has received not only messages of condolence, but also assurance of the practical and financial support that will be forthcoming from around the world in order to assist with the re-building of our Cathedral, which has suffered extensive damage, and is still harbouring the bodies of people who were in the tower when it collapsed.
We who have been spared the brunt of the effects of the quake – my own family members and households in Christchurch are still in good shape, despite the ongoing after-shocks – are mindful of those among our near neighbours who have not been so fortunate, and who will no doubt be immersed in grief for loss of family members and/or their homes and livelihood for some time to come.
Diana and I will be attending an open-air service in the grounds of St. Mark’s School in Opawa this morning. Their church is not able to be used at the moment, but the parish will still be hosting local people for the Sunday Eucharist – at which we will be giving thanks for survival, as well as praying for the bereaved and those less fortunate than us.
My own parish church of Saint Michael and All Angels (within the City cordon) has, I believe, escaped the worst of the effects of the quake – even though the Parish School – which was in the process of being repaired after the September 2010 quake – has been further damaged.
St. Michael’s was one of the very first church and school complexes to be raised up in the new City of Christchurch, and, as pro-Cathedral, was the seat of the first Bishop of Christchurch. It may well be that, with the Cathedral and other City Churches being rendered unfit for use in the near future, St. Michael’s could once again serve as a centre for administration as pro-Cathedral of the diocese. The key to this role would be that of serving the diocese in a time of need.
We appreciate the prayers of people around the world who are mindful of the deep needs of our city in this time of grief. We are also mindful of the power of God to raise us up again, as a potent sign of the grace that is available to those who believe. Christ is Risen, Alleluia!
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch