Thursday, April 09, 2009

finding God with flax as Easter spirituality

For the last 10 years, the Easter Journey, has been a feature of ministry at Opawa. However, for the last year or so, there has been a growing feeling that it is time for something new to emerge. Opawa is changing and so are Pete and Joyce. While the Journey has been a tremendous blessing, we have to be sensitive to the moving, changing winds of the Spirit. Too often, good things for a season become institutions the church feels compelled to keep propping up. Letting things go is an essential Christian discipline.

To help us let go, and to start the process of dreaming again, we are starting with an Easter Saturday day of paper making. April 11, 9:45 am for coffee. Bring lunch to share. Together we will turn flax into paper, both for individual journals and for use in the church at Pentecost.

Why paper making? Well this is what I said on radio recently. Easter is about death and resurrection. And to celebrate Easter, I and some others from Opawa Baptist are planning to gather on Easter Saturday to make paper.

You make paper by taking plant matter. And you beat it. You drag it through acid. You literally batter the plant to death. That’s Easter Friday. It is letting things die.

Then you smooth the battered pulp onto wire mesh screens. Leave it to dry. After a number of hours, you have made your own paper. Something new begins to emerge.

That for me is Easter death and resurrection. Body of Jesus was beaten and broken. Yet God is making all things new. Out of those very same broken and beaten human cells, the risen Lord appears. Something new emerges.

So the papermaking, for me, will be a way to meditate and pray and consider Easter.

To make paper you have to get your hands dirty. You can discuss papermaking as theory and read about it in books and study it at art school. But there’s nothing like actually rolling up your sleeves. That’s Easter faith. You can discuss and read it and study it, but it needs legs. It needs to be lived.

And it’s really, really hard to make paper by yourself. That’s also what we find at Easter. The death of Jesus brings these stunned disciples together. In groups they go to the tomb and in groups they gather in an upper room. At Easter, Christians need to explore their faith together. To connect and gather with other local Christians.

For me, the most prayerful thing about the papermaking, will be that we’ll be using New Zealand native flax. Something indigenous to Aotearoa, something of huge significance to Maori.

Maori used flax fibre for clothing, for mats, for plates to eat off, for baskets, for ropes, for fishing lines and nets. They made rafts from the dried flower stalks. They used nectar from flowers to sweeten food and leaves for binding bones, root juice as a disinfectant, sap for toothache. Each pa or marae typically had a harakeke or flax plantation. Maori selected and grew different varieties for their strength and for their colour.

So this Easter, I’ll be praying about what it means for me to follow the risen Jesus in Aotearoa and in 2009. My life is so different from the lives of those first Christians. I want to experience the risen Jesus not only for 2000 years ago. But also for my generation.

That He will be alive, yesterday, today and for tomorrow. Amen

Posted by steve at 09:16 AM

1 Comment

  1. Steve thanks for this post and for the later one on leadership which has spoken deeply to me as I read it today.
    I have been thinking a bit recently about craftivism – a term I’ve only come across a couple of months ago – and ministry. You writing about making paper made me think about that a bit more. So much of what we do in worship is about something epehmeral. Anyway I am jealous of your paper making and wish I had thought up a similarly “crafty” approach to my own “still or silent Saturday”.
    Thanks anyway for all you write

    Comment by jane — April 10, 2009 @ 5:02 am

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