Above: My best Julie Andrews impersonation on New Years Eve.
More than 100 new photos have been uploaded to the Cromwell 2012 Link on the right for your enjoyment. They range from Laurens arrival, Christmas on the Farm to New Years Eve in Queenstown.
On Sunday December 31st Lauren and I packed our communal bag and headed to Queenstown, aware that all accommodation was booked in the city. Lauren and I said I quick prayer as we walked to my prized hitch-hiking spot for this and safety among other things. This was her first time ever hitching and I assured her that everything would be good. It took all of 4 minutes to get picked up by a middle age woman in a camper van with 4 'yapper' dogs. Phew. Laurens tension nearly followed her hair out the car window as we enjoyed the sunny ride into Qtown with the windows down. Our host couldn't drop us all the way there but brought us to a good spot some 5 miles outside of town. It just so happened that our next ride was a mid-20's female from Christchurch (that wanted to get away from all the earthquakes) that knew of available camping in the area. We got dropped off on the towns rugby field, paid our money to the man at the gate and then set up my tent with a 1000+ of our closest friends. This was a relief to me as I was responsible for the groups well being could rest knowing that we had secured a place to lay our heads when the night was over.
After a beautiful Fergburger dinner on the waterfront we watched the opening bands play on Queenstowns mainstage. The first band up was the worship team from Freedom Church. I knew Pastor Alister wouldn't be to far away scanning the crowd. We enjoyed the mainstream+ subversive worship music at this public venue and after some minutes I found the Pastor and his wife, introducing my sister to them as we all sat together. We then made our way up at 9:30 to the Gondola which elevated us up to the highest point in Qtown where we walked around the sprawling hills and embraced the sunset. Awe inspiring beauty. Unbelievable. Cruisen' our way into the Gondola Center where the New Years party was heald we were greeted with a assortment of all you can eat cheeses and a fantastic cover band named Mojo. Cheese and music followed by dancing the night into the New Year and the fireworks show took place. Towards 12:30am we took the Gondola back into the city and were assaulted with more drunk folks and personalities then I could point a stick at. We enjoyed some great dubstep/trance/techno drum and bass type music until 1 then called it a night after watching people vomit lost all its appeal.
Rule #484: When camping with 1000+ of your closest friends, be prepared to not get any sleep. I only had a single man tent (my ultra-light travel necessity) so I rigged the rain shield over the tent itself and into some flax bushes to provide me with some level of shelter. We survived the night.
Breakfast on the 1st was followed by a quick hitching journey home and Laurens views on hiking in this fashion might have changed. So much fun.
A Theological New Years and Christmas reflection:
Farmer Bob woke up that fine day at the same time he did every other day, 4:45am. He had been feeding Chicken Jim, without fail at 5:30am shortly after the moment Jim broke through his white shell barring him from the wide the world. Day after day, Jim ate his fill at the hand of Bob until he was content and satisfied. All Jim knew was the hand that brought him nourishment, day after day after day. On this particular day as Bob rose and Jim's great expectations were aroused, Farmer Bob did something that Jim had never ever in his existence prior experienced. Farmer Bob unsuspectingly wrung Chicken Jim's neck to make food for his family. Until this moment, the chicken could have never even comprehended that this could have been a possibility. Jims reality was changed (albeit briefly) forever. In the same radical manner, the seemingly closed world that Jesus entered as a child had only known and comprehended life and it's end in a single way. When you died, you stayed dead. That was the reality that all the world had known, but Christs rising changed all that. Forever.
Of all the Christianese terms that get thrown out there, 'born again' could be one of the least understood. It can sound like a very abstract litmus Christianity test of sorts that is rarely qualified with a clarifying statement... I'm not saying I have the market covered on understanding this beautiful thing, but let's take a look at this in light of God entering into our world as defenseless baby. When I observe babies (at a safe distance), the first thing that I notice is that they bring nothing to the table, they are highly demanding and they can smell unpleasant but that's besides the point. We all know that babies are unable to do anything on their own without the loving care of a parent. They would die without the daily resources provided to them by those with the means to provide. Recent natal psychology has shown how intrinsic external sources are to a babies temperament and awareness of the world. Babies actually can't regulate their emotions without the (for example) help of someone other than themselves (General Theory of Love, 2007). Without love, they will die. When a baby falls down, it will look to her loving mother for a response. If the mother grimaces in pain, rushing to the child the baby will cry, on the other hand if the mother smiles knowing that the fall wasn't harmful the child might giggle. In this way she learns her place in the world.
As Jesus grew he perfectly responded to the external love of his Heavenly Father. He trusted in the Father with a perfect faith and grew strong and healthy. The faith that Jesus exhibited in God the Father was beyond what any of us are capable of as he was God and Man (Check out Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane!).By faith, we can enter into and participate in this loving relationship between God the son and God the father. Our faith in Jesus as he showed us the perfect faith in God the Father is what changes everything. Before we knew of Christ our earthly births were headed down a trajectory of death and separation. To be born again, is to have a radical transformation of all that we know and hold to be true. There are endless opportunities in the world competing for our collective affections, only one of them leads to life. If we as infants had a negligent mother who didn't understand what was good or bad, our foundation in what was good or healthy would be shaky. If we let the world, which doesn't know the first thing about living, teach us how to live we are doomed (Eph 2:1-6). When we are born again, we are 'reborn' into a new world of limitless love, where nothing is static. Forsaking all others (Mt 5:8) but seeking the face of the Father that perfectly loves us, for guidance is the only start that leads to life. When we come with faith as a child to the Father- a newborn, unable to care for ourselves or determine our own future, let alone the next few days- we are transformed. Infants come with empty slates. Previous failures and disappointments are non existent and hold no bearing over their lives. Everything is new, everything is fresh, we are ready to molded from the bottom up.
Christs life, death and resurrection are the most important things that have ever happened in our world. If someone truly rose from the dead, wouldn't what they said and did be of immeasurable importance? A baby that was born and never died changes everything. If this event is true, we can hold on to the promises this child made. Everything changes. The resurrection shattered (or clarified) all false ideas that humanities previous reality held. Before Christ rose, we couldn't possibly understand this glorious outcome to our lives. We were just like the chicken in the sense that we were fully unaware of what truly lay ahead. Humanity, shaped by gospel reality (1Cor 13), can now dream dreams, far grander than a static world could allow where the grave was the final destination. Through Christ, humanity has discovered that deaths victory and sting is no more. Christ the King, the infant child, has changed our world forever.
Merry Christmas, blessed day of the Saviors birth to all of those who are born again into this reality- and Happy New Year.