Whilst largely ignored by mainstream media, Easter remains New Zealand’s most celebrated spiritual event. Church attendance statistics tell us that this week well over half a million people across this nation will gather to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Any other cultural or spiritual celebration inspiring this magnitude of involvement would be big news. There would be plenty of preview feature articles and programmes followed by live-stream reporting from smiling and earnest reporters on the scene. Councils in towns and cities around the country would also chip in ratepayers funds and fireworks displays to ensure the diversity of the community was highlighted and celebrated.
However Christianity is not fashionable among the media and other cultural gate-keepers who monopolise the narrative about what is important in our land. Hence Easter in New Zealand is now almost an underground phenomenon.
Yet it remains a remarkable phenomenon. Not only in the sheer numbers of New Zealanders involved, but in the way it builds unity and kotahitanga across all the peoples of this land. The Church is now the most diverse institution in this nation.
Every Sunday kiwis young and old gather together to celebrate an enduring faith that has crossed the centuries and the oceans to uttermost ends of the earth. Singing together are people who vote all over the political spectrum. Sharing the cup are not only Maori and Pakeha, but now individuals and families from all over the globe – Indian, African, Korean, Chinese, Malaysian, and of course our Pacific cousins. Having coffee together are professionals and tradespeople, business people and teachers, single parents and couples married for 40 years.
The Church in New Zealand brings together peoples who in the ordinary course of life would often have little or no interaction. It is vibrant, diverse and rich. It is a living miracle that imparts unity and life that sustains our nation in ways unseen.
This week it will gather again around the One on whom it is founded – and the miracle He established as the centre-piece of history.