Our Dwelling Place

I moved from a place in the United States which was sometimes jokingly called “New Jerusalem.” This is because almost quite literally there is a church on every street corner. It can be a blessing to grow up in such an area where most people you meet are or claim to be Christians.

Christchurch is the city that we have moved to for our Vicariate (Internship) year in New Zealand. It has a population of about 340,000 people in the city. In Christchurch there are three reformed churches. In comparison Grand Rapids has about 180,000 population and has about 6 different denominations with reformed in their name and probably close to 60 reformed Churches with in the greater Grand Rapids area. I have come to a place where I am for once the odd man out on the streets in terms of faith. I am not sure how many outside the Church were understand what makes a reformed Church Reformed. In fact Fodor’s Travel book on New Zealand almost cheerfully makes the statement that “Kiwi’s (A born New Zealander) don’t tend to be religious, with 2/3 lightly following the one of the four major Religions (Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Anglican).”

The Reformed Church Of Dovedale
The Reformed Church Of Dovedale

One of the land marks of Christchurch used to be an Anglican Cathedral right in the heart of the city of Christchurch.

Damaged Cathedral following the Earthquakes in 2011
Damaged Cathedral following the Earthquakes in 2011

We praise God that he has brought a faithful Federation of Churches to the New Zealand people. We can be faithful to our God abroad because he has not chosen to place his name only upon Mount Zion. The temple of God where he dwells is not found in Jerusalem. Instead Jesus gives us the church the command “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Mat 28:18-20 ESV)

Christ dwells with his church and with his disciples wherever they are. It is in his authority and his name that we bring the kingdom to the ends of the earth. His temple gathers here in Hornby, Christchurch each Sunday. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 Says to the Church “16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1Co 3:16-17 ESV). The “You” is a plural in this passage, Meaning that He is speaking to the Church as a whole. We hold on to that promise as we gather together recognizing that God no longer dwells in a building made with human hands but dwells with his church.

The church also recognizes that we still are only a a foretaste of the greater dwelling we will one day have. The picture of Revelation 21 is a faith that we hold dearly. For when the real new Jerusalem comes down from Heaven It will have no temple, “for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” (Rev 21:22 ESV)

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