‘It’s never mattered more’ by Stewart Perry

About a month ago I drove back home from Newcastle after a school friend’s 50th birthday. On my way back I drove through the coastal town of Laurieton on the mid-north coast. A place where I lived for the final 3 years of high school and would come “back home to” for the next 5 years during holidays while I was studying and then working in Newcastle.

It was nostalgic to find that the Jade Garden Chinese restaurant that we used to go to on special occasions was still there. I drove past the old church and up the street to our old home which looked the same except for a fence around it. I drove to the “new estate” (now established about 30 years) where the current church is and drove around my first proper place of employment which was watering the new trees and plants across the estate & general maintenance… I did not like that job – I was never gifted or called for that type of work. But miracles do happen and all those trees are fully grown now.

I visited the old clay (now synthetic) tennis courts where I won the 1986 junior doubles title. I stood on a water tank and looked over the cricket field where I played junior cricket in the morning and senior cricket in the afternoon.

And I visited the graves of my grandparents.

I was ready for all the memories to come flooding back. I was ready to see how much everything had changed and what had stayed the same. What I wasn’t ready for was how much this experience would impact me and how much I would realise about myself.

Maybe it was my own impending 50th birthday that was the catalyst to trigger my deep reflection or maybe it was one of those experiences above but here’s some of the things I discovered…

I’d never before realised that the longest I’ve lived in the one house is 8 years (my childhood home in Sydney). I’ve never been very sentimental and Leanne will occasionally grimace as I throw thoughtful and well intentioned cards in the bin. I realised for the first time that part of that was a deep longing for “home” that has never quite happened the way I’d hoped which is why I cling to and crave people and relationships. Ironically next year in January we’ll be 8 years in our home in Robina.

In the 3 years in that little town which equates to 6% of my lifetime (and the 5 years coming back home on occasion) so much of who I am today was formed. It was the place where I bought Leanne “home to meet my parents”. In my last 3 years of high school I made friends that have lasted the longest in my life (including the one I went down to visit in Newcastle for his birthday). It’s where I picked up my guitar and started to play again after learning in primary school. It’s where my passion/addiction for sport was realised (really there’s not much to do in a small town when all your mates are more than half an hours drive away and you don’t drive yourself… but play sport). It’s where I ran away from my “inherited faith” and brought my own authentic personal faith back home to show and share with my parents.

That short detour off the main road might have seemed incidental as I put my indicator on but I discovered it never mattered more…

I could go on but that would make this whole blog about me… and it’s really supposed to be about Easter…

We can take the turn off into Good Friday and Easter Day expecting the expected… to be met with quality worship, higher than average church attendance, a story that makes us feel nostalgic and generates “all the feels”, and see your priest smash an egg on his head. All those things will happen.

But there could be more…

Easter could and should matter more than ever.

Actually each year following the resurrection should matter more than the last… as we distance ourselves chronologically from the empty grave year by year not only does the message of Easter become more necessary for our personal stories, as we look around at the mess that the world is in – it’s desperately needed more than ever.

What’s the difference between this Easter being a time of nostalgia or reminisce and mattering more than ever… one thing… our response.

And if that trip taught me anything, it’s a response that can’t be forced, but starts with putting ourselves in the right location, or around the right people, or just being open to the unexpected and allowing God to do the rest.

I pray that your encounter with Easter this year will be profound. I pray that you will see the profound effect Easter can have on the lives of others who attend this weekend.

I pray that our church can play a small part in the imperative that Easter does matter more than ever.

Happy Easter

(As a post script I will be taking 3 weeks break after Easter Sunday and look forward to hearing and seeing what God has done in and through you once I return from the short break)