Helping People to Meet God • Make Friends • Grow in Faith

A place for resting

Last year we went to the Dominican Republic to visit my wife’s friends and family. The return journey back to New Zealand took us via the United States. In total, we had four flights to catch, making our way from Santiago (Dominican Republic) to Christchurch. The journey turned out to be difficult with several delays and missed flights, so that we arrived about 25 hours late in Christchurch. During that time I did not get a lot of sleep and was somewhat stressed after so many things during that return voyage went wrong.

A few days later I had to attend the annual clergy conference, this time in College House in Waimairi Road. College House was designed by Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney in a “well-mannered modernism” style. The buildings are certainly striking, even though not exactly beautiful. The newly-restored chapel has an atmosphere all of its own with longitudinal, heated pews.

At clergy conference there were many speakers, good food, colleagues to catch up with, and several chapel services. We also had some free time occasionally. I did use one of those slots to explore the gardens near the university, which even in June were lovely. However, throughout the conference I was affected by jet lag and a profound tiredness.

Several people asked me later what the highlight was for me at Clergy Conference. I didn’t have to think long: the naps I took on the heated pews of the chapel, especially when it was empty. That was what I needed at the time, what brought peace and contentment to my soul and rest to the weary body. Forget the speakers, the worship services, the supposed times of reflection. At that time I needed rest and the atmosphere of the chapel was the ideal place.

So, if you occasionally nod off during the sermon, I think I can understand. Sometimes we need a holy rest, rather than inspiring words. I hope that our church can also provide a place where we can find peace and restoration. However, if you were to lie down on one of the pews (which are not heated at St Paul’s) during the service, I would get a bit concerned. Maybe leave that for a time when the church is empty.