Last night Emma and myself went into the viaduct to enjoy the launch of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Things went our way. We got to the Constellation Park and Ride and squeezed last onto a bus saving us anything up to an hour. We then squeezed last into the line up to get into Queen's Wharf just before they sorted out the queuing – the name is not Keown (Queuin) for nothing. We got front row seats at the stage and settled for the afternoon – evening. What a blast. We saw the waka come in on the big screen, the hakas. Then Dave Dobbyn performed, he was brilliant. The Finn's followed, and they were even better. Then the opening ceremony was breathtaking, and the fireworks unbelievable. Then we watched the start of the game, the hakas and the singing of the National Anthem. We then headed for the bus because we thought we would never make it home. It was a great decision, we watched the game at home. We got home around 10, absolutely tired out, but buzzing. What a celebration of humanity in oneness, weapons laid down, gathered for games.
I loved the celebration of Maori culture. Something is changing in NZ in this regard. We are really embracing Maori culture as our culture. There is a long way to go, but we are beginning to truly be one. Everytime a Maori came on the screen and the tongue came out etc, the crowd roared. I sense a new generation who are moving out of pakeha patriarchy to a truly bi-cultural mode of thinking. There is a long way to go, but the signs are promising as NZ finds its identity.
I thought it was fantastic that the Waka was welcomed to a song written by Dobbyn dedicated to God after his coming to faith, 'Welcome Home.' How appropriate, not that the crowd knew it. The singing of the national anthem was stunning – 'God of Nations...' Yeah baby. Again, not that people really know what they are singing. I love the Anthem, it is a prayer.
International sports events like the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, and world cups in my view, give us a glimpse of the dream of the Kingdom of God. The dream of the Kingdom is of all humanity, from every nation and tongue, united as one. That was the feeling at Queens Wharf as Oscar Kightly got the people of all the nations represented to call out and as the whole array of flags were waved joyously. There was no tension, just unbridled celebration and joy.
The song 'World In Union' by Charlie Skarbek captures this:
There's a dream,I feel, So rare, so real. All the world in union. The world as one.
Gathering together. One mind, one heart. Every creed, every colour. Once joined, never apart.
Searching for the best in me I will find what I can be. If I win, lose or draw, It's a victory for all
It's the world in union, the world as one. As we climb to reach our destiny. A new age has begun.
We face high mountains. Must cross rough seas. We must take our place in history. And live with dignity
Just to be the best I can. Sets the goal for everyman. If I win lose or draw. It's a victory for all.
It speaks of a dream, the world as one, gathered together, one in heart and mind, all races, in bonds that are never broken, a new age begun – sounds very like the vision of God for the Kingdom.
Of course there are vital missing components in this dream, the God-dynamic and sin-problem dealt with. History tells us that while such events give us glimpses of the dream of God, they fall short. The fulfilment of the dream requires the transformation of the human heart through the work of Christ actualised by faith, and the key is God. The sad fact for us in NZ is that the dominant culture is now abandoning the God-dynamic and moving away from feeling any need for Jesus. The dream is corrupted by an idolatry of self, excessive competitiveness, the dogma of the dollar and more. There is the problem of alcohol and the consequent issues that flow. When we left to head home and walked up Queen Street to head to the bus, it was rather intimidating, walking among bands of drunken youth – it felt like it would not take much to turn the situation into a riot. I hope it doesn't turn to this if things go awry for the AB's or something else triggers it. The dream of the Kingdom is far from a reality despite the songs and celebration.
That said, I gave a wry smile at the singing of Welcome Home and the passionate singing of the Anthem – if only we could bring the dream to its fullest expression loving God and loving each other.
All that said, it is good to reflect on how such moments give a taster of the dream of God. The celebration to come when Jesus returns and all of humanity gathers to rejoice and party like they never have before, will sure be something. The challenge for us is to work for it now.
As for the rugby – the All Blacks will have to a heck of a lot better if they want to win. The tight five were unconvincing, as was Cowan. Carter and McCaw were quiet. Kaino was great, as were Dagg and Kahui, while Nonu was his usual self. But the All Blacks look strangely lacking to me. Here's hoping that this is just getting the rust out.