Now New Zealanders or Kiwis as they are affectionately known, are not generally an arrogant bunch. Yet, they refer to their homeland as “God’s Own Country”. What cheek! What audacity! It seems to implies that they share the same postal code with God while the rest of us non-Kiwis live in the slummier side of creation.
Now, of course, I believe that God is omnipresent which means that He is everywhere and He does not solely hold a New Zealand passport. Indeed, the wonders of God’s creation can be seen in so many things and places all around the world. Yet, one has to agree with the residents of Aotearoa, the “Land of the Long White Cloud” (yet another fancy name they have for their country), that they seem to have more than their fair share of natural beauty for such a small piece of real estate.
This being Easter week, the week in which Christians remember Jesus’ journey to the cross of Calvary, I thought about the worship of God and decided to pay a visit to “God’s Own Country” and specifically to the little Church of the Good Shepherd on the shores of Lake Tekapo.
Now I have seen many impressive cathedrals with towering spires, massive domes and ornate carvings. Some of them have been awe-inspiring but I have found others too over-the-top and gaudy. And really, my favorite place to meditate and worship God is really on a mountain top; not surrounded by any man-made structure but amidst God’s wonderful creation. Of course, out in the elements like that can be rather cold and wet at times!
So this is why the Church of the Good Shepherd is rather special to me. Rather than some elaborate and ornate man-made altar, this simple chapel of stone just has windows which allows the beautiful mountains and the glistening Lake Tekapo to be the main feature of the altar. I think it is stunning and a wonderful place for communing with God in prayer or in praise.
Invariably, Lake Tekapo and the small stone church is very much part of the tourist circuit these days but even so, there is still sufficient awe and tranquility to make a visit worthwhile. Another interesting attraction is a bronze statue that rightfully honors the faithful service of the New Zealand Collie Sheepdog, without which, New Zealand would not have been able to become a nation with more sheep than people. 2009 figures indicate a human population of 4.2 million while there were actually 40 million sheep.