The Green Green Grass of Opotiki

Fear, relief, and Easter

By Rev Mike Hawke

A few months ago I spent the weekend on AMB ministry in the Parish of Opotiki with the Revs Arthur and Adrienne Bruce. It was a great weekend sharing the work of AMB in their historic church.  The grave of Karl Volkner is actually in the sanctuary, and when kneeling at the communion rail you get a great close-up view!

Later in the day, I decided to get some exercise so went for a run along the beautiful beach nearby. Searching for a shortcut on the way home, I ran along the stop bank but the track suddenly disappeared. I thought – the path couldn’t just lead to nowhere – I’ll keep going! I ending up bushwhacking in vegetation that was well over my head. After 30 minutes of this I was pretty exhausted. I had left my cellphone at home so couldn’t rely on Arthur to come and find me, so I prayed for a way out. With no water bottle or phone, I was getting a bit desperate!

Suddenly I came to a clearing, but I had to negotiate a big trough to reach it. There in the middle of the clearing grew 4 fine looking luxurious green plants! I was overcome with 2 emotions that were total opposites; relief and fear. Relief that I was close to a track; thinking the owners of these plants would not wish to walk too far off the beaten track to get to them! But wowee, I had a sudden panic attack and imagined a gun or 3 being pointed at me by balaclava wearing Rastafarians as I dared to discover a lucrative cash crop in such fine fettle. I took off as fast as I could; both relief and fear driving me to speeds I had never thought possible by a 59 year old.

I arrived home exhausted and relieved into the warm embraces of Arthur and Adrienne, who, rather than killing the fatted calf with the joy of my return, decided instead to boil the jug for a cuppa!

I have reflected since on those two opposite emotions of fear and relief. I reckon Jesus experienced them during His last days on earth. Fear of the pain of the cross yet relief that IT IS FINISHED; the fear of Good Friday and the relief of Easter Sunday. This Holy week may you also experience this juxtaposition of fear and relief as you travel the path of Jesus, but beware and look out for the unexpected along the way!