Ask Aunty

Ask Aunty —

Aunty answers questions of faith.

Dear Aunty,

My parents expect me to go to church but why? What is the purpose of church? Jessie

Dear Jessie,

Only your parents can tell you their reasons. But, questions are important and you raise a very important one. Church youth were less bothered by your question in times past. Attending church was what their family and friends had done for generations. It was their social hub. As well as choirs and working bees, church organised dances, concerts, socials and camps, and promoted sport. Many NZ churches had their own tennis courts. Now, the wider community provides these and much more. What makes Church different from most other ‘clubs’ is that it isn’t based on ability or age. Everyone is welcome.

The core reason for going to church is to worship God and learn how to live a godly life. Church provides rituals. Rituals give a community structure, and honour the sacred i.e. the things that are most important. What is important, each of us needs to work out for ourselves. My definition of a godly life is, ‘respecting the Divine and all creation, and doing what I can to contribute to society and help others lead fulfilling lives.’ The Divine is everywhere and can be worshipped anywhere but worshipping with others can be enormously uplifting. Doing good can be done alone but greater good is achieved by working with others. It was said of the first Christian communities, “See how these Christians love one another.” This is surely the most important attribute of any community. By caring for its own inclusive community, Church equips its members to serve any who are marginalised. If your church is not doing good things for you, discuss what you would like with your youth leader or minister.

Never stop questioning and be true to yourself, Aunty

Dear Aunty,

I’m a bit of a retro fan with movies and have been enjoying the 1980s Indiana Jones series. I’d like to know if the ‘Holy Grail’ and the lost ‘Ark of the Covenant’ were real things in the Bible? Max

Dear Max,

An interesting question! The answer is yes and no. The words ‘Holy Grail’ are not in the Bible. ‘Ark of the Covenant’ gets 45-65 mentions depending on the version. The Ark is described in detail (Exodus 25:10-25) and was the most sacred possession of the ancient Jews. It housed the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.

The Holy Grail is a fanciful name given to the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper, most likely a small bowl used by Jewish peasants for drinking. The Bible gives no description or information about it being passed around the table. Leonardo’s famous painting of the Last Supper depicts a cup for each person. Over time, many legends have evolved around the Cup, and the Ark, imbuing both with fantastic powers. Stories and legends are meant to entertain and inspire.

Value imagination and embrace fantasy that conveys truth, Aunty