Catharina Siraa is a member of Royal Oak Baptist Church, living and working in Maungakiekie, Tāmaki Makarau, where she is the Administration Advisor at the National Support Centre, supporting churches through policy and compliance support.

The photo above is the Canterbury Museum. I don't know about you, but this doesn't look much like any museum I've ever been in.

Maybe that's because we have certain ideas about what belongs in museums, about whose history is worthy of being in a museum.

The Canterbury Museum is closing for five years to undergo redevelopment. In the in-between space, they have opened their doors to urban artists worldwide, inviting them to bring their histories and stories into the museum halls. It's called Shift—a project to engage people in new ways. What is a museum? Who chooses what goes in a museum? What could a museum be in the future? Who do we invite in?

As I was walking around, the question that I reflected on was this...Who do we invite into our spaces?

You see, this reminds me of another space. A space where you once had to act a certain way, follow certain rules, and be a certain type of person to be welcome. I also know of this guy (let's call him Jesus) who turned over tables (literally and figuratively) to make access to that space, the presence of God, accessible to all.

I know that I don't have to be holy or perfect to access that space, and through what Jesus has done, I am invited to enter it fully without pretence or precondition. I am invited to bring my history and story, as colourful, broken or messy as it may be, into that space.

As Christians, I believe that we are meant to be people that pass on that invitation to our friends, family, and neighbours wherever we go. We are to pass on the invitation without pretence, without precondition, without a need for perfection or fitting in a box. We are invited to throw open the doors to what used to be hallowed halls and invite in every beautiful and messy person just as they are.

And we might not understand them. We might like different art or come from different cultures. But we can walk in the same space, freed to be uniquely who we were designed to be.

As I walked around this changed museum space, I saw people who would likely never have engaged with urban art before, may have only negatively engaged with tagging, or may have had preconceived ideas about what kind of people do this kind of art. But they were all walking in the same space. All were seeing, appreciating and learning to engage in new ways.

Maybe we, as the church, can be challenged by this. What are our hallowed halls? What spaces do we hold dear that we need to throw open the doors to and let others into?

And if you're in Christchurch sometime before 11 April 2023, this is definitely worth a visit. It's across five storeys of the museum, and so much is in there—so many different artists, different perspectives and different styles. See their website here

Photos: Provided by Catharina Siraa

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