Associate Rector's Letter for May
I’ve been a great fan of the BBC World Service radio channel ever since I lived abroad. And sometimes when I can’t sleep, I’ll listen to what’s going on in the parts of the world that are awake.
Sometimes though, programmes are made about matters closer to home. And I caught such a broadcast in the early hours of Monday morning and have been thinking about it ever since.
In the programme, a documentary maker took a mirror to different towns in Britain and invited people at different stages in their life to study their reflection and share what they discovered. Behind every scar, wrinkle, blemish lay a story that brought either pain or joy in the remembering.
One teenaged girl mentioned some faded bruises under one of her eyes - the remnants of an unprovoked attack on her by some slightly older boys who didn’t like that fact that she was different. What would you want to wear a lip-ring for?? While taking the time to really look at how she had been marked on the outside, the girl was determined not to allow the internal wounds to keep troubling her. They would heal over, she said. The bruises, too, would disappear.
Then there was the father of a little girl who had sustained a scar on his forehead when his daughter, delighted at seeing her daddy after a whole day, ran at him and jumped up into his arms - only to smack her head onto his brow and leave him the worse off. But he loved that scar, he said. It reminds me how much my daughter loves me.
But with Easter still in mind, those anecdotes have made me wonder whether the cross isn’t something of a mirror for us. Jesus talked about being lifted up from the earth and drawing people to himself. He was recalling the story of the Israelites in the wilderness, punished by God for their rebellion against him by biting serpents and the only way they could be saved was by gazing on the image of a bronze snake on a pole - ‘look, and live.’ Christ on the cross mirrors our own desire to rebel against God; to be independent from him and in control of ourselves and all that he has given us. It reflects the suffering and death and loss that result in following that path.
But take another long, hard look and you’ll find the cross to be empty - Jesus is risen! What we see reflected back is love. Forgiveness. A fresh start. New life in all its fullness. That’s the true reflection God intends us to see because that’s what he hard-wired us for - to be in a living relationship with him. And I trust each of you knows God’s love reflected back at you in the mirror of the cross.
May God bless you all as you ponder these things!