Art for God’s Sake

It was Saturday – that strange day, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In the past I have spent it in prayerful reflection – waiting and watching, though some years it has come and gone, and hardly been noticed. This year was spent at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with even the weather was totally in between – winter and summer, wet and dry, sunshine and cloud! Here I was, staring at works of Art by sculptor, Tony Cragg, trying to make sense of it, trying to see what the artist is portraying – even looking into and through the Art to find an inner meaning. Aren’t these the questions we ask about life and death, and very much in the struggle to understand the death and resurrection of Jesus. Tony Cragg takes a portrait of someone and shapes it into a sculpture that reveals the essence of the person. I couldn’t help be struck by the subject of this one – being “Tommy,” for in the resurrection narrative it is Thomas who struggles to “see”, to understand, to believe that Christ has risen. Now I am looking at the man, and trying to understand him!

                                                                                                                           ‘Tommy’ by Tony Cragg

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A Tomb with a View


What a view! We often have pictures of a church, but here is the view from a church. It is Denholme Shared Church, a photo I took on Palm Sunday from the cemetery at the front of the church – hence “a tomb with a view”. The next photo is inside the church, showing a tableau of the bare cross on a hill, like Calvary, but surrounded by the dry-stone walls of Yorkshire, a scene that will change over the next few days as the church walks the way of the cross. Here is the Easter journey that will take the folk of Denholme to a tomb that will be empty, and where they will see with fresh eyes, as they hear the words “He is risen, he is risen indeed” – a tomb with a view, that invites us to meet the risen Christ in our world. What a view!

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Indiscriminate Violence

As I drove home today I heard about the terrorist attack in Stockholm, with what seems to be the weapon of choice these days, a motor vehicle.  It was fortunate that the bomb the truck was carrying did not go off.  Another sad occasion and my heart and prayers go out to those involved in the incident.  What gets into a man’s heart (and I think the recent examples have all been men) to make him think it is OK to drive a vehicle into innocent and unknown passers-by?    In the past week President Trump has threatened North Korea and has sent cruise missiles into Syria.  I heard a commentator saying that President Trump’s missile attack on the Syrian airbase had been within an ‘inch’ of the Russians launching a retaliation!  And just before I published this blog I heard of the news of two bombs detonated in Egypt targeting Christians on Palm Sunday!

The chorus on the song Pete Seeger wrote in the mid-fifties comes to mind … When will they ever learn?

A common response to these atrocious acts is to ask where is God in all this?  Fortunately, I don’t have to theorise about free will but simply turn to the acts of the ordinary people in the street who were caught up in the attack on Westminster: they got down on their knees to help the injured.  Hundreds more turned out to the ‘service of hope’ in Westminster Abbey last Wednesday.  The love of God continues to shine even through the darkness.

Let me finish with a prayer from Michael Jagessar.

God of peace and possibility, in the midst of strife, violence, distress and chaos we turn to you. We pray for those mourning the dead and grieving over the strife in their land(s). Bring healing to all who are suffering from violence that is creating divisions, pain, destruction and death. Turn the hearts of all towards the way of love and compassion – so that goodness, just deeds, the common good, hope, and trust may flourish. Lead all to turn their instruments of death into gifts of life – so that the cycle of violence and chaos may be broken with the way of peace, reconciliation and love. We pray in the name of the peaceful one, who taught us to pray ‘that heaven will invade earth’. Amen

Blessings to you all,