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
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!
We arrived in Swansea to enjoy a weekend on moderatorial visit, but also to catch up with friends in the church and district where I served as minister for thirteen years. Our first day included attending the funeral of a church member, who was remembered in the service for her faithfulness to her family, work and church – which all made sense because she was a woman of faith. We then heard that the church secretary of the neighbouring church had also died that week – someone who had served the church as elder and secretary faithfully for many years. And so, on Sunday morning in worship, we needed to open our lives for God to fill us with both comfort and renewed faith. The lectionary reading both challenged us into finding new depths to our well of faith, but through it we found that well replenished with life giving water, as we grappled with the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. There are rare stories of people being miraculously brought back to life, but they are rare indeed. Even Lazarus would later physically die. So it would be cruel if God was offering the chance of this happening for us. Continue reading