Letter from the Rector
“An Image of Love”
When The Rev Heather Berry went to the Holy Land recently I asked her to bring back some holding crosses for me. They were bought in Bethlehem from a shop in the centre, in the wonderfully named, “Manger Square”.
I like to have a few of these in stock, to give out to people from time to time as a gift from the place of Jesus’ birth. They are somehow very soothing to hold and so for people who are going through difficult times, they bring comfort; they give strength.
Isn’t it extraordinary that we can find a cross somehow very soothing to hold? For after all, the stark reality is that it is essentially an instrument of torture AND YET…. Soothing!
The story of Christ’s death on the cross is one that should rightly make us feel very uncomfortable. ‘God made man’ treated by man in this way, destroyed by man in this way. This is the story that we hear afresh as we come to Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter. And then the words of Jesus from the cross are recalled as he says to the Father, “forgive them, they know not what they do”. His life is freely given up to give us life.
And now, there it is, held in our hands; a holding cross. Not an image of torture and death anymore but an image of the love of God, the ‘agape’ love of God for us, his people. Agape love is the kind of love that is given where only the wellbeing of the other person is of any significance, it is utterly self-giving and it is therefore transformational.
These holding crosses are from Bethlehem, where God came to dwell among us. This city is a troubled place today and so remains a symbol of the brokenness of humankind and yet there at its heart is the Church of the Nativity in Manger Square where people come to understand more about the life of Christ Jesus and to find peace. As we pray for God’s creation that groans, where people’s lives are turned upside down by trials and tribulations. There at the centre is the cross, a symbol of love.
May that symbol of love impact on your life this Holy Week and Easter such that you might know that at the centre of all things you are loved.
This prayer is a Catholic prayer that puts the cross at the centre
The cross is the hope of Christians the cross is the resurrection of the dead the cross is the way of the lost the cross is the saviour of the lost the cross is the staff of the lame the cross is the guide of the blind the cross is the strength of the weak the cross is the doctor of the sick the cross is the aim of the priests the cross is the hope of the hopeless the cross is the freedom of the slaves the cross is the power of the kings the cross is the water of the seeds the cross is the consolation of the bondsmen the cross is the source of those who seek water the cross is the cloth of the naked. We thank you, Father, for the cross. Amen.