Good Friday

Today we celebrated Good Friday at church. This is one of the reflections I wrote for that service. The painting was done by a team of beautiful and clever people I get to journey with.

Thinking of you today – may you find life and hope in grief and despair.

easter crosses

While the drama of the crucifixion plays out in an intensely physical and earthly place we must lift our gaze to contemplate the great spiritual drama in play.

The lashings, jeerings and mocking are the least of what Jesus is enduring. At this time sin, sickness, defeat, despair, depression, oppression and brokenness is being transferred to Jesus, the final atoning sacrifice.

In the Old Testament we see sin atoned for by the priest laying his hands on the person and the animal brought for sacrifice – the sin passes from the sinner to the animal, often a lamb. On the cross we see Jesus, our great high priest, the mediator of a new covenant, take up all sin.

What once had to be done again and again to make atonement for sin is achieved once for all, on a wooden cross on a hill shaped like a skull.

None of the bystanders could begin to perceive the exchange at this moment – the chief priests as they justified their win, the disciples as they feared and agonised, the women as they openly grieved the one they loved.

How often do we walk past the cross without stopping to meditate on the truly cosmic moment when the Trinity was torn in two, where the final victory was achieved, where the words ‘It is Finished’ truly meant it is finished.

And then the curtain tore.

A huge and heavy embroidered curtain, reported to be up to 4 inches thick was torn from top to bottom – from God to man – the supreme gift, a way into the holy of holies.

What was once a dividing place between the holy and the unholy instantly accessible to all.

God’s holy presence no less holy, no less awe-some, no less powerful but because of Jesus we are now made holy and worthy to enter.

His blood the sacrifice we could not make. His broken body taking away our brokenness, our shame exchange for his garment of righteousness.

Jesus has defeated death itself – not for his disciples, not for Jews, not for good men but for all – for strangers, for the lost, for the sick, for gentiles and women, for children and for all of creation – right out to the edges of the cosmos.

This act of Jesus, conceived by God as the ultimate rescue mission, initiated in heaven, is for all of the created order.

In this divine exchange the whole of creation’s brokenness is taken up into Jesus and finds in him the answer and the cure.

May you know the Presence of God today and may your heart leap at the welcome into the Holy place.

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Masterpiece

I like to have a word for the year. Some sweet thing dropped into my heart that ripples through the year and holds me like an anchor when the tide comes in and the waves begin to crash around my little boat.

The word, my word, for this year is masterpiece.

masterpiece

I’m not much one for making masterpieces – my hems are seldom straight when I sew, and I never quite measure properly when I bake, and for the love of literacy I ought to conquer the common comma… but I don’t.

Masterpiece seems a little pretentious; self-absorbed, prideful even. It’s not that I think I am capable of creating masterpieces… far from that.

This word has grown in me though, swelled and enlarged, since I read this sentence:

Creation then, is not the aftermath of a battle but the plan of a craftsman. God made the world not as a warrior digs a trench but as an artist makes a masterpiece.

Timothy Keller – Every Good Endeavour.

Too often my world, my ‘work’, my doing and being is treated like a warrior digging a trench.

I feed myself a narrative that is filled with the sighing of the small niggles, the mundane requirements, the hard, the tiring, the small. Yet, here I am encountered by a different invitation.

The invitation to work, live, endeavour, strive as an artist who is working on a masterpiece.

I have but one opportunity to pass through this year. One chance at today – at its mundane and its extraordinary – and I can treat them as a trench to dig or a masterpiece to create.

This is my word.

This is my invitation – to partner with the one who makes a masterpiece from dust and words. Who gives honour and beauty to the small and to the great.

This is my challenge – to shift the way I think about the everyday, the painful, the boring.

When I look at the masterpiece makers of the world I am sure that the creation of those masterpieces required a great deal of boring, a great deal of perseverance, a great deal of belief that the masterpiece would come from the application, discipline and doing of the daily work.

Masterpiece is my word for the year. May it skip like a skimmed rock across the waters of my life and ripple out and out and out until I see, and realise, and commit, to being an artist not a trench digger.

Do you have a word for this year? Do you see yourself as an artist in the day-to-day? Do you glory in your ‘work’ as an opportunity to make beauty?

May we all be artists, and may the work and living of 2016 be truly a masterpiece in your life and the life of others. xxx