the penultimate WORD
for Lent - By his wounds you have been healed
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2: 24
looming question for a parent is whether or not faith is communicated.
Especially to our children. It’s
hard to tell. The normal categories
a parent might appeal to aren’t always reliable.
You see, the witness of integrated faith is, well…, let me explain…
third daughter, Mary, has enjoyed working with clay from the time she was a
child. Modeling clay, and mud in season were favourites.
Very early on, her goal was to become a potter.
In the beginning, I attributed this to her penchant for getting dirty, but
that wasn’t true. Mary is both
imaginative as well as creative and working with clay is a wonderful way for her
to express herself.
finishing her pottery program at the New Brunswick Craft College this month, and
I’ll be there to witness the completion of her life-long dream.
And like all parents, I’ll be bursting with pride.
pride won’t be limited to her accomplishment.
independent study project this term demonstrates my satisfaction.
term, Mary crafted a Processional Cross. Well,
not a Processional Cross exactly; she crafted a series of five crosses
that could be used throughout the year. She
created mosaic crosses using the colours of the church year.
The cross for Advent is blue while Epiphany is green, and Lent is purple.
The cross for Saints’ Days is red while that used for Festivals of our
Lord is white.
Holy Week we used the purple Procession Cross in my parish.
We used the while Cross at Easter.
installed the Cross in the wall mount near the pulpit, I stood back to admire her
work. The proportions were good, and
the size was ample. It was a Cross
that bore carrying. The face of the
Cross was a haphazard pattern of cut ceramic tiles deliberately placed and
grouted. No two pieces of tile were
the same size, and none the same hue. Each
piece was placed, restored I thought, on a plane where brokenness restored
took on new meaning.
the normal pattern of events, broken tiles are accidents that are thoughtlessly
thrown away. A blemish here, a fault
there, each piece is thrown onto the refuse heap at the College.
I’d seen many discarded pieces in the over-sized waste bins.
these pieces were different somehow. Broken,
yes, but still valued for what they might become and worthy of redemption. Each one by itself had little value. Devoid of beauty, lustre and shape, you or I would not hesitate to
sweep up the pieces and assign them to oblivion.
certainly wouldn’t have thought of using them for anything!
And I certainly wouldn’t have used them to make a Cross -- not for use
in a church!
on the other hand saw something in broken shards that both stimulated her and
inspired her. She saw the Cross in a
pile of ceramic cast-offs that wasn’t a single smooth piece of pottery, that
wasn’t whole! Truth be told, she
saw beyond the tiles and even beyond the Cross -- it seemed to me
that she saw Jesus. And in the
brokenness that characterizes our lives, the brokenness that we witness on the
Cross, she saw redemption. And she
gave expression to it in a concrete way. She
was able to demonstrate an abstraction that is fundamentally central to our faith
seen Crosses, lots of them: Crosses
made of brass and highly polished, and some adorned with a medallion featuring a
symbol of our faith or some semi-precious gems.
I know that the empty Cross reminds us of the cost of victory and that the
Victor is no longer hanging from that dreadful image.
I know that the sign of this means of death is a reminder of my salvation,
my redemption from when John Young signed me at my baptism.
greater lesson I learned from my
daughter, Mary. She has integrated
her faith well and has given expression to it publicly and effectively.
I have not always remembered that our brokenness, my brokenness, is
made whole on a Cross that was a means of death and a hope to come: indeed, by
have been healed!
Copyright © 2001 James T. Irvine
Thorns and Barbed Wire | the penultimate WORD Lenten Series | Ashes to Easter