The cross of Christ is joyful, sorrowful and, at times, painful to bear! During Lent we place ourselves under the cross of Christ, we remember that we are signed and sealed by that precious sign. It is not a magic charm or a protecting force; it is the outward and visible sign that in all the changing scenes of life, the one who carried the cross to Calvary will for ever bear our burdens with us and for us.
The things that most inspire us are not the formal rules, regulations and codes that govern our religion. What motivates and inspires us is faith ‘en-fleshed’: a church so full of people that the memory of it lingers long in the memory. What is set out and lived in the life of the worshipping community is what can transform us and make us into better people. Such living is incarnational and it has the power the change lives. It is the link between our Christmas celebrations and our Easter celebrations: The Babe of Bethlehem who becomes the Man of Sorrows and finally the Resurrected Christ.
The Christian journey turns the world upside down, as Jesus transforms lives and raises people up. Not even by his resurrection can Jesus make all wrongs right! Instead Jesus saves us from ourselves, from the enemy within! The inner life and the secrets of the heart are what God dwells upon, God looks on the inside.
Jesus died between two thieves but only one laid open his soul and only one was transformed and received eternal life. They are such powerful words, uttered from the most powerless place possible:
“‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’” (Luke 23.41-43).
In that moment an outcast became the person where God could dwell! Our Christian calling is to become God’s house; a person, a people where all creation meets with God and finds there hope and salvation.
As Passiontide becomes Easter may God be close to you! As ever,
Canon Thomas Woodhouse
Team Rector of Dorchester and The Winterbournes