I’m writing this Pastoral Letter after returning from a weekend singing with a choir in both of the Liverpool Cathedrals. The Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral is modern, round and has some stunning artwork. The Anglican Cathedral is the biggest in the country. It is huge! It also has some beautiful artwork. Cathedrals have long been supporters of the arts – sculpture; painting, tapestry; music; and stained glass. At the moment there is a wooden and iron sculpture called The Outraged Christ in the Anglican Cathedral. It shows a Christ who looks as if he is about to leap off of the cross. His mouth is open and he is angry at the injustice. It is challenging. What injustices might Jesus be angry about today?
I also saw a Titian painting, Supper at Emmaus, in the Walker Gallery in Liverpool. It shows the moment when, after walking alongside two disciples from Jerusalem to Emmaus without them realising that it was Jesus who walked with them, he was invited to share a meal and at the moment he broke bread they suddenly recognized him. One disciple, on the right of the picture, is in a worshipful pose – he has seen Jesus. The one to the left is shown in a posture of surprize. It is hard to know why they didn’t recognise him earlier but they had seen Jesus die on the cross three days earlier. They weren’t expecting to see him; they were grieving and may not even have given him a second glance.
We don’t know what Jesus looked like; we have no photographs or images from that time. If he was unrecognizable by people who had known him he could turn up anywhere and not be recognized. Could he be the homeless person that you passed by recently and that I passed in Liverpool? Could he be an asylum seeker? Could he be a hungry child in the Yemen? Could he be a lonely old man that lives along your road? The answer is yes, he could.
‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me … whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt 25 v. 35, 36, 40.
Doing nothing is not an option. Christian discipleship is not easy!
Sue Elliott – Pastoral Assistant Coxheath Benefice