Yesterday, I was looking through photographs that I’d taken over recent years, and I came across this; the remains of a tree, transformed into a sculpture.
The lettering at the top is a quote taken from one of the early church Fathers, Augustine of Hippo, and it reads thus; ‘There is no saint without a past, and no sinner without a future’. Breathtaking, a sit down and take it in moment! Profound, all embracing, no ifs, ands or buts. Blunt, no wriggle room, speaking to everyone, saint or sinner or both together! This is the great leveller of a quotation, it leaves no-one left out. Just let those words move around your inner conversation. If I might dare to express it, I think it’s transformational.
The absolute clincher are the words at the base, below the carving of the ‘Lamb of God’. Taken from the opening chapter of the Gospel of St John, verse 29, The words of John the Baptist on seeing his cousin, Jesus….‘Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’ The icing on the cake…the quote at the bottom of the tree stump (!), it is utterly all encompassing, and resonates so profoundly for you and I.
Can we dare belive it? Does it feel a bit too good to be true. Do we try and hedge around, qualify it, change it, so that it makes sense to our own world view? Will we let the words speak to us today?
The fact that the sculptor chose these words, is calculated to produce a response in our mental map, and our hearts. It makes me weep, and be overwhelmed by the love of God.
I first came across these words of St Augustine in my early days as a Prison Chaplain and it shaped my ministry. I am so gald that I’ve become re-aquainted with it again. I offer it to you today.
Grace and Peace be with you.