8, 14, 15, 21-23 A meditation by Judith Dimond
Hands are always a fascinating way into thinking about God and
his relationship to us. Perhaps because our hands are so distinctive
- they are individual and they mark us out among the animal kingdom...
the fact that we - along with a very few of our primate cousins,
have opposable thumbs, has probably been a bigger influence on
evolution than almost any other human feature. And hand say a
lot about us; about the work we do; about the values we share.
We like to hold the hand of those whom we love. What we do with
them matters to us. And hands feature strongly in our Gospel
reading for today...
Gaze on Jesus' hands wiping
the dust of the journey away.
Large, tough hands, rough from years of carpentry; prone to
splinters, cut from slips of the saw, nails blackened from a
Hands that poured water for friends, drew in the sand, distributed
pieces of fish; that hauled the ropes on the boat, pulled up
the nets, and lit the fire.
These hands would have been scarred long before the cross. Now
these hands are stretched out to touch you, to reach you where
you are, or to point the way.
His hands would feel warm yet
light, for they won't force anybody to go in a particular direction.
Is he waving hello or goodbye? Though these proffered hands may
be grubby, grasp them and never let them go.
Consider how fond we are of
our human traditions and how often we teach human precepts as
doctrines. 'But we've always done it that way', we whinge from
the back pew when the new vicar slightly changes the service
- as if the service is there for our satisfaction and not for
We are unwilling as ever to
leave our comfort zone.
But it is more dangerous than
that when we argue that our prejudices are God's law. It was
done to justify slavery; it was proclaimed to support apartheid.
Yet the hearts of those who clung to power and riches could hardly
have been further from Jesus.
They could scarcely have been more defiled by the rejection of
their sisters and brothers in Christ.
This sort of earth-bound worship,
Jesus tells us, is quite in vain. We may as well pour out our
prayers into the drain along with the shower water we used to
make ourselves clean - or so we thought.
Contemplate the evils that
come from within: the pride that deafens us; the hypocrisy that
blinds us; the greed and envy which keeps our western economy
functioning yet withers the rest of the world by our excess.
(Don't get me started on our response to those who come desperate
to improve their lot by moving to this country.... and which
commentator was brave enough to remind us that Mo Farah - now
called the greatest athlete this country has seen - came to the
UK as an 8year old child, a migrant from Somalia)
We may not recognize our defilement
as burglary and murder. But surely our rape of the natural world
is a form of theft?
Think about slander, and all
the hurtful words we will have spoken over our life. How they
pile up, making an iron barrier between us and Jesus.
They defile our soul and stain
Bring these failings to God
There was no defilement in
Jesus. Nothing he did rejected God's ways or harmed his creation.
Everything he did was honest and positive, helping others towards
fuller, cleaner lives.
As we desire to imitate him
Lord, forgive the way I fool
myself into believing
My preferences are sanctioned by your word.
Forgive the times I judge others
Because they don't do things the way I think they should.
Cleanse my heart, my thoughts and speech,
Of all that defiles your image within me.
Help me day by day grow more in your likeness. Amen