Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Unlock the past, step into the future

real hull campaign little lane display

This is part of a contemporary street display on the site of the former entrance to Little Lane in Hull. The old photograph shows the medieval brickwork as it was in 1903. The woman and young children are long dead. The ancient structure is long gone too. Beyond the hoarding lies a dusty, rubble-strewn and empty wasteland. Yet here toil, tragedy and delight were once woven into community in ways that we would recognise today. The image is a doorway into this lost world. And it is padlocked.

It is as though we cannot cross the threshold until we have stood still for a while and pondered the meaning of all this, not least personally for ourselves. In this respect rushing through would be pointless. If we are truly to appreciate the space beyond sight we must wait until the weight of expectation is felt and realised. The gravity of this place must draw us down close to what is to be sacred for us here. Only then can we enter in and expect to discover the gift that awaits us.

So Jesus waits in the wilderness before entering into public ministry. There the old meanings come alive and the faith-history of his people dances before his eyes. The gravity of divine purpose takes hold of his soul. Sacred insight energises his spirit.

And when finally he walks through into the dusty, rubble-strewn and empty wasteland that was once the land of promise, his kingdom-building project begins. Having unlocked the past, he steps into the future.

Lent is the gift of time for us to do likewise.

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