I’ve been thinking recently about hands; our hands, and how we use them.
It started when I was on Chaplaincy duty in Winchester Cathedral. The stonemasons were at work repairing the ‘grouting’ around the stone flags of the north aisle, digging out the rubbish from where it had failed, the old stuff which was cracked, and replacing it with new lime mortar appropriate to a listed building.
Then I watched the hands of a florist, hard at work creating a display on the central ‘stage’ area in the Nave near the altar; stunning colours arranged for maximum impact. Outside in the sun was an artist, using his hands to paint the intricate lines of the cathedral’s architecture. Later I shared a few words about prayer with someone who had been taught to fight in our Armed Forces, but was now using his hands as a carer, pushing a client in a wheelchair around the cathedral.
How we use our hands and what we create with them, is important. However simple the tasks, they are given us to be used for good; cooking, cleaning, fixing, building, typing, gardening,.... the list is endless.
Some of us have damaged hands, worn out, repaired, broken, and for some no-longer extant. Often those hands have met their pain and loss because of many or perhaps one particular act of creativity or goodness. The loss of their usefulness is a huge frustration, but hopefully we can rejoice in what they have contributed and sacrificed to the world in the past.
In April Christians will be remembering other hands, Jesus’ hands; hands that were nailed to a cross on Good Friday. People are often confused as to why Christians describe the day when Jesus was killed as “Good” Friday. Jesus, the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, whose hands flung stars into space (Psalm 8:3), which healed the sick (John 9:6), which turned over the tables of money-lenders in the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13), has those same creative, caring, comforting hands nailed to a plank and is effectively strangled by hanging from them.
The ‘good’ that came from this is that through his sacrifice and resurrection, Jesus broke down the barriers to our relationship with the one who created us to be creative, and overcame the power of all the wrong we can do with our hands as well; the wrong of it being human hands that placed a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head, and those nails through his hands. Jesus rose again on Easter Day to enable our hands to reach out to him when we say sorry for what we have done wrong, when we need comfort, when we speak to in him praise and prayer. It is doing these things that we come to know God more intimately.
So, this month as you watch your hands at their creative work, and realise that occasionally we don’t use them wisely or well, remember that they can be used to reach out to God too. Come and join the Christians of this community at St. Mary’s for our services this month (see next page), particularly through Holy Week and Easter. In all of these we will explore, share and accept the love of God for us in worship, with our hands as well as in other ways.
You who made us,
Who shared your creative power into our lives,
Who gave over your works into our hands;
As we encounter you in everything that is made and maintained to your glory,
Give us wisdom to use our hands and creativity wisely,
To mend the broken,
To strengthen the weak,
To encourage the uncertain;
That in our lives we might come to know better your life within us,
and share your loving power with all.