Hello everyone. Last week, I abandoned you for a 4-day trip to La Belle France. I was dreading it – because I have not been abroad since June 2019. And if I had a choice for my first trip, it would have been a nice, relaxing QUIET holiday in the middle of sunny nowhere.
Alas, the ‘wedding tasting’ had to be done, apparently, to show I am ‘involved’ with the preparations. So off we went to Gatwick at 5 am – along with the rest of Surrey – crammed ourselves into the Long Stay carpark bus (entertaining ‘Lads weekend’ conversation as the commentary – apparently they were to outdo each other eating quantities of potatoes in Barcelona for some reason – fried, boiled or raw!). The usual intrusive prison-style nightmare stripping off through passport control (did the 90 year old in front of me REALLY have to take off her shoes? Shoe-bombing terrorism an unlikely career choice for someone with flat heels and bunions, surely?) Then got kicked in la derriere all the way to Paris by the kids in the seat behind me, who as far as I am concerned, needed a jolly good… er, reprimand … themselves!
Future son-in-law’s parents are super folks who can’t do enough for you, so after one hour of Paris traffic (think M25 but without the good driving manners) things got a LOT better!
So, we tasted the food, and sampled the wine (all that bit was great!) and visited the venue (all this for the social’ wedding number 2 in May – DON’T ask!) and got talked to a LOT in very fast French by the manager – for two hours…
Ah! But then – Chartres Cathedral – I managed two visits – one on my own, just drinking in all that art and stained glass and theology and Bible narrative and cultural drama! One thousand sermons in one thousand years of stone and spire and stained glass and symbolism! And now, I am beginning to think that my daughter having in-laws in that town is going to be a real bonus of a life-changing experience!
To see Christ, and judgment, and saints and sinners, to see the Biblical good, the bad and the ugly, all dramatized in that amazing stonework and glasswork, stretching up to the sky in many parts, certainly brought the Bible alive in the most powerful way.
Our passage this week – John 12 – the washing of Jesus’ feet with the pound of costly perfume – is every bit as dramatic. Visceral, sensuous, outrageous. Either we will be shocked and scandalised, like Judas, or we will be drawn to the amazing beauty and persona of Christ, like Mary.
Love is extravagant. Love does not count the cost. Being in love is powerful, all- consuming, and life-changing. If (and sometimes when) we forget that, we forget everything important.
Chartres Cathedral and John Chapter 12. Sometimes you really don’t need a sermon of words (you will be relieved to hear!).
Because sometimes, you just have to stand in awe, drink it all in, and listen with eyes and ears and senses to all God is saying.
Next week – more visual aids – Palm Sunday, Easter Week – and after service refreshments! And I will let the Archdeacon and Area Dean do all the (10 am service) hard work! They did kindly volunteer, after all…
See you there – and may God bless us all at this time.