Believe it or not, and there’s no reason not to, one of my great interests is restoration. When we are in France we often go to car boot sales known as vide-grenier. It’s amazing what one comes across. A few years ago, I spotted an oval shaped, glassed fronted, oak frame within which was an alabaster relief of the Nativity on an open tabletop.
It was Victorian and was covered in filth, so I picked it up relatively cheaply. I spent the next couple of weeks meticulously and with great care restoring it. First removing the wafer-thin glass – that was a nightmare. Then with a small brush, and miniature vacuum removing the dust from the relief itself. The right hand of Our Lady had broken off and was lodged behind the ear of an attending shepherd, so I replaced it using a pair of nail tweezers. The frame was lightly sanded down and oiled, the backing re-enforced with a mixture of glue and fine strips of paper and tra-la – sorted! It now hangs on the left-hand side of our fireplace behind which a small flower is placed when we are there. A friend of mine, by the name of Seth Kennedy (do look him up on the “web”) restores antique watches and clocks and his work makes my efforts looks extremely puny. I am mesmerised to watch him work and he is currently attending to a piece that Alison bought me some years ago.
The Christian Gospel is concerned with restoration, but not so much of the temporal as the eternal and that which pertains to the soul. Jesus in his earthly ministry restored the sick, he transformed the prism through which people, men and women, rich and poor understood what life was all about. In the Gospel we read of Jesus’ restoring St Mary Magdalene in body and soul, he touched the heart of Matthew the tax collector, he restored the sight of Bartimaeus, the man born blind, and as we read through the four gospels, so many other examples of Jesus’ transforming love.
The Church of England is called to be a witness to the historic Faith and transforming love of Christ in the life of our nation. But that begins with us. I ask myself the question, “what needs to be transformed in my own life, and what requires the love of Christ in those shadowlands of my own way of living?”
It is a question we might want to ask of ourselves. The word “Christian” was first used as a “spitting” word, that is a sort of insult and is first recorded in Acts chapter 11. It literally means, “Little Christ.” When understood in this way, we realise just how much spiritual transformation is needed if we might fully appropriate that title for ourselves. “Deus Caritas Est.” God is love and in his love he seeks our transformation, not in the eradication of who we are and our collective uniqueness. But as men and women whose lives are transformed to live by faith and hope and love. It is only when we ourselves are transformed that we are more able to share with others what it truly means to be a Christian.
Keep the Faith.