I took this photo some time ago on a happy, pleasant visit with other ladies from church to Coventry Cathedral. We went to be inspired by some brilliant Floral Creations commemorating the Cathedrals 50th Anniversary. The present building stands alongside the ruins of the old one which was destroyed in the bombing raids of WW2. So horrendous were these raids, that the Fuehrer gave the world a new word ‘Coventrated’
The Rock in the picture is just that; it’s a huge boulder from Bethlehem, the top is slightly hollowed and this is the Cathedral’s font where babies, sometimes adults are washed in the waters of baptism.
That had always seemed very appropriate to me, I guess many a visitor has stood awhile and let these words from Toplady’s ‘Rock of Ages’ speak to them:
‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy riven side which flow’d,
Be of sin the double cure,
Save me from its guilt and pow’r’
Today, in church, we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, recalling the visit of those Wise Men, with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, already our gaze is being pulled towards Calvary and the Cross, in church the crib is still in place and draws our eyes towards the baby, we like to take him from the manger bed, and let Mary hold him in her arms; and that is poignant too, bitter sweet, such a great sorrow for any parent to hold in their arms a child lost before it’s time, as Mary held Jesus when He had grown to man.
We haven’t seen snow yet, just rain, rain-black streets are not so pretty as snow- scapes, and the wind did plenty of damage over the New Year, trees crashed in gardens and elderly fences blew over, but you know what? On the Top of the Hill, the windiest place for miles around, the church roof stayed on! There is something to be said for building well, and for building on a solid foundation. Soon the stable will be gone, barley straw gathered up to be recycled, crib figures bubble wrapped and packed away, until next year when that part of the story will be told again. There is not much to read in the bible about Mary’s son growing up what games did He play with His friends, brothers and sisters? What did teenagers Jesus do? The scriptures don’t record for us those precious family memories that we would keep nowadays documented, and photographed in keepsake albums, but it is safe to assume that Mary and Joseph always endeavoured to see that their children were bought up well, that they had good foundations.
I think, I am trying to say, that we all need that, we need the Rock from Bethlehem, we need to bear in mind, also who this baby is, He is the Word who was with God and was God in the beginning, before all things were made. As Mary’s son, He needed cradling. feeding, washing, protection, guidance all the things which we need, that is the mystery isn’t it, He emptied Himself, hollowed Himself out, like the stone in Coventry Cathedral; making a space big enough to hide us all: long before He filled. the manger bed and Mary’s arms, Isaiah wrote:
“Trust in the LORD for ever,
For the LORD, Himself,
Is the Rock eternal.”