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Compline Reflection 27th March 2024

Wednesday: Head

“O sacred head, surrounded by crown of piercing thorn! O bleeding head, so wounded, so shamed and put to scorn”.

This is the head that is now given a kingly crown; only now at the time of his death does Jesus’ head bear the acknowledged symbol of kingship. Surely this is the heaviest crown ever worn for this crown is encrusted and weighted down with the sins of the world. This is the head from which droplets of blood fall from the wounds inflicted by the biting clasp of needle- sharp thorns. Droplets of blood that point to the ebbing life force of this man who was truly human, truly divine.

This is the head like any head, thick bone encasing the myriad and unfathomable mysterious complexities of the brain within.

This is Christ’s head whose eyes looked out onto His world, the world His Father had created in all its wonder. Whose eyes saw the intricate beauty and the glory of the lilies of the field; saw the birds, the small creatures and had reverence for them all. These eyes scanned the heavens as he stood to pray in quiet places; scanned the immensity of space and recognised the limitless power of God his Father. These were the eyes that sought out his fellow human beings; who spotted Zacchaeus perched in the sycamore tree and recognised the inner poverty of this little man. These were the eyes that looked down upon Jerusalem and wept for this city that had lost its way; had lost its understanding of the purposes of God.  These were the eyes that wept when he shared the bitter grief of Martha and Mary at the death of Lazarus; wept because he too had loved this man. These were the eyes that looked directly at the sores of the lepers and recognised the needs of Jairus, the needs of the Centurion, the needs of His own Mother as he looked down from the cross and saw her anguish. These were the eyes that read the scriptures, the word of God and interpreted them for those who would listen. These were the eyes through which the light of the world shone out into the darkness.

Think of our eyes and what we have seen as we have lived out our lives. Have we always paused to notice the glory of the flowers of the field at our feet and the awesome canopy of space stretching away to eternity and given praise? Have we seen the needs of others and have we too wept bitter tears not just for our own griefs but the griefs of others? Have we seen in the dirt and the dross of the streets of the world the festering sores and the contagion of disease or have we averted our eyes from sights that affront us and make us fearful?  Have we read with deep perception the scriptures and in them heard the word of God speaking to us?  .

This is Christ’s head whose mouth could speak words of healing and words of wisdom. From this mouth the words of the beatitudes were spoken ‘Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth’. ‘Blessed are the merciful for they will obtain mercy.’ ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.’ Words that were spoken with divine insight that all who hear them might understand some of the profound  truths of the kingdom of heaven. So too He spoke the words of the prayer that is shared and reverenced by all who profess the name of Christ. This was the mouth of Christ who told the most wonderful entrancing stories pregnant with inner meaning for those who would listen and conveyed in parables some of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. This was the mouth that spoke stern words warning about hypocrisy, idolatry, materialism, selfishness and greed. But this too was the mouth that spoke tender loving words to those who needed the consolation of his love, the forgiveness of their sins and hope for the future.

Think of our mouths and the countless words we have spoken since we first learned to enunciate, to communicate with others, to express verbally our inmost thoughts and feelings,. Have we spoken words of wisdom, words of encouragement to those seeking the truth of the gospel? Have we spoken up courageously against injustice, corruption and all the evils of the world without prejudice and without dishonesty? Have we spoken words of comfort, words of hope, words that express in their utter simplicity the love of God for all His people and our own love that reflects that divine loving? And when have we used words to abuse, to wound, to criticise and to express hate? When have we failed to guard our tongues and listen for your voice before we speak?

This is the head whose ears were attuned to the voice of God and the voice of His people. These ears listened for the silence in which God spoke ‘This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.’ These are the ears that heard the spiteful strident cruel voices of those who hated him, those who judged him, those who feared the good news that he brought. And in hearing them he responded ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. These were the ears that heard the braying of the crowd as his crowned head looked down upon them and prayed ‘Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’

Have we listened with ears attuned to the natural rhythms of the world?

Have we sat with quiet stillness to listen to the needs of others, their concerns, their doubts their fears, not interrupting not jumping in with our own opinions our own judgements just listening in valued companionship? Have we heard barb wounding words spoken against us that we allow to catch deep within us and fester poisonously in our unconscious? Have we failed to hear God urging us to forgive those who spoken out against us? And have we found the courage to stand in utter silence seeking to hear the still small voice of God blotting out all the raucous cacophony of the world’s sounds that can so easily prevent our hearing that voice? Have we heard that still small voice speaking the words of forgiveness, of encouragement and love that will restore us and redeem us?

Christ’s head on the pillow of the cross crowned with thorns, eyes seeing the hurt of the world, ears hearing the cries of the world, mouth speaking words of divine forgiveness before proclaiming ‘It is finished.’

You do not have to look for anything,
Just look.
You do not have to listen for
Specific sounds,
Just listen.
You do not have to accomplish anything,
Just be.
And in the looking
And in the listening
And the being,
Me. .      

Rev’d Virginia Smith / 27th March 2024

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