A Pastoral Word
Lent: A Spiritual and Artistic Journey to the Cross
As I prepared for our Lenten journey, I kept being drawn to the writer Henri Nouwen and his claim that we are all wounded healers. We all have our wounds and as people of faith, we can let these wounds pull us away from the community or let God use our wounds as a way to find healing and wholeness for us and for others.
“If we listen to the voice and believe that ministry is a sign of hope, because it makes visible the first sign of light of the coming Messiah, we can make ourselves and others understand that we already carry in us the source of our own search. Thus ministry can indeed be a witness to the living truth that the wound, which causes us to suffer now, will be revealed to us later as the place where God intimated the new creation.” (Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer)
As Nouwen moved through his ministry, he was fascinated by Van Gogh’s art and how Van Gogh, through his paintings and letters to his brother, Theo, came to embody this idea of a “wounded healer”. In fact, Van Gogh was a minister for part of his career, following in his father’s footsteps, loving to serve the least of these and sharing the message about God’s amazing love. What fascinated Nouwen was the fact that throughout Van Gogh’s ministry and his life, Van Gogh was fascinated by finding the sacred in the ordinary events of life and as he strived to share these experiences with everyone. And as he continued on his journey and as his struggled with faith, struggled with the church, and struggled with personal demons, he painted; painted pictures of peasants breaking bread, painted the stars at night, and painted portraits of “wounded healers”: ordinary people whose life and work had wounded them emotionally and physically but who still celebrated LIFE and HOPE, two key elements to the Gospel message.
And that is what I invite us to do as Midway Christian Church, to find the sacred in the ordinary events of our lives and allow God to use our wounds as signs of hope and healing, just as God did with the cross. The cross was just ordinary wood fashioned to form a instrument of suffering and to inflict wounds. God took what was ugly, scarred and turned it into something beautiful, turned it into a sign of hope and used the wounds that it inflicted to reflect healing and new life. So each week along our Lenten journey, we will use paintings by Van Gogh and words by Henri Nouwen to meet God in the ordinary sacred moments and to embrace our wounds and their wounds to bring healing and hope to a world that is crying out for Good News.