Today I have been working with wood. This in itself is both unusual and potentially disastrous. When I was at school, my woodwork teacher entered my ‘fruit bowl’ into the ‘other creations’ category at an end-of-term show. I am not gifted in this area. But today, I was sorting wood, chopping wood and chopping yet more wood. I have been doing this in Calais, in the cold and rain – although thankfully protected by a shelter. The wood has been cut up, as it is every day through the winter months, to provide warmth for the refugees who are living in the woods here. They have no form of heating where they are camping, so burning wood is vital especially as temperatures have been getting down to -5 on some nights. Although there are morning checks to try and make sure there are no new cases of hypothermia, the wood is one basic way of saving life.
This is a great Lent reflection for me as the journey to Easter is the journey to the cross – the wood that brings life. In some ways, as I reflect on my activity for today, I am reminded of just how broken the world still is and the need for the life-bringing gift of wood.
The danger of the Easter story is thinking ‘it’s all about me’ and whether or not ‘I am saved’. The story is far bigger than that. It is far bigger than being about Marlow. The story is about God’s love bringing hope, love, mercy, and justice to a broken world.
I am thankful for my day of woodworking today – which is something I have never said before. I have met people and had conversations with people from all over the place. We have gathered here because we have recognised that the world is broken; that’s why there are refugees. I have been reminded of the life-giving qualities of the wood that we have prepared today and of the journey towards the life-giving wood of the cross. We need wood. We need the life that comes from it.
May the rest of the journey of Lent lead you in hope, love, mercy and justice to the empty wooden cross.