Reverend Natasha Brady writes our blog for the first time…
There’s a beautiful, if not rather small painting, that hangs, obliquely, in the side chapel of Keble College, Oxford. It’s a picture that scores have seen and many more know as ‘that picture of Jesus knocking on a door’. Its correct title is in fact, ‘The Light of the World’ and was painted by Holman Hunt in 1853. It took him several years to paint because apparently, he was never quite happy with the way the dawn looked in contrast to the light shining from the lantern and the halo around Jesus. If you take the time to stop and stare at the painting today, you will see that time and life has darkened the dawn, its original blue and yellow hues, which captured a Bethlehem dawn, no longer have the original vibrancy. Yet Jesus’ light shines on, mysteriously illuminating a scene that has fascinated and challenged many a visitor.
One of the challenges is trying to work out how on earth Jesus is meant to open the door? There is no handle. There is ivy and Autumnal vegetation smothering the rather heavy looking wooden entrance. He has no key, no crow bar to force it open. Even if, by some miracle, Jesus opened the door, there comes a second conundrum, what will He find?
The second conundrum Hunt answered many a year ago, he said that the door represents our souls. Therefore, if Jesus were to get a peek at what was lying in wait behind, it would be us; just us. Our inner life, our inner being, all that we are and all that we could be. Now I wonder what he would find, if he peeked inside us, inside our inner most being, our soul?
For some that is a liberating and delight-filled thought; for others, I can imagine, there is nothing scarier, or most unwelcome. The Light of the World, peeking inside our souls. It might seem intrusive, and make one fearful of what He would find.
Yet we can see there is a light in Jesus’s hand, and a light emanating from His being, that would illuminate and bring a new dawn into our lives and like any new day, any new beginning, that has the potential to bring with it new hope.
When I first saw the role description for Stoke Poges Parish it had in its opening prologue a simple question – it said,
‘Our door is open; will you enter in?’
Months have now flown by, since my appointment was made known to us all, and I will have just moved to the parish come the Autumn time. I have held onto those few words because they inspired me first to apply and then to accept the role of Your Vicar. Since then I have gone back to look at the original verse that I suspect inspired that question:
‘ Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.’ Rev 3.20
It is the same verse that inspired Hunt’s painting of Jesus and it is apt and appropriate at this time of Harvest and new starts, to be an inspiration to us here in Stoke Poges. As I said at the beginning, the door is our soul, but it has no outer handle. Jesus has no way of getting into our lives unless we invite Him in, to commune and illuminate our inner being. As a community, it’s good to celebrate, it brings joy and inspires hope. So, as the leaves begin to change their hue and the fields beyond are harvested, I warmly invite you to come, and share with us, a celebration of fruitfulness and life at our Harvest festival service at St Giles 10.30 am, or our Harvest supper at St Andrews 6.30pm, both on the 7th October 2018.
What a lovely opportunity to see if doors can be opened and new hope found.
Revd. Natasha Brady