I have been privileged to visit Jerusalem. I have walked through the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I have stood, gazing in awe at the Place of the Skull soaking in the events that happened. Either in the one – or the other. The jury’s out, depending on who you listen to and what you feel and believe.
Try as I might, I did not have a major spiritual experience in either place.
I travelled to Iona, where they say the air is thin, and strained to feel my Jesus there and to have a unique experience of His presence. I did feel Him, but not in the holy places. Rather He came to me in my hotel room, asking me why I needed to go to ‘special places’ to sense His presence when He is with me always.
I had hoped for a renewed experience of what Jesus did for me when I was in these places. To increase the awe and level of worship I have for Him when I consider the sacrifice He made for me.
But it did not happen in any of them.
I entered the chapel in my home church. It is a simple, 1960’s building – fashionable in its day but now somewhat dated with its 60-year old architecture.
I had been there many times. Looked around often. Worshipped there week after week. And it was there, above the altar, that I found a renewed experience of Jesus’ sacrifice for all humankind. For there hangs a rough-hewn cross. Just logs really, with their side branches cut off, so you can see the scars of where the branches were. Two tree trunks, nailed together. There is nothing refined about them, these pieces of wood. Nothing smooth. No glistening brass. No gold. No fancy carving. Just two pieces of wood.
Just like the ones to which our Saviour was nailed.
Here it was that I found a sense of the immensity of what Jesus did for us. The wood was rough against His back – raw as it was from the beating He had received. The branch scars would have pressed painfully into His aching body. Not just the nails, or the thorns, but the cross itself produced pain
What love is this? What love …?