On Good Friday on the Flag Market in Preston I got hundreds of people to gasp in horror as I talked about my left hand.
To give you the context, I had asked them to look at their own left hands and to marvel at the complexity and distinctive nature of them. I then talked them through the disaster of my left hand.
This litany of woe begins with my thumb, which I cut off when working as a printer’s mate before I was ordained. It was reattached because the factory was near to the hospital, but I have little feeling in its tip. Then playing cricket for the diocese of Blackburn against Carlisle at their idyllic ground at Burneside, the ball hit my little finger breaking it. I reset it, but it still has an interesting shape.
The gasp came when I described my first Christmas morning in my old parish. My children were very young and my new curate had joined us for lunch. I overcooked the Brussel sprouts and to try to give them some crunch back, I made some toast to turn into toasted breadcrumbs to scatter on the top of them.
Having blended the toast, I switched the blender off at the wall, noted that the radio went off and using my left hand started to clear the blades. This is when the crowd gasped and you have guessed what happened.
I called for my wife to come into the kitchen to clean the walls and doors, the curate kept the children entertained and I choose not to have the pigs in blankets as they were too similar to my blended fingers.
The only finger on my left hand unscathed is my ring finger which has my wedding ring of 26 years on it. I choose not to speak of the time I poured boiling fat all over the hand, there are limits!
While my left hand was as complex and distinctive as anyone’s it also bears the scars, marks and signs of all that has happened to it and to me.
The reason I shared this on Good Friday is that is the day Christians remember Jesus’s hands being nailed to the cross.
As Graham Kendrick’s song puts it, “hands that flung stars into space to cruel nails surrendered.”
When resurrected it was the holes in his hands that Thomas demanded to see to know that it was Jesus.
The physical testimony of what had happened to Jesus was there, proving that it was him and showing how the resurrection had changed everything whilst still speaking of all he had been through.