Embarrassment to wonderment

In the late 1980’s a leading national newspaper produced an advertisement shown on both television and cinema screens. The advert focussed on an urban street scene. People were seen walking up a High Street, popping in and out of shops. The camera then pans in to a young man, a skinhead, with the uniform of ‘bovver’, Dr Marten boots, jeans rolled up to show the full extent of the boots’ menace and a green flying jacket. This person meant harm and the next scenes conveyed the extent of his intent. He raced towards an old lady, struggled her to the ground, presumably stole her purse and ran off!

The advert, however, asks the viewer to see a situation from another point of view, a different perspective (the newspapers USP). This time we see the same menacing figure but we are enlightened to see that, instead of attacking the old woman, he rushes to save her from some falling masonry which he calculates will fall on her. He wrestles her to the ground, yes, only to put himself in the way of the danger. He runs away – embarrassed.
On Sunday we celebrate Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, known as Palm Sunday (we meet at 9.45am in Summertown Parade for the blessing of the palms  before we process to church). In the week that follows, Holy Week, we experience the changing perspective held by Jesus’ followers and enemies. Jesus’ reputation, his honour and status are reduced from kingship to servanthood, from hero to zero. However, we are invited to use this Holy Week to see things from  a different point of view, from another perspective. Those on the outside may well bring their own prejudice and projections as the Church’s lens zooms in to the greatest story ever lived, the story of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection. The claim by many outside of the community of faith is that the Church’s pre-occupation with these events are an embarrassing irrelevance. The cross, they argue, is followed by fanatics or oddities; menaces to the post-Christian age and our pluralistic culture.
The challenge to enterprising Christians is to present the other view or ‘real’ perspective of the Church as it lives out its mission to be Christ for others. Holy Week and Easter provide opportunities for the cynical to have another look at the intent of the Church. Instead of being a menace to society, the Church, when it is true to its calling, models the best way to live. Those who follow Jesus demonstrate the characteristics of Christ’s life – compassion, contemplation and courage but also honesty, generosity, and creativity. From this perspective – and millions will testify to this – the Church is life-giving. This Easter, let us pray for a change of heart (a metanoia) from those who seek to look with a narrow lens, that they may see from a new perspective, the perspective called LIFE!
Have a wonder-filled Holy Week & Easter, please use this time and these services for your own development and discipleship. Please refer to the list of the services on offer on the website.
Remember that Holy Saturday (Easter Eve) is the most dramatic and poignant service of the whole Christian year because it anticipates the Resurrection of Christ. Our celebration starts at 9pm.


Sunday services: 8am Holy Eucharist; 10am Parish Eucharist; 6.30pm Contemplative Prayer.

No matter where you are on the journey of faith, you are always welcome at St Michael & All Angels! Click here for news and the Sunday readings sheet.

Author: Gavin Knight

The Revd Gavin Knight has been the Vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Summertown in the Oxford Diocese since September 2011. After serving his title at St Alphege, Solihull, Gavin became parish priest of St Andrew's Fulham Fields in London. He moved to Wales in 2005 becoming Chaplain to Monmouth School. He is married to Jo, a clinical psychologist, and they have three sons.