Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Wednesday, March 2, Evening – Ash Wednesday
By Steve Richardson
Read Luke 15:20-24
“But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.”
Lent’s nature of repentance and renewal brings to mind the parable of the prodigal son. This is a story packed with many different layers of meaning. One that raises reassurance is the unconditional “welcome back” response of the father.
At Church Street, The Welcoming Christ statue adorns the space above the chancel altar. What a comforting and appropriate symbol for everyone’s contemplation, whether seated or when approaching the chancel altar for sacraments and sacred moments.
This lime-wood masterpiece was not always there. Prior to September 1974, a beautifully-crafted statue of the archangel Gabriel occupied that space. Gabriel is still present in the nave in the narthex balcony. Like parishioners, Gabriel now gazes forward to Christ. As noted in Dr. Dwight Wade’s book, Unfinished Journey, The Welcoming Christ was sculpted by acclaimed Boston artist, Arcangelo Cascieri. (It’s hard to overlook the coincidence of his first name, considering that the statue of the archangel played a role in this project!) In remarks about The Welcoming Christ, Mr. Cascieri stated, “I have tried to capture a spiritual pleasantness, kindness and welcome.”
In our day and age of seemingly widening divisions in our society, the notions of “spiritual pleasantness, kindness and welcome” stir senses of solace, calm and relief. The depiction of Jesus with raised hands and compassionate demeanor reminds us that all are invited, desired and accepted. Jesus longs us for his loving embrace.
Christ welcomes us all, just as we are. Therefore, as his followers, let us welcome one another, just as we are.
Triune God, we’re humbled and grateful to realize that we don’t need to wait for your welcome. Your loving arms are always open, always outstretched to accept and embrace us. May we be mindful to do likewise among others, as we strive to live in your image.