Things He Carried: A Journey to The Cross: Meditations for Lent and Holy Week

Cottrell, Stephen
SPCK (2008)
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One of the dangers, among many, of sentimentalising the passion and death of Jesus, of taking the great Renaissance paintings too literally, is that we come to sentimentalise what was an iconically brutal occasion; and it is an easy step from sentiment to symbolism, to thinking that Jesus did not feel pain.

This exquisite little book of empathy, reflection, regret, self condemnation and lyrical hope begins with an account of the calculated brutality of crucifixion and ends with the 'mercy' of breaking the legs of victims.

But between these harsh realities there is a delicately loving account of what Jesus carried; the physical things: his own cross piece, his crown of thorns, his seamless garment. And the spiritual things: the disappointments of his followers, the hopes of God, the sins of the world, our sorrows and a broken heart.

Cottrell has the gift of being able to be empathetic and lyrical without ever being cloying or sentimental and that is because his feel for detail is so acute, particularly in his choice of adjectives and verbs, not a small gift in the context of Gospel narratives where the vocabulary is relatively thin.

Each little chapter ends with some suggestions for groups or for individual readers and scriptural references.

If you do not have the time or the perseverance during Lent to read anything else; at least read this.