My owner recently bought a book featuring funny signs and notices. Later, I could hear him chuckling away, so when he left the room, I had a look at it myself. And it wasn’t long before I too was laughing out loud. (Well, actually, the nearest parrots every get to human laughter is a wicked snigger, or a witch’s cackle).
First there was a picture of a pregnant woman arriving at a maternity hospital. The sign greeting her on the entrance door said: “Push Hard.” Next, there was the business card of a private gynaecologist which said: “Dr. Jones at your Cervix!” There was also a podiatrist’s sign which read: “Time Wounds all Heels.” And of course, there had to be a disgusting one in there as well! And that was a sign fixed to the side of a tanker used for emptying out sceptic tanks. It proudly announced: “Yesterday’s Meals on Wheels.”
Signs can trigger all kinds of different reponses in humans. Personality and past experiences often play a part in how they react. For example, some humans will look at signs depicting the nuclear symbol or warning of Covid restrictions with a deep, inner fear. Others, particularly older humans, can still be traumatised by signs or symbols depicting the Nazi swastika or the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union. And that’s because signs can have an emotive effect by intensifying whatever we carry inside.
There are also various Christian signs, and the effect they have upon us can often reflect the state of our inner souls and minds. For example, the bright star hanging over the stable in Bethlehem was a sign which the Three Wise Men understood to be a message from God. And a wonderful message at that. But what does it say to us? Was it just a bright natural phenomenon, or was it a great deal more? Was it really a symbol of hope for the world and for all generations?
And as we approach Eastertime, we will see many depictions of the cross. What will the most powerful sign in the Christian faith say to us? What, if anything, will it stir up deep inside us? Do we simply view it as two pieces of wood nailed together, or does it shout out hope and salvation for all the world? Is it a personal sign? Does it speak to us as a unique individual?
We’re given a lifetime here on Earth to get to grips with the sign of the cross and to understand its true meaning.
And even this wasn’t quite enough for some of Jesus’ disciples. They also needed to see the message provided by Jesus’ hands and feet. His hands and feet still bearing the holes made by the nails on the cross. So, more than 200 years on, what are those hands and feet still saying to us…?
“He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see’….” (Luke 24: 38-39a)
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)