Years ago my husband, our son, and I were traveling through several regions of France. We spent one night in a farmhouse on the edge of a misty, green village in Brittany. We had walked through grand cathedrals in large cities. But here our host gave us a private tour of a small, rustic chapel.
A diminutive, sweatered Breton woman took us into the dimly-lit chapel. Our son spoke French, and so through him we could communicate with our guide. She explained in detail the colorful stained-glass windows made, in centuries past, by artisans from Italy, Spain, and Germany. Each window told a story from the Bible and church history for the country parishioners who, in olden days, often could not read the scriptures for themselves.
The historic chapel—still very much in use today—was built by Breton ship builders, our guide explained as we walked down the narrow nave. The ceiling was curved and ribbed like the hull of a ship. Traditional craftsmanship also showed in the wooden carvings—displayed above the chancel—representing the Trinity and each of the apostles.
Surrounded by such reverential art, my eyes were drawn again and again to one particular piece—a wooden carving of “God the Father.” How had the artisans captured such a look of loving strength, knowing, and gladness?! The Father was depicted sitting on his throne. His arms were outstretched and holding, face out to the people, Jesus—also carved in wood, but in a smaller scale.
The devout Breton woodcarvers depicted the Father offering the supreme Gift. I could almost hear the voice from Heaven say, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
Truly, God offers us his Christ to be our savior, our sacrificial lamb, our friend, our example, our victory, our hope, our way to eternal life.
We receive him. He changes us. And we begin to ask, “What should we do for others?”
The Father answers, “Show them Jesus. Through your words and actions, hold him out for the world to see.”
Who is this Jesus we are to show the world? He’s not a statue for us to display. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15, NRSV). He came as a helpless baby, lived an earthly life, and suffered death in order to give us the gift of life.
“He is the … beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:18-20, NRSV).
I pray, “Father, fill us with your love and your joy that we may hold Jesus out to the world through our faith, our words, and our actions.”
And that must be the underlying reason we publish books and hold them out to the world. To show them Jesus.