And what is meant by the experience of physical pain in the hands at the mention of Christ hanging on the cross?
Is it a shared sympathy, a feeling that can compound the huge sacrifice laid down on that rugged tree? Is it an acknowledgement of the wounds that we share , that we are following the journey, the call that Christ calls us to, that we are ultimately crucified with Christ.
A vision of rough and sturdy hands forcing the arms apart, the body bucking and thrashing as each nail is driven into the palm. One by one, sharpness, sheer pain, followed by the never ending aches, throbbing from the palm, to the elbow, to the shoulder, to the neck.
An ache a yearning to escape from this suffering. God weeps as we writhe and thrash away from the cross, because His son willingly took the burden of humanity and poured out His blood and water to feed the ground in which we grow. Each of us a sacred seed, grown and made in the likeness of God Himself.
Feeling that ache in the hands, an echo of the shared suffering, the wounds we share, our secret knowledge that only God can know. And when I look down and see the colour changing in my palms, the purple flag that flies as death draws close, the paling of life that foreshadows the dying of sin, I see the victory over death. And in that pain I am shown that there is no way around the cross in ministry.
Christ can be seen through us so in turn we feel Christ dwelling in us. Not just the joy of re-birth, of resurrection, but of skin breaking on cold iron, on sharp thorns, on rough wood, and the welt from carrying the cross.
And from those aching palms blessings are poured out through the wounds made and healed through Christ.
We doubt that recovering from these wounds could be possible, yet quietly Christ approaches – ‘touch my hands and see my side’ and we fall down and declare in the realisation of such a sacrifice – my Lord and my God!