Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2)
Ely Cathedral holds special memories for me. It’s known locally as the ship of the Fens because of its prominent position above the surrounding flat landscape, and on train trips to visit my parents in Norfolk its dramatic appearance out the left-hand side window would serve as a reminder that there wasn’t much more than half an hour of the journey remaining. It’s an architectural wonder, a stunning Norman building over 900 years old. I also had the joy of singing there once as a boy chorister, complete in red cassock, white surplice and neat white ruff. I’m sure you can picture this angelic vision!
Two of the building’s most remarkable features are its nave ceiling paintings and its octagonal tower. I’ve never managed to decide what’s the best way of looking at them - whether to risk a crick in my neck by tilting my head backwards, whether to use one of the angled mirrors that give a reflected view, or whether to just lie on the floor and gaze upwards, although the last of these tends to grab the most attention! There’s so much of interest to see just wandering around the building. But what are probably it’s most striking parts are only seen when consciously looking up, by deliberately turning ones attention from ground level to the heights.
Life is usually busy and often complicated - all the more over the last year - and a whole host of things vie for our attention, some good and some not so good, some we’re conscious of and some we hardly notice. And it’s so easy for us to just drift, reacting to events and circumstances. But the writer to the Hebrews encourages us to proactively turn our attention to Jesus, to look to Him as we seek to both live out our faith specifically and navigate life more generally. He’s the one who shapes our values and priorities; He’s the one who gives us wisdom and direction; He’s the one who provides encouragement and genuine hope for the future.
At last week’s early morning prayer meeting, Psalm 141 gave us a similar reminder - “But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge.” This is about looking intently and steadfastly, about not being distracted but rather locking our attention. And as we do this, our perspective on life and the way we see ourselves will be transformed.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. Amen