Invisible, Radiant and Prominent – The Newport Rood

IMG_0528At the end of lockdown in 2020, the new Rood was installed at the entrance to the chancel arch. This striking modern work of art by the Singaporean artist Tay Swee Siong, is made from wire and hangs near the site of the medieval Rood, adjacent to the high-level doorway. Its appearance is highly dependent on where the viewer stands. In some places it almost blends into the background and becomes invisible. When the sunlight shines through from the south it can appear radiant. With the roofs as its backdrop it is prominent and full, hanging in the heart of the Cathedral.

Invisible, radiant and prominent, is a metaphor for how the cross stands in the heart of our faith and life. “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?” (Lamentations 1:12) could be the words of a culture which sees Good Friday as another day, a sanitised faith that jumps from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday without passing through the passion of the cross. We want Easter without the pain, but such a faith has nothing to say to the darker sides of life.

“Inscribed upon the cross we see in shining letters, ‘God is love’”, from Thomas Kelly’s Good Friday Hymn (We sing the praise of him who died), brings the radiance of a love that will give most deeply of itself. This radiance holds out hope to the suffering, who can know that they are not alone, that God enters into the depth of their pain and holds it. They share in the passion of Christ, and so he shares in theirs.

The cross has become prominent in our faith. Its prominence is that its shame becomes its victory. What can almost be unnoticed stands at the heart of the Cathedral. All who come are able to gaze at it and marvel at its simplicity and power. As it stands at the gateway to the chancel, so it stands as the gateway into the heart of God, and so we cross ourselves at moments of blessing, sacrament and affirmation.

Due to the pandemic, the Rood has not been dedicated. We will put that right on Passion Sunday, 3rd April, when Bishop Cherry will dedicate it during the Cathedral Eucharist at 10.30am.

May the cross be present and radiant for us at the heart of our faith as we journey through Lent to the Easter joy.

Opening letter for St Woolos Quarterly, Easter 2022

About Ian Black

Ian is an Anglican priest and Dean of Newport Cathedral in the Church in Wales. He was previously Vicar of Peterborough and Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral in the Church of England Diocese of Peterborough. He served as Rural Dean of Peterborough for 5 years. Prior to moving to Peterborough, Ian was in Leeds for 10 years, as Vicar of Whitkirk and as a member of the Chapter of Ripon Cathedral. He has also worked in Kent in Maidstone and as priest-in-charge of a group of parishes in Faversham. He was a Minor Canon of Canterbury Cathedral, a prison chaplain and Assistant Director of Post-Ordination Training for the Diocese of Canterbury in partnership with the Diocese of Rochester. Prior to ordination Ian had a career in tax, both with the Inland Revenue as a PAYE Auditor and a firm of Chartered Accountants as a Tax Accountant. Ian was born and grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and is a former head chorister at Shakespeare’s Church – Holy Trinity. He studied in Canterbury, Lincoln Theological College and has a Master of Divinity degree from Nottingham University. He is married with two sons. Publications include three books of prayers: Prayers for all occasions (SPCK 2011), Intercessions for Years A, B & C (SPCK 2009) and Intercessions for the Calendar of Saints and Holy Days (SPCK 2005). His most recent book, Follow me: living the sayings of Jesus, was published by Sacristy Press on 1st July 2017. There is also a hymn based on this – Christ the Saviour. Other online writings can be found under the Books & Publications tab above. He has been writing online since the mid 1990s and was a contributing blogger to the ReJesus website. Ian is a keen photographer and these frequently appear in his Facebook and Twitter posts.
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