Saturday, 19 April 2014

Sensing Lent 40: Linen

I can't resist a linen shirt. 

Linen is made from flax and differs from cotton in texture and origin, being the only European based plant plant used in fabric making. 

In summer it absorbs body heat and in winter it retains body heat making a perfect micro climate for skin. It has a neutral pH balance and is hypo allergenic. All this in many ways makes it the cloth of choice..

Though Christ was dead, it seems to have been a fitting material in which to wrap his body on the Friday night after he was taken down from the cross. Tradition has come up with shrouds that have purported to be the shroud in which his body was wrapped - the Turin shroud is probably the most famous, being a piece of linen measuring 14 foot by 3, bearing the mysterious negative image of a crucified man. It is the most sacred religious relic in the world today, and the most tested, studied and scientifically analysed. 

The expensive quality of the Turin linen is consistent with the account in Matthew's gospel that the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea came to Pilate requesting the body of Jesus and laid it in his own tomb, hewn into the rock. The marks on the shroud figure are consistent with the injuries inflicted upon Jesus by his scourging and crucifixion, with the lashes visible, the nail wounds in wrists not palms, bruised knees from falling, a spear mark in the side of the torso, and no broken bones.

There's a reverence to the wrapping of Jesus' body in fine linen. It was evening. It was over, apparently. No words were said, perhaps. The actions said all. In a world, and even a church, in which words are everything, it's perhaps better to utter few on Holy Saturday. I was tempted at theological College to get into an argument about how one should mark 'Holy Saturday', then I just thought, do you know what - I'll say nothing.

For me, there are no words. Only the tender laying of a dead body inside a linen shroud. And silence. Until...

No comments:

Post a Comment