It was a Good Wednesday several years ago. That’s the day two days before Good Friday. On Good Wednesday, creatives around churches are looking at their “really cool” concepts for Good Friday services and realizing all the pieces have to be ready in two days. It’s a scary time.
We were going to have a basin and a towel on the platform, remembering the footwashing picture from the last evening Jesus spent with the disciples. I wanted to have something different about the towel, something distinctive, since that’s what creatives around churches have to do. We have to figure out a new spin, something that will make people notice.
We like to believe (we hope) that people will notice the story in a new way. In truth, sometimes we hope people will notice us, will comment on the coolness.
I decided that it would be cool to put red handprints on the white muslin. I think I wanted a sense of being caught red-handed, of actually seeing what sin might look like. In retrospect, red footprints would have been more appropriate. But sometimes cool creativity isn’t technically accurate. I got some red paint and a couple kids and teachers from our daycare center. One hand in the paint, place it on the cloth. I joined in.
I’m not sure I when noticed the hole in the middle of my hand print. It’s almost as if, well, there were a hole in the middle of my hand. Suddenly the project went from cool to achingly real. After the Good Friday service, I framed the fabric.
It’s been more than a decade since that night. It’s been much longer since Christ died on our behalf. Both of them still are transforming my life. But without the death, the handprint is just an art project.
(First published in 2012)