Synod Reflection for June

It seems that as Summer gets started quite a few villages have scarecrow trails or festivals. Ours at Keyston was on the late May Bank Holiday weekend.

Our theme was ‘Characters from a musical’ – and so wondering what to put outside the chapel my mind turned to ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.

Looking around on the internet for ideas, I came across the story of a Godmanchester scarecrow event, near Cambridge, where a woman made a scarecrow of Jesus on the cross and actually attached it to a lamp post by a main road, to make it really visible. It was ten feet high and showed Jesus in a white robe, with long dark hair and a dark beard.

It caused outrage! You can read about it here

Comments in the local press included “For me, Jesus as a scarecrow is just disrespectful. I was horrified…”

It made me wonder whether showing Jesus as a scarecrow was disrespectful: or whether, in fact, the outrageous thing is that Jesus actually died on the cross. Maybe we are so used to the language of crucifixion that we lose any sense of outrage, horror and disgust.

It was interesting to look again at Brian Wren’s hymn ‘Here hangs a man discarded’ (Rejoice & Sing 225), which describes Jesus as ‘a scarecrow hoisted high’. Brian Wren uses less common imagery to bring home the truth of the death of Jesus and his power to stand by us in our suffering.

Here hangs a man discarded, a scarecrow hoisted high,

a nonsense pointing nowhere to all who hurry by.

Can such a clown of sorrows still bring a useful word

when faith and hope seem phantoms and every hope absurd?

Can he given help or comfort to lives by comfort bound,

when drums of dazzling progress give strangely hollow sound?

Life, emptied of all meaning, drained out in bleak distress,

can share in broken silence our deepest emptiness;

And love that freely entered the pit of life’s despair,

can name our hidden darkness and suffer with us there.

Christ, in our darkness risen, help all who long for light

to hold the hand of promise, and walk into the night.

You can hear it sung here to Bach’s ‘passion chorale’ here:

If you want to hear the set tune in Rejoice & Sing (Shrub End), it is here:

All this just from wondering what scarecrow to make! Perhaps as the summer unfolds we will find other new and surprising ways to reflect on God with us. I pray we will be blessed in this way.

And in case you’re wondering – this was the scarecrow I decided on for Keyston Scarecrow trail:

I hope you can guess… it’s Pharoah from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”.


Ruth Whitehead

Minister, Landsker Pastorate, Pembrokeshire.