Why the Church is Like Crazy Horse image

Why the Church is Like Crazy Horse

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In the Black Hills of South Dakota, there is a mountainside with a face carved out of it. Unlike its more famous neighbour, Mount Rushmore, it features not four faces, but one: that of the Lakota leader, Crazy Horse. But the memorial is nowhere near finished. It was started in 1948, and the official plan remains for the memorial to be the largest sculpture in the world, a massive Native American warrior astride a galloping horse, 195 metres long and 172 metres high. So far, it is just a face.

It is an extraordinary vision. One of the most striking aspects of the sculpture today is its sheer scale: although Crazy Horse’s body has not even been started, let alone his horse, you can get a sense of its vastness, its grandeur and drama, simply by looking at the head. His face is fifty percent larger than the faces on Rushmore. His eyes are seventeen feet wide. It doesn’t take much extrapolation to see how enormous, and impressive, the body will be when it’s finally finished (if it ever is). You can sense the wonder of the as-yet-incomplete body, simply by gazing at the exquisite glory of the head.

So it is with the Church.

She is incomplete. Much of her remains to be carved out of the mountainside; the parts which have been chiselled already look rough, often awkward, shapeless and messy. Looking at her from a purely human perspective, you wonder if she will ever be finished, and it is tempting to dismiss the sweep of the architect’s vision as an act of supreme chutzpah.

Yet the head is finished, and he is magnificent. He is grand, and beautiful, and complete. And when our eyes move from the uncut black hills to the massive, perfectly formed head, two things happen at once: first, we switch from thinking about what has not yet happened with the body to reflecting on what has happened with the head; and second, we experience a dramatic increase in confidence that the body will be completed one day. We gain perspective. We find hope. The present beauty and excellence of the head provides a guarantee, somehow, of the future excellence and beauty of the body.

“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:18). Marvellous.

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