Urban Legends and Deep Truth Anyway!
It wasn’t true you know…
It is what is called an urban legend—a nice story but completely untrue. Usually it is a “feel good” story, or a nice piece of hoped for, convenient (or inconvenient) “history.”
In this case however, it was almost true—not quite, but almost.
The first time I heard the account it had to do with a bombing raid during WW2, with an unfortunate bit of collateral damage. Here is how I heard it the first time:
The story goes that the statue of the Lord Jesus lost its hands in a bombing raid over a small village in France during WW2. Someone dropped a bomb in the horrors of the conflict. That bomb landed adjacent to the churchyard, attended by the faithful. The bomb exploded, and while the majority of the statue survived, the hands were blown off the likeness. And now, Jesus of Nazareth’s statue had arms extended in grace, yet was now without hands…
Well, it didn’t happen in France.
And then there was the other story—the statue lost its hands in a bombing raid over Nazi Germany. Allied bombs were dropped and landed adjacent to a Lutheran churchyard, attended by the faithful—same war, different side of the conflict, in a different country. And the Lord’s extended hands were blasted off the statue by the shock of the blast.
Well, it didn’t happen in Germany either—though it sounded more than plausible.
So, on checking the whole thing out, it soon became clear that nothing of the sort happened during the War. In fact, it seems that it happened in or around 1980, not 1941 or 42, or even 45...
There was no bomb, nor was there a war.
There was a churchyard of English and Spanish speaking faithful, sharing a church building in an extended time of peace. There was a statue of the Risen Lord, arms extended to a hurting world, at the entrance of Christ the King Catholic Church, though not at all in Europe! Rather the sculpture was in San Diego. That figure of the Lord was shaped with hands outstretched to welcome those who would come to Him to find rest.
In or around 1980—35 years after the war had ended to bring “peace in our time” brigands broke into the church to steal and desecrate. Those hands were taken off due to vandalism—and somehow that seems to make the thing worse. If those hands had been taken off due to the exigencies of war, when it wasn’t targeted, then it would have been an unfortunate accident… Yet vandals broke into that church and purposely took the hands of Jesus off the statue in order to deliberately deface the holy.
The pastor and the people were appalled. Many wanted to donate time and monies to effect a repair. One artist offered to repair the hands at no charge…
But the good people of the parish had another idea.
They put two plaques at the base of the statue, one in English and the other in Spanish.
“NO TENGO MANOS MAS DE LAS TUYAS…”
It seems stronger in Spanish, as it is written in the intimate form used between friends or family. In English the message is blunt and stark.
“I HAVE NO HANDS BUT YOURS…”
In a word—Jesus does nothing unless He does it through us!
But is it true?
The Bible does tell us that God gave the oversight of the earth into human hands—our first parents. And when their stewardship of the planet failed, God did not remove the earth from human hands. He had given it to us—and we are still the overseers of the planet…
God is not a word-breaker. He gave us the oversight, and we have it still. So He kept His Word and placed the earth “in human hands”.
And in the end, God Himself became a human, to take the world back, and to place it into His hands—hands that stretched out to receive nail wounds to heal our wounded world.
Now, he fills our hearts with His Spirit, and asks us to move our hands in harmony with His—and touch a wounded world. Seems the good folk in San Diego "had their finger" on something...
Would you be His hands?
It seems that the only hands He has are yours…
© David Chotka 2021