The small boy looked out of the window of the red Luton Corporation Leyland double decker at the crucified Jesus nailed to a cross.
He was on his way to his grandparent's house every Sunday morning in days when you allowed children to go places on their own.
|The crucifix at St Saviour's Church, Luton|
The boy wondered about the brutality of the crucifixion. He knew the story from Sunday school and the Curate that visited his Church Of England Junior School, yet here was Jesus dying a painful death with blood dripping from his wound and the crown of thorns. The boy was particularly struck by the statue and the way the sculptor had depicted Jesus's individual ribs.
I was that boy and I always found St Saviour's an awesome place because of the crucifixion. It's a large red brick church built in Victorian times to appease the religious needs of a rapidly growing industrial town.
The church is at the top end of Wellington Street: a long straight street now cut in half by the ring road but was once the town's main shopping street. It's somewhat seedy now but once you climb the hill from the town hall you can see the dying Christ for half a mile.
The statue has been recently restored in all his agony. The church has seen better times with the brickwork turning green and the paint peeling. Yet the statue on a newly varnished cross stands out and a newly painted sign proclaims "God So Loved The World".
For me now the crucified Lord shows the sacrifice that God made by sending his son. I understand that when Jesus died on the cross he took our burden and our sins. And he still does it today and he still looks down Wellington Street at the student flats, the adult video shop, the Indian and Lebanese restaurants and the employment agencies bussing Polish workers to low paid work.
It is a remarkable piece of iconography which still retains the power and the glory at the roots of Christian belief.