Essay

Holy Week Art

By April 16, 2014 3 Comments

I have another topic I want to write about today, but honestly, I want to keep Holy Week holy and welcome you into a few ways I have been proessing the mystery of our faith this week. The other topic will have to wait for next time. I often find that art is the best way for me to keep things holy and so I will share some pieces here.

Are you familiar with the artist He Qi? He is my favorite contemporary Scripture artist. The colors he uses are quite vibrant, loud even. I appreciate how the people depicted in the pictures are not clearly gendered, there is an andrognyous appearance to some of the people. There is movement to his art and the gazer is invited into the scene that Dr. He Qi is creating. Here is his depiction of Jesus triumphanal entry into Jerusalem. Notice the movement in the crowd. They are kneeling, head titled backwards, standing with arms outreached, hand over mouth, and hands reached out. You can almost hear the people crying out “Hosanna, save us!” The donkey’s gaze is piercing. Is the donkey looking right at us? Does the donkey know its mission? A child in my congregation interpreted the story of Palm Sunday by saying she was most struck by the fact that the donkey had to give its permission before Jesus could ride on it. I love that! Since John is the only Gospel that mentions palms we see a mulit-gospel representation in this piece. Leafy branches, palms, and cloaks are being offered before Jesus.

As I prepare my sermon for Holy Thursday, I am currently meditating on Dr. He Qi’s depiction of the footwashing. As I look at this picture I hear John 13:1 in my head “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” This Jesus is a lover. He touches people, he is vulnerable, he is intimate, he breaks bread, and he faithfully loves to the end. What a word of hope in a world of fleeting love! Notice the angel and then Jesus kneeling at one of his disciples feet. Notice the hands of this disciple, almost defensive and not very open. Could this be Judas? 

The following image is the background to my laptop. Edwina Sandys is the creator of this piece title Christa (1975). It is a feminist interrpretation of Jesus and is displayed in the Brooklyn Museum. This may be provocative for some of you, but I invite you to reflect on Holy Week from a variety of angles. Let the art disrupt, comfort, and inspire. Christa is inspirational and quite powerful for me. She helps me stay focused on my call as a Minister of Word and Sacrament hence why she is my laptop background.

Gungor’s “Beautiful Things” has been around for a couple of years, but it musically represents how I understand the resurrection of Jesus this year. Death, decay, heartache, ugly choices we’ve made, and ugly choices others have made do not have the last word. Hope, beautiful and resilitent hope, is the climax of our Christian story. Behold, God is making all things new. 

I will end my Holy Week artistic reflections with this poem about the first minister of the resurrection of Jesus, Mary Magadelene, by Edwina Gateley. God’s blessings to you and to me as we travel our most holy week of the year.

Tell Them
By Edwina Gateley

Breaking through the powers of darkness
bursting from the stifling tomb
he slipped into the graveyard garden
to smell the blossomed air.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that I have journeyed far
into the darkest deeps I’ve been
in nights without a star.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
that fear will flee my light
that though the ground will tremble
and despair will stalk the earth
I hold them firmly by the hand
through terror to new birth.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
the globe and all that’s made
is clasped to God’s great bosom
they must not be afraid
for though they fall and die, he said,
and the black earth wrap them tight
they will know the warmth
of God’s healing hands
in the early morning light.

Tell them, Mary, Jesus said,
smelling the blossomed air,
tell my people to rise with me
to heal the Earth’s despair.

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