Easter greetings to you
It is still uncertain when Christians first began to make an annual, as opposed to a weekly memorial of the death and resurrection of Christ. This Pascha ( a word derived from the Hebrew pesach meaning Passover ) was at first a nightlong vigil followed by the celebration of Eucharist at cock-crow. Over the time, Pascha developed into the structure of Holy Week and Easter . In taking part in a whole sequence of services, Christians share in Christ’s own journey from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to the empty tomb on Easter morning.
It is difficult to imagine that there is anything new to say about this time that has not been said and prayed over many thousand of times. But still, today ,books are written that show us a new way of looking at what happened over 2000 years ago to Jesus Christ, God on earth. Not only books give us new perspectives, but discussion, music and art.
In the Lady Chapel of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide, Australia, there is a painting of Christ that brought me up short. There are very few artistic representations of Christ after he was a babe in Mary’s arms and before adulthood. But here was one of them.
Jesus is shown as a teenager carrying a thick plank of wood over his shoulder. He is looking to the side, over the plank, towards the sun, the light Behind him, are two people watching him- Mary and Joseph ?The man holds the woman protectively and their expressions are watchful. The key to the painting is that Jesus and his plank cast a shadow. The shadow of a cross.
It reminded me of the humanity of the boy Jesus and his parents, of the kind of life he lived on earth . Our usual pictures of Jesus in stained glass windows are portrayals of his death and resurrection and of his miracles and ministry. In this painting , there is the whole of his life on earth , not just the last week. Although as Christians, we are lifted up by the knowledge of his resurrection and what it means for each one of us, we cannot help but be appalled and griefstricken at the loss of his life and the huge burden he carried in his life – and the burden Mary and Joseph carried also.
The painting by Australian artist Penny Dowie is called “The Foreshadowing of the Cross”. I think is it too literal a title – perhaps you agree. What title would you give it ? What does this image mean to you ?
(the above picture is a line drawing sketch of the original painting)