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LentArt: Mary Anointing Jesus’ Feet

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Earlier today I posted a the 41st in my series of #LentArt images based on the Daily Lectionary which I said was Frank Wesley's "Mary Magdalene washing the feet of Jesus". I was expecting some pushback. 
Actually I got one comment on Facebook saying that this wasn’t how the person expected Mary Magdalene to look, and that’s probably true of most of us. Historically people have tended to imagine and portray Biblical characters through the lens of their own experience and for most of us that means primarily from a western European perspective. But in recent years we are perhaps more culturally aware and picture such characters with more classically eastern Mediterranean/middle eastern features. But the person in this picture is definitely not from that back ground either. 
The artist Frank Wesley was actually a Christian from India. He was born in Azamgarh, in December 1923 into a fifth generation Methodist family, unsurprising given the surname. 
He began his art trainin…

LentArt: The Procession

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Today’s #LentArt post is James Tissot’s “The Procession in the Streets of Jerusalem” or strictly speaking “Le cortège dans les rues de Jérusalem”, from the Brooklyn Museum. It’s a relatively straightforward rendering of story of Jesus entering into Jerusalem on what has become known as “Palm Sunday” because of the Palm leaves that we are told the crowd were waving and which we see in the hands of those following Jesus through the archway into the streets of Jerusalem in the picture. However, palm leaves don’t actually get a mention in the account from Matthew’s Gospel which is the reading in the lectionary for today: 


As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”
This took place to fulfi…

LentArt: In Despair

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Perhaps it is a feature of my personality and my struggle with depression, but for a long time I have believed and said to anyone willing to listen (including those who have been long term readers of this blog) that Christianity has done its adherents a disservice in ignoring that deep well of spirituality within Judaism described as “lament”. The upbeat rhythms of Christian worship, not just the modern product but going back to Moody and Sankey and before, has overwhelmingly sold the idea of “victorious Christian living” and to advocate anything else has often been decried as betraying a lack of faith (there are exceptions such as the Rend Collective’s “Weep with me” from a couple of years ago, but they are few and far between). Yet that is to ignore much of the Psalms and indeed the entire book of “Lamentations…” But recently an interview and article by N.T Wright has been widely shared and lauded on social media saying much the same as I (and other much more important but less pop…

LentArt: Clotho the Spinner

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Tonight we are once again turning back to the Psalms and specifically Psalm 31:9-16  Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;  my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbours and an object of dread to my closest friends - those who see me on the street flee from me. I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life.  But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.  Psalm 31:9-16 (NIV) 
Although the Psalmist’s problem here seems to be a combination of human enemies, together with age and infirmity, so m…

LentArt: Paul and the Mission to Macedonia

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Another of the guest #LentArt posts this week, today from my friend, fellow 4 Corners conspirator, dog devotee (no-one is perfect), broadcaster, Parish Development Co-ordinator and Training and Facilitation Officer for the Down and Connor Diocese, author of "Finding God in the Mess" and "Deeper into the Mess" newbie blogger over athttp://gymforthesoul.life.
How grand St Paul looks. He appears as a giant confidently stepping off his boat, back-lit in gold and ready for the mission. The city on the hill looks small in comparison. An open curtain in the nearest building signals a welcome for the great man. Today’s #LentArt piece is part of a 32 square metre mosaic adorning the wall of the Church of St Nicholas in Kavala, Greece. It is the claimed site of St Paul’s arrival into Macedonia as part of his second set of missionary journeys. Kavala is (rightly) proud of its calm to fame and perhaps this pride led to the grand size of St Paul in the mosaic. 
Paul arrived i…

LentArt: Grace Darling

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Today’s #LentArt "The Rescue of the Crew and Passengers of the SS Forfarshire" by Robert F Watson is one of a number of paintings commemorating the most memorable event in the life of Grace Darling. Born in 1815 Grace was the seventh of nine children born to William and Thomasin Darling, and when only a few weeks old she was taken to live on Brownsman Island, one of the Farne Islands, off the coast of Northumberland, where her father ran the lighthouse. That lighthouse was not in the best position to guide shipping to safety, so in 1826 the family moved to a the newly constructed lighthouse on Longstone Island. In the early hours of 7 September 1838, Grace, looking from an upstairs window, spotted the wreck and survivors of what turned out to be the Forfarshire on Big Harcar, a nearby low rocky island where she had foundered and broken in half with one of the halves having sunk during the night. She and her father William determined reckoned that the weather was too rough f…

Lent Art: Elisha and the Son of the Shunammite Woman

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This week's series of guest Lent Art posts continue with a reflection by Rev. Cheryl Meban, Presbyterian Chaplain to Ulster University on the illumination by Jean Bondol de Bruges of Elisha raising the son of the Shunammite woman, which asks questions of the artist, the text and us.
One day Elisha went to Shunem. And a well-to-do woman was there, who urged him to stay for a meal. So whenever he came by, he stopped there to eat. She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God. Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us.” One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her, and she stood before him. Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the command…