Tuesday, April 03, 2007
When I was in high school, I used to cut class and get on the public bus, not hard to do living in suburban Washington, D.C. at the time, and go to the National Gallery of Art. I would look at many paintings and sculptures while I was there but would always have to stop and visit this one, the Last Supper, by surrealist Salvador Dali. At that time the oil paint had not yet begun to crackle on the canvas as it has now, my face also had not begun to crackle as it has now. The painting and I are aging together and still I get lost in the mystery of it. I shared the image, a paper reproduction, with my mentor pastor who pointed out that the theology of the painting was not accurate. Theology aside, I think it is the mystery the painting alludes to that draws my imagination now as it did when I was sixteen and tired of school. The mystery of one dead, rising again, the mystery of His body broken for me and for many for the forgiveness of all our sins: committed in the past, present and still to be done. I try to wrap my mind around the meaning of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me and in all of us who are in Christ, it is as overwhelming as trying to stand in the midst of the waves of the thundering ocean. In this painting I see Christ in all and through all, that is what it has meant to me. I hope you visit my favorite painting when you go to Washington D.C. The last time I was in the National Gallery of Art it was hanging on a wall as you came up a grand staircase. I hope you get to see it some day and are blessed.
Two Saturdays before Palm Sunday we had a children's "retreat" at our church. It was actually sort of a condensed three hour Vacation Bible School on a Saturday afternoon. The idea was to teach the youngsters about the coming Holy Week and all the symbolism with songs, Bible stories and hands on activities. I was trying to explain to the children that Jesus was called the Lamb of God and why. We talked about the egg being a symbol for the resurrection and that they could think of it as a tomb like the tomb Jesus was buried in. The fact that the Easter bunny didn't figure into any of this baffled them all. After the reading of the big Bible picture book about Easter and the making of the Lamb of God banners, the Jesus is in my heart "stain glass" suncatchers and the coloring of hard boiled eggs; after the eating of the popcorn and the cookies and drinking the punch, we had a little review. When asked about the Ressurection, one little boy raised his hand and said, "They buried Jesus in the tomb and three days later he turned into an Easter egg!" We all had a good laugh. Maybe next year I will figure out a better way to get these concepts across to the children.
One of the liturgists from our church preached that Sunday as our pastor was ill. She talked to the adults about the significance of the days of Holy week and used as a resource Treasury of Easter Celebrations by Julie Hogan, ISBN 0-8249-4206-X Co.1999 Ideals Publications. I will have to get a copy of the book, a great resource if you want to know more about this season of the year and the origin of the traditions.
Hebrew people who joined the Christian religion brought with them the traditions of their ancient Passover festival. The lamb's life was a sacrifice to God. Jesus is our Easter lamb. Christ our Passover lamb is sacrificed for us, the Lamb of God. As the Lamb, Christ has reached a need we could not. He has become the sacrifice we could not give. He is the Lamb who was slain so that we could bow and sing in the presence of God on Easter Sunday.
The actual word Easter didn't appear until about 1400 years ago when the early christians adopted the word that referred to the spring celebration of the goddess Eostre. They thought this would be more acceptable to the people they were trying to convert to Chrisitanity. The rabbit was the sacred companion of this goddess of spring. Easter really should be called Resurrection Day, the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ. It's not about the bunny, its all about the Lamb of God!