From the Artist:
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to do the Ignaitain exercises - a 10 week journey of reading scripture and meeting weekly with a group to share about what we noticed. One day was significantly impactful for me - and as I prayed about this prayer summit, and our national church it felt like this was what I was to paint, and to share on.
As part of the exercises we were invited to read through John 20 and notice the emotions in the passage. So I picked up my bible, and my art journal, and step by step journeyed through the story. As I briefly walk us through it, listen for the emotions yourself.
We begin with Mary, full of grief and heartache. Going to the tomb to annoint Jesus' dead body- only to find it empty. Her saviour was not only dead, but his body had been taken. This deepened her grief, and threw her into desperation. She ran to get Peter and John, and they too collided with the reality that Jesus' body was gone.
We next see Mary alone at the tomb, weeping. Even when two angels, approach her, she speaks out in agony and pain, "they have taken my Lord, and I don't know where." and in desperation pleads with who she thinks is the gardener "tell me where you have put him, and I will get him."
But then he speaks her name, "Mary," and her eyes are opened. It is Jesus. Alive. In front of her. And she has a life altering, face to face encounter with the risen Lord. She feels shock, relief, joy, comfort, like all had been made right.
Then Jesus tells her, a woman, to go tell the others.
And with her emotions heightened like a cup overflowing she runs to the disciples to share the good news.
But what we know from the gospel of Mark and Luke is that they didn't believe her. She tried to obey what Jesus called her to do, to testify and witness about the truth but she was not believed. And just like that her emotions hit a wall. Shock, frustration, grief, confusion, perhaps even a sort of paralysis. She saw, she knew the truth- and Jesus personally told her to go tell the others- but they wouldn't listen.
Then the scene changes, and we find the disciples hiding in a locked room, Fearful. Overcome with confusion, grief, panic. If their leader had been tortured and killed, and now even his body was stolen - surely they might face the same ending if they stepped beyond these walls into the hostile world.
Mary hit a wall, the disciples are hiding behind a wall.
And then - the resurrected Jesus walks through the wall. Stepping right into the depth of their pain, confusion, grief and desperation.
And he does 4 things.
"Peace be with you."
As the father sent me - I am sending you.
Breathes the spirit.
Tells them to forgive.
So this is the scene I painted:
We see the big, weighty, figurative and literal wall.
We see Mary full of emotion - pain, confusion, frustration, grief.
And we see Jesus walking right through the wall, meeting her just where she is at. Giving her peace. Telling her he wants to send her out again.
And giving her the spirit..
and telling her she needs to forgive.
This scene really resonated with me - and from what has been shared over the whole course of the prayer summit, this seems like a common theme.
The truth is our world is fractured and polarized. Perhaps, like Mary, we have tried to share with others only to be misunderstood, not believed, or mocked. We may feel like we have hit a wall, wounded and alone.
Perhaps, like the disciples, we have witnessed how the world has hatefully and viciously attacked others, and are hiding out of fear that we may be next. The world seems too hostile, and unpredictable. Perhaps even the church, or even some of our friendships also feel too hostile and unpredictable.
But Jesus meets us right here. In this fearful, constricted place.
And he gifts us with peace, with his spirit, and with a call to forgive.
He wants to send us out. He wants us to leave these figurative and literal walls behind and go out and love generously and lavishly. But that requires that we forgive others who have hurt others, or who have hurt us. And at times that can feel like a huge and insurmountable thing. But Jesus meets us in these feelings and emotions, speaks peace to our wounded and fearful heart, and empowers us through the grace and gift of his spirit.
So let's enter into worship from this space.