Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday thoughts

I didn't quite get the sequence of The Passion of the Christ right yesterday. Washing the disciples' feet is in fact cut into Jesus' scourging, that barbaric torture of being lashed with rods and flails. Through his eyes we see the soldiers' feet splattered with his blood - and then cut to another sandalled foot which he is about to wash. The implication is it's not just the disciples whose feet he's come to wash (i.e. friends to die for). You can find the scene on YouTube.

It strikes me as a good image to put against yesterday's spoof poster. After all, prime minister just means 'first servant'. Aspiring politicians could do with keeping this picture in mind. This is what service means. Jesus says a lot about wanting to be first; even more he showed it... at what cost! (How about using this as an advert for the election with the slogan: 'Wanted - Prime Minister'?)

Today, Good Friday, is the anniversary of the first service we went to in Grove - the united service on Millbrook Green. We'd been to communion at our church before, which has an appropriateness on Good Friday. In The Passion of the Christ the flashbacks to the last supper are placed in the crucifixion. The bread and wine are more than symbols of his death. And here we enter mystery, which you either reject or accept, in my view.

Like last year it was cold and beginning to rain, but it was nice to realise we recognised more people, including our neighbours, Paul and Alison, playing in the silver band. In fact for me that was the best bit because the amplification was downwind and not very powerful - and I'm still half-deaf (and becoming increasingly sympathetic to my many friends with the affliction permanently) and so heard very little. However, as Jane said, as we hurried home, it was at least an offering (which is what worship's about). We arrived home to find we'd missed our pal Mandy who'd left a card and a book Jesus - a Portrait of Love. It's about the Issenheim Altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald. Of which one side is, I think, the first realistic portrayal of the agony in Renaissance Art:
And so we come to the 'end' of the story. One of the aspects of The Passion which struck me this time was the intense yet restrained portrayal of the grief of Mary, Jesus' mother, and Mary Magdalene, who with John the beloved disciple, formed a still point in the milling mob and then at the cross. The pain of looking on and being unable to do anything to help is unbearable and yet has to be borne. All they can do is wait and receive his body at the end. But of course it's not the end...
Michelangelo's Pieta

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