Our Last Supper by @idcampbellart – a meditation video inspired by @sandfordawards and @small_voice1

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This year I once again was involved in the shortlisting for the Sandford Awards – awards for excellence in religious programming. The category that I was given was ‘Interview of the Year’ – all of the interviews were absolutely fascinating and every one could have been a winner. You can see the final shortlists here.

One interview that stayed with me was one based on a painting by the artist ID Campbell called Our Last Supper.

Our Last Supper by Iain Campbell

You can listen to the interview here: http://www.smallvoice.org.uk/a-thousand-words-iain-campbell/

Using this, I have created a meditative film that can be used in worship. Enjoy!

Iain Campbell is a portrait painter, and Artist in Residence at St George’s Tron Church of Scotland in Glasgow city centre.  ‘Our Last Supper’ is on display in the Olive Tree Café in St George’s Tron Church right in the heart of Glasgow city centre.

Links:
idcampbell.com
www.facebook.com/IDCampbellArt
@idcampbellart

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Holy Week meditations – the women

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Below are some meditations I wrote for a Mothers’ Union service last year looking at the Passion of Christ through the eyes of the women who were there. Feel free to use these or adapt them for your own setting.

By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Reading 1: Mark 14.1-9

It was two days before the Passover and the festival of Unleavened Bread. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him; for they said, ‘Not during the festival, or there may be a riot among the people.’

While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the ointment on his head. But some were there who said to one another in anger, ‘Why was the ointment wasted in this way? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.’

Meditation on Mary who anoints Jesus

Recently, every time I have been with Jesus, I have heard him talk about his death. He seems to be so sure that something bad is going to happen soon. The other disciples, especially the men, keep trying to brush what Jesus is saying under the carpet – they don’t want to believe it’s true. They are trying to make out that Jesus is using a fancy metaphor again. I don’t think he is using a metaphor, I believe him. You see, everything Jesus says is so compelling, and he has done so much for me. So last night I decided to accept the truth, that Jesus is going to die. I wanted to find a way to thank Jesus for everything he has done for me. He’s the only man who has ever spoken to me as if I were important, and who’s been interested in what I have had to say – he almost treated me as if I were a man. In my small home I have had a precious gift, hidden in the corner chest that was given to me – a pint of pure nard, the most expensive perfume one can buy. I was saving it as part of my dowry, but now I am a little older, I don’t think marriage is going to come to me. So I decided to anoint Jesus with this very perfume as a sign of gratitude for what he has done for me. I went into Simon the leper’s home as the men were reclining over dinner and poured the perfume on Jesus, the smell filled the entire house. It was beautiful. For a single moment, no one said a word, and it felt as if Jesus and I were alone in that place. Then the silence was shattered as the men started to push me around again, like they usually do and complain that I had wasted something so precious. Jesus put out his arm to protect me and stopped the men. He said that what I had done was beautiful. My reaction though was no, Lord, what you have done for me is more beautiful than I could ever express – you showed love for me when no one else did.

Reading 2: Mark 14:12-16

On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.

Meditation on the women who prepare the Passover meal

Passover is my favourite time of the year, it’s busy, yes and sometimes I dread it, what with all the relatives visiting and trying to make sure everything cooks on time. Cleaning the house of all the yeast is a big job, thank goodness I have my daughters Leah and Dinah to help me now with that job! This year has been very different. We have been in Jerusalem with my sons James and John who have come into the city with Jesus, the great rabbi. Being in the big city we knew that we would be in a different place for our Passover Seder this year. I was nervous because I always find it difficult using someone else’s oven for baking and someone else’s pots and pans. The boys came to me and Mary and took us to a room that had been made ready for Jesus to share the Passover with his disciples. We had to go there in secret. The atmosphere in Jerusalem is tense, the Romans always get a bit heavy handed at festival time – more people are out drinking than usual and causing trouble – and of course, the city is full of people, every house is full of guests. When we came into Jerusalem on Sunday, Jesus was riding on a donkey’s colt, his feet were almost scraping the ground, it did look quite funny! But it was supposed to, Jesus was making fun of the way the Roman rulers ride so triumphantly into the city at this time of year – Jesus was showing how false that way of leading is. So we laughed and cheered and threw palm branches in his way and sang the old song of praise ‘hosanna to the Son of David’. You can imagine what the Roman guards made of that! So we are having to be very careful not to draw too much attention to ourselves. It would be such a disaster if we could not celebrate the Passover together. So I’ve managed to slow cook the lamb, we have the bitter herbs and my very special recipe of charoset – the honey mix that looks like the cement the Hebrew slaves had to use to build the pyramids – it has a secret ingredient! Now I’m toasting the matzoh bread, the unleavened bread ready for Jesus to bless and we’ve filled the cups with wine. As the oldest woman here, I will have the honour of kindling the Passover lights at the beginning of our meal this evening and saying the prayers. Something tells me that this night is going to be extra special.

Reading 3: Mark 15.25-47

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’

There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. These used to follow him and provided for him when he was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem.

When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time. When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph. Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where the body was laid.

Meditation on Mary standing at the cross

I’m the other Mary, not Jesus’ mother Mary, but her good friend and I’ve been here in Jerusalem with her and Salome, James and John’s mother in this most terrible week. I feel hollowed out after what I have seen today, for so many reasons. Jesus, the one whom we thought had come to save us all, the one who we know came from God, was brutally crucified today outside the city on the rubbish dump. The smell was unbearable, rotting food, sweat, blood, animal dung, the flies were all around and the sun was relentless, not a cloud in the sky to give us any welcome shade. What was perhaps more unbearable for us was that the men left us, they couldn’t stay to watch Jesus die, to watch all their hopes and dreams die, so they fled, probably back to the secret room we cooked the Passover in. So it was just me and those of us women who loved Jesus so much that stayed. We couldn’t leave him, we couldn’t leave him all alone as he died that terrible death. We cried and moaned as we saw him tortured by those Romans and clung to each other as we stood a little way off. We prayed but it felt like praying to a brick wall. It was so desolate. Even after noon the sun suddenly grew dark, it went cold, as if a light had just been extinguished.

My heart broke to see it, and broke to be there with Mary his mother at that moment. I will stay here for as long as I’m needed, Mary needs me now, I will try and be strong for her. I’ve brought the spices and together with Salome we will lovingly lay out Jesus’ body. He cared so much for us in life, this is a small thing we can do for him in death.

Holy Week Meditations – Wednesday – Joseph of Arimathea

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A short piece of scripture from Mark’s gospel:

When evening had come, and since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some time.  When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the body to Joseph.  Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.

Gross St Martin - Grablegungsgruppe - Joseph of Arimathea Here is Joseph’s story:

Jesus never really had anything good to say about rich men like me but on the day he died I knew I could finally help. The women came to me and asked me and Nicodemus to help bury him. It was the least we could do.

The first thing I had to do was to see the governor Pilate. He’s a hard man but he respected me, more for my money I think than anything else. After my nervous audience with him I got permission to take Jesus’ body down.

The devastation on that hill outside Jerusalem will stay with me all my days. We had to borrow some pliers from the centurion to remove the nails from Jesus’ hands and feet. I lifted his body down, it was so light in my arms, hardly anything of him left. Mary was beside herself. I left her alone with him for about an hour, she held her son in her arms and wept. A sword pierced my soul at that sight.

It just so happened that I had commissioned a newly cut tomb for my family. Jesus was to have it: only the best for him. He always said he didn’t have anywhere to lay his head. I could give him that.

It felt a small comfort, too late really, but Mary and her friend got some comfort from seeing how we carefully wrapped Jesus in some brand new linen I had bought for the purpose and placed him in the tomb. It was the one small thing I could do for him.

Holy Week Meditations – Tuesday – Simon of Cyrene

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A short piece of scripture from Mark’s Gospel:

After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.  Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull).

Kapel, een van de veertien kruiswegstaties, statie 5- Simon van Cyrene helpt Jezus het kruis dragen - Rosmalen - 20332334 - RCE
Here is Simon’s story:

I just happened to be visiting Jerusalem. I’ve always been tall, and of course, being from Africa, I stood out in the crowd.  Be careful, my family said, the Romans will pick on you as a foreigner. I decided to take my chances. It was the most terrifying day of my life. The crowd was pushing and shoving all around me, I was going in the opposite direction to everyone else and the Roman soldiers were carrying out yet another batch of crucifixions.

A soldier shouted at me in Greek ‘hey you’. I looked down, pretending I hadn’t heard, there were so many people there, he couldn’t possibly mean me. Then rough hands grabbed me by the arms and dragged me forwards. A man called Jesus was being led out to be crucified. He looked almost dead already, having been lashed. He was covered in blood.

The soldiers made me lean forwards and then they put a heavy log of wood over my shoulders and strapped it to my arms. Then I was made to follow Jesus and the others to the execution site outside the city. I thought I was going to die. Why did they choose me? Why was I carrying this cross? I hadn’t done anything wrong. All the horror stories about the Romans from back home were running through my mind again.

The cross bar was so heavy, it made me bow constantly and the ropes burnt my skin where it was strapped on my back. I really thought I was going to die. The soldiers had overdone it with lashing Jesus, if he didn’t make it, they’d put me on the cross in his place. As we stumbled through the crowd, women keened and cried out to Jesus. There were more women there than men. It was clear he was a special person to these people. The journey took an age and the cross got heavier alongside my sense of dread. A short trip to Jerusalem and it was going to end in my death.

Eventually, we reached the hill they call Golgotha. The smell was almost unbearable. I fell to the ground as I heard the sounds of the two other prisoners being nailed and hoisted onto their crosses. The soldiers wordlessly cut the ropes around my arms and yanked the cross bar off my back. I stayed where I was, I had no energy to move but the relief of the weight being taken left me feeling like I was floating. It was then I realised that the cross was being given back to Jesus. I managed to sit up and saw as they hammered long nails into Jesus’ hands and feet. Jesus spoke. He said ‘forgive them father’. I had thought I was going to die. But Jesus took my place. He took my place.

Holy Week Meditations – Monday – the naked man in Gethsemane

By Mewasul (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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This week I have been invited to do the homily at the daily mass at St Aidan’s today, tomorrow and Wednesday. I am presenting 3 meditations based on small characters that appear in Mark’s Gospel. Today we are going to think about the man in the garden who runs away naked as Jesus is arrested. On Tuesday we will look at the character of Simon of Cyrene and on Wednesday, Joseph of Arimathea.

As you read these stories, imagine yourselves there, ask God to speak to you, how are these stories also your own story?

Here is today’s meditation:

A short piece of scripture from Mark’s Gospel:

Then Jesus said to them, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit? Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me. But let the scriptures be fulfilled.’  All of them deserted him and fled.

A certain young man was following him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth and ran off naked.

Getsemane2

Here is that man’s story:

I was there that night in the garden. It was a warm, sultry evening. I’d finished my own Passover meal with my family and I had heard the singing coming from the garden, singing of the psalms of my people, so I went to listen, watching from the sidelines. I knew of Jesus, I had seen him cause a near riot on his entrance to Jerusalem only a few days before. I’d also heard him teach in the Temple and I wanted to follow him. So there I was, in the garden, humming along with the singing, such a hot night I only had a light linen shirt on. After the singing, the atmosphere changed, Jesus went off and I think he was praying. The other disciples were lounging around, lots of them slumped up against the trees sleeping. Then Jesus stood up. It was like he knew something was happening and suddenly the garden was full of men from the temple guard with torches and clubs, barging through the quietness of the garden. A man approached Jesus and hugged him – but it was a strange hug and straight away these rough guards grabbed Jesus. Then it was chaos: shouting, swords were drawn, but then all Jesus’ friends had gone, they just ran. I don’t think the guards had seen me. I was still there. I was still there. I wanted to follow this Jesus. So I held back and followed at a distance. Then I felt a hand on me, grasping at my shirt. Filled with sudden terror, I twisted out of my shirt and ran away, naked.

I wanted to be a friend to Jesus. I wanted to be there for him when his other friends were not, but there, in that moment, my resolve failed and I let him down like all the others.

I chose to run away naked rather than be seen with this man. I chose the shame of walking home naked. Later, I watched ashamed in the crowd as Jesus was stripped naked for his crucifixion. I knew that he was stripped and beaten because he had chosen it, it was what he came to do to set us all free. He took my nakedness and shame and turned it into something else.

A New Year meditation: You also shall light my candle; the Lord my God shall make my darkness to be bright.

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This morning’s psalm in Morning Prayer was Psalm 18 and this verse in particular stood out for me:

light my candle

At the beginning of a New Year it seemed to me to be so apt. We often feel that we have to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, that we have to do everything ourselves, that we have to bear our burdens on our own. These are all things we hear sometimes in church circles but I don’t think they are the way of Christ.

Imagine your life as the unlit tea light in the picture. What are the areas of your life where you need God to bring light, energy, warmth?

It is God from whom we get any energy at all, any vision at all, any desire to keep going. He is our source. We don’t have to and shouldn’t try to go it alone in 2013.