May 1, 2022 Lectionary Texts — Year C
Acts 9:1-6 (7-20)
This week, I bring you another image rising out of the rich imagery of John’s Book of Revelation. My church fellowship has expressed an interest in exploring how artists have given vision to such texts. Since the Lectionary is including selections from Revelation, I am choosing to explore various engraving prints during the Easter season.
With the advent of the printing press, many artists took on illustration work in wood and metal engraving. The German Renaissance master, Albrecht Dürer, seized the opportunity to make his work available to the masses through the first ever published and copyrighted book of artwork. The Apocalypse consisted of 15 woodcut images depicting scenes from the text of Revelation. You will find prints from this volume at most major museums and many smaller university museums because of the many surviving copies of the book.
What you will not find is much explanation into the scenes Dürer has rendered. You, the viewer, are left to contemplate, explore and meditate as your soul searches and the Spirit nudges. At the top we see the victorious multi-horned, multi-eyed lamb holding the cross banner surrounded by the four living creatures. Blood flows from the lamb’s chest into a chalice held by one of the elders. John appears standing at the base of the image on Patmos while the heavenly scene enclosed in a ring of clouds has opened before him. An elder wearing a crown speaks with John (Rev. 7:13) and at the center we see the crowd of white-robed saints waving palms (Rev 7:9).
Practicing Visio Divina:
- View the artwork
What do you see?
Note shapes – color – style – movement
What stands out for you?
What are you curious about?
What questions do you have?
Hold back any feelings – judgments – opinions
- Read the accompanying scripture and look over the artwork again
What connections do you make?
Between the image and text?
What is coming to mind from your own experience?
What feelings are rising in you?
Are you uncomfortable with something?
There are no right or wrong answers
- Read the scripture again and explore the artwork a third time
What do you hear?
What is God saying to you?
What do you wish to speak to God?
What blessing or prayer is rising in you?
I’m no good to You dead! What benefits come from my rotting corpse? My body in the grave will not praise You. No songs will rise up from the dust of my bones. From dust comes no proclamation of Your faithfulness. Hear me, Eternal Lord—please help me, Eternal One—be merciful!
You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light. You have restored my honor. My heart is ready to explode, erupt in new songs! It’s impossible to keep quiet! Eternal One, my God, my Life-Giver, I will thank You forever. — Psalm 30:9-12