Easter Sunday

Christ Rising From the Tomb (after Doré) by Michelle L Hofer — acrylic painting on paper, 8 x 10 inches, 2023.

Resurrection of the Lord — April 9, 2023 Lectionary Texts — Year A
Acts 10:34-43 or Jeremiah 31:1-6 • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 • Colossians 3:1-4 or Acts 10:34-43 • John 20:1-18 or Matthew 28:1-1

View Lectionary

Image description: Based on Le Christ sortant du tombeau by Gustave Doré (French, 1832-1883), Christ walks away from the tomb entrance carved into a steep rock face overlooking a valley. He is dressed in a flowing white garment. Jesus’ face is gentle as he looks directly at the viewer. A glowing halo appears behind his head. Above him is a dark cloud-like form filled chaotically with wings and angel forms. The last stars of early morning still hang in the sky.

The day will come when those who guard the land will cry out from the hills of Ephraim, ‘Get up! Let us go to Zion, dear Jerusalem, and worship the Eternal our God.’ — Jeremiah 31:6

He is my strength, and He is the reason I sing; He has been there to save me in every situation.
I will not die. I will live. I will live to tell about all the Eternal has done.
— Psalm 118:14,17

Your new life is now hidden, enmeshed with the Anointed who is in God. On that day when the Anointed One — who is our very life — is revealed, you will be revealed with Him in glory! — Colossians 3:3-4

You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him. You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him. My friends and I stand as witnesses to all Jesus did in the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The people of our capital city killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him up on the third day and made it possible for us to see Him. — Acts 10:38-40

Jesus: Dear woman, why are you sobbing? Who is it you are looking for?
She still had no idea who it was before her. Thinking He was the gardener, she muttered:
Mary Magdalene: Sir, if you are the one who carried Him away, then tell me where He is and I will retrieve Him.
Jesus: Mary!
Mary Magdalene (turning to Jesus and speaking in Hebrew): Rabboni, my Teacher!
— John 20:15-16

Mary Magdalene obeyed and went directly to His disciples.
Mary Magdalene (announcing to the disciples): I have seen the Lord . . .
— John 20:18

Years ago, I organized a display of Bibles for Lent and Easter for the church I attended. The largest Bible in the collection was brought by a woman and this particular Bible had been in her family many, many years. It was a beautiful volume containing over 200 illustrations by the French artist, Gustave Doré. Although he died at age 51, Doré had been extremely prolific. He was proficient in watercolor, oil painting and wood engraving. Doré’s art career began when he was hired to draw cartoons for a French newspaper at age 15.

As I continue to explore Doré’s vast body of work, I recently came upon a series of drawings depicting the death and resurrection of Christ. Today’s artwork is my interpretation of Le Christ sortant du tombeau (seen below).

Le Christ sortant du tombeau by Gustave Doré — Gouache and brush and brown ink; over black chalk on brown paper, 20 3/16 x 34 5/16 inches, 1850-1883.

I am most intrigued by what is happening above Jesus and what this might represent. I observe that it is dark overall and it feels chaotic. Are there both angels and demons here? Is this the battle, the final conquering of death?

I am also curious about the tree standing in the shadow. Do I see a figure hiding/rising out of it? Is Satan there sneering in defeat? Is it his shadow on the rock face behind?

Many blessings to you this Easter Day! I leave you with a prayer from the Vanderbilt Library’s Online Lectionary…

Resurrecting God,
you conquered death
and opened the gates of life everlasting.
In the power of the Holy Spirit,
raise us with Christ
that we, too, may proclaim
healing and peace to the nations. AMEN

Practicing Visio Divina:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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?

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