Fifth Sunday of Easter

Watts Cemetery Chapel (village of Compton, England, United Kingdom) designed by Mary Seton Watts — terracotta building, 1895-1904. Image by

May 7, 2023 Lectionary Texts — Year A
Acts 7:55-60 • Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16 • 1 Peter 2:2-10 • John 14:1-14

View Lectionary

Image Description: With a combined Byzantine and Celtic design, the Watts Chapel is a domed round brick structure with four rectangular gables. The exterior features four terracotta frieze panels following a Celtic-inspired Path of the Just with each section representing the spirits of hope, truth, love and life. The chapel entrance is framed by Celtic knot work terracotta tiles. The entrance doors display a carved Celtic cross and pair of winged dragons. The interior of the chapel is entirely decorated in colorful Celtic/Art Nouveau knot work and winged seraphim.

Stephen: Look, I see the heavens opening! I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!
At this, they covered their ears and started shouting. The whole crowd rushed at Stephen, converged on him, dragged him out of the city, and stoned him. They laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul, while they were pelting Stephen with rocks.
Stephen (as rocks fell upon him): Lord Jesus, receive my spirit
. — Acts 7:56-58

You are my shelter, O Eternal One—my soul’s sanctuary! Shield me from shame; rescue me by Your righteousness. Hear me, Lord! Turn Your ear in my direction. Come quick! Save me! Be my rock, my shelter, my fortress of salvation! You are my rock and my fortress—my soul’s sanctuary! Therefore, for the sake of Your reputation, be my leader, my guide, my navigator, my commander. — Psalm 31:1-3

Come to Him — the living stone — who was rejected by people but accepted by God as chosen and precious. Like living stones, let yourselves be assembled into a spiritual house, a holy order of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices that will be acceptable to God through Jesus the Anointed. — 1 Peter 2:4-5

Jesus: Don’t get lost in despair; believe in God, and keep on believing in Me. My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together. You know where I am going and how to get there. — John 14:1-4

The Lectionary texts bring us to contemplate a number of things: stones used to kill, stones used to build, structures for safety, and structures for spending an eternity. In seeking an artwork for this week, I have chosen a unique architectural creation with an inspiring story.

Mary Seton Watts, an artist, designer and craftswoman proposed the building of a chapel for the village’s newly designated cemetery – a dream endeavor. In this grand project, Mary intended to foster spiritual enrichment and create a communal hymn to God. Indeed, Mary, along with nearly the entire village of Compton (some 74 individuals), designed, built and decorated this stunning masterpiece

Having found a vein of red clay in the local countryside, Mary assigned and then trained individuals for the exterior work in evening classes. Much of the interior decoration was completed by Mary herself, a task that took her six years. Through the efforts of many hands, Watts Cemetery Chapel is a place that offers hope to those in despair and comfort for those in grief.

To learn more about this beautiful sanctuary visit Watts Gallery Artists’ Village

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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