Friday, April 2, 2010

reflection on my first experiences with Holy Week

For having grown up in the church and being an enthusiastic youth grouper as a junior high and high school student, I have been shocked and semi-embarrassed by the little i know about the stories, events, and traditions of Christianity. It might sound more rigid than the free-spirited and emotional Christianity of my youth, but I have been finding through attending a liturgical church, having a relationship with my dear fiance, and, most surprisingly, by studying my art history class, a new understanding of the Christian faith and tradition.
It is Good Friday today, and for the first time in my life, it's a day that I can't get out of my head. Last night, Seth and I, along with his parents, attended Christ our Hope's Maundy Thursday service. Being that it was my first time attending the service, I decided to look up Maundy Thursday. I feel like I had heard of all the events of Holy Week, but that I'd never been confronted by them before. I've never truly experienced them. Last night, we entered in the dim gym room that was lit only by candles and two lamps. Behind the rows of chairs were shallow basins surrounded by semi circles of chairs-- towels and jugs of water waiting for us.
The service began and Father Steve said something, that, to me, was quite profound. I don't know exactly what was said, but it was communicated to me that we partake in the Eucharist, we celebrate this week, to bring the past to the present, to experience what was experienced then, now.
We eat real bread, we drink real wine, we wash each others feet because this is the story we are a part of: the traditions that are beyond our own self-centered spheres.
It was dark and solemn, long, and contemplative. It put me in the appropriate place, I think, especially when the congregation sat still, gazing at the black cloth that draped on the cross.

We are studying the Renaissance in art history right now, and I just read about Masaccio's Holy Trinity.
Where is art like this now a days? What happened? The art that was made was to assist in the narrative of the liturgy. Everything is rendered for a purpose. Where are all the cross shaped churches nowadays? (Everyone should read: Addicted to Mediocrity by Franky Schaeffer). In Masaccio's work, the "pyramid of figures leads viewers from the despair of death (the tomb is below the viewer's eyes...the foot of the cross is eye level) to the hope of the ressurrection and eternal life through Christ's crucifixion." (that quote is from the text book :)
Even the use of perspective and proportion also has the effect of unifying and harmonizing a piece of art to communicate the unchanging order of God.

Another work that I nearly found my self weeping during class at was the Roettgen-Pieta.
It is such a horrible and grotesque representation of the Virgin holding the dead Christ. It is heartbreaking. But put in context, Germany was facing war famine and plague at the time of its completion, but through this piece, as i read in my book, the artist is saying, "'What is your suffering compared to this?" And really, its humbling and shows the fragility of humanity and our need of the Savior.

This is it. This is what it's all about. As Seth reminds me, "What story are we a part of?" And I'm learning, it's this One.

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