Thursday, September 1, 2011 – Luke 23:50-56 – Burial
Yesterday we reflected on the two words Jesus says frequently to us: Follow me . . .
Today we take a look at what we are invited to do as a first step in the resurrection process. We are invited to our own burial.
- Van der Weyden: Descent from the Cross
Scripture – and in particular the New Testament story of Jesus – is full of inversion. We see many paradoxes in Jesus’ words and actions: We must give up all we have in order to gain the world, those who are broken are strong, leaders are those who serve, we must be willing to die if we want to live. What appears to be incongruous results in a reality we had not anticipated.
What looks like death is life itself.
I tell you the truth, Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John (12:24), unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.
What looks like burial is life itself.
The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark (4:30-32). It is the smallest you plant in the ground; yet when planted it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches the birds of the air can perch in its shade.
What looks like the end is really the beginning.
The wallpaper image on my computer is the painting Descent from the Cross by Rogier Van der Weyden; I keep it there to remind me of Jesus’ words to us about life, death, and resurrection. Each time I log on and see the image, I am reminded that we are always in the process of a necessary burial – the first step toward resurrection. With that image in my mind, it is easier to remember that anything I do in the material world is a reflection of my belief in the spiritual world. As I travel about my digital universe, I carry with me the constant reminder that it is the spiritual world we seek rather than the material.
I am the resurrection and the life, Jesus says to Martha (John 11:25-27). He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? he asks.
Martha replies: Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who was to come into the world.
As we reflect on the verses in today’s Noontime and as we look at the expressions on the faces painted on the Van der Weyden canvas, let us take in what we have been told. It is what those who loved Jesus well are about to fully understand as they lower his body from the cross. It is the elemental truth that . . . Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
What looks like sorrow will soon be joy.
The first step toward that joy is our eagerness to unfold the paradox Jesus has given us. It is our willingness to submit to burial in the life of this world. It is the full knowing that, like the kernel of wheat, we cannot live until we go into the soil . . . to burst forth again in the new life of Christ.
Further information about the Van der Weyden painting can be found at the following sites or sites of your choosing. You may want to share some with us. A good description of the symbolism represented in the characters we see. http://www.andrewgrahamdixon.com/archive/readArticle/197
A beautiful slide show through which the viewer can zoom in to see the detail in the cloth, even the tears glistening on cheeks. http://www.slidingtime.be/ The show is a link from this blog. http://writingwithoutpaper.blogspot.com/2010/04/rogier-van-der-weydens-descent-from.html
This link gives us more insight into the painting. http://blogs.artinfo.com/secrethistoryofart/2011/05/06/inside-the-masterpiece-van-der-weydens-descent-from-the-cross/
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