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Good Friday: At three o’clock in the afternoon

A LENTEN JOURNEY IN PAINT

By Rev. Susan Bagshaw

I didn’t quite know how it would end up but my Lenten journey 2019 started out with a 2′ by 3′ canvas before me on the floor of my kitchen. I diluted black paint with water and with a rag wiped it over the canvas.  An image emerged as the paint dried. Most did not see it.  Perhaps it was meant just for me.

Week one.  The image of Christ’s face emerges. ‘Very truly I tell you, the hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.‘ (Jn. 5:25)

Week two.  An ominous sky emerges and brewing evil in Jerusalem spreads across the ground.  ‘And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching.  (Mk. 11:18)

Week three.  God’s power is preparing to be released!  A cosmic eruption is brewing in the heavens.   ‘But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.  Then they will see ‘the son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory.’  (Mk. 13: 24-26)

Week four.  The image of the cross.  He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’  (Mt. 8:34)

Week five.  Christ in the shadow of the cross. When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.’  (Mt 26:1-2)

Good Friday.  It is finished.  At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.  (Mk 15:34, 37)

Each week during Lent, the piece was placed in the church for people to reflect upon until its completion on Good Friday.  The finished piece is called ‘Three o’clock in the afternoon’.

The journey of Christ into Jerusalem and into the hands of those who could not understand him, culminates in his death on the cross on Good Friday.  The moment Jesus’ spirit left his earthly body results in the cross exploding with the immeasurable might of God in a ‘cosmic’ display of pure power as he overcame death.  The red earth that was the evil of sinful man is now washed away by the spilt blood of Christ.

Below: Susan Bagshaw, THREE O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON (the entire process, weeks one through six) 

Rev. Susan Bagshaw, St. John’s, Cambridge