The Other Side of Easter

“The Holy Family”-  Bartholome Esteban Murillo

“The Holy Family”-
Bartholome Esteban Murillo

After being away for a few weeks, I wanted to drop a line and check in with everyone. First, my travels have been wonderful. I enjoyed my time, as I always do, visiting family in Houston Texas.  Plus, my time up at Camp Mikell was really a retreat for me. I love working with the different camp programs up there. I spent some time with the youth and their Outdoor Camp. I also attended the theatrical production put together by the campers at the Performing Arts Camp.

I just realized that I would be returning this Sunday on the other side of Easter, as I missed a transition in our community and liturgical calendar. After working with the kids in the performing arts, I got to thinking about the fine arts as I look forward to my trip to Paris in July.

Back before Ben and I attended seminary, we would spend our spring and fall breaks at a flat on the Left Bank in Paris. In all the years we spent back and forth, my French never really improved. Nevertheless, I did manage to spend a lot of time around the Beaux Arts. This is when I met Murillo during my visits to the Louvre. I learned about his art of street life with the poor, and a little about his interpretation of religious life with the church. 

Sometime later, when Ben and I were in Madrid, I ran into Murillo again with his works in Museo de Prado’s collection. With my love and self-education of his work, I feel as though I can recognize his art anywhere.

Shortly after moving to Macon, the director of the Hay House asked if I would serve as a docent. 

The moment I stepped into the art gallery to learn about the home, I almost fell to the floor when I saw Murillo’s “The Holy Family”.  My first thought was, how did that get here? 

The last time I saw that painting, it was in the Louvre. But, alas, it is a fine art commission and a good one. I noticed that the God figure is missing from the family. When the Johnston family commissioned the art, they had the artist leave out the God figure.  That’s funny. When Murillo painted this masterpiece during the Baroque period, his placing of the God figure above the family kind of hinted at the Trinity and gave question to that relationship. Just one art generation later, during the Neoclassical and Romantic period, the very same painting was commissioned leaving out the God figure. Some say the original gave God too much of a human content. 

It is engaging how simple interpretation of art can offer different views of our Christianity. No wonder we struggle so much with the scriptures themselves. 

That has me thinking about how we can transition from Easter into Pentecost: transition in and of itself.  I wonder how we might artfully live into the other side of Easter. John’s Gospel for the last Sunday of Easter (John 17:20-26) helps us to discover a certain desire as we venture into Pentecost.  This Gospel selection is actually a prayer.  I cannot think of a better way to live into a moment of transition than in prayer.  I do wonder, is Jesus praying for us or giving us a message in this prayer?  Whatever the case, this prayer can serve to guide us into the adventures of Pentecost and transitions as we search for a new rector.  Of all the themes of this prayer, it seems to end with an invitation to Love. 

That is what we can look for on the other side of Easter, LOVE.

Grace and peace
The Rev. Arthur W. Villarreal

John 17:20-26

Jesus prayed for his disciples, and then he said. "I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

"Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."