Listen to the Audio version of Station 13
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
On the cross, Jesus battled against satan, sin, and death, the “un-holy trinity” of the curse. Under the cloud of thick darkness, Jesus shuddered at this victorious moment for the kingdom of darkness. Bearing the curse of our sins upon himself, he plunged himself into death.
But this wasn’t a victory for death. At that moment, the massive veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom. The veil was a blue, scarlet and purple tapestry embroidered with a panorama of the heavens guarded by cherubim. This enormous screen served as the boundary between heaven and earth, clean and unclean, sacred and profane, blessing and curse, life and death. It was the primal liminal space of sacred transformation.
As Jesus crossed the boundary between life and death, the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom. He became the door, the threshold through which God and human could meet. Heaven brought to earth, unclean made clean, profane made sacred, curse restored to blessing, death resurrected to life.
“Consequently, (as stated in the letter to the Hebrews) “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Jesus, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
Death by Michelle Morris
As I meditated for station thirteen, I was struck by the darkness. I felt a work on the death of Jesus required the darkness of the hour. And so I chose to use vine charcoal. Vine charcoal is a fragile medium formed by burning grape vines in a kiln without air. This felt significant as I worked because God breathes us into life and Jesus had breathed His last into death. I also considered Jesus being the Vine and we the branches (John 15:5). Using the ashes of a grapevine to portray the scene seemed to complete the concept of death.
After reflecting on the simplicity of using nothing more than charred grape vine to depict Christ’s death on the cross, I felt I was standing on holy ground. I felt no struggle in creating the figure or need for perfection but instead left it rough. I intentionally framed it with a black mat and frame which further imbues the piece with the feeling of darkness.
How do you experience the darkness that surrounds Christ on the cross?
After reading about the artist's experience with the vine charcoal, does this change how you view the piece?
What does this image reveal to you about the passion of Jesus?
Something about Jesus led the centurion to declare, "Truly, this must be the son of God."
What about this passage reveals Jesus as the Son of God to you?
As you imagine the curtain of the Temple being torn from top to bottom, what does this evoke within you?
The torn veil is an invitation to draw near to God. What is your sense of closeness to God? As you reflect on what Christ has done in order to make this closeness to God possible, what is the invitation or challenge for you?
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living; pardon and rest to the dead; to your holy Church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(Book of Common Prayer)