Lent 2019

Lent: The Arts and the Life of Faith

Our Lenten journey affirms that there is brokenness and beauty in all humanity and creation. We invite you to connect more deeply to this reality through intentional practice and venture deeper into the Lenten story: the Passion Narrative – the portions of the gospels that relate Jesus’ arrest, trials and death – for the meaning it brings to our life of faith.


The Passion Narrative

In our first class we touched on some of the feelings, ideas, and themes that Lent evokes in us — as individuals and as a faith community. Among them is passion, a word containing a wealth of meaning. Passion is intensityexcitementardor. It can also mean wildness — an attribute of God’s Spirit. Passion derives from the Latin word passio, which at its deepest level means suffering. During Lent we come face-to-face with the suffering Jesus endured as we witness the events of the final week of his life. The account of these events in the Bible is known as The Passion (also called the Passion Narrative). All four gospels contain a version of it:

     Matthew 21.1 – 27.66
     Mark 14.2 – 15.47
     Luke 22.1 – 23.56
     Jn 13.1 – 19.22

You can read them side-by-side here: Parallel Gospels


Jesus Enters Jerusalem

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! (Luke 13.34)

Read Mark 11:1-11
Contemplate this painting by the Ukrainian artist Oleksandr Antonyuk. What’s missing? What else do
you notice? Consider the events Jesus is facing in the coming week. What feelings does this painting evoke?


The Garden of Gethsemane

Read Mark 14:32-42

This carving is on the wall of the chapel “Dominus Flevit” (The Lord Wept) on Mt. Bethel, in the location outside of Jerusalem where tradition places the Garden of Gethsemane. What does it tell you about Jesus? How is it similar to the painting above? What feelings does it evoke?


Et Incarnatus Est (And Became Flesh)

During our discussion of the passion we paused to reflect on the question, What is this really about? We considered passages such as Jeremiah 31:31-33, “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah… I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” We looked at the opening of the Gospel of John, focusing on v 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Listen to this recording of J.S. Bach’s choral setting of these lines from the Nicene Creed:
Click here: Et Incarnatus Est
    Et incarnatus est                    And became flesh
    de Spiritu Sanctu                   by the Holy Spirit
    ex Maria virgine                     through the Virgin Mary
    et homo factus est.                and was made human.

Pay attention to the tone of the piece. What mood is being set by the orchestra? Note the pattern of the vocal lines. In what direction is each line moving? We normally associate this event with the joyful time of Christmas. What is Bach suggesting in this choral setting?

“I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  This is God’s deepest desire.

Broken is beautiful

One pathway for reflection is the ancient art of kintsugi, repairing broken vessels with gold, transforming them into more beautiful works of art.

Each week, our Liturgical Arts Group will be engaging in kintsugi. You might join them at 7pm on Tuesdays – or you might take the journey in your imagination as you view their work in our sanctuary each week.

Another way you might connect to the transformation process is to carry with you a broken shard of pottery as a talisman each day. Consider the lessons and silver linings that might be emerging around the jagged edges. Imagine these broken shards of experience being pieced together to form a new vessel painted in light where the cracks are.

Or make a covenant with beauty this Lent. Make time to be with it, reflect on it, understand it, and participate in beauty. To that end we offer you the following online resources that combine art, film, and poetry that relate to the scriptures of Lent and the journey of Jesus on the cross. Consider how the beauty in art invites us into new ways to…


Spend a few moments with a different work of art for every day of Lent through Easter with a brief narrated audio meditation on each image: http://faith.nd.edu/s/1210/faith/interior.aspx?pgid=39423&gid=609&cid=77026

Set aside a few hours to seek out and view one of these films to foster reflection and spiritual growth: https://www.ncronline.org/news/media/movies-foster-reflection-spiritual-growth-lents-journey

Explore Image Journal’s collection of contemporary essays, poetry, short stories, and visual art for the liturgical seasons of Lent and Easter: https://imagejournal.org/lent/

Join other NDPC friends in creating art for worship and for expression around social justice issues at Liturgical Arts/Craftivists Group on Tuesday nights 7-9pm.


Suggested by Katie Archibald-Woodward

A mandala can serve to represent the different pieces, twists, and turns of our life collected through various colors into a cohesive whole held by the circle—a symbol of unity.  Be open and attentive to what God has for you in this time. Try to silence the chatter of your mind. From the silence and calming of the mind and spirit, perhaps sparks of awareness will arrive with new clarity. Perhaps visuals will arise and speak to you. 


There are a myriad of ways to create a mandala, this is one.  Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders, try to relax.  Draw a circle on your paper by tracing a plate.  Then, using a pen or pencil select a spot on the circle to begin a line within the circle.  Let your hand flow as your thoughts flow–soft, swirly, harsh, stiff, jagged or paused may be the stroke.  Let it go as it will and observe how the stroke coincides with thoughts that come. Perhaps it is trying to tell you something, perhaps revealing how you are feeling inside.  Once you feel at a stopping point color in the sections created by your lines.  See what emerges as you just let yourself color.  You may want to keep your journal nearby in case any insights arise you wish to make note of.  Perhaps all you hear is silence, fully immersed in the coloring, perhaps that is what you need.  

Note: If there is something in particular you would like to hold as your prayer or intention during this activity you may name that within yourself and/or write it in your journal/on your mandala 

paper as you begin.

Mandorla is the Italian word for almond.  This activity is named as such because our attention is to be drawn to the almond-shaped center of the Venn diagram, the reality of our lived experience being at the intersection of the positive and negatives of life.  I have included a rough sketch.
What you need: Blank paper, two coloring utensils (pencil, pen, paint…), a round object to trace for your circles (optional).
  1. Draw a Venn diagram.
  2. Pick a color and in the left side of the diagram let the pen or pencil move freely as think about what is ailing you, difficult, stressful, negative things etc.  Observe how you feel and how the movements of your writing utensil are reflecting your thoughts and energy. 
  3. Pick a different color and in the right side do the same as the left and this time focus on what brings you joy, good happening in your life, positives, etc.  Observe again what this experience is like.
  4. Now use both colors to draw in the middle section, one at a time, concentrating on the positives and negatives.  Spend time reflecting, drawing, or writing about what comes up for you as you colored in the mandorla (middle) section.