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Easter Eggs, Anzac and Chocolate Bunnies – Calling on Christ

One of the most illuminating images of the crucifixion of Jesus in art is that of Italian artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). Called the Deposition from the Cross and painted around 1602-3 it depicts Jesus being taken down from the cross to be conveyed to his tomb.

This is an image full of intense emotion not withstanding the high drama of the scene itself, which he depicts with intense realism.

The painting highlights the shift from classical idealism in art at the time to naturalism, for which Caravaggio became famous.

In our contemporary age the Christian church stands as an outrageous statement of faith. It is about people with all their flaws, frailty and foibles striving together to survive in a world that so often only invests in self to the detriment of others.

Christians are not perfect and have never purported to be so. They act together, helping out their neighbours, helping out perfect strangers, offering a hand out, or a leg up to the needy, to the homeless, to those who come to the church for help, beaten, betrayed, bruised and battered often by family members.

It always seems far more appropriate to talk about Jesus, the Christ at Easter than at Christmas.

At Easter have a bunch of chocolate bunnies become a metaphor for what we are on about?

Christmas it seems today is only about having a break in middle of the business year in the northern hemisphere, and celebrating at the end of one in the southern hemisphere.

This ensures that many people in Australia are far more prone to just collapsing and chilling out with a chardonnay rather than thinking of calling on Christ.

At Easter our main adversaries are seemingly only a bevvy of bunnies and everyone’s addiction for chocolate. They are not nearly in the same league as Santa Claus.

And how do you explain to people’s, whose cultures do not have a concept of Christianity how bunnies, emerging from coloured or chocolate eggs, are related to the crucifixion of a saintly man on a cross? All it takes from us to get rid of them entirely is a touch of the sun or, a big mouth.

As a visual metaphor more than a bevvy of bunnies can be scary. While cute, they are in some contexts, also about wilful destruction.

So if this were true are the chocolate bunnies a reflection of our frailty and humanity? Or are we better than that?

Surely trying to do our best and ‘to do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is what is at the heart of the challenge of the Easter festival.

In both Australia and New Zealand following hot on the heels of Easter is Anzac Day, the day of the year we remember those wonderful men and women from our own countries, and from the countries of our allies, all of whom contributed, served and died alongside our men and women in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.

ANZAC is about celebrating the best of our human qualities.

Courage, mateship, and sacrifice continue to have more meaning and relevance. Today they are at the very essence of an Australian sense of national identity. So perhaps it would be good during the days over Easter to close our eyes, even if for a few moments, and remember all those who have died with hope in their hearts… including Jesus – ‘…father forgive them, for they know not what they do’.

Easter is the central tenet of the Christian faith. Perhaps watching the 2004 movie of the Passion of Christ may be helpful for many. Certainly it will for many media reporters who never seem to get their facts right. Actor/Director Mel Gibson’s take on what happened in the last twelve hours in the life of Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, on the day of his crucifixion in Jerusalem is very close to the bone and very real.

And it’s not just about Jesus being flogged. It’s about betrayal, about losing faith, lack of trust and the denial of friendship, which is why it probably made many people squirm.

Jesus probably felt something akin to what those ANZAC boys felt when they fell and died so valiantly on the beaches in the trenches of lands otherwise unknown to them.

“Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani?” he said, which translated is “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

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Chalice Prayer – Life Love & Peace are New Born at Easter

Life, love and peace are new born at Easter. Good Friday is a day of sadness for millions of people world wide, who go on a journey through the passion story of Jesus, as they come to terms with his dying as a martyr for his cause and to spread a message of love and forgivenss.

A symbol of St John the Evangelist, the chalice, or cup of Christ is disposed on a stem and is used to contain the wine of the mass, which is a service celebrating the life of Jesus the Christ held over the Easter period.

It represents his blood, which transforms and/or strengthens. It also commemorates, as it celebrates the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples before he was betrayed and crucified on a cross.

The word chalice derives from the Latin calix, meaning cup. The chalice is an attribute of faith personified, holding the blood of the redeemer while signifying the central place of communion in worship for the Christian Church.

In art the chalice is identified with the priesthood. Celebrated examples are the Great Chalice of Antioch (Syria) made in the first century of embossed silver and excavated there in 1910. A sacred vessel, the chalice recalls a time when it was reputedly buried with a priest in his tomb. It is also a recognized emblem of many saints suggesting the promise made by Jesus the Christ to the followers of his way “if ye shall drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt you”.

The chalice prayer was created by Francis Nuttall.

Father, to you I raise my whole being
- a vessel emptied of self. Accept, O Lord,
this my emptiness, and so fill me with
yourself, your light, your love, your
life – that these your precious gifts
may radiate through me and over-
flow the chalice of my heart into
the hearts of all with whom I
come in contact this day
revealing unto them
the beauty of
your joy
and
wholeness
and the
serenity
of your peace
which nothing can destroy.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept, 2013-2014


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