Descent from the cross

Last night I was meditating on the presence of God, practicing something new to me, the Daily Examen, started 500 years ago by the Catholic saint, Ignatius Loyola. It is prayer and meditation combined. The first step in this prayer is to become aware of the presence of God.
Rembrandt

I am really not aware of God's presence.This is a challenge for me. I started thinking about Christ on the cross. I then thought about taking his body down off the cross. My hands carried his dead and bloody body down off the instrument of death. I hugged his lifeless body to mine. I laid him down across my bed. And there he laid, in front me, as I sat on my bed.

Jouvenet

It is a powerful image for me. I have never thought about this before.

I did not know until later that night what a rich vein artists have found with this part of Good Friday. Here is a collection of many works.

In my meditation, Jesus laid before me, much bloodier than anything by these art masters. His flesh was ripped open by whips and his beard torn out. He was ugly. He was dead, a lifeless bloody body. His church, also called his body, the one I read about in the news, on Twitter and Facebook, is often ugly, torn, repuslive, stinking and dead. It's a sight that depresses me. Why does a community of love offend so many that they attack it? Why does a community of love attract so many violators who take advantage of her? Why does a community of love also hate? Why the ugliness and the stink?

I mourned for the church. I mourned the ugly parts of the church prevent me from seeing the good parts, from seeing the body of love, from seeing Christ.

I know he doesn't stay dead. After death, after mourning, after emptiness comes life by resurrection. Death does not prevail. Sunday will follow Friday. I may have many Fridays, but Sunday will come. I joined the women in wrapping his body. Covering the wounds. Absorbing the blood. I know as his body did not stay in the grave, neither will his church die away. Life will overcome death. I will know his presence.

It is a comfort to me knowing others have dwelled deeply on this topic. I am eager to learn from those more intense encounters with God as they reflected on Christ's descent from the cross.

Holbein

Hebews 13:20 Now may the God of peace— who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

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