The Color of Easter

And last but not least…Resurrection!!!  Mark 16

I found the resurrection photo to be the hardest to take out of the series of 7.  If you missed the other 6 photos I posted on Good Friday look at the previous entry on my blog.  I chose for the 6 other photos to be in black and white while the resurrection photo is in color.  The contrast in itself sets this photo apart hopefully in a way that lures others into the beauty of Jesus’ resurrection and the power he has so graciously left with us.

I took several resurrection photos and had lots of random ideas rolling, but let’s face it, it’s impossible to really capture the awe and majesty of Jesus’ resurrection.  I found myself wrestling with how to portray the resurrection in a way that was symbolic religiously but also metaphorically display the joy of new life.  It was in the last inning, like the day before printing had to be done, that I remembered the dogwood tree in the yard of my in-laws.  I had just seen it a few days earlier and my mother-in-law shared the symbolism with me.  Apparently this tree is always blooming at Easter.  If you look closely you will see the cross, the curled edges that represent the nails, the red stains that represent the blood, and the center that represents the crown of thorns.  It is perfect.

Beyond the symbolism of the flower itself, flowers always draw me into the the awe of the resurrection.  Everyone loves spring because here in Indiana it means growth and new life!!!  Every spring I long for the new blooms and cherish the new life, the vibrant green grass, and a new beginning.  There is something extraordinary about the transition from winter to spring- the path from death to new life.  I love living somewhere where that transition is dramatic…causing me to really appreciate the fullness of the symbolism at Easter…and the journey of longing for new life to arise, not only around me outside but inside me as well.  I love the season of Lent…the anticipation of Easter…the anticipation of new life…surrendering myself…letting go…creating new rhythms…all for the sake of letting the holy spirit resurrect what’s dead inside me so that new life can arise.

The cross is a symbol of facing our pain.  The resurrection is a symbol of working through the pain & waking up to embrace the new life instead!  Because of the resurrection we do not have to fear and run away from pain.  We can can embrace it and let new life grow in the midst of it.

The photo above is lacking the curled edges and little white flowers that bloom in the center (one of my favorite features of the flower), but if you look below you will see a few other photos that show it’s beauty!  The flower above was captured the day after a hail storm.  The flowers pre-storm looked like this…beautifully curled edges with white flowers growing in the middle.  I almost chose one of these photos, but I REALLY loved the vibrant green of the photo above, the lighting, and how the flower was set apart.  But really…I LOVE the intricacy of the flower pre-storm.  Isn’t it a beauty?

Happy Easter!  Enjoy the day celebrating all that Jesus is!  May new life arise in you as you surrender and let him in. 🙂

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The Black & White of Good Friday

YAY, my secret project was released tonight at my church during our Good Friday service!  This is the largest any of my photos have ever been printed…24″ x 36″.  Eeek…that’s big!  So big the 7 frames hardly fit into my car.  🙂  I have been a twist of nervous and excited for the past week anticipating the display of these images.  It was such an honor to be invited to do this.  I have been working on this secret project for the past month and it’s been a good stretch for me to do something other than portrait photography.  I’m really grateful for the opportunity because it caused me to dig into the scriptures and really think about them more.  It was definitely a gift to me this Easter.

In our Good Friday service we first set the stage by reading about the preparation Jesus made in Mark 14: 1-26.  We remember Mary, sister of Lazarus & Martha, anointing Jesus with perfume (Mary sacrificed more than a whole year worth of wages to anoint Jesus.  In the gospel of John we learn that it was Judas who protested that she do such a thing.) Then we remember Judas going to the chief priests willing himself to betray Jesus in exchange for money.  And finally we remember the disciples preparing for Passover, eating the Last Supper together, and Jesus predicting Peter’s denial.  After we remember the preparations that were made we move into the garden…

The Garden- Mark 14: 32-42

Jesus agonizes in the garden of Gethsemane.  His disciples keep falling asleep while Jesus is praying.  They are supposed to be keeping watch.

My thoughts: I so appreciate that I can see the humanness of Jesus in this set of scripture.  He is deeply distressed and troubled.  He is in agony and this tree is symbolic of that agony in the garden…split in two.  He says, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”  Ahhh, somehow I find comfort in knowing that even Jesus felt that way.  But my favorite part is when he says, “Abba Father, everything is possible for you.  Take this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will.”  This is such a beautiful cry…a recognition that what he is about to endure is hard and he really doesn’t want to be separated from God in that way BUT he wants God’s will to be done even more.  I also find peace in these scriptures because Jesus’ disciples failed him…they kept falling asleep.  Sometimes I fail Jesus, too.

Betrayal- Mark 14:43-51

Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested in the garden.

My thoughts: Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver to reveal his location to the soldiers.  He kissed Jesus as a signal so the men would know that he was the one to arrest.  I’m still in awe that one of his best friends would do that, but somehow it reveals the sin of human nature.  It helps me to remember that when I’m betrayed it really has nothing to do with me personally, but it has to do with the betrayer.  Sin is the root and it oozes over and affects others.  I love the cracks in the bricks.  To me, the cracks are symbolic of betrayal.

Denied- Mark 14:53-72

Jesus is deserted and denied by Peter 3 times before the rooster crowed twice.

My thoughts: Peter was accused of being with Jesus and being one of his followers.  Each of the three times he denied it.  Jesus had told Peter previously: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.”  Peter didn’t think it was possible.  In his heart he loved Jesus so much he couldn’t imagine denying him, but when it came to Jesus possibly being killed he disassociated himself and denied their friendship.  We are all guilty of sinning against God- through our actions and our words.  I am Peter.  You are Peter.  We are no better than him.  Jesus, forgive me for I, too, know not what I do.  Did you know that the rooster weathervane was a symbol long ago that indicated you were a follower of Jesus?  It represents a watchful vigilance against evil.  I love the reminder of this weathervane.  It makes me want one.

Accused- Mark 15:1-18

Jesus is on trial before Pilate and is sentenced to death.  A crown of thorns is placed on his head and they give him a purple robe mocking him for calling himself the King of the Jews.

My thoughts: I cringe at the thought of these thorns digging deep into Jesus’ head.  Ouch.  I grieve at the thought of the mockery and pain he endured.  I love how the thorns on this crown make a cross.  This is such a strong symbol to me.  Maybe it stands out to me because I’m used to seeing a cross.  The rarity of seeing a crown makes me stop, think, and imagine having it put on my head.  I am humbled.  And I am thankful for the way Jesus responded to the mockery.  He reminds me to stand upright and not cave when I am being mocked or ridiculed by others.  It seems to me that he was so graceful in response while being accused and tortured.  I don’t understand how he could endure that kind of pain without lashing back physically or verbally.  Something for to chew on for sure.

Sacrificed- Mark 15:19-32

Jesus is beaten, spit on, and hung on a cross that he had to carry himself.  It is the ultimate sacrifice.

My thoughts: I have no words.  If you watch a video that shows Him being nailed to the cross, you will be speechless, too.  It is gut wrenching to watch the ultimate sacrifice.  We need our guts to be wrenched so that we can fully see and feel the sacrifice.  It brings me to my knees.

Separated- Mark 15:33-39

Jesus died on the cross.  When he breathed his last breath the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

My thoughts: Even in the last hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”- which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  So often this is my thought, too.  Jesus knew that he would be temporarily separated from God the moment he took upon himself the sins of the world.  This is the agony he experienced in the garden as he dreaded that separation and the spiritual alienation.  Jesus breathed his last breath and the curtain tore in front of the temple room (the Most Holy Place).  Symbolically the curtain separated the holy God from the sinful people.  The room was entered only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, by the high priest as he would make a sacrifice to God in order to gain forgiveness of sins for all people.  When the curtain was torn in two it showed that his death for our sins opened up a way for us to approach God.  Jesus was the final, perfect sacrifice.  His separation was the ultimate sacrifice so that we would no longer have to be separated from God.  In this photo, the cloth is torn and God is busting through so there is no separation anymore.  We can freely engage God in a personal way.  There’s no need for animal sacrifices.  We can offer to God a sacrifice of our lives.  We can offer our hearts…and our whole self.  And because of this we can come directly to him for forgiveness of our sins.  What a beautiful gift.

I will share the resurrection photo with you on Sunday!  Stay tuned.  Until then, let’s meditate on these images and remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  I am in awe.  I am torn inside.  I am humbled.  It is in this holy week that we remember how worthy Jesus is of our praise.