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Lenten art show reflects Christ’s Seven Last Words

Forgive, Stuart Hobbs, Acrylic on Canvas, 2022.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio is presenting the works of artist Stuart Hobbs during the season of Lent on the theme “The Seven Last Words of Jesus,” on view from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, until Holy Saturday, April 8.

In a commentary on the show, Hobbs writes that “in the Eucharistic Prayer, we proclaim three mysteries of faith. The first is: Christ has died. The Seven Last Words of Jesus take us on the path of his death. The words, and these paintings, are an invitation to pause and ponder the crucifixion and death of Jesus before rushing on to the more hopeful mystery of the Resurrection.

“The spiritual and theological framework from which I approach this theme comes from the mystic, Julian of Norwich. Julian understood that Jesus “suffered for the sake of every human being. He saw every individual’s sorrow, desolation, and anguish, and from the depth of his kindness and love, he grieved for us all. . . . As long as he was able to suffer, he suffered for us.” As he died, Jesus suffered with the whole creation. He felt the pain we feel. We all pass through the shadow of death:  not just our own mortality, but the many losses and pains we experience through life.

“Life is a complicated business. Many of its paths cross through calvary, and we are in need of many resurrections. Through it all, Jesus is, as one affirmation of faith puts it, “God beside us,” suffering with us, dying with us. Our journey is his journey; his journey is our journey. The good news that I found while studying and painting these texts is how much hope there is. Yes, the context is pain and sorrow, but even here we see the message that at the heart of everything, as at the transcendent edge of everything, the ultimate reality is love.

“The message of the Seven Last Words tells us, also, to look beyond ourselves. We are connected to creation and to other people. Love and hope are found in community and in recognizing the connections between ourselves and indeed the whole creation.”

For the rest of the article, and more information about the show, click here.

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