Jesus as the Greater Jonah

Resurrection, one of three paintings on the subject by Indian Christian artist, Jyoti Sahi

During Lent, Holy Week and Easter, our church was challenged to respond to the times. Some of the ministry, outreach and teaching were delivered, along with so many other churches, via Zoom.

The Pandemic has had one side result. Many of us have become more competent at embracing technology and the power it brings to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in new and often innovative ways.

One of the things we did to meditate and learn about the Passion of Jesus is that once a week we gathered on zoom and looked at aspects of the Passion through the medium of art. Each week, two members of our church community chose a painting which expressed one of the events of Holy Week. Things like anointing Jesus’ feet with costly ointment at Bethany; Jesus in Gethsemane; Peter’s reaction to his own denial and so on.

Whoever was presenting a particular painting introduced the artist and then the painting.
They had been asked to present three questions for discussion and the participants were placed in a number of breakout rooms to consider how the painting affected them and then they tackle the questions. The groups were deliberately small in order to encourage participation. After a period the groups reconvened into the main group for a general feedback. Then the second painting was introduced and the  sharing continued as before.

A final plenary and a prayer ended the meeting.

We found that zoom was particularly ideal for us all to see the detail in the paintings and to share our insights, learning from both the painting and each other.

There were lots of what I call, ‘God Moments’ !

We found it such an helpful way of considering the Passion story that we have now continued gathering together, this time choosing paintings with the Easter themes in mind. People are finding it an enrichment of their prayer and reflection.

I suppose it’s a modern way of using stained glass windows, though zoom means we don’t have to climb ladders or look at our subject!

I’m sure we are not alone in making use of zoom in this way and we can already see other things we can study together via zoom meetings. We can study images in a much more creative way.

Another advantage we have found is that those who can’t get to church for whatever reason – housebound, looking after children, being unwell etc, can take part. It can be a lifeline in keeping Christian fellowship going.

One of the paintings we looked at this week, can be seen above. It is by an Indian artist, Jyoti Sahi. Jyoti was born in 1944 and is regarded as  one of the most important Catholic Christian artists alive today in India, and has been called ‘the theologian with the brush. … He uses his art to create a dialogue between Hinduism and Christianity.

The painting is one of three paintings he did of the Resurrection and it is called Jesus as the Greater Jonah. From the title you might guess what Old Testament theme inspired him! But there are so many images and symbols to discover. In keeping with the way we structured the evening, should you wish to do so, I simply ask you to spend time quietly looking at the painting and let Jyoti speak to you through his art as God speaks to him in his creativity. Then, perhaps consider the questions that Rosemary, who chose the painting, set for us.

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