Sunday 5th April
Today we gaze not upon the horror that unfolds this week, but upon a Christ whose radiance illuminates the disciples dining with him. The light of Christ fills the room. To one side rests the bread and wine whose blessing has opened their eyes to their guest’s identity. Stunned, one leans forward to be sure his eyes aren’t deceiving him. The other flings out his arms, side to side, forcing our eyes off the canvas and into the world. The excited pair have jiggled a luscious basket of fruit almost off the table, abundant fruit about to be spilled out. Is this a symbol for the abundant Light of Christ about to be pour out upon us at the Easter Vigil, the new life and hope of the resurrection? Alleluia!
Helen Goodkin, Biblical Scholar & Teacher, Holy Trinity
Monday 6th April
A moonlit supper. No oil lamps or candles are lit. Perhaps they couldn't afford one or they might be hiding. Hiding from whom where there is the light that lightens the darkness? According to the Gospel of St Luke (24:16), we recognize that these three men yet haven't realized that the man in the midst is the risen Christ.
Where is the light? This Lent I order a lantern ignited by solar power(See; solar-aid.org). When you look at the sun for a moment, an afterimage remains for a while. What does the radiant man in the middle leave in you when you close your eyes to receive his blessing? Can you hear his blessing or do you rather see three perplexed men quarrelling before supper?
Thomas Yoji Shibata, Community of St Anselm and Server at St Stephen’s
Tuesday 7th April
As told by Luke, two apostles encounter a stranger on the road to Emmaus and invite him to dinner. While they eat, they recognize the resurrected Jesus and are amazed. Caravaggio’s 1601 painting depicts this supper in a style typical of the artist: the dark background is pierced by dramatic “stage” lighting, the characters gesture theatrically, and the models are street people.
Jesus chose to begin and end his ministry with the sharing of food, and Luke suggests that what the apostles recognize in the stranger is His manner of sharing food, a common, but Eucharistic ritual. I think, however, that what the apostles recognize is the divinity within the stranger. Jesus taught that “the kingdom of God is within,” that all humans have a spark of divinity within them. Jesus remains with them and within them, Not as an apocalyptic epiphany, but as a realization of the immanence of the holy.
Chris Knight, Professor, Member & Morning Prayer Regular, Holy Trinity
Wednesday 8th April
The two seated facing Jesus are engrossed, the third standing is more considered. You and I are the forth person seated at the table with Jesus reaching out to include us while his face shows he is reaching deeply into himself through what he is saying to those around him. Caravaggio’s style and composition is immediate, pulling us into this moment across 2000 years.
The meal is barely touched. This resurrection is serious, we have to dig into it. It makes me wonder if the banquet in heaven is necessarily going to be a jolly affair or something that will reflect the drama of the resurrection.
Ordinand at St Augustine’s College and Member of St Stephen’s Church
Thursday 9th April
In Caravaggio’s Supper at Emmaus we see the moment two disciples totally unexpectedly realize the stranger with whom they have been traveling is Christ. Caravaggio has used light to emphasize the light of surprised recognition breaking through to the two disciples and the realism of the painting enables the viewer to share the surprise.
The story reminds us that as post-resurrection Christians aided by the Holy Spirit we must always seek to be in Christ’s company. With attentiveness and expectancy, we must ask what is Christ giving me through this person, this group, this situation? Concomitantly, we must sufficiently free ourselves of the preoccupations of the ego to be open and able to receive what God in Christ is giving us and enable the light to break through.
Simone Crockett, Spiritual Seeker, Teacher & Cyclist, Holy Trinity
Friday 10th April
The painting of the Supper at Emmaus is the moment when the risen Christ appears to some of his disciples at supper. In St Luke’s Gospel the story is told that the disciples haven not recognised Jesus on the road, and then invite him to stay with them as it is almost evening. Sitting down to eat, he is recognised, but then disappears. The character to the right in the picture is wearing a seashell, the mediaeval symbol of pilgrimage. It draws you in to the idea that he is a pilgrim at Christ’s table. At St Stephen’s on a Monday we have “Tea @3.” Anyone who is around at 3pm can come for tea, cake and conversation. Regardless of whether they have a Church connection or not, or have just wandered in from the street. It is reminiscent of Saint Paul’s exhortation in the letter to the Hebrews, when he reminds us not to neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. We may also be entertaining pilgrims to Christ, whether or not they are known. Whether or not they have a shell visibly displayed.
“We are pilgrims on a journey, and companions on the road.”
Andrew Crawford, Weekday Verger at St Stephen’s Church
Saturday 11th April
One of my favorite verses of scripture is Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (NRSV). The story of the two disciples who meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus is perhaps the ultimate example of what can happen when we open our eyes and hearts to a stranger. The Church helps us understand the special significance and sacramentality of bread and wine, but how many times have we also found ordinary food and drink of other kinds to hold sacramental qualities? While we celebrate the Incarnation at Christmas, the Emmaus story comes around Easter as if to remind us once again, that this Jesus who is put to death, who descends to the dead, and who rises again has a body—a human body that walks, talks, eats, and drinks. In showing hospitality, we offer care for the body of another, admit our own humanity, and look for the risen Christ in all we encounter. Looking at art this season has helped us focus our gaze. With newly sharpened eyes and with Easter faith, we can look more closely for the risen Lord Christ in other people, wherever we encounter them.
John Beddingfield, Rector of Holy Trinity
Sunday 12th April
I hope you have enjoyed, as much as we have, our journey together exploring these wonderful and varied pictures. We have now reached our goal - Easter is upon us: “Alleluia Christ is Risen!”, we rightly proclaim. However so often in our churches we have been so busy preparing for this day and season, that when it is upon us we are so exhausted with all the things we have been doing during Lent that we are unable to celebrate the risen Lord properly! Tired clergy and church workers go away for a break and we are left wondering what our supermarket’s will be prompting tomorrow as they prematurely look ahead to the next commercial gimmick they can take advantage of (Father’s Day perhaps?). But the celebrations and party have just begun. As we look at Caravaggio’s wonderful ‘The Supper at Emmaus’, with its rich colour depicting a lunch/supper party in motion, we are almost taken back to that supper the previous Thursday evening. Here, however, is a depth of movement in the painting that wasn’t so present a few days previously: here we see the risen lord (with a shadow cast behind - this is no ghost!), almost directing the disciples onto something else, even before they’ve seemingly eaten. One seems to be on his way, another listens intently, whilst the third appears to be asking the risen Lord to come with them. What is Jesus Christ pointing to? Our mission perhaps: to go into the world and proclaim the good news (Mk 16:15) and make disciples (Matt 28:19). He is sending us out of our ghettos and confines of our shadowy rooms into our communities to party and rejoice and proclaim the promises of his resurrection. May we do so with all colour and joy that our Lord Jesus expects.
Graham Buckle, Vicar of St Stephen’s