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The Baptism of Jesus

This Sunday, we remember the Baptism of  Jesus.

Here is Piero della Francesca’s famous painting of that scene. c 1445. It formed part of an altar piece at the Priory of St John The Baptist in Umbria, Italy and is now in the National Gallery.* see note below

An art critic has called it a ” majestic stillness”.

Ive been sitting with my mum a lot today. She has simply had enough now of being ill and weak. She said today that it is “taking such a long time”  – I understood  what she meant. Part of me wants to be there when she dies, part of me cant bear to be. If the Christian faith has any meaning, it has to make sense of the suffering – often protracted, that some people go through before they die.

In my tired mind, there is a link between the huge significance of Christ’s baptism and the moment of death. Im sure it will come to me more eloquently in time.

The cold drags on – and its hard to know how things will be here by Sunday – should we try to open our very cold churches in the grip of this freeze? I expect we shall for the most part – hereare some hymn words I found for this sunday – dont know who wrote them:

When Jesus Came to Jordan

When Jesus came to Jordan

to be baptized by John,

he did not come for pardon,

but as his Father’s Son.

He came to share repentance

with all who mourn their sins,

to speak the vital sentence

with which good news begins.


He came to share temptation,

our utmost woe and loss;

for us and our salvation

to die upon the cross.

So, when the Dove descended

on him, the Son of Man,

the hidden years had ended,

the age of grace began.


Come, Holy Spirit, aid us

to keep the vows we make;

this very day invade us,

and every bondage break;

come, give our lives direction,

the gift we covet most-

to share the resurrection

that leads to Pentecost.

Tune: Thornbury (689)


Keep warm everyone.

* Thanks to “allrevdup”  for this lovely comment:

In Piera della Francesca’s painting one side of the picture represents heaven with the three angels and the other earth, Jesus is the still point at the centre which connects the two and at his baptism we hear who he is through the voice which says ‘This my Son, the beloved’. I think it was Athanasius who said ‘He became what we are so that we could become what He is’- God’s beloved children, so at the moment of death heaven and earth connect again and we can surrender ourselves into the loving arms of our Father who will take us home ‘ and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ which I take to mean we will be brought somehow into the life of the Trinity- in Rublev’s icon the space at the front of the table is for us.

* The painting is now in the National Gallery:

This panel was the central section of a polyptych. It may be one of Piero’s earliest extant works. Side panels and a predella were painted in the early 1460s, by Matteo di Giovanni (active 1452; died 1495). The altarpiece was in the chapel of Saint John the Baptist in the Camaldolese abbey (now cathedral) of Piero’s native town, Borgo Sansepolcro. The town, visible in the distance to the left of Christ, may be meant for Borgo Sansepolcro: the landscape certainly evokes the local area.

The dove symbolises the Holy Spirit. It is foreshortened to form a shape like the clouds. God the Father, the third member of the Trinity, may originally have been represented in a roundel above this panel.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/piero-della-francesca-the-baptism-of-christ

January 8, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. In Piera della Francesca’s painting one side of the picture represents heaven with the three angels and the other earth, Jesus is the still point at the centre which connects the two and at his baptism we hear who he is through the voice which says ‘This my Son, the beloved’. I think it was Athanasius who said ‘He became what we are so that we could become what He is’- God’s beloved children, so at the moment of death heaven and earth connect again and we can surrender ourselves into the loving arms of our Father who will take us home ‘ and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ which I take to mean we will be brought somehow into the life of the Trinity- in Rublev’s icon the space at the front of the table is for us. Hope this makes some sense, you and your Mum are in my prayers, thinking of you amongst the packing.

    Comment by Allrevedup | January 9, 2010 | Reply


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