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Thoughts on Good Friday

Jesus graffiti, photo by Aaron Phelps
Photo by Aaron Phelps

This year on Good Friday and continuing my tradition, a piece of graffiti artwork to delight the eyes and challenge the heart. Although I don’t know who produced the artwork, the photo was taken in Brighton, England, by Aaron Phelps.

I love this image. To quote St John of Damascus (quoted often in my recent dissertation/book):

‘Visible things are corporeal models which provide a vague understanding of intangible things. Holy Scripture describes God and the angels as having descriptive form, … Anyone would say that our inability immediately to direct our thoughts to contemplation of higher things makes it necessary that familiar everyday media be utilized to give suitable form to what is formless, and make visible what cannot be depicted, so that we are able to construct understandable analogies.’

This may not be media in the classic sense, but it is familiar and everyday and placing the face of Christ beneath a convenient ‘crown of thorns’ from everyday life, I think, is brilliant. It enables me to ‘construct understandable analogies’.

There’s another layer here though. For Brighton locals, they will clearly see the West Pier in the background. Left to rot after it was closed in 1975 when it gradually and slowly crumbled, what was left finally succumbed in 2003 when it was gutted by fire. While there are plans to build a new i360 ‘Brighton Eye’ on the site, I’m not quite sure where they are up to. Maybe there will or won’t be some resurrection here.

But to think of the crucified Christ on Good Friday, his crown of thorns prominent, amidst the debris of human existence, broken dreams and destruction, certainly rang true with me today.

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