Visual Prayer

Praying the Resurrection (Thomas - Part 2)

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Yesterday, we talked about the icon of Thomas and the Resurrected Christ calling our attention to being both wounded and resurrected at the same time. At first glance, this seems like an odd state to be in. If Christ is risen from the dead, why aren’t the wounds healed and gone? Doesn’t resurrection mean perfected restoration?

The resurrected Christ invites us to reimagine what it means to be “whole.”
The resurrected Christ invites us to reimagine what it means to be “restored.”
The resurrected Christ invites us to reimagine what it means to be “healed.”

If the author of being itself stretched out his arms on the hard wood of the cross to pull together death (the wounds) and life (the resurrection) into his his own body, how does that help us truly see ourselves and our place in the world around us?

Just like Christ, we are a mixture of wounds and wonder, misery and majesty, sorrow and satisfaction. Christ shows us that being fully alive is recognizing we are ‘loved-back-to-life’ even in our woundedness. Our wounds are a part of the glory of being fully alive and fully present to ourselves, each other, and the world around us. 

  • How do your ‘wounds’ present themselves in the new life you know in the resurrection? 
  • Are those ‘wounds’ a glorious part of your ‘body’ or do you ignore and/or deny their presence? 
  • What would life look like if we all acknowledged one another’s wounds as part of our resurrected experience; and in that acknowledgement were grateful for the way Christ pulled both his wounds and his glory together at the resurrection?

About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC

Praying the Resurrection (Thomas - Part 1)

The moments after the resurrection are some of the richest parts of the Gospels. The story of Thomas (the disciple who doubted in John 20:24-29) is often held up as confirmation of the resurrection by a doubting skeptic (Thomas), along with a promise of blessing for “those who have not seen and yet believed” (us). It’s easy to make this story entirely an issue of belief or disbelief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. But there’s much more going on here than just a yes/no check box next to the word "resurrection." John’s inclusion of Thomas’ encounter invites us to think about the nature of the resurrection. The nature of the resurrection can be a focal point of contemplation that continually moves us deeper into prayer – something beyond than a simple yes/no assertion. Pictures, so often, tell the tale in profound ways:

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This icon of Thomas and the risen Christ calls us into the mysterious paradox of the resurrected Christ: Christ is wounded and resurrected at the same time.[1] Take a moment to pray through the implications of being wounded and resurrected at the same time – it's pretty scandalous when you think about it. Tomorrow we’ll walk/pray through some of those implications, both for us and the world around us.


[1] For more on the wounded/resurrected paradox, see Richard Rhor.

About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC

Visual Prayer - The Iconic Resurrection

 Eastern Orthodox Icon of the Resurrection

Eastern Orthodox Icon of the Resurrection

We often get caught up in talking about "a" resurrection on Easter Sunday instead of "resurrection." When we focus only on Jesus' resurrection two thousand years ago, we miss the larger impact of the event and settle for a singular and thin (although still exciting) experience. The western church (Protestants and Roman Catholics) lost the plot (a bit) when it came to the resurrection, but our brothers and sisters in the eastern church have preserved a fuller and richer experience that goes far beyond a single resurrection event.

The above icon is a lesson in the expansive and all encompassing nature of the resurrection. Instead of a solo triumphant Christ or a solitary empty tomb, the painter/prayer reveals Christ descending into the realm of the dead (often referred to as Hades) and pulling all of human history back to life. Christ is depicted pulling Adam and Eve (symbols of humanity's origin story shown in the bottom left and right) from death into life. Beneath them are the (now broken) locks that have kept the gates of Hades closed to those who seek life. Even death itself is laid to rest at the very bottom of the image. As you move up the icon, all of human history follows behind in this parade of life (Old Testament figures, Apostles, and heavenly beings). 

What I appreciate about this icon is that it's "in progress." And so are we. The resurrection happened, is happening, and will continue to happen. Much like Einstein's theory of relativity (time changes as speed changes); our notions of past and future become more present when we are pulled out of Hades at the pace of Christ. We are being pulled back to life all the time. Sometimes we notice, sometimes we don't. Sometimes it seems fast, and sometimes it seems incredibly slow – but Christ is always pulling. Take a moment today to look and notice that pull-to-life in the icon above and in the world around you. 

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About the Author

Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC

Visual Prayer - See the Love

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The resurrection of Jesus affirms the goodness of these bodies we so typically undervalue or misvalue. Dance is one of the most striking and visceral affirmations of the resurrection. In ancient Christian thought, dance is a frequent metaphor for how God relates to God's-self (Father-Son-Holy Spirit) and us. Take a moment to "pray" this beautiful dance that affirms (along with the Apostle's Creed) "the resurrection of the body."


About the Author
Isaac Gaff is the Managing Director of Worship and Creative Arts at Calvary UMC