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Stanley Spencer, Resurrection, Tidying (1945)
Stanley Spencer’s church cemetery visitors find themselves surprised by being found! They experience being found through a resurrection encounter with those who have gone before.
The resurrection of Jesus is not usually something we go looking for. The risen Jesus comes and finds us. This is the pattern we see in so many of the stories of Jesus’s first resurrection appearances to his friends and followers. The disciples and others don’t go looking for him except at first, when they go to the tomb. And even then, they are seeking Jesus’ mortal remains rather than his risen presence. He comes and finds them, just as he finds us, often in the context of fellowship. And like them, we are always surprised.
We don’t find the resurrection just as we don’t find God. Neither God nor the risen Jesus are lost, even if we may be. And so, we are found by both, and then we find ourselves as persons who have been found. This is instructive, for it corresponds with our apprehension of and encounter with beauty, which we also misleadingly credit ourselves with ‘finding.’ Really, beauty finds us. For our perception and recognition of beauty depends not on a ‘power’ that we possess to pursue and attain it, but rather on our ability to receive and recognize what is, and what is given. The same is true in our apprehension of and encounter with the grace of the resurrection.
Motivated by our sense of need, we seek to find something or someone to fill the hole at the center of our lives. Though it is a challenge for many of us, being open to being found by the Risen Lord not only meets our need, but can fill us with great joy.
Alleluia. Christ is Risen!
Stanley Spencer’s, Resurrection, Tidying, is one of a large series of paintings based on the theme of Resurrection, which span the years of his mature work.