Picturing Jesus

Micro-church Reflection and Discussion

Week of December 12th

Picturing Jesus

No video this week! A biblical text, art and questions will guide your reflection and discussion on the story of Jesus’ flight to Egypt from Matthew 2:13-23. For micro-churches that have kids or teenagers, reflecting on this piece of art is a great way to invite/engage discussion. There are no wrong answers to these questions! (Thanks to Cisca Ireland-Verwoerd for the material she provided.)

Read Matthew 2:13-23 (Flight to Egypt) aloud slowly.

This event takes place soon after Jesus is born and has a dark quality to it—not exactly full of Christmas “comfort and joy”. For this reason, it is not often the subject of sermons or Bible studies, though this story reflects the current experience of an estimated 11-12 million refugees worldwide who are forced to flee their homes due to political instability or persecution.

What part of the story strikes you as you read?

Background Info to Art and Artist

Contemporary artist He Qi (pronounced Huh Chee) grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). In order to escape hard labor in the fields, he started painting Mao portraits. One day he saw Rafael’s painting of Madonna and Child in an old art magazine and was immediately drawn to the peaceful smile of Jesus’ mother, leading to his interest in Christianity.

“The Flight to Egypt” (1951) is a semi-abstract painting where people, animals and elements of the landscape are recognizable, but not realistically painted. Feelings and meaning are conveyed through line, colour and shape.

Take time to quietly reflect on the painting accessible here.

If you like, play this song while you reflect. Click here or next column.

After reflecting, share with one another brief responses to these prompts:

  • Overall Mood of the painting?
  • Most striking feature?
  • A Detail you notice but don’t yet understand?

Choose a few Individual elements below to discuss, or just allow your group discussion to generate more questions and observations. Whatever you decide, end with the questions at the very bottom.

Lines

Notice the several straight, black lines that cross the painting from side to side, or that stop or start at the intersection with another line.

  • What kind of emotion do these evoke?
  • What significance might they have?
  • One line cuts the painting in two almost equal but asymmetrical parts, running from the top left of Jesus’ face to the right bottom of Mary’s skirt. What might this point to?

Colours

Consider the artist’s choice of colours.

  • What do you associate them with? Perhaps another kind/style of art?

 

Specific Details

  • How many details can you see and why do you think the artist included them?

 

Figures

  • What are your impressions of each figure (including animals) in the painting?
  • What do shape, posture indicate about emotional state, or place in the story?
  • Can you spot how the cross is reflected in one figure’s posture?
  • How does the artists’s depiction of Jesus reflect the difference between him and the rest of the figures in the scene?

Final Questions

  • What part of the story or the painting speaks to you the most?
  • Do you sense an invitation from God as a result of your time of discussion/reflection?
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