40 postcards portraying images of Jesus Christ from through the ages and around the world.
Since the earliest days of the church, Christians have depicted Jesus in art. From AD 300 the familiar image of a bearded man with long hair began to emerge, which is still prominent even in much contemporary art. Images often reflect the ethnicity of the culture they were created in as well as the artistic style of the era. Every aspect of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and kingship have been depicted.
These postcards are a tiny snapshot of a countless multitude. There are pictures of Jesus from a wide range of times, places and styles, depicting his incarnation, passion, and resurrected life. They include two new artworks created by members of the St Clare’s community. They are designed to encourage people to think and to pray, in worship, discussions, or private devotions. They can easily be added to with other images. Most of all, they will, we hope, enable people to draw closer to the Jesus we are called to follow.
This blog gives a few ideas on how you might use this resource in worship or small groups. We are sure you will have many more ideas of your own. If you do, we’d love it if you could share them in the comments, so others can make use of a good idea.
IDEAS FOR USING THE POSTCARDS
This blog contains the following ideas for using the postcards:
- Who is the Jesus that speaks to you today?
- Comforting, confronting, challenging?
- At festivals
- In intercessions
- As prayer stations
- As inspiration
- In bible study
Who is the Jesus that speaks to you today?
Lay out all the cards on a table or the floor or around the room, in a way that people can see them all. Ask people to spend time looking at them and thinking about which image speaks to them.
After everyone has chosen a picture, ask those who would like to, to share which image it was, and why it spoke to them.
We have done this activity many times, and I am always amazed at how much I learn about people, and how it deepens my understanding of Jesus.
As a follow up activity, ask people to say or write prayers relating to what they’ve heard.
Comforting, Confronting, Challenging
Lay out all the cards on a table or the floor or around the room, in a way that people can see them all. In turn ask them to select an image in response to the following questions:
- Which image is comforting to you? Choose an image that makes you feel loved and secure.
- Which image is confronting to you? Choose an image that raises strong feelings in you. Maybe because you really dislike it, or it makes you sad or angry.
- Which image is challenging to you? Choose an image that makes you think about an injustice in the world. Ponder on how you might pray about this issue, or if God is challenging you to act.
Pause for a time of sharing or discussion after each question. After the third one, it can lead into a time of prayer or worship.
Choose an image for each section of the intercessions, to give a visual focus for prayer. In a small group the images can be laid on the floor or on a table where everyone can see them. In a larger group, they could be projected onto a screen.
Jesus, who spoke to the woman at the well, listened to her, and offered her living water. We pray for those who have been outcast from society, for those who feel unloved or alone. May they find you and be refreshed with living water.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”. We pray for those who are sick, grief-stricken, anxious or unhappy. May they find you and in your care be relieved of their burdens.
Jesus, who calmed the storm, we pray for those who live in fear of the storms of life that threaten to overwhelm them. We pray for people caught up in wars, natural disasters, acts of terror, or who live in oppression or fear. We pray for refugees and prisoners. May they hear your voice in their hearts, saying ‘Be still’.
Jesus, enthroned in heaven, we pray for earthly leaders of the nations. May the values of the kingdom be their guide in how they lead. Give them servant hearts, compassion and wisdom.
Jesus, who died on the cross, we pray for all those who face death this day. Bring them hope and comfort, as you did the thief on the cross beside you.
Jesus, who rose from the dead, we pray for all those who mourn. May they find strength and comfort in the hope of eternal life with you.
Adapt any of the above ideas using just the images appropriate to the festival. For example, use just the nativity images at Christmas, the Christ Suffering images during Holy Week, the Risen Christ images at Easter, or the Christ enthroned images at Christ the King.
As Prayer Stations
Create prayer stations with a selection of images at each. People could be invited to light candles or write prayers, as inspired by the images.
By journeying through Jesus’ life:
- Prayer Station 1: The Nativity.
- Prayer Station 2: Jesus’s earthly life.
- Prayer Station 3: Jesus death
- Prayer Station 4: Jesus resurrection
- Prayer Station 5: Christ in heaven
- Prayer Station 1: Images featuring Jesus depicted as black, asian or female.
- Prayer Station 2: Images depicting Jesus engaging with people.
- Prayer Station 3: Images of Jesus as the Good Shepherd
After looking at the images, encourage people to draw or paint their own images of Jesus. They may then wish to share why they portrayed Jesus in the way they did.
In Bible Study
Many of the images portray particular stories from the bible. Invite people to think about the following questions:
- Why do you think the artist has chosen to envisage the passage in the way they have?
- What does it reveal about the passage that you hadn’t thought about before?
- If you were doing a painting of this passage, how would it look?
These are just a few ideas of ours, but there are so many other ways you could use these images for meditations, in bible studies and for prayer. You will have many of your own ideas I’m sure. Please do share them with us in the comments.