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‘Stations of the Cross’ highlights Holy Week at FUMC

By Kay S. Pedrotti Barnesville First United Methodist Church will again present ‘Stations of the Cross’ during the Holy Week before Easter Sunday, with the work of area artists and devotions by columnist and editor Mike Ruffin. The exhibit will be open to the public Tuesday, April 16 through Friday, April 19, from 3 to 7 p.m. and on Saturday, April 20 from 9 a.m. to noon. The Rev. Cyndi McDonald, pastor of FUMC, says the event is a way of connecting art and Scripture. She added she is ‘amazed by the way each artist’s different gifts uniquely contribute to the story of Jesus’s path to the cross, and the resurrection.’ Palm branches will be shown in the Palm Sunday station, celebrating Jesus’s welcome by the crowds in Jerusalem. Alan Stecker has created a digital abstract printed on canvas, called ‘Praying in the Garden,’ depicting faces and angels in a vibrant and haunting way. He has another abstract in the event, a phenomenal portrayal of Jesus’s words, ‘I thirst,’ from the cross, originally titled ‘Night Fears.’ Stecker says his mission in art is to ‘create a mirror reflecting our human drama and condition ‘“ I discover unique and compelling imagery in the ‘painted confusion’ of life.’ Bambi Rogers used non-traditional methods to portray ‘Jesus Before the Sanhedrin.’ It is painted ‘with all lines converging on Jesus, in a pearlescent glowing paint for emphasis on him.’ She used a ‘cold wax technique to give it the feeling and emotion of that time period.’ Rogers describes painting for Stations of the Cross as ‘an honor, and a special experience for me to be asked to paint with love and passion for this event.’ Dr. Lee Woodall’s clay sculpture of a frightened and shamed Peter, after denying his Lord, speaks volumes to reflect how the disciple must have felt. Eleanor Dixon Stecker also has two paintings in the event: Jesus mocked and whipped by the Roman soldiers, and on the cross. In the crucifixion painting, there are rabbis, the women, soldiers and the two thieves surrounding the dying man. She said, ‘Like many others, I don’t like to dwell on pain and suffering, but these works depend on empathy with Jesus.’ Pontius Pilate is shown by Andrew Patrick Henry to be seriously concerned with what happens to Jesus. Henry calls the painting ‘I Find in Him No Fault at All ‘“ Take and Judge Him According to Your Law.’ Henry adds, ‘In John 19:11, Jesus places Pilate in a role that a Roman governor would never accept ‘“ ‘thou couldst have no power at all over me, except it be given thee from above; he that delivered me to you hath the greater sin.” The Rev. Theresa Coleman’s painting of Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross also depicts Jesus, exhausted, leaning on the cross. The effect is that Simon is carrying the Lord also. Coleman is a pastor in Lawrenceville. Artist Mary Thomas of Griffin has painted a beautiful depiction of one woman who represents those who met Jesus. The event will again offer a large wooden cross for visitors to write down and ‘nail their sins to the cross’ as evidence of faith in Jesus. An anonymous metalsmith offered a cross over a heart shape, and crossed nails. Photographer Bill Chamberlain of Pike County has entered an image of Christ on the cross from a graveyard in Charleston. He says his work centers around landscapes, architecture and spiritual themes. It is the first time the photo has been shown to the public, he added. Pat Burns of Forsyth’s sculpture of Mary Magdalene after finding the tomb empty shows her holding a bowl for the spices with which the women had planned to anoint Jesus’s body. She based the sculpture on an art work by John Coleman and worked with a live model. Burns said she took ‘artistic liberties’ to ‘make my sculpture more mature than the model ‘¦ I stopped refining as soon as the emotional content reached my goal.’ Local artist Sheila Starling Shell submitted her painting of a draped cross beside the lake where she and John Sell live in Lamar County. The cross was the locale for their wedding vows, spoken some 16 years after they lost track of each other. The scarf around the cross was purchased when Sheila was moving back to Georgia. She says, ‘The cross meant a new beginning for us, trusting our Lord and Savior. I named my painting ‘There’s Room at the Cross,’ because God is the God of second chances; we will never forget what Jesus did for us on the cross.’ Also in the Easter, Christ risen, section is a poem by Gisele Williams, 13, a student at Lamar County Middle School. She entitled the poem ‘Who Is He?’ and writes as if she is explaining the sacrifice of Jesus to one who does not understand. She will read the poem to the congregation of her church, Tabernacle of Joy in Griffin, on Easter Sunday. Jo Yancey’s ‘Painting with Paper’ collage, she says, ‘is a visual inspiration for me, believing God’s amazing gifts ‘“ love, hope and the promise of Our Lord risen for all mankind on the third day, Easter Sunday. Many sunrise services are held on that Sunday, but for me, every sunrise makes me remember that sacrifice with great gratitude.’ Writer/pastor/editor Mike Ruffin has provided devotional messages to go with each depiction. His writings are powerful, thought-provoking and filled with all the reasons for keeping one’s faith with the Lord. He said that ‘doing something like this, looking at the art work, makes me think more deeply about all of it.’

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