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 Clergy Blogs

Thursday 4th May

Dear All,

Worship through image: Supper at Emmaus, Painted oil on canvas (1632) by Matthias Stom (active 1600-1651), displayed at the Museum of Grenoble, France


Reflection: Continuing to reflect on what it must have been like for Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus and then when Jesus later broke the bread at their shared meal, this picture by Mattias Stom makes me wonder all over again. Look at their faces… what does it say to you? To me it looks as if though the reality and wonder of who the stranger on the road actually is… but just before the joy comes… did the joy come? Or did they remain stunned? Let’s re-read the account and with Stom’s image in mind – imagine how they felt, what that meant to them and how their lives would change from then on? 


Reading: Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven milesfrom Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognising him.

He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?’

‘What things?’ he asked.

‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.  In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.’

He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going further. But they urged him strongly, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?’

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread. Luke 24:13-35


An art pros’ reflection on the painting:

What an atmospheric painting! The candle-light draws us right in. As a viewer, we are invited to sit at the table, between Christ and the disciple on the left. The painting depicts the exact moment when the disciples recognise Christ at the breaking of the bread. Both disciples are raising their hands in surprise and delight. The middle disciple is stretching out his left arm, to touch Jesus. The witness to this whole scene is the young serving-man behind Christ. He is holding a bowl, looking on with great interest. We cannot see what is in his bowl.

The dog in the bottom left is not just looking for food. When our painting was executed, dogs were seen to be wandering about the streets, without any master, and living on whatever they could find. So the symbolism for the dog here is that just as the disciples realised the True Master was with them, so did the small dog find his master in one of the disciples. Dogs in 17th-century paintings thus symbolise dependence and loyalty to a master.

Stom uses a highly three-dimensional chiaroscuro (strongly contrasting light and dark areas) that sculpts rather than draws the figures. The warm tonalities convey a sense of intimacy to which we are all invited. Just like those two disciples, we too can be disorientated and lost at times. Yet this scene shows that Christ will meet us and is present to us wherever we find ourselves. He is the light, just like the candle being the only source of light in this painting… illuminating the disciples' hearts and minds. 

Rev. Patrick van der Vorst


 Worship through music: King of Kings written (2019) by Brooke Ligertwood 

sung (2019) by Hillsong Worship


God bless,

Jane 🙏










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