Scripture Reading: Genesis 9:8-17, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15
Sermon Series: Following Jesus to the Cross
Sermon: The Cross in the Wilderness
Preacher: Marc Choi
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“Christ and the Two Criminals”
Michael Dorr & Evan Schwartz
I have devoted myself these past twelve months to writing only sonnets so when this project began, I sought to represent Christ and the two criminals crucified with Him – not only their views but their very bodies -as sonnets. But one of the condemned speaks a mere nine words, while the other utters forty-two. Christ himself says just thirteen words and only to one of the criminals. Being that a sonnet requires speeches a bit longer than Luke provides, a daunting task faced me: how to convey their views while staying within the theological truthfulness of this harrowing scene. Being that I have often felt the rancorous defiance of one and the passionate yearning of the other, finding the voices of the criminals proved, in the end, less challenging than locating within my heart not only the incomprehensible state of mind of Christ Himself but also His unimaginable empathy at a moment of extremity that none of us will ever encounter, no matter the horrid end that awaits us. Even as he feels forsaken by His Father, he still asserts His faith and extends comfort (in my version not merely to one but to both). I also wanted an iconic work of art as a “container” for the poetry. Of all the Renaissance painters, none of their depictions of this crucial scene has moved me as much as del Castagno’s The Crucifixion. Although Vasari includes him in Volume III of his not-always-reliable Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, del Castagno deserves to be better known and more widely celebrated. I hope that, with the essential collaboration of my immensely talented friend and artist Evan Schwartz, we have succeeded. More importantly, we hope the words and image offer a new path to contemplating this station that often seems so remote to hearts hardened by these “modern times.”
Michael Dorr & Evan Schwartz
I am a poet, playwright, short story writer, editor, former publisher, educator, visual artist – and briefly in my early life a gravedigger. My project partner EVAN SCHWARTZ earned his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City and a Masters in Art Education from the Pratt Institute. Besides competing and placing in myriad juried groups shows from Florida to Maine (and of course, New York!), he has devoted a decades-long career as an art teacher in the New York City public school system. Currently, Evan and I are collaborating on three distinct bodies of artwork. Some of that art can be viewed at www.evanschwartzart.com.
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