Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Monday, April 11, Evening – Holy Week Day 1
By Julia Kelley
The Imitation of Christ
Read: 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
In 1500, Albrecht Dürer, the German artist and devout Catholic (who later embraced the Reformation), painted a self-portrait which now hangs in a Munich art museum. Dan and I bought a print of this work after a trip to Germany and have it hanging over our fireplace.
When visitors first see the print, they often think it’s a depiction of Christ. This may be in part because the pose that Dürer used for his self-portrait is used in numerous paintings of Jesus. The face looks straight out at the viewer and one hand is centered near the bottom.
No one knows what Dürer’s intention was, so art historians have many different interpretations of the painting. Our favorite is that Dürer, having read the Thomas Kempis popular devotional, The Imitation of Christ, was reflecting on the book and living out the writer’s call promoting solitude and self-reflection. Dürer completed his self-portrait after many hours alone in front of a mirror. Kempis describes love as “swift, sincere, pious, pleasant, gentle, strong, patient, faithful, prudent …” Art historians see Dürer’s original as so masterful it brings elements of Kempis’ abstract descriptions of love to something visible in oil paint on linden wood.
Thankfully, our own time of self-study doesn’t need to result in a masterpiece self-portrait. But this time of Lent is a time to think about how we imitate Jesus and how we show His love to others. Can we use this time of reflection to make our lives better emulate the image of Christ?
Dear Lord, help me to be more like you. Amen.