St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Cheam
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St Andrew’s • Cheam
UNITED REFORMED CHURCH

Caravaggio Lent groups

The calling of St Matthew

You are invited to join a weekly study during Lent 2020, using a course created by the Revd Craig Bowman, our minister. It is based on Caravaggio’s The Calling of St Matthew painted between 1599 and 1600 as a way of thinking about the way particular individuals respond to the call of Jesus.

Caravaggio represents the event as a nearly silent, dramatic narrative. The sequence of actions before and after this moment can be easily and convincingly re-created. The tax gatherer Levi (St Matthew’s name before he became the apostle) was seated at the table with his four assistants, counting the day’s proceeds, and the group is lit from a source at the upper right hand of the painting. Christ, His eyes veiled, with His halo the only hint of divinity, enters with St Peter. A gesture of His right hand, all the more powerful and compelling because of its languor, summons Levi. Surprised by the intrusion and perhaps dazzled by the sudden light from the just-opened door, Levi draws back and gestures towards himself with his left hand as if to say, “Who, me?”, his right hand remaining on the coin he had been counting before Christ’s entrance.’

In the same way the positioning and actions of every character in the picture tell a personal story from which their reaction or response to the sudden arrival of Jesus can be grasped and understood.

Using this picture by a famous but extremely controversial artist as the starting point for an exploration of many different aspects of the Christian faith and the life of the Church, the weekly explorations will take different elements of the picture as inspiration for our thoughts and discussions.

It is not essential to have a great knowledge, or even love, of art to share in this time together, nor will the course be intellectually difficult. This might be the first time that you have ever considered taking part in such a study; if so you would be particularly welcome.

So please consider whether you can join in our course this year as part of the Christian discipline of Lent. It is not vital to make every week, so if you have to miss one or two sessions do not let this stop you joining us.

The five studies will be held on Fridays each week at 1pm, starting on Friday 6 March and finishing on Friday 3 April 2020, and all are most welcome. Some of the House Groups will also be using the material, and if you are a member of a regular House Group that will be doing so, then this will probably be more convenient for you. If you would like to join the course, but are not a member of a regular House Group and the Friday timing does not suit you, please let us know (advising what timing would be possible for you) and we will try and arrange something suitable.

For more information please contact the Church Office.

With acknowledgement to Alfred Moir’s commentary in his book published by Thames & Hudson in 1989.