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Banner Blind Jesus (960 × 320pBlind Jesus (No one belongs here more than you)  

'This is a Jesus who comes from a place of vulnerability, unaffected by the visual appearance of others.'

Rev. Alan Stewart tells the story behind his drawing based on the Last Supper.

A few months ago, I was introduced to a lady called Celia Webster, a member of the Church of England Disability Group. For several years, Celia has had a vision for an image of the Last Supper where people of differing abilities are gathered at table with Jesus. Celia’s daughter was born with learning difficulties and as a family they have experienced first hand an intense feeling of not belonging inside and outside of church; of feeling rejected, invisible, misunderstood, vulnerable.
 
In conversation with Celia and a friend, Jonathan Evens, that vision evolved into this image.
 
Blind Jesus
 
It’s an image in charcoal which includes the central character of a visually impaired Jesus, surrounded by twelve people of differing ages, backgrounds and abilities.
 
The hope is that it will be a nomadic piece, travelling from place to place, and that prints will be made to support charity and that resources will be created for use in schools.
 
From left to right:
- an empty chair
- a little girl with curly hair and a big smile
- a middle-aged man (a friend of Celia) in a wheelchair
- a male same-sex couple
- a young woman breastfeeding a baby, who is, incidentally, one of the twelve
- an elderly woman with her hand on Jesus’ shoulder
- Jesus; a white stick resting against his body, his left hand outstretched, scars of self harm visible on his arms
- a young man with Down Syndrome resting on Jesus’ shoulder
- a middle-aged man in a suit
- a young man experimenting with his identity
- a young woman smiling
- an older man, a rough sleeper perhaps
 
This Jesus challenges theological and Biblical imagery that equate blindness to sin or as something to be cured of. For many visually impaired people, their blindness is an essential part of their identity, finding stories such as our first reading difficult or painful. This is a Jesus who comes from a place of vulnerability, unaffected by the visual appearance of others.
 
Responding to the image, a visually impaired friend has written: ‘An image of Jesus who is like me makes me feel accepted’ … ‘I wish my visual impairment would be cured. But I am glad that Jesus embraces it’.

Writing about the piece, John Beauchamp, the London Diocesan Disability Ministry Enabler, himself blind, says:  ‘The depiction of Jesus as representing bodily perfection and physical ability has denied a vast swathe of humankind a direct connection with the notion of incarnation. The incarnation of the divine in human form has been restricted to a complete, healthy, fully functioning body and mind, and disabled people, whose bodies are incomplete or dysfunctional, whose senses do not interpret the world with clarity or focus, whose minds function differently and awkwardly, have been left in a marginal space.

 ‘Disconnected from the embodied Christ by their wounds and physical and mental impairments. Others have been excluded by the church; a church that has tried to own the embodied Christ and has attempted to limit who he is. The colour of your skin, the person you love, your background and origin. All these have been used to separate people from the embodied Christ and have pushed people into marginal spaces. But Jesus is the divine embodiment of all of humankind. Those who are blind and deaf. Those who bear the scars of their mental pain. Those whose bodies are incomplete or dysfunctional. Those who are black and brown and all the rich skin tones that grace the earth. Those who are LGBTQIA+ and seek to love with integrity and honesty. Those who are young and see the world through the innocent eyes of a child. Those who are old and see the world passing them by and feel unrecognised and unheard. Those whose genetic make-up destined them to possess a rare beauty and nature, but who are misunderstood and ostracised by a judgemental world. Those whose minds interpret the world in a way that others do not understand. Those who express themselves in ways that some find disturbing or frightening. Those whose feelings of shame and self-doubt haunt their lives and keep them in the shadows. This Jesus, this Christ, this Messiah, is all of these people and many more. The incarnation is not limited to bodily perfection, physical ability, or mental capacity, but embraces all that humankind has labelled as ‘other,’ as outside of God’s grace and love.

 ‘In this Last Supper, the marginalised and excluded and devalued are invited to the table. Invited to be with Jesus. To sit and eat with him. To find themselves with him and recognise themselves in him. To find that their embodiment is not a barrier but in fact their passport into the kingdom where all of our human diversity is redeemed and celebrated in a riot of joy and celebration.’


Ask yourself these questions...

What associations do we have with blindness?
How does this Jesus ‘see’ me?
Are we comfortable with a Jesus who self-harms?
Is his outstretched hand a welcome or is he asking for help?
I wonder why each ‘disciple’ has been chosen
I wonder if you’re uncomfortable with any of these guests and, if so, why?
Who else should be at this meal?
I wonder where you would put yourself in this picture?
Is the empty chair for you? 
What title would you give this?
 
Christ says, ‘Come to me; the tired and the traumatised, the powerful and powerless, the helpful and the helpless… for here you will be welcomed, for no one belongs here more than you.’

(These words are from Rev. Alan's Sermon on Maundy Thursday, 14 April 2022)

Purchase a signed print

Blind Jesus printThere are a few remaining limited edition signed prints available for you to purchase for £30. Proceeds to charities Wave for Change and Mind. Please contact Rev. Alan for details: h.alanstewart1@gmail.com





*Alan's large original drawing is currently on display at the High Altar in St Andrew's Church*

Glenys
Hello and welcome to St Andrew's. If you are new, we have a page for you to get to know us and learn more about planning a visit.
Click here to see more.

Planning your Visit

A Warm Hello 

No one belongs here more than you.

We look forward to meeting you! Here's some information so that if you're planning a visit you know beforehand what to expect on a Sunday morning.  We have other pages telling you more About Us, our approach to Faith and our Online services.

Where and When

We meet at the Church Building (details below) for our main Sunday Service starting at 10.30am. For your first visit, we recommend arriving 10-15 minutes early to ensure you find a parking space and can settle in before the service begins. When you arrive, you should be greeted by someone on our Welcome Team who will be wearing a Welcome Badge.

Plan your journey:
While, unfortunately, St Andrew's does not have its own carpark, there is a council-run pay and display carpark a short distance along St Andrew Street, to the east of the church; there is no charge for parking in this carpark on Sundays, but please check for charges on other days.

This is a useful East Herts Council website page for full details of parking in Hertford.

There are single yellow lines outside the church with parking restrictions, but some 30-minute parking bays are situated on the opposite side of the road for short stays (longer on Sundays).

Open Google Maps

Accessibility: There is wheelchair access, and a sound loop for anyone who needs it. Please let one of the Welcome Team know on your arrival and they will help you to get set up. There is a disabled toilet towards the back of the church, behind the kitchen.

Our Service

The service will usually begin promptly at 10.30am and will last between 60 and 75 minutes. We enjoy the presence of an excellent choir who help us sing hymns (modern and traditional) as well as provide anthems and special songs through the period of communion. We have a traditional organ but also benefit from music played on the piano and by our band (eg on the Second Sunday of each month when we have an All-Age Service in which our children and young people are fully involved).

Each 10.30am service includes a sermon, prayers and eucharist.

After the service, everyone is invited for coffee and conversation - some like to stay for a  quick chat while others remain in the church for a longer time.

Communion

Children and Young People

We have a great programme lined up for our children. This is organised by our Family, Children and Youth Worker, Tracy Plumpton, who is always delighted to welcome new faces. Those arriving before their first service at St Andrew’s can ask to see Tracy or one of the other leaders.

We really value worshipping God together as a family, so children stay with their parent or grown-up at the start of the service before being invited to leave for the young people's activities after the first hymn. You will need to go with your children to their groups and register them as part of our child safety policy.

The children and young people then return to the main service in time to join the eucharist and, if confirmed, take Holy Communion or, if not, receive a blessing. We offer a grape or a little box of raisins to children being blessed at the altar.

There is a Children's Corner in church where you can go at any time. You will find books, toys and drawing materials there.

Toilet and baby-change facilities are located at the back of church, behind the kitchen.

Junior Church celebration

Getting Connected


Home Groups

While Sundays are a great way to meet new people, it is often in smaller gatherings that you can really get to know someone. Being part of one of our small groups allows you to make new friends, share together and support each other. We have a variety of groups that meet throughout the week. Check out Home Groups on our website and see if there’s one that you could join. Alternatively, speak to a member of the Welcome Team who will give you the information that you need.

Serving and Volunteering

If you want to get involved in the life of the church and help us make Sundays run smoothly, you can sign up to serve on a team. Please contact Phil in the Church Office.

SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS DURING THE PANDEMIC:
What we describe above reflects our normal practice on Sunday mornings. However, since March 2020 we have had to adopt new ways of organising ourselves - here you'll find the most up-to-date guidance about Worshipping inside church.
 
Get in touch with us
If you have any questions, please do get in touch. You'll find our contact details here.

We hope that you will feel at home at our church.