The significance of Holy Week is often lost in the hustle of egg hunts and search to find the best dress for Easter Sunday.
Triangle Community Church aims to bring Christians back to the raw reality of the final days of Jesus Christ through paintings.
The idea to create artwork that portrays Christ’s final week came from church member Richard Dobbs. He had seen something similar a few years ago at a church he was visiting and liked the concept.
“It’s easier for me to create a painting that tells the story of how Christ died,” said Dobbs, a graphic designer who lives in Holly Springs.
I went to Triangle Community Church’s Maundy Thursday service on March 24 to learn more about the effort. It is stunning to walk through the gallery of paintings that begins with a humble man riding on a donkey and ends with Christ’s triumphant departure out of the tomb.
The paintings range in size from about 12-by-18 inches to 15-by-24 feet. It’s impossible to see the artwork and not have conversations with others about Christ.
There were six paintings created by Dobbs and Jeff McSwain, another TCC member, the first year the church held a Passion Week art show. “We wanted to capture the main events in Christ’s last week,” Dobbs said.
Aaron Leeds, the church’s worship and creative arts pastor, supported the art gallery efforts by making the large canvas frames and directing a commemorative service to tell the story of Christ’s final week through scripture reading and music.
“The art team gives a sense of rawness to help the truth come to life,” Leeds said. “The Maundy Thursday Service includes somber, thoughtful music to help the Bible come to life.”
The music for the service comes from old hymns set to more contemporary melodies that includes banjos and electric guitars. Leeds sings and plays keyboard. Dobbs plays percussion using djembes, congas and bongos.
The musicians and scripture readers were on a stage in the center of the sanctuary. This allowed seating for 550. It also made it possible for a cross to be on the larger stage. Participants have the opportunity to nail confessions of sins on the cross as a symbol of how Christ felt the weight of all sins, past, present and future when he died.
Twenty-two paintings by eight artists were part of this year’s gallery that also was open on Good Friday.
The smaller works of art were completed by teens, including Isabella Dobbs, who created a scene depicting Matthew 26:34, “Jesus said to him, ‘Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.’ ”
Isabella Dobbs, 14, always helps with the Holy Week events. It would be hard for her not to because her father turns their garage into an art studio. Leeds delivers the artwork to the Dobbs’ home where the art team is invited to paint their designs.
The artists are given the freedom to choose the scenes and often get caught up with the pain and suffering Christ had in his final days.
“I got the idea for the rooster painting when I read the passage in Matthew and realized the church didn’t have that scene yet,” Isabella Dobbs said.
“Richard stood on a 6-foot ladder to paint the largest work of Christ leaving the tomb,” Leeds said. “He wept when it was completed.”
The artwork is stored in a temperature-controlled unit, making it possible for the church to build on the collection each year.
Christ gave his life in a way that even today seems beyond reason. It was a self-sacrificing, humble and radical way. As we look at the events unfolding in our world that seem to divide and be overflowing with anger toward those we are called to serve, we need churches like Triangle Community Church to remind us of Christ’s radical love.
Triangle Community Church is on 4216 Kildaire Farm Road in Apex. The church is non-denominational and started in 1992. The Sunday morning worship services are at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. and have free coffee, donuts, bagels and juice. More information is at www.tcc.org