One of the first happy events of 2016 at the Center was receipt a wonderful gift of an original painting, “Doubting Thomas.” Painted in 1998 by Edward Knippers, the work depicts the disciple Thomas meeting the risen Christ as recounted in John 20:24-29. Measuring 6’ x 8’, the painting presents figures larger than life, compelling a response. In the months since the painting has hung here, we have seen many people profoundly moved by this piece of art.
A service of blessing was held at the Center on April 3, 2016, the second Sunday of Easter. Jim Krisher, our Director, offered this prayer of blessing in gratitude for the painting.
We welcome visitors to come, sit, and reflect by the painting, which hangs in the Resurrection Room. If your time is limited or if you are with a large group, call ahead to make sure that the room is not otherwise in use for a group activity.
Edward Knippers is a prominent modern Christian artist born in 1946. Based in Virginia, Knippers often works in a scale larger than life, as seen in “Doubting Thomas.” One of the founders of CIVA (Christians In the Visual Arts), Knippers wrote: “Like every Christian, I am called to witness to the gospel of Christ. He lets me do it with paint.” Knippers explains his approach this way:
The human body is at the center of my artistic imagination because the body is an essential element in the Christian doctrines of Creation, Incarnation, and Resurrection. Disembodiment is not an option for the Christian. Christ places His Body and His Blood at the heart of our faith in Him. Our faith comes to naught if the Incarnation was not accomplished in actual time and space – if God did not send His Son to us in a real body with real blood.
A book-length retrospective of his work, Violent Grace: Paintings from 1968 to Present, was published in 2015 and can be reviewed at the Center. Learn more about his work at edwardknippers.com.
Our heartfelt thanks go to Marguerite A. Ross, who purchased and donated the Knippers painting in memory of her father, Ralph Parker Ross, Jr. Marguerite’s father died on the second Sunday of Easter in 2o05; the Scripture reading that day was from John 20, the story of Christ’s coming to Thomas after the resurrection. Knowing of Edward Knippers’ painting, “Doubting Thomas,” Marguerite purchased it in memory of her father and with thanks for God’s mercy.
Her gift of this painting ensures that many, many people will be blessed by this work.
Loving and Merciful God,
Through the ages you have inspired artists to manifest your beauty and mystery in works of many kinds—sculptures, and paintings, and tapestries, and mosaics. We are grateful to you for the ways you touch us through the creativity of people who are gifted in various arts.
As your Christian people we treasure especially the many likenesses of your precious Son, our Lord Jesus Christ—from the earliest catacomb paintings to the work of contemporary artists like Edward Knippers.
Today we celebrate this magnificent work of his, which so powerfully draws us into the truth of the resurrection of Jesus. We thank you for bringing this painting to the Spiritual Renewal Center. We thank you for Marguerite Ross who has so generously donated it. We thank you for the ways you have already touched so many visitors to this Center through this work of art, and for the many ways you will continue to bless and inspire those who in future years will come to contemplate Christ though this painting.
May all of us, and all who shall see it, grow in love for him who here manifests himself to his disciple Thomas. May we, like Thomas in this painting, be awestruck at the Presence of Jesus with us. May we know, like Thomas in this painting, the feel of Christ’s hand upon our shoulder, comforting us and welcoming us into his resurrection life.
Bless this painting O God. Bless all of us who are gathered here. And we ask your continued blessing on the ministry of the Spiritual Renewal Center. We pray all these things in the glorious and holy Name of the Risen One, Jesus Christ. Amen.