View of Jerusalem, 
Painted by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804-1892),
Daguerrotype,
Photo taken in 1844,
© The Smithsonian Museum, Washington

View of Jerusalem, 
Painted by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804-1892),
Daguerrotype,
Photo taken in 1844,
© The Smithsonian Museum, Washington

Gospel of 21 November 2019

Jesus sheds tears over Jerusalem

Luke 19:41-44

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem and came in sight of the city he shed tears over it and said, ‘If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace! But, alas, it is hidden from your eyes! Yes, a time is coming when your enemies will raise fortifications all round you, when they will encircle you and hem you in on every side; they will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground; they will leave not one stone standing on another within you – and all because you did not recognise your opportunity when God offered it!’

Reflection on the Daguerrotype

Jesus shed tears over Jerusalem’ says Luke. He doesn’t just say that Jesus ‘cried’ or ‘wept’, no He was ‘shedding tears’, which is a deeply emotional state, showing the humanity of Jesus on full display. Luke also thought it important to report it and write it in His Gospel, so we, 2000 years later would understand and appreciate how human Jesus was. So why did Christ shed tears then? Well, He must have felt very saddened that the people in Jerusalem were so resistant to God’s Word… and He could see the disaster looming…  foreseeing the Siege of Jerusalem in 70AD when the Roman army captured the city of Jerusalem and destroyed both the city and its Temple.

When we look around us, at our village, our city, our country, our continent, our world, we can see so much disregard for justice, peace, charity, etc and I am sure we too would weep at times with what is going on. We might sometimes wish we could shake things up and get the Christian message through to people! But that is not how it works, or how God works. We just simply have to plough away in our own little worlds, make a Christian difference there, in a small way, that will affect a larger world, and that then again will affect an even larger world etc, until the Kingdom of God is built here on earth…

The photograph we are looking at today by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (what a great name!), is the very first photograph ever taken of Jerusalem, dating from 1844. The various photographs of Jerusalem which he took in that year, were only discovered in the 1920s in a storeroom of his estate and then only became known eighty years later. Strictly speaking this isn’t a photo, but rather a daguerrotype. Invented in 1839, this new, revolutionary technique of making an image, the ‘daguerrotypist’ would polish a sheet of silver plated copper to a mirror finish, treat it with fumes that would make its surface light sensitive, then expose it in a camera and further develop the finish…. Such as here, creating a very atmospheric image of a city which all throughout its history has been captured, recaptured, destroyed etc… a city over which Jesus shed tears...

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