|“Christa” by © Edwina Sandys|
You can find the full text of all three addresses by following the link over at Jesus in Love, where I first found this picture of Christa and these essays by Slee.
The illustration above is “Christa” by Edwina Sandys - the most famous artwork of a female Christ.
Sculpted in 1975, this amazing bronze crucifix has been portrayed on the pages of the London Times, Time, Newsweek, Life, and other major publications. It has appeared at respected galleries and churches throughout Europe and North America, notably a controversial 1984 showing at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Wherever Christa goes, the sculpture triggers debate on both ends as well as across the spectrum of understanding about the nature of God and the role of women.
Sandy’s “Christa” sculpture and the story behind it are included in Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ, and More by Kittredge Cherry.
In the following excerpt, Slee describes Christa in a poem.
I hope you find it as powerful and deeply moving a Good Friday meditation as I have.
" . . . . the female Christ figure is, itself, controversial amongst feminist theologians. Some consider it merely reinforces, rather than challenges, the stereotype of women as powerless victims of abuse.Nicola Sleeis a theologian and poet based at the Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, where she teaches feminist and contextual theology.
Others find it immensely healing, enabling them to realize their own bodies as the site of the divine, even in their mortality, pain and abuse. I leave you to make your own response, as I share with you something of my own, in a poem I have written exploring the identity of the crucified Christa with us today:Who is the Christa?
Every woman forced to have sex who didn’t want it
Every girl trafficked out of her own home country
trapped in some anonymous bedsit in someone else’s city
working all the hours men want to have her body
making a fast buck for her pimp
The woman you meet in the street with bruises all up her arm
which you don’t see because she covers them up in long sleeved blouses
and thick sweaters
(Harder to hide the gash on her face but make-up has its uses)
Every woman who is too frightened to go out alone because of what has happened to her in the past or what she imagines might happen to her
The woman sleeping in the underpass
in her makeshift room of cardboard
who wards off the unwanted attentions from the drunk two streets up
The smart young graduate climbing the career ladder
who can’t get through the day without shooting up
The anorexic teenager starving her young body
that is strange to her and she cannot seem to love
The classrooms of self-harming girls
The nine-year old orphan caring for three siblings all under five
in a shanty town in any African city
Her parents dead from AIDs
Every street girl and boy scavenging on rubbish tips
Every child working in sweatshops making cheap tee-shirts for Primark
All the women raped in war or, worse, forced to watch their daughters raped
Husbands shot in front of their eyes
Women who walk a thousand miles through a war-zone
with babies on their hips and children dragging along beside them
Desperate to make it to a refugee camp
where they might find food and shelter
Christa, our sister,
Christa, God’s beloved,
show us your face
where we have not wanted to see it
where we resist your presence among us
She also works freelance, doing a wide range of writing, speaking and retreat work, with a particular interest in women’s spirituality, faith development, liturgy and poetry. The author of numerous articles, her previous books include Faith and Feminism (DLT, 2003) and Praying Like a Woman (SPCK, 2004).
She is the author of the new book Seeking the Risen Christa.
She lives with her partner and two cats in Stirchley, Birmingham.