Every human being has a call to be a maker. This vocation is one of cultivation, of using the resources before us, alongside the talents within us, for betterment of those around us through partnering with the God among us. This is (partly) what it means to be made in God’s image.
This is part of the creation mandate found in Genesis. Many readings of “the beginning” focus on particular polemical readings, either glossing over or completely ignoring the narrative trajectories these primal texts put us on. From the onset of our story, we find a God getting down in the dirt – the image of a gardener on his knees comes to mind – hands covered in earth. Breath is infused into the earthenware known as human and he is told to get on with being this cultivator, this maker. In short: be a culture maker. This is not a solo venture, but one completed and carried out in community, as the Genesis story tells.
And so we find that our spiritual life is comprised of our physical life. Our vocation is a holistic one: the spiritual manifesting itself in the physical. The two are intimately incorporated into one. Proper usage of earthly materials along with the proper wielding of our personal beings is at the center of the spiritual life. We do damage to the Genesis story and in turn to what it means to image God when we set up false dichotomies between the spiritual and the physical. God is one who gets down in the muck, not who stands above it all.
True spirituality, therefore, is not a denial of or seeking an escape from earthy stuff, but is a participatory relationship with and resting in one’s interconnected place within all this earthiness.
This vocation is not dependent upon one’s occupation. The call – vocation literally means “calling”; same word as vocal – is to use and put forth objects of love. Love in the sense of making them with love for others whom you love because you know a God who does the same. Be it a plumber, teacher, or mayor; those employed, unemployed, or under-employed; the call is the same: creatively use what you are given and who you are to be a cultivator of love.
To be human is to cultivate love.
An example of these thoughts is found in the video of Master Penmen below. I hope you find it both challenging and inspiring as I did.
Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River
Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him
with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into his
Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly
confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy
Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
This is the text from the Gospel Lesson for tomorrow’s worship gathering at St. Andrew’s Anglican. In my studies for this Sunday I always read the appropriate texts several times over. From there I check things out in books, online articles, different blogs, commentaries, etc. It’s a good thing to know the proper historical context, narrative context (both in Scripture in its entirety and its specific book), any linguistic clues, among other details.
The image above is another tool that can employed. Wordle allows you to copy and paste any text you want in order to create a Word Cloud, like the one above. From there you are able to get a great visual display of the written text. The larger words mean they show up more frequently, indicating what the main idea/person/place might be. Now, this isn’t always the case, and it doesn’t replace good exegetical study, but it can help us imagine what might be going on. Hopefully, it helps a bit.
Looking for a local photographer here in central NY? Look no further. These pictures were taken at our house by my good friend Tom Harmon. These are just a few of the ones he put up on his website, so please check them out there. WordPress won’t let me put the entire pictures up because they’re too big. So for the full effect check his site, not only for the rest of our pics (especially the last picture, which is much bigger and better on his site), but for the rest of his amazing portfolio. Enjoy!
Here is a short video I made using paintings, drawings, and other artistic mediums. I believe that art, whether it be audible, visual, tactile, etc., taps into our imaginations in ways that text cannot. It isn’t that text is a less effective medium, but that the visual and audible open up new avenues of seeing and hearing things. They deepen our experience of written text and allow us to see how others envision things.
I hope this is a help in dwelling, partaking, and embodying the events of Holy Week. For those wondering, the music is by Awake! Awake! and is called “The Dawn”.
“Crucifixion” by Jacobello Alberegno (circa 1360-1390)
“Golgotha” by Sybil Andrews (1931)
“Trinity” by Domenico Beccafumi (1513)
“Jerusalem: It is Finished” by Jean-Leon Gerome (1867)
“I Tell You the Truth, Today You Will Be with Me in Paradise” by Macha Chmakoff
“Crucifixion” by Pablo Picasso
“Christ’s Cross and Adam’s Tree” by Norman Adams (1989)
“Crucifixion” by Salvador Dali (1954)
“The Washing of the Feet” by Flaminio Allegrini
“Christ Washing the Apostles’ Feet” by Dirck van Baburen (circa 1616)
“The Foot Washer #1″ by Daniel Bonnell
“Jesus Washing the Feet of the Disciples” by Tiffany Studios (Stained glass)
“The Washing of the Feet” by Corinne Vonaesch
“Entry into Jerusalem” by Giotto di Bondone (1304-1306)
“Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem” by He Qi
“Before Jerusalem” by Henri Lindegaard
“The Entry into Jerusalem” by Unknown Ottonian Master (circa 1030-1040; tempera and gold lead on parchment)
The Raising of Lazarus by Caravaggio
I preached on the text for this painting, John 11, this past Sunday, the Fifth Sunday in Lent. Here is a great visual representation of the written text.
How does this bring out our imaginations concerning the text? Where does it carry us?