Monthly Archives: April 2015

Helping Us See

As part of a talk I gave on Arts and Faith last weekend I talked about how the arts help us to see and right on the wall was this amazing collection of onions.  When do you really stop and look at an onion, noticing how it contrasts with the background or how the green shoots jump off at different angels?  The individual paintings in different light create this stunning whole.  Or, in another painting as a woman puts on make up we look into her face, which is tinged with anticipation and fear.  We see the insecurity of uncertain beauty and the desire to be accepted.

As I was thinking about this theme of seeing a few examples of how the bible uses art to help us see, came to mind:
“God is my rock…” – in what sense?  We are meant to look at a rock and in light of what we know about God and about rocks to see them both in a new light.  A more extended example comes from Proverbs 7, which paints this incredible picture of attraction to the wrong kind of person then the devastating effects:

My son, keep my words
and treasure up my commandments with you;
keep my commandments and live;
keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
bind them on your fingers;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
and call insight your intimate friend,
to keep you from the forbidden woman,
from the adulteress with her smooth words.
For at the window of my house
I have looked out through my lattice,
and I have seen among the simple,
I have perceived among the youths,
a young man lacking sense,
passing along the street near her corner,
taking the road to her house
in the twilight, in the evening,
at the time of night and darkness.
And behold, the woman meets him,
dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.
She is loud and wayward;
her feet do not stay at home;
now in the street, now in the market,
and at every corner she lies in wait.
She seizes him and kisses him,
and with bold face she says to him,
“I had to offer sacrifices,
and today I have paid my vows;
so now I have come out to meet you,
to seek you eagerly, and I have found you.
I have spread my couch with coverings,
colored linens from Egyptian linen;
I have perfumed my bed with myrrh,
aloes, and cinnamon.
Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;
let us delight ourselves with love.
For my husband is not at home;
he has gone on a long journey;
he took a bag of money with him;
at full moon he will come home.”
With much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
All at once he follows her,
as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast
till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
he does not know that it will cost him his life.

And this brings me to another piece of art :

My mamma done told me
When I was in pigtails
My mamma done told me
“Hon, a man is a two-face
He’ll give you the big eye
And when the sweet talking’s done
A man is a two-face
A worrisome thing who’ll leave you to sing
The blues in the night”

A Baptism Prayer

baptism bowlYesterday evening at our worship service I had the privilege of baptizing Isaac.  Below is the prayer I prepared for yesterday, though it didn’t all come out as I prayed with a wet and squirmy baby in my hands.  What a privilege to baptize my own children. 

Isaac Frederick Allebach, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. May all the blessings of God’s covenant of Grace rest upon you…

Living God, faithful through the generations, who is the same yesterday today and forever. You are the God who called Abraham our forefather in the faith. When he had no children and his wife was infertile you made a covenant, promising them descendants more numerous than the stars of the clear night sky. You said that in him all the nations would be blessed. And in old age, when hope seemed to fail you gave a son, a child of promise… Isaac. And the story goes on of Jacob, Isaac’s son, brought from a life of deception and ambition to the end of himself and dependence on you. Then Jacob’s children become the people of Israel who were enslaved in Egypt but you rescued them. By your strong arm you led them through the wilderness, brought them over the river Jordan into Canaan the Promised Land. You gave them leaders, prophets, kings and priests and in the fullness of time sent your son… Abraham’s heir and our great hope in answer to all your promises. O God who is faithful to all your promises we entrust Isaac to you. You knit him together in mother’s womb. You number every hair on his head. You see the beginning and end and from eternity you knew day he would be born and you know day he will close his eyes in death. We thank you for him, for the time in which he is entrusted to us his parents, your church, our family and our friends. We remember that children are a blessing from Lord, a sign of hope for this world. And I pray that through all his days Isaac will know you. I pray that by faith he would receive all that is promised in baptism: cleansing through Jesus, new life by Spirit, you as great influence in his life, and the church as his family his home. I pray that through his life he would be a man of faith who believes you for great things. Make a man of love with neither indifference nor meanness but genuine compassion and commitment that flows from you. Make a man of humility so that pride and self-congratulation would find no place in his life. Rather let him acknowledge you as the source of his gifts and graces, sharing and delighting theses. Make Isaac a man of courage who resists the pressure to blend in who lives for you and has a heart for the weak and needy. May he give his life to your Great cause and not insignificant things. Make Isaac holy. There are so many ways to go astray: money, sex, power. Set his heart on generosity, purity, and being a servant to others. If he is to marry give him a woman who loves you and with whom he can faithfully live through the years. I know you want to use us, his parents, his siblings, this church… do so! Work through us and despite us. Most of all may Isaac point beyond himself to your faithfulness. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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