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Tag Archives | biblical

Calling all Lambs, and Bring Your Gifts!

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from Isaiah 40:1-11  (You’ll have to scroll down a bit to find the right verse)

JN794_Flock in the Promised Land

“The Flock Gathered in the Promised Land”

My daughter has been so over-exposed to art, she just rolls her eyes at the idea of any impending artistic event. There is one exception…she is fascinated with the way impressionist paintings can look messy and abstract up close, but then turn into a whole scene when you step back. I imagine the gift of prophesy is a bit like looking at Impressionism. It’s a step back from the seemingly disjointed mess of everyday life to reveal a larger view of God’s “big picture”.

Isaiah was a prophet who lived about 750 years before Jesus during a time when Israel was faltering and under attack. He may have been born with a gift for observation, but a vision of God enthroned with Seraphim provided him with the passion to use his gifts. His calling was to speak out against the moral breakdown of Jerusalem and advise Israel’s kings to stay true to the promise of God. Not that he met with much success. Rulers often have other ideas of power and righteousness. The kings were better at making quick judgements based on what they saw in the here and now, not going against the political grain for some abstract prophesy. Not much has changed. We’re still prone to impulsive behavior.

God offers a bigger hope to Israel and to us. This verse is about the promise of salvation for Israel in spite of Jerusalem’s suffering. I’m sure it must have seemed a bit abstract at the time. It’s hard to believe in a bigger, better future when you’re embroiled in pain and fear. But that was Isaiah’s calling..to give hope during the scourge. We may wilt and die like the grass and flowers, but God’s Word is eternal. His promise is to gather the “remnant” of believers like a shepherd gathers his sheep, caring for them and holding them close. Out of the mess of life, God promises beauty.

“Grace makes beauty out of ugly things”   — Bono

You can purchase this painting here.

Consider the Lilies

Lillies and Birds © Jen Norton

Lilies and Birds

Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from John 3: 16-21

If you’ve ever been to a football game, you’ve probably seen people holding up signage with today’s verse which begins: “God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” (who started that tradition anyway?) Think about what it would be like to give your only child to a cause, knowing he’d be harmed and killed. Military parents take that chance all the time. Abraham was going to burn his only son upon God’s request. Personally, I wouldn’t be so willing so I’m glad I’m not a biblical character. The point is, God went all the way. He gave all he could so we would not be lost to darkness.

My dad was a neat freak and a bit of a perfectionist. When he died, the priest who was going to facilitate his funeral service asked us what one thing would sum up his philosophy. Almost without hesitation, my two sisters and I said, “Never do anything half-way.” He wasn’t an easy-going guy. He wasn’t easy on us. But I guarantee if you hire me or either of my sisters for a job, it will get done and it will get done well. We’re not half-way people either.

God isn’t a half-way God. He doesn’t want us to be half-way children. I’m not saying we have to do everything perfectly. But we do have to try our best and practice to get better. Just in case we have trouble believing the teacher He sent, He gave us clues in nature. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air” and “Observe how the lilies of the field grow.” God cares for them, so how much more will he care for you whom he loves? Seek Him first and all shall be added.

The lilies know how to trust in Creation. The birds do not worry. But somehow, way back when, we stepped out of that Garden of Eden and became ego-driven beings. So in spite of technically having all we need, we have forgotten how to share and have become riddled with anxiety and insecurity. In controlling our environment, we’ve forgotten how to be part of it. We need a teacher. God sent the only guy qualified for the job…His son.

The Christian model is what I know, but even if you’re a follower of another belief system, you can observe the flowers and the birds. See how the flowers grow in clumps, supporting each other? See how they burst forth with all their color just before they die? See how the birds fly along the currents in amazing formations? We may still need to attend class, but they don’t need a teacher…they just know.

This original has been sold, but you can still purchase a signed Art Card here.