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Posts Tagged ‘beauty’

Christ Pantokrator mosaic, Ravenna, 6th century.

Christ Pantokrator mosaic, Ravenna, 6th century.

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, will give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation that makes God known to you. I pray that the eyes of your heart will have enough light to see what is the hope of God’s call, what is the richness of God’s glorious inheritance among believers, and what is the overwhelming greatness of God’s power that is working among us believers. [Ephesians 1: 17 – 19a, CEB]

At my church, I often have the privilege of “hosting” one of the morning services. In this capacity, I welcome the people, introduce the substance of the service, pray for the congregants, sometimes lead communion, give announcements, and finally, release the people at the closing with a final word and/or blessing.

Today, I am touched by these words from the lectionary for they speak from my heart what I desire for you, my reader. What greater gift can I offer you than a revelation of God and an open heart to the presence of God in your life whose promises await you (and me)?

This week, on Facebook, a friend challenged her FB followers to define beauty in three words. One of the best answers I read was “Revelation of God.” That made total sense. For all things beautiful have their roots in the creative hand of God.

So, with that in mind, I bless you. I pray for you beauty and all the other benefits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control. What more do we need in this world to walk the Way?

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Here we go again. That’s all I could think about while reading this chapter where the current Patriarch (in this case Isaac) lies about his relationship with his spouse in the name of “protecting the household” [i.e. himself]. The story is  almost identical to the Abraham ruse including the same Philistine players. What’s the point?

Genesis 26:7
When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

In Wikipedia, a “Jewish Encyclopedia” article states that the parallel stories in all likelihood were used to dramatize and accentuate the beauty of the women involved. In other words, the best way to explain a woman’s beauty is through the machinations men go through to possess her or to be near her or to know her.

What is beauty? We all know, it is in the eye of the beholder. What do we go through today to be beautiful?

One of my favorite plays is the Rainmaker by N. Richard Nash in which a charismatic charlatan is able to draw out a young woman’s belief in herself and her personal beauty. If only every woman could see her own beauty and not depend on culture for approval or confirmation.

 

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What do you see?
Woman or a face?

I get a little tired of people treating Eve as though she had a “blonde moment” and impetuously grabbed the fruit from serpent (who was probably a beautiful creature and not some slimy looking snaky thing – I mean really, who would trust a talking snake?). And why is symbolized by an apple? She ate “some of it” … she ate the “fruit thereof,”; it could have been cherries or nuts for all we know.

Genesis 3:6-7a
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened . . .

But here’s my point. The interaction between serpent and Eve could have been over time. She may have even pondered what it would mean to “know good and evil” since all they knew up until then was good. They were, after all, made in the image of God who is all good. So, the draw here was the wisdom, I think, not the temptation to disobey. Personally, I’m a big fan of wisdom. We are even encouraged throughout scripture to desire wisdom and to ask for it. And for me, here’s the real loss. If Eve would have asked the Creator for wisdom to solve this conundrum, she would have received all that she needed.

There is some part of human that is still unsure of our place in the universe. Are we truly beloved of the Creator? I’ve made so many mistakes: is it too late for me. No, no one is unreachable. Even eating the fruit of the tree doesn’t kill, but there are consequences.

Adam and Eve experienced consequences. And so do we, every day.

When they ate of the fruit of the tree (whatever it was that the tree produced freely in the garden), they saw everything differently. Before, they were looking with God’s eyes; perhaps they looked within more readily and saw the beauty of all living things; perhaps they were able to communicate freely with God’s creation. But, upon seeking beyond the boundaries of God’s gifts for that time in their lives (who is to say they wouldn’t have received more and more later?), they saw something they had never seen before: Not God.

Now, as a follower of Christ, I am trying to teach myself how to see the old way, with the eyes of God, to bypass the “not God” parts of humans and focus on spirit within.

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What is a useful crop? I’m sure there would be lots of answers to this question depending on one’s point of view. Is my life producing anything useful? Beautiful? Memorable? Helpful? What is ultimately driving me? I am so very busy all the time. Maybe it’s time to rotate the crop?

Hebrews 6:7
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.

When I was a younger Christian (back in the day is the latest phrase — of course, the kids who use it crack me up, it’s hard for me to consider their tween lives as “back in the day”), I was taught a similar sounding verse from John 15:8, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples,” and that fruit meant converts. My fruit was supposed to be notches on my belt, the number of people “brought to Christ.”

But really, is it just about that? Or is fruit like the crops and what is truly important is that they be “useful.” Whatever I produce should have some purpose. Naturally, sharing my faith with others and the story of my transformation as a result of that commitment to the Christ is useful. But, there are other things: providing food and shelter for those who don’t have it or giving a family to an orphan, or guiding someone to resources they need to take the next step. These are all good.

What about beauty? Is art useful? Is music? Is drama or writing?

Too many people lose sight of the power of the arts and nature to feed the soul and to transcend circumstances.

Yesterday, I read in the New York Times Magazine about a young African American who grew up in the projects where deep poverty and casual violence was the mainstay of his life. And somewhere along the way, Ryan Speedo Green found the joy of music and now, he won an “idol” type contest by the Metropolitan Opera. Someone gave him this opportunity and it was more than “useful,” it was life-changing.

We never know who we will touch with our fruit but as long as it is nurtured with love and is an authentic expression of ourselves, there will be someone to eat.

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