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Posts Tagged ‘painting’

silence-video

SILENCE

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Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence, first published in 1966, endures as one of the greatest works of twentieth-century Japanese literature. Its narrative of the persecution of Christians in seventeenth-century Japan raises uncomfortable questions about God and the ambiguity of faith in the midst of suffering and hostility.

Endo’s Silence took internationally renowned visual artist Makoto Fujimura on a pilgrimage of grappling with the nature of art, the significance of pain and his own cultural heritage. His artistic faith journey overlaps with Endo’s as he uncovers deep layers of meaning in Japanese history and literature, expressed in art both past and present. He finds connections to how faith is lived in contemporary contexts of trauma and glimpses of how the gospel is conveyed in Christ-hidden cultures.

In this world of pain and suffering, God often seems silent. Fujimura’s reflections show that light is yet present in darkness, and that silence speaks with hidden beauty and truth.

silence-and-beauty

Silence, Beauty, and the Shape of Christian Discipleship

by Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

In 1966 the Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo published his masterpiece of historical fiction, titled Silence. It’s the story of Catholic missionaries in Japan during the 17th century, of Japanese persecution and torture of Christians, of apostasy and love, and of a God who stays silent during suffering until it is time for God to break the silence. The novel raises profound questions about love and suffering, and, in doing so, sticks with and haunts its readers for years.

View this conversation with internationally renowned artist Makoto Fujimura, philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff, and theologian Neal Plantinga. Participants describe their first encounter with the novel Silence and then discuss the power of icons, the unthinkable forms sometimes taken by love, and the grace of God in history that gives voice to the voiceless. Fujimura also previews the film Silence, directed by Martin Scorsese.

Makoto Fujimura is a gifted artist and writer. In his memoir titled Silence and Beauty, Fujimura reflects on Endo’s novel, on faith in the face of torture, on the artist’s calling, on Japanese history and culture and what it means for Christians to be a tiny, historically persecuted minority within Japan. Deeply imaginative, brooding, and piercing, Silence and Beauty stirs the reader’s heart with longings previously unknown.

Congregations are encouraged to read Endo’s book and view the movie Silence produced by Paramount Pictures.

Silence Discussion Guide
The following questions may be used for discussion and further reflection:

Share with the group one thing that struck you as you read (or viewed).
What questions does this story raise?
This story is often described as “atmospheric.” Why so?
Who are the main characters?
Who is Kichijiro and what role does he fill? Is his defense of his actions plausible? Would we be like him if under similar pressure?
Why would a novel like Silence become an international best-seller, including in Japan? After all, it tells the story of Portuguese missionaries in 17th century Japan, and ends up making both Japan and the Catholic Church look pretty bad. Why is this story widely regarded as a masterpiece?
Could there be cultural or national “swamps” where the gospel simply can’t take root?
Is God’s silence in the face of persecution always a form of abandonment by God?
If the only way a Christian can save the lives of other Christians is by renouncing Christ, would it be right to do it? What if you only think you can save their lives (persecutors sometimes lie)? If you renounce Christ to save lives, can Christ “take it”? Might Christ even invite you to renounce him to save lives? Or is any thought along those lines mere self-deception?
In short, does Rodrigues betray Christ by trampling or does he follow Christ?
In general, should we calculate the possible consequences of our actions as the main basis for an ethically questionable decision, or just follow God’s commands, and let God take care of the consequences?
What moral ambiguities test Christians today? Have you ever faced a quandary? For example, with a difficult relative? With a friend who is betraying his or her spouse? On the street in front of a panhandler? How do you decide what to do?
What are some small, undramatic ways we ourselves renounce Christ? At work. In our political choices. In our consumption of pop culture. In our family systems.
Where in the world today do Christians face real persecution? What forms does contemporary persecution take?

Silence and Beauty Discussion Guide
Questions for groups reading Makoto Fujimura’s book Silence and Beauty:

What special angles of vision do the Japanese have on beauty? If you were to introduce the concept of beauty to someone, how would you proceed?
Is beauty a purely relative concept? Is beauty only in the eye of the beholder?
What might it mean to refer to the beauty of God?
What’s the connection between appreciation of beauty and faith in God?
Why are the Japanese fascinated with hiddenness, and what forms does it take for them?
Why is trauma so deep in the Japanese psyche?
Why are the Japanese resistant to the gospel (by contrast, for instance, with Koreans)?
What are our own fumies? What in our own faith are we willing to trample in order to fit into a prevailingly secular culture?
After he has become apostate, does Father Rodrigues still have a ministry? A valid one?

Silence and Beauty Exhibition

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Herman1

Bruce Herman (currently Lothlorien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts at Gordon College) is an American painter who lectures widely and has had his work published in many books and journals. His artwork has been exhibited in several exhibitions in major cities and all over the world (including the Vatican Museum of Modern Religious Art in Rome). For the First Friday art walk, New City Church brought in Bruce and his amazing paintings Magnificat. I love how New City is bridging the world of faith and art. Last year they brought in Makoto Fujimura for Good Friday (how ironic that both Bruce and Makoto have collaborated on projects). In fact I was just in the IAM studios last month in New York chatting with the staff about Bruce coming to Phoenix. Magnificat (Anima Mea Dominum) offers a glimpse into not only the story of Mary and Everywoman, but humanity and the beauty that can sometimes be found in imperfection. The Magnificat paintings are enormous. They are in the traditional form of two large altarpieces and constitute a sustained reflection on the life of the Virgin Mary from the time of her “Yes” to God at the Annunciation to the fulfillment of this “sword that will pierce your soul” at her Son’s Crucifixion. A group of us headed down to New City to be a part of the exhibition. I loved the paintings and enjoyed meeting Bruce Herman.

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Miriam, Virgin Mother: Via Activa
oil and alkyd resin with 23kt gold leaf on three wood panels
dimensions: 102″ h x 160″ w

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Herman3

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Bruce Herman gives a talk

Bruce Herman gives a talk

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Fun night with good friends

Me with Bruce Herman

Me with Bruce Herman

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Ecce Homo, 1871- Antonio Ciseri

Growing up, this was one of my favorite paintings. It is of Jesus Christ on trial with Pontius Pilate and it is entitled Ecce Homo or Behold the Man. Today is Good Friday and I attended a beautiful tenebrae service (Latin for ‘darkness’). The symbolism of darkness represents Jesus’ death and the hopelessness of this world. We read from Mark 14 and 15 about the hours leading up to the crucifixion. We left in silence to ponder these events and the impact of Christ’s death on us. It was a powerful service and the message was clear:

God showed His love for us in this: Christ died for us

THANKS BE TO GOD

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PALM SUNDAY

Almighty God, we are unworthy to come into your presence, because of our any sins. We do not deserve any grace or mercy from you, if you dealt with us as we deserve. We have sinned against you, O Lord, and we have offended you. And yet, O Lord, as we acknowledge our sins and offenses, so also do we acknowledge you to be a merciful God, a loving and favorable Father, to all who turn to you. And so we humbly ask you, for the sake of Christ your son, to show mercy to us, and forgive us all our offenses. By your Spirit, O God, take possession of our hearts, so that, not only the actions of our life, but also the words of our mouths, and the smallest thought of our minds, may be guided and governed by you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

WEDNESDAY

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

MAUNDY THURSDAY

 PASSOVER SEDER MEAL

The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in the Gregorian calendar.

The Seder is a ritual performed by a community or by multiple generations of a family, involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This story is in the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. The Seder itself is based on the Biblical verse commanding Jews to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'” (Exodus 13:8) Traditionally, families and friends gather in the evening to read the text of the Haggadah, an ancient work derived from the Mishnah. The Haggadah contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings and rituals, commentaries from the Talmud, and special Passover songs.

Seder customs include drinking four cups of wine, eating matzo, partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate, and reclining in celebration of freedom. The Seder is performed in much the same way by Jews all over the world. – wikipedia

Baby Judah

GOOD FRIDAY

“JESUS WEPT”

Why John 11? For the past several seasons of Lent, I have been meditating upon this account of three siblings: Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany. In particular, John 11:35 has become a central passage for me to consider in self-reflection, because an artist learns very early that creativity demands boundaries and limits to thrive. When I began on my recent journey to illuminate the Four Holy Gospels for Crossway publishing’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, I needed to find a thematic boundary. I was so overwhelmed with the grand scale of the project that I chose this shortest passage in the Bible—“Jesus Wept”—and that decision has led to many discoveries along the way.

“Jesus Wept” is, to me, the most profound passage in the Bible. After I gave a recent lecture on this verse at Duke University, Richard Hays commented on my reflections: “The Incarnate Word of God stood wordless at Bethany.” Indeed, Jesus’ tears make no logical sense, as he came to Bethany with the specific mission to raise Lazarus from the grave. He told the disciples his mission (and why he intentionally delayed his arrival, knowing that Lazarus lay dying) and revealed to Martha that he was and is the “Resurrection and the Life.” So why did he, upon seeing the tears of Mary, waste his time weeping, when he could have shown his power as the Son of God by wiping away every tear, telling people like her, “Ye of little faith, believe in me!”?

In my reflections, this “irrational,” emotional response from Jesus became a central means to understand the role and even the necessity of art in the midst of suffering—what I have began to call our “Ground Zero” conditions. Art, like the tears of Christ, may seem useless, ephemeral and ultimately wasteful. But even though they evaporate into our atmosphere, the extravagant tears of God dropped on the hardened, dry soils of Bethany, or onto the ashes of our Ground Zero conditions, are still present with us. Because tears are ephemeral, they can be enduring and even permanent, as with “Jesus wept.” In the same way, perhaps our art can be so as well. What seems, at first, to be an irrational response to suffering may turn out, upon deep reflection, to be the most rational response of all.   –  Makoto Fujimura

Link – The Father’s Cup: The Crucifixion Narrative


Community

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.The Crucifixion of Jesus. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The Kingof the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they

Family

took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one foreach of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,“They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did. John 19:16-24

Confession

THE FOUR HOLY GOSPELS  

Charis – Kairos (The Tears of Christ)

Luke – Prodigal God

John – In the Beginning

Mark – Water Flames

Matthew – Consider the Lilies

SATURDAY

EASTER SUNDAY

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

I heard a man say, “The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.” On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.

Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost- survival. On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new.

The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?

– C.S. Lewis, “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?”

Sing it, o death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead, He’s alive, He’s alive

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  

Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

Adonai  Elohim   The stone has been lifted from the grave

CELEBRATION

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 17:17  NLT

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

MONDAY REFLECTION

NAMES OF GOD

A faithful God who does no wrong

A forgiving God

A fortress of salvation

A glorious crown

A jealous and avenging God

A Master in heaven

A refuge for his people

A refuge for the needy in his distress

A refuge for the oppressed

A refuge for the poor

A sanctuary

A shade from the heat

A shelter from the storm

A source of strength

A stronghold in times of trouble

An ever present help in trouble

Architect and builder

Builder of everything

Commander of the Lord’s army

Creator of heaven and earth

Defender of widows

Eternal King

Father

Father of compassion

Father of our spirits

Father of the heavenly lights

Father to the fatherless

God

God Almighty (El Sabaoth)

God Almighty (El Shaddai)

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

God Most High

God my Maker

God my Rock

God my Savior

God my stronghold

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

God of all comfort

God of glory

God of gods

God of grace

God of hope

God of love and peace

God of peace

God of retribution

God of the living

God of the spirits of all mankind

God of truth

God our Father

God our strength

God over all the kingdoms of the earth

God the Father

God who avenges me

God who gives endurance and encouragement

God who relents from sending calamity

Great and awesome God

Great and powerful God

Great, mighty and awesome God

He who blots out your transgressions

He who comforts you

He who forms the hearts of all

He who raised Christ from the dead

He who reveals his thoughts to man

Helper of the fatherless

Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine

Him who is able to keep you from falling

Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead

Holy Father

Holy One

Holy One among you

I AM

I AM WHO I AM

Jealous

Judge of all the earth

King of glory

King of heaven

Living and true God

Lord (Adonai)

Lord Almighty

Lord God Almighty

Lord is peace

Lord (Jehovah)

Lord most high

Lord my banner

Lord my rock

Lord of all the earth

Lord of heaven and earth

Lord of Kings

Lord our God

Lord our Maker

Lord our shield

Lord who heals you

Lord who is there

Lord who makes you holy

Lord who strikes the blow

Lord will provide

Love

Maker of all things

Maker of heaven and earth

Most High

My advocate

My comforter in sorrow

My confidence

My help

My helper

My hiding place

My hope

My light

My mighty rock

My refuge in the day of disaster

My refuge in times of trouble

My song

My strong deliverer

My support

One to be feared

Only wise God

Our dwelling place

Our judge

Our lawgiver

Our leader

Our Mighty One

Our redeemer

Our refuge and strength

Righteous Father

Righteous judge

Rock of our salvation

Shepherd

Sovereign Lord

The Almighty

The compassionate and gracious God

The eternal God

The consuming fire

The everlasting God

The exalted God

The faithful God

The gardener (husbandman)

The glorious Father

The glory of Israel

The God who saves me

The God who sees me

The great King above all gods

The just and mighty one

The living father

The majestic glory

The majesty in heaven

The one who sustains me

The only God

The potter

The rock in whom I take refuge

The spring of living water

The strength of my heart

The true God

You who hear prayer

You who judge righteously and test the heart and mind

You who keep your covenant of love with your servants

You who love the people

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Village Market in Nairobi

Village Market in Nairobi

We spent the morning painting again. This time we had to paint some overhangs on the roof. I was the one that ended climbing up there to finish the job. It was a little scary walking across the beams. But we finished the job. We then headed to the Village Market in Nairobi for a last day of shopping. I got a slice of pizza at the food court. The drive back wasn’t a whole lot of fun as we got stuck in rush hour traffic. No lights and every man for himself. It was nuts.

Kenyan rush hour traffic

Kenyan rush hour traffic

The rest of my evening was spent hanging out with some of the younger members of our team.  We played cards and listened to music. I love hanging out with the high school crowd because it gets me caught up on what is cool these days. I’m kinda out of touch with the world because I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio. We have such an amazing group of young adults at Cornerstone. They love Jesus and they live for him. Very encouraging!

Late night card night

Late night card night

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Work Day

Busy day today. At chapel, Mama Zipporah broke the news that the head dean of the school’s  (Mr. Kwuaka) wife had a baby last night. We then broke into work teams for the day. The cement guys arrived to work on the sidewalk.  I led the team that was going to paint some walls. Then some of our girls took the kids with HIV to the AIDS clinic for their monthly check-up. There are just over 10 of them. It is really sad, but amazing how joyful they are.

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Jane, Amy, Micah & I ended up painting the room adjacent to the kitchen. They were mostly black because of the smoke from the furnaces. It was a challenge because of the kids running around us.  But we got our job done. Afterwards, I went and watched the cement guys work. These Kenyans do things differently than us. Watching the 15 workers mix cement, wheelbarrow it and pour it at a fast pace was fun. The thing is to let them do things their way. At the end of the day we had a long new sidewalk.
Making the sidewalk

Making the sidewalk

 

We are taking a break and headed out on a 3 day safari tomorrow. Should be fun!

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