Lift Up Your Eyes!

I love giving flowers on special occasions. It has been my practice to purchase a pretty rose or roses on Monique's birthday, Valentines Day and on our anniversary to name a few of those times during the year. For me, it is a celebration of the one I love and a way to "make artistic space" for something fragrant and beautiful in our house. I have been known to display these symbols of God's perfect creation a few days before the event so that we can extend the time for celebrating beyond a single day.

Art and artist can be misunderstood. A few years ago, a friend and I attended a faculty show being held in a gallery of a nearby university. The pieces on display were mostly of the abstract variety. As my friend stood before one of the selections and studied it for a brief moment, he turned to me and said, "Mike, if we had painted this, we would have had to make an excuse for it!" We both laughed, but I'm sure that the artist would not have been amused! My friend's point reminded me of the old adage, "beauty (abstract art included) is in the eyes of the beholder!" And it is true that there is an obvious subjective element to art. Some like it and others don't!

I read a serious article recently about the value of the creative arts for Christians. Dr. Richard Hays, Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, said, "Christians should be attentive to the ways in which the character of our community is shaped by the imaginative spaces we inhabit."

How often do we build our church buildings for function with little budget devoted to stained-glass windows, belfries, steeples or interior spaces decorated with works of art? We want gathering spaces for fellowship with each other, but we may be neglecting the art and architecture that lifts our vision God-ward.

I realize that financial constraints often dictate these choices. However, creating visual images, telling Bible stories, and listening to music are fundamental to our worship experiences. These components of authentic worship life lift our eyes literally and spiritually towards the Creator God  who has made us in His image.

One of the reasons why the observance of the Lord's Supper blesses us is that it touches all of our senses: sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing. It speaks to all of our being. We see in the supper's elements the sacrificial gift of God's one and only Son on Calvary's Cross. "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:27, ESV). What a  display of love! What a proclamation! We need to see more sermons!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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