Monday, 20 October 2008

Works of Art

Ephesians 2:1 - 10
You were dead through the crimes and the sins in which you used to live when you were following the way of this world, obeying the ruler who governs the air the spirit who is at work in the rebellious. We all were among them too in the past, living sensual lives, ruled entirely by our own physical desires and our own ideas; so that by nature we were as much under God’s anger as the rest of the world.
But God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus. This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

I collect things, shells and polished glass from the beach; stone and wood from the woods; I pick broken jewellery and rusty metal up off the pavement, out of bins and skips. I collect phrases that people say, or that I hear on the tv or radio, or which come into my head at random moments. Once collected, they can stay in my garden corner or in a box, in my head or in a journal until one day when I look at them and see what they can become. A poem, a story, an icon, a sculpture, a book. Then I make it; and it is unique - I could make something similar but never the same. And the artist, the creative parent in me sees it as beautiful - a work of art.

Because it is a created object, it is not aware -no more aware that it is beautiful than it was when it was rubbish.

But what a surprise -when God creates us - out of stardust and a gleam from his eye, we tend to see the rubbish and not the art. We criticise ourselves, how we look, how intelligent, how gifted, how good or bad we are; and we measure ourselves against others - and often find ourselves wanting - wanting to be like them, wanting to look like them, wanting that image.

We, who are amazed at the scientific fact that no two snowflakes are alike, astounded at the fact that there are over two hundred species of cowrie, astonished that the patch design on giraffes is individual and unique cannot look at ourselves and see the wonder of God's work. And, seeing it, not want the work to continue. Because we are not finished - we are a work of art - we are also a work in progress. God's grace, God's inability to leave us alone because he loves us so much is always there, trembling to get at us, to help us live the life that he intended for us.

Paul gets this because he is aware; has seen himself transformed from rubbish to art. He knows who the artist is and how he works.

This is the Year of Paul in the church. Forget whatever you heard about him being bombastic, inconsistent, misogynistic, and listen to him - it's always the same message - God loves you, no matter what - God made you and he doesn't make rubbish.


1 comment:

Bea said...

It's true, isn't it... we often see what's wrong with us before we recognize the loveliness of us. Even as an artist myself, I neglect to appreciate the miracle of this life, my life. I don't know why I have so much trouble seeing it. ONce in awhile I get a glimpse... a glimpse is all I ever get. Probably all that I can handle in my state of mind. I keep thinking that what lies beyond this mortal life is so astounding, so bright, so beautiful that a glimpse is all we can deal with. Thank God I am not finished, and a work in progress. Thank God!