Trinity Sunday Year A

Art and Faith on Trinity Sunday

The Creation of Adam

The Creation of Adam (detail from the Sistine Chapel ceiling),
fresco, 1508-12, Michelangelo, 1475-1564

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” is a much-quoted statement that sometimes is attributed to Confucius, but this observation is neither completely true nor oriental in origin. The quote originated in America and gained attention from commercial advertising in the 1920s. In some instances a picture or schematic image may be clearer than a complex verbal description, but there are times also when ideas found in words are impossible to illustrate by means of art. The creation story in the Book of Geneses is far less than a thousand words, yet a single painting cannot depict adequately all of the events contained in the narrative.

When artists depict subject matter from the creation, they tend to select the more dramatic events. Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel excludes the third day when grass, herbs and trees were created, and omits the fish and fowl that were created on the fifth day. The frescos begin with God separating light from darkness and is followed by the separation of water from the land. In the third panel God is shown creating the sun, moon and planets. The well-known fourth panel depicts the moment God gave life to Adam.

In, The Creation of Adam, Adam is reclining on the earth in the relaxed manner of Roman river gods. His left forearm is resting on a knee and his hand is extended as God reaches into the empty space that separates them. They do not touch but there is a sense that in the small space between their fingers, the spark of life, like an electrical arc, has been passed from God to Adam.

An oval shaped cloak serves as a backdrop for God and he is surrounded by figures. It is in our nature as humans to make connections and project meaning onto things we see. A long-standing belief is that the woman in the crook of God’s left arm is Eve. Because God’s hand is touching a child that is next to the woman, however, it has been suggested recently that she may be the future Virgin Mary and the child is Jesus.

Much has been written about what Michelangelo was attempting to communicate in this painting and most of it is speculation. When an imaginative medical student saw, The Creation of Adam, the cloak and figures around God, brought to mind the shape of a human brain. From this, he thought it was possible that Michelangelo was intending to indicate symbolically that while life was being given to Adam, the gift of intellect also was being bestowed. This interpretation has captured the fancy of people who look for secret meanings. The suggestion that intellect was being given to Adam is repeated now even by tour guides at the Sistine Chapel. There is no incontrovertible evidence that a cryptic message was placed in this painting.

Hovak Najarian © 2017

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, great David’s greater Son!

The changeless Name of Love.

Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. 1 Peter 3:13-15 NRSV

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed! (Hymn 616 in Hymnal 1982)

In Sunday’s Epistle (5/21/17), Peter writes that it is noble “to suffer for doing good.” At St. Hugh’s we were emboldened to go out as those protected by the One who “comes with succor speedy to those who suffer wrong” (s. 2)—for “O’er every foe victorious …his Name shall stand for ever, his changeless Name of Love.” We seek to always dwell in that Love.

1
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed, his reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, to set the captive free;
to take away transgression, and rule in equity.

2
He comes with succor speedy to those who suffer wrong,
to help the poor and needy, and bid the weak be strong;
to give them songs for sighing, their darkness turn to light,
whose souls, condemned and dying, were precious in his sight.

3
He shall come down like showers upon the fruitful earth,
and love, joy, hope, like flowers, spring in his path to birth:
before him on the mountains shall peace, the herald, go;
and righteousness in fountains from hill to valley flow.

4
Kings shall bown before him, and gold and incense bring;
all nations shall adore him, his praise all people sing;
to him shall prayer unceasing and daily vows ascend;
his kingdom still increasing, a kingdom without end.

5
O’er every foe victorious, he on his throne shall rest;
from age to age more glorious, all-blessing and all-blest:
the tide of time shall never his covenant remove;
his Name shall stand for ever, his changeless Name of Love.

James Montgomery

Why I have hope for 2017 | ACNS

The Rev. Dr. Rachel Marsh
The Rev. Dr. Rachel Marsh

In a blog post for the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) the Rev. Dr. Rachel Marsh sets out “four things” that give her hope in 2017. I’m with her in being filled with hope; I especially liked “thing” #3. ~Fr. Dan

Was 2016 the year that fear and hatred won? Looking to the future, many people are filled with concern, particularly about the environment – a cause close to my heart. … We feel powerless – powerless to stop governments who say climate change is a myth; powerless to stop its impact on the most vulnerable.

And yet, we are people of faith. What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead. (Hebrews 11:1 Living Bible). We know what we want to happen. How can we be assured it will happen?

Here are four things that give me hope for 2017.

Read for yourself the four things that give Rev. Marsh hope.

 

What did Jesus look like?

Question: what did Jesus look like?If you close your eyes and pose this question to yourself, “What did Jesus look like” you would undoubtedly come up with an image.

A recent segment on Religion & Ethics elaborates one man’s research into the question. It is an affirmation of our continuing exploration of art and faith. Each influences the other.

Go to: Depicting Jesus

‘Homeless Jesus’ provokes debate on what it means to be Christian

I share a post that was among others on Religion News Service today. As I read the article I wondered if those with opinions moved beyond conversation/debate to action? It is a good question for me, and for you who read this. What happens after awareness? ~dan rondeau

From RNS: ‘Homeless Jesus’ provokes debate on what it means to be Christian | Religion News Service.

Sculpture of Homeless Jesus. There is room for one to sit and pray.

We have also brought attention to “Homeless Jesus” and the question persists: what will we do with this awareness? Our posts:

South African Anglicans respond to Archbishop Deng’s Challenge

On October 5th we shared the ACNS reporting of Archbishop Deng’s challenge to the Church. He was speaking to Anglicans in South Africa (and to all women and men of goodwill). The Church in South Africa has responded.

The Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul YakThe Anglican Church in Southern Africa has committed itself to form a partnership with the Episcopal Church in Sudan, with which it shares membership of the Anglican Communion.

The commitment to pursue a ‘partners in mission’ relationship was made by the church’s Provincial Synod, meeting this week in Benoni, South Africa. I

t came in response to the address given by the Archbishop of Sudan, the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul, who has been a guest of the Provincial Synod, and of the Synod of Bishops which preceded it.

Read the report shared by AllAfrica.com on 10/7/13

A challenge from Sudan

On Sunday (10/6) we will take a closer look at 2 Timothy 1:1-14 (the lesson appointed for worship). Among other things we’ll hear, anew, the Apostle’s exhortation: “rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. (vv. 6-7 NRSV). Overall this letter exhorts Timothy (and us) to continue to trust the God who has called us and blessed us and sent us into the world to share God’s love.
In the midst of this study comes this challenge from the Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ministries exist in both Sudan and South Sudan). It is a reminder that being Christian is not always easy and that trusting God is not always easy and that prayer needs to be concurrent with action.

The Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul YakThe Primate of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Most Revd Daniel Deng Bul Yak has challenged the worldwide Anglican Communion to actively help the war-affected people of South Sudan.

He was speaking in an exclusive interview with ACNS in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is attending the Anglican Church of Southern Africa’s Provincial Synod as special guest.

The Primate complained that the Anglican Church in South Sudan felt it was struggling alone and not receiving adequate support from other Member Churches. “People are just saying we are supporting you in prayers, but prayers must be followed by action.

“We need good education and health and there are a lot of experienced people within the Anglican Communion who can come and help us,” he said. “We need missionaries to come and set up schools and health centres in South Sudan. There is a lot that Anglicans can do to help.” (Anglican Communion News Service, ACNS)

Read the complete report of the Archbishop’s Challenge.

Let us add this to our Sunday discussion. Come and join us on Sunday (10/6/13) if you are able.