Wind Chimes: 28 Feb 2013

Just then some Pharisees came up and said [to Jesus], “Run for your life! Herod’s on the hunt. He’s out to kill you!” Jesus said, “Tell that fox that I’ve no time for him right now. Today and tomorrow I’m busy clearing out the demons and healing the sick; the third day I’m wrapping things up.

Luke 13:31f in The Message

Sometimes the sound of the chimes is baffling. I wonder at both the beauty and the ‘terror’ of the sounds. How about you? What do you hear?

From the Gospel (Luke 13:31-35) of 2 Lent in Year C (RCL)

Warned, Jesus nonetheless continues on to Jerusalem, Herod, enemies, and death. And at the same time offers one of the most tender images of who he is and what he wants to do.:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings… Luke 13:34 NRSV

Once again, I quote Steve Garnaas-Holmes on Unfolding Light as he opens this vignette and invites us to enter more deeply into the life of Jesus:

Jesus, my man, my hope, my strength,
why did you have to go and say that?
[…]
Why don’t you be a lion,
roaring over her cubs,
why not a mother bear
nobody wants to mess with?
Why not be mighty? Why not last?
[…]
Why tell that fox, that fox,
his bullying eyes, his greedy teeth,
why tell that fox you want to be
a mother hen?

Please, read his entire meditation, You tell that fox, on Unfolding Light—I believe you will like the ending; I did.

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Image: L.Kenzel on Wikimedia Commons

Wind Chimes: 21 Feb 2013

As I listen to the chimes I hear a constantly changing melody. It is a delight and a wonder which leads to contemplation. And contemplation leads to remembering. What do you hear?

Do you believe this?

The original context of the question is a meeting between Jesus and Martha on a road near Bethany with both Jesus and Martha grieving the death of Lazarus. Jesus declares some pretty amazing things about who he is and what he has to offer and concludes by asking Martha, “Do you believe this?” (See John 11 especially verses 17-27)

His question is the one my heart hears over and over again, “Do you believe this?” On Sunday we heard these pieces of scripture:

When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; (Deuteronomy 26:6-8 NRSV)

[God says] Whenever you cry out to me, I’ll answer. I’ll be with you in troubling times. I’ll save you and glorify you. I’ll fill you full with old age. I’ll show you my salvation.” (Psalm 91:15-16 CEB)

And this puts me in mind of this confession of faith (which sets a pattern, don’t you think):

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…. (Exodus 3:7-8 NRSV)

And the question I heard Jesus ask on Sunday and the question I hear today is “Do you believe this?” Today I continue to work out my answer, how about you?

B Proper 20 Art for September 23, 2012

REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

The Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (“The 100 Guilder Print”)
1647-49
Etching and drypoint, 1st state, 278 x 388 mm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Click to open Web Gallery of Art commentary page. Click image for large view.

Related art commentary by Hovak Najarian.

Little Children Being Brought to Jesus (The Hundred Guilder Print), c. 1647-1649, Etching, Rembrandt Harmenzoon van Rijn, 1606 -1669

Commentary by Hovak Najarian

Related post B Proper 20 Art for September 23, 2012

In the Hundred Guilder Print, Rembrandt has combined several subjects taken from the nineteenth chapter of Mathew into a composite image. As a result it is known by several titles. Among them are: Little Children Being Brought to Jesus, Christ Healing the Sick, and Christ Preaching. In Rembrandt’s lifetime it was known famously as the “Hundred Guilder Print” and it continues to be known by that title today. As a masterpiece, it was first sold for a hundred guilder; a very high price at the time.

Mathew’s account tells of Jesus departing Galilee and going to Judea where multitudes followed him; many were healed. While he was there, Pharisees came and he answered their questions. When mothers brought their children to him to be blessed, the disciples rebuked them but Jesus said: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” A young rich man asked Jesus what he must do to enter heaven and was told to first give all of his possessions to the poor and then, “follow me.” Jesus noted it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. References to all of these subjects were combined in Rembrandt’s print.

In the center of this etching, Jesus is standing as he speaks to the crowd that surrounds him. At the far upper left a group of Pharisees are debating among themselves and to the right, the old and sick are trying to get closer to Jesus; one of them was brought in on a wheelbarrow. Others are coming in from the right as Peter (behind the pleading woman whose shadow is cast on Jesus’ robe) stretches out his arm to indicate there are too many people in the crowded space already. The rich man has returned to his camel (in the doorway); he is leaving because he cannot give up his possessions. In the central area are a variety of people of humble origins and differing needs. A woman with a child in her arms approaches Jesus (her foot is on the raised area on which Jesus is standing). Another woman (lower left) is holding her child’s hand as he reaches toward Jesus. The child’s dog is nearby. In this etching, Rembrandt demonstrates his remarkable ability to integrate and balance diverse subjects and to unify them in a single composition; the print is a superb example of his genius.

Note

Etching: An etching is made from a copper or zinc plate that has been covered with liquid asphaltum (an acid resistant ground). The artist draws an image on the plate with a scriber but scratches only through the asphaltum surface to expose the plate. The prepared plate is placed in an acid solution that eats into it and creates fine shallow grooves in the areas that have been exposed. The asphaltum then is removed, ink is pressed into the grooves, and the surface of the plate is wiped clean. A slightly moistened paper is placed over it and it is run through a press. The pressure pushes the paper against the ink and, as the paper is pulled away from the plate, it lifts the ink out of the grooves and reveals the image (in reverse).

Intaglio (Italian, from intagliare – to engrave): This term is used for a family of prints in which the ink is held in grooves beneath the surface of a plate. In an etching, acid is used to create the grooves. When making an engraving, the artist removes the metal directly with a burin. When making a drypoint, the grooves are created by scratching with pressure into the surface of a plate (this makes a groove but leaves a burr). Etchings, engravings, and drypoints are all intaglios. Although the Hundred Guilder Print is primarily an etching, it was easier for Rembrandt to use drypoint and engraving techniques when touching up and refining some areas of the plate after it was etched.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian

Long on Jesus

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings is the newly elected President of the House of Deputies. She has written an op-ed essay published in the Washington Post. I’m proud to be Episcopalian:

Episcopal churches: Short on politics, sexuality debates and long on Jesus

You decide

“Recommend books, poetry, music, movies, videos, and so on,” we tell each other on Sunday. Just last Sunday (5/20/12) Stan recommended The Last Week by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan. (It is available at the Rancho Mirage Public Library.) Here are 2 Book Reviews to help you decide to pick it up and read.

A book review from Spirituality & Pracitce

Marcus Borg (Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time) and John Dominic Crossan (Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography) set out to explore the last week in Jesus’ life against the backdrop of Roman imperial control. Their purpose is not to attempt a historical reconstruction of what has become known as the “Passion” or suffering of Jesus, but to probe the things Jesus was passionate about. The text they use is the Gospel of Mark, the earliest to be written, the most succinct, and the one with the most time markers for the week’s events. Read more.

A book review from Journey with Jesus

In this simple exposition written for a general audience, two leading New Testament scholars use the Gospel of Mark to explain what happened to Jesus during his final week. They use Mark because most scholars consider it the earliest of the four Gospels, the primary source for Matthew and Luke, and because when you read carefully you see that Mark details the last eight days of Holy Week, from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday. Read more.

Keep the conversation going: what is your experience with this book?

We pray for the gifts of ministry

On Sunday May 6th we heard “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” Last Sunday, May 13th, we heard “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last….” And today, May 20th, we hear, “[Father] as you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” The speaker in each instance, of course, is Jesus. He is speaking to those who gather around him—in every age—to hear what he is saying. He is speaking to us.

As the Sunday Morning Forum gathers (9am PDT) at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, CA this Sunday morning we will wonder aloud with each other what this means in 21st century America, in our lives, and in our common life. We will also pray for each other. Having heard something about who and whose we are and knowing that we are sent into the world to “bear fruit that will last” we pray for each other:

O God, we pray for the gifts of ministry. Inspire our minds with a vision of your kingdom in this time and place. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our eyes, that we may see your glory in all creation. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our ears, that we may hear from every mouth the hunger for hope and stories of refreshment. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our lips, that we may tell in every tongue and dialect the wonderful works of God. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our hearts, that we may discern the mission to which you call us. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our feet, that we may take your Good News into our neighborhoods, communities, and all parts of the world. Hear us, O Christ.

Touch our hands, that we may each accomplish the work you give us to do. Hear us, O Christ.

Strengthen and encourage all who minister in your name in lonely, dangerous and unresponsive places. Hear us, O Christ.

Open the hearts and hands of many to support your Church in this and every place. Hear us, O Christ.

O God, we praise you for the depth of your love for the world revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ. We thank you for choosing and sending us to reveal by our word and example your steadfast love: making some apostles, some  prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers to equip your people for the building up of the Body of Christ. Bless us in our words and works that your Name may be glorified, now and for ever. Amen.

Litany: The Book of Occasional Services, 2003, excerpted, p. 246, Collect, p. 237 adapted

I welcome you to join us (who have more questions than answers and who have love to share). Consider becoming part of the Forum. Have questions but can’t attend? I encourage you to leave your questions here and I’ll answer as best I can. ~dan rondeau

Expanding and refining our vision

Earlier this month I introduced you to Hovak Najarian who will expand our vision as we view Stan’s offerings in art each week. Not only will Hovak expand our vision but he will offer an experienced and educated eye to help us refine our vision as we enter the world of art. On the Third Sunday in Lent Stan directed our eyes to Rembrandt’s painting of Christ driving the Money-Changers out of the Temple. Hovak presents this additional information to help us into the art. ~dan

Comments on Rembrandt’s Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple by Hovak Najarian

Rembrandt’s painting, Christ Driving the Money-Changers from the Temple was painted only a year after his earliest dated work but it already shows his interest and ability to create paintings of emotional depth.  Like his teacher, Pieter Lastman, Rembrandt was particularly interested in faces and in “Money-Changers,” each face, figure, and gesture is a focal point of deep expression.

The art of the Italian Renaissance grew out of a rebirth of classicism (the art of the Greeks in particular). The Greek gods were sculpted with idealized human proportions and this idealization and refinement carried over into Renaissance painting and into the works commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church and wealthy families.  The art of Protestant Northern Europe of the seventeenth century, however, did not reflect the classic ideal and their paintings were less likely to be of Mary and child, the crucifixion, or one of the saints. Their figures were more like everyday people, not idealized images.

Dutch businesses thrived during Rembrandts time and he earned a very good income from painting portraits of his patrons.  Rembrandt also painted Biblical subjects of deep emotional content. There is realism in the faces of the people in “Money-Changers.” They are not men with classic profiles set in place for a lovely picture.  The money-changers’ faces show furrowed brows, mouths agape, and surprised reactions as Jesus moves into action. Jesus is not centrally located in the scene as is often the case but rather he is at the upper left side as though he just entered the scene and caused the money-changers to scramble.  He is not a handsome man with a sweet beatific expression.  He looks tough, serious, and his eyes are focused and intense.  The money-changers seem like real people in a real situation; the painting does not give the effect of a scene that is staged.

The facial expressions and sense of activity of the figures seen in Rembrandt’s earlier paintings gradually changed in focus as he became older.  Instead of movement, his figures tend to remain still with a sense of heavy emotional weight and feeling concentrated in facial expressions.

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© 2012 Hovak Najarian

B The Holy Name, Art for Readings for January 1, 2012

REMBRANDT Harmenszoon van Rijn
(b. 1606, Leiden, d. 1669, Amsterdam)
Click to open Web Gallery of Art Artist Biography and to explore other works by this artist.

The Circumcision in the Stable
1654
Etching, 94 x 144 mm
(3.7 x 5.7 in.)

Click to open Web Gallery of Art display page. Click on their image to enlarge/fit page etc.

Are you ready for another timely word?

Words are important. We use a lot of words in the Sunday Morning Forum. We hear a lot of words—from scripture and from each other. In Sunday’s Gospel account (12/4/11) we heard that John “appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4. Once again the SSJE brothers give us a word:

REPENTANCE

“Repentance is one of the essential words of the Scriptures. It’s found on the lips of the prophets, it’s found on the lips of John the Baptist, and it’s found on the lips of Jesus himself…. We’re almost programmed to expect words like hellfire and brimstone to follow, and sometimes they do, but we can’t avoid it or do without because it is one of our essential words—and practices.”

-Br. Kevin Hackett via Brother, Give Us A Word a ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) in Boston, MA (members are also known as “The Cowley Fathers”)

More on the word:

Repentance: A change of mind or behaviour; this may be attributed even to God in OT (1 Sam. 15: 11). It was demanded of the people whose repentance was often merely formalized in cultic actions and as such condemned by prophets as inadequate and empty (Amos 4: 6; Hosea 6: 4; Isa. 1: 10–17) and without the radical change demanded by the Law. The hope lay in the possibility that one day God would give his people a new heart (Ezek. 36: 26–31) and there would be forgiveness to all who repented (Isa. 1: 18–19). In the NT repentance is called for by John the Baptist (Matt. 3: 9–10) and is to be validated by baptism. The call is repeated by Jesus (Luke 5: 32) and sometimes Paul (e.g. Rom. 2: 4) and in Rev. (2: 5).

“repentance.” In A Dictionary of the Bible. , edited by W. R. F. BROWNING. Oxford Biblical Studies Online http://www.oxfordbiblicalstudies.com/article/opr/t94/e1610 (accessed 07-Dec-2011).