Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Media Connections for Second Sunday in Eastertide

Our scriptural focus for this Second Sunday in Eastertide will be upon John 20:19-31--but in particular the first 5 verses, 19-23. You can read the whole passage here, but the connections below will be mostly to the beginning of the story.

A couple of pieces of art that imagine what the scene of Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit on the disciples that first Easter evening may have been like:

"Jesus Breathes His Spirit Upon the Disciples," by Hanna Cheriyan Varghese

"Appearance to the Disciples" by Ed de Guzman

I hunted and hunted for a movie clip I believe illustrates the power of Jesus' breath in a beautiful way--"The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. The movie doesn't catch the fullness of how Lewis describes this scene in the book, but you can catch a glimpse of it by watching this link I hope: 

Finally, in the coming weeks we will be spending time exploring the Holy Spirit together, this gift the risen Christ gives to us to be active in our lives and help us actively carry on Christ's work in the world. The scripture doesn't always give us a clear-cut definition of what the Holy Spirit is, but it does tell us--in lots of different ways--what it is that the Holy Spirit does. The Wordle below, which includes many of the activities of the Holy Spirit mentioned in the Bible, will be our bulletin cover for the next several weeks. Which of these attributes strike you as most important? Which are new to you? Which are most familiar?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

An Image for Maundy Thursday

Consider the picture below, by artist Lars Justinen, of Jesus washing the feet of world leaders. The image is of prominent world leaders from the year 2007, when this piece of art was commissioned: German Chancellor Angela Merkel; Tony Blair, England; Kofi A. Annan, UN; Osama bin Laden; George W. Bush; Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; and Jiang Zemin, former president of China. What does this image evoke in you as we prepare to remember Jesus' sharing of the last supper and washing of his disciples' feet tonight--and his new commandment for us to do the same?

Hope to see you tonight for Maundy Thursday worship at 7. For me, it is one of the most meaningful and powerful services of the year.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Media Connections for Palm Sunday

Our texts for this Palm/Passion Sunday are Matthew 21:1-11 and Matthew 27:11-54, which you can read here. The media connections below focus on the first text, of the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

My absolute favorite Palm Sunday song, which Jeremy sang for us in worship a few years back, is Andrew Peterson's Hosanna. "Hosanna" is not just a word of praise; it is a cry that means, "Save us!" From what do we need to be saved? Consider that as you listen to the song below. I hear "Hosanna" totally differently after hearing this song.

I have a poster of the print below that I hope to display somewhere in worship on Sunday (someone please remind me to do this!). It is “Guatemala: Procession” by Betty LaDuke. I love how often this story has been envisioned across different cultures in vibrant, varied ways.

Beyond art, reflect on reality. Look at these images of modern Christians around the world celebrating Palm Sunday in their context. Why do you think this story has connected with so many? What looks common among the various ways groups retell this story? What looks different?

In Ivory Coast, West Africa:
 In Jerusalem:
 In Krakow, Poland
 In Pakistan:
 In El Salvador:
 In Paris:
 In Spain:
 In the Republic of Georgia:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Media Connections for the Fifth Sunday in Lent

Our texts for this Sunday are two stories of resurrection: Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:1-45, which you can read here.

After reading these stories, here are some pieces of art, music, and story to inspire your reflection and thinking:

First, the wonderful illumination of this passage from one of my favorite modern works of art which I have shared with you all before, The Saint John's Bible. Look at the image of the bones across the bottom of the page. What else do you see in this picture? Why do you think the artist included these things?

This beautiful seriograph of the Raising of Lazarus by John August Swanson shows not just Lazarus, but an entire community wrapped up in this scene. What do you see in the people on the fringes of the action? Where are Mary and Martha in this scene, do you think, and what are their reactions?

The Ezekiel passage speaks of the wind of God's breath bringing new life. A children's book that really captures this idea is "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, which tells of Kamkwamba's effort to bring hope to his drought-stricken village in Malawi by figuring out
how to harness the wind to create electricity that can pump water. You can see a great sample of the book, which has beautiful language and illustrations, by clicking on the image of the book to the right.

Finally, one of the truest and most powerful songs I have ever heard about resurrection, by Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips; listen for the reference to the Lazarus story from John 11.