It seems that so much in life, particularly in the work of the church, revolves around the glorious essence of a ground bean that has been steeped in hot water. Coffee is what makes much of the world go round. It brings warmth and energy to our bodies and life to events and parties.
Some of us cannot function without at least one cup in the morning. Even if we can make it out the door dressed and ready, our day hasn’t started without a stop by our favorite spot for coffee, or a good cup from our favorite mug at home.
I believe that the way that one takes their coffee is a matter of pride, preference, and passion. I personally tend to take mine black. I am a purist. I don’t often waste time or calories with creams, sugars, and syrups. When I first began drinking coffee, it had to taste like a candy bar in order for me to even think of drinking it. I wasn’t fond of the taste or the smell of coffee, and I couldn’t understand how or why other people drank it. As I continued to work through meetings and counseling sessions as a youth minister and church staff member, it became more and more clear that coffee was going to be a necessary evil. Somehow,
Somehow, coffee was able to work its hooks into me, and before long I was drinking it black and by the pot full.
No matter how you take your coffee or if it’s tea or cocoa that you prefer, I believe that one thing that we can all agree on is that there is something special about holding that cup of hot delicious goodness that brings us together, keeps us going, and motivates us all throughout our busy lives.
May your weeks be short, and your coffee be strong.
Shalom, Y’all –
I love this representation that Chris painted of the story of Mary and Martha in this painting. As I have contemplated the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other prominent women figures in my life, I have noticed when each of them demonstrated the tendency to be more of a “Mary” or a “Martha” at times.
As I look at this painting, I find it almost comical. The style in which Chris painted is to me very reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s work. Martha is seen draped over the open refrigerator door, red-faced and trying to collect herself from the business of hosting the party. You can almost see her internal dialogue going off. “Ok, devilled eggs, tea sandwiches, the olive tray is full, the vegetables will be done in 4 minutes, the meat is resting…do we have enough ice? Mary, I could really use a hand here!”
Mary is intently studying, reflecting, and taking notes on everything that Jesus is saying. Her smile suggests that she is absolutely captivated by Jesus’ words and could care less about making sure that the food and the details are all taken care of. The company is her only concern.
I believe that it takes both types of people at different times to keep events going and to make sure that things get done. I know that Martha gets a bad reputation, but without the Marthas of this world, none of us would have tea sandwiches, olive trays, or the vegetables with our dinner. Mary’s exist to remind us to stop and enjoy fellowship, to sit at Jesus’ feet and to keep our eyes and mind on the things that truly matter in the grand scheme of life.
This picture speaks to me on many levels. Are you more inclined to feel like a Mary or a Martha? Why…
Shalom, Y’all –
Loneliness and shame are two very powerful emotions. I would imagine that in the hours after Jesus was taken and arrested, all of the disciples ran the gamut of emotions. The Gospels focus particularly on Peter during these hours. Known to be outspoken about his faith and devotion to Christ, Peter resorts to hiding on the fringes and denying even knowing Jesus three times just as the Master had predicted that he would.
It would seem that this Peter, who knew what it felt like to walk on the waves alongside Jesus, might have fallen the hardest. How could he have allowed himself to sink from walking on the waves into the depths of the darkest corners? What took a man who was so bold and impetuous to draw a sword against the Roman soldiers down to where he did not even want to be associated with this Jesus who he had followed for so long?
I believe that Chris does a great job of capturing the loneliness and shame that must have been going through Peter’s mind and heart that morning. When one looks at this painting, it feels as if we are pulled out to the fringes, away from the warmth and light of the fire and into the darkness. The darkness is no doubt both literal and metaphorical in this image. Being separated from the true source of light that darkness will not overcome was a feeling that I am sure Peter longed for as he wondered what would come next.
I am grateful to God that grace allows us all the opportunity to come out of darkness and back into the light of Christ. No longer do we have to be bound to our guilt, shame, and loneliness. The gift of Grace is that God offers us a chance to step out in faith to be restored through grace, and to say “Lord, you know I love you” as we set out to be one who might feed God’s sheep.”
Shalom, Y’all –
I believe that one of the hardest concepts about God that we humans have constructed and used to try to understand God’s nature is that of the Holy Trinity. We talk about “persons” of the Trinity, knowing that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are not all entirely “persons” as we might think of our friends and neighbors.
God the Father is God the Father, Jesus the Son of God is Jesus the Son of God, The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit…. and yet, all three are God. They entirely are divine in their essence, but they alone do not make up all of what is God.
Many have tried to use analogies to describe the Trinity like the shamrock, water, ice, and steam, Neopolitan ice cream, etc.. The truth is, however, that many of our constructs and attempts to describe God as displayed in the three persons of the Trinity fail to adequately or correctly express the nature and power of who God is. many would me content to simply leave it at “it’s a mystery”.
I really like how Chris made his expression of Trinity in this painting. All three figures are seen connected together as one body, but still different in their own individualities. I believe that the skeleton-like parts of the figure in the middle might point to the humanity of Jesus’ nature. Which figure do you see as God the Father? Which might be the Holy Spirit?
No matter how you think of the persons of the Holy Trinity, it is a beautiful comfort to remember that God, in whatever form God is present, loves and provides for all of God’s children who would believe and have faith. I believe that the mystery of parts of this revelation of God only adds to the power and awesome nature of who God is.
Shalom, Y’all –
In this painting, Chris captures the moment in Scripture where a woman who has been suffering from a condition for quite some time reaches out in a crowd to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and received healing.
This account provides a lot of comfort and insight into the nature and character of Jesus to me. The suffering woman probably feels lost and rejected by the mass of the crowd that she is in. A woman, nevermind a sick woman, she is in desperate need for something that will make her fell restored and whole again. In what seems like a desperate effort, she reaches out and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. One account mentions that she thought “if I can only touch His robe, I will be healed” (Matthew 9:21).
I believe that there are times when we all feel like this woman probably did. Things in our life don’t seem to be going right for one reason or another, and we don’t feel like we’re as close to God as we could or should be. Our minds tell us that our best hope might be to stay off at a distance and hope to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment as He passes by.
The beauty of this account is that in that moment, Jesus noticed the tug on his robe, looked back, and assured the woman that she would receive healing because of her faith.
Jesus knows when one of God’s children reach out in faith to try and receive healing and power. Jesus notices our struggle, acknowledges our need, and assures us that healing and restoration are possible through faith and the healing power of God.
I for one am grateful for the assurance that though I may feel weak and marginalized at times, God sees me, knows me, and seeks to heal me and restore me.
I pray that we may all rest in that assurance each and every day.
Shalom, Y’all –