Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Freaking Me Out

One of the junior high students pointed out to me last Sunday night, that she just realized that our church has two identical paintings.
“Did you ever notice that, Pastor Faith?” she asked, as she pointed to the portrait of Jesus Christ hanging above the sound booth in our sanctuary.
“Yeah,” I replied, “We like Jesus around here.”
“But it’s the same picture. Twice. That’s freaking me out,” she said and walked away.
I disregarded her comment as dramatic for the sake of being dramatic. But then I thought about it some more. She is right that there are two identical pictures in the church.
At the front of the sanctuary hangs an oval framed copy of Warner Sallman’s “Head of Christ.” In the back of the church, hangs the same 1940’s Sallman painting except this one framed in a smaller, simpler, square frame. A person could be a bit freaked out, I suppose, especially if they never saw any other depictions of Christ besides the body-less, blonde man.
I appreciate Sallman’s “Head of Christ” as an American Icon. I know it is the most popular depiction of Jesus. When I travelled to Korea, I saw it hanging on the walls of a Sunday school classroom. It doesn’t freak me out, so to speak, because I have since learned that Sallman’s Head of Christ has been reproduced over 500 million times.
Like the “Head of Christ,” the scripture for this weeks lectionary (John 3:14-21) holds a particularly famous passage which is overly familiar to many of us. The words of John 3:16 have been reproduced in greeting cards, coffee mugs and neck ties.. even lifted up on cardboard behind the goal post at football games. It is a great scripture – it is worth repeating.. but, I wonder has it lost it's impact from being overly used?

The truth of the verse, that God loved us so much that he sent us his only Son.. Does it continue to speak deeply to your soul when you see it again and again.... or does it become commonplance... and "hang" in your life like a painting you see everywhere and take for granted? I just wonder…


Anonymous said...

The many faces of Christ. How we view God, Jesus his Son, and the Holy Spirit is based on our own perception brought on by our backgrounds, culture, tradition, experiences and way of life. Just look at the ways these three are cast in the book "The Shack" is an indication of how our perceptions direct our thinking, beliefs, values, and therefore life itself.

Rev Faith Lewis said...

I like The Shack too for the way it opened me up to my perceptions.

Do you ever notice how scripture can be shaped by our backgrounds, culture, tradition, experience, also?

Sarah said...

Yes I think there are things in our Christian faith we take for granted. For me it is the Lord's Prayer. I hear it, I say it, but until I repeat it outside of church in a different setting do I apply it to my life in that moment.
Like most I also love Sallman's painting of Jesus. When I was little and even grown I thought that was what Jesus looked like. But over the years of my faith walk I came to relize He probably does not look anything like the painting. But it does not matter to me. I love Him! He loves all of us and He knows what we look like.
I learned a lot from The Shack and highly recommed it to everyone.

Rev Faith Lewis said...

Me, too Sara, I love the Sallman painting. It is so peaceful, the look on his face.
When I saw it hangning in a church in Korea, I was suprised that they didn't have a Korean-looking Jesus. But you know, from the SHACK, that Jesus takes on many appearances!

Anonymous said...

I think it is good to have more than one picture of christ(even if it is the same picture) because it showes that he is all around us every where we go and with every thing we do.
Mystery Girl :)

(P.S. I love the picture on the main page of the website!!)

Anonymous said...

God is Great. The pictures that are posted under the link for Youth Worship Service are just super great. May God's blessing be upon you and all of the youth who so fortunate to have had this opportunity.