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Archive for November, 2010

Phaedra Taylor
“The Strange Things that Christ Holds Together”
(See the Header)

This art piece is made from a strange family of elements: beeswax, sticks, string, a book page, some pieces of a dress pattern and gold oil pastel. In much the same way that strange events and characters combine to form the story of
Christ’s birth, so these art materials form a cast of “characters.” Layers of hot wax have been painted onto a board. Embedded in between these layers are bits and pieces of a dress pattern. Together they allude to the mysterious
pattern that God lays out for us. His Word, symbolized by the beeswax, secretly but certainly holds all things together inside that pattern.

Sticks appear as a reminder of Jesus the Vine Dresser and the Root of Jesse. From both this Vine and this Root we receive our real sustenance. String is tied and stretched in a cruciform pattern. Pages from an old Bible re-tell four narratives. John leaping inside of Elizabeth’s womb. An account of the Ascension. The wild birth of John the Baptist. The incarnation of God in Bethlehem. These stories remind us of the fantastical elements in the events surrounding Christ’s comings and goings. All these events are incredible and, across the board, unexpected. Surely we can only expect God to enter into our lives in a similar way—mysteriously entering when we least expect him, appearing, then disappearing, leaving us open-mouthed but always disclosing his everlasting love for us. God uses such strange and wild ways to accomplish his purposes. He fills people long empty. He astonishes us, as the Gospel writers might say.

Gold marks the center of the panel. This symbolizes the kingship of Christ. It is a kingship that appears at every point that we allow him to assume a place of preeminence in our lives. Why did I make this piece? I did it to remind myself, despite my sometimes feeble faith, that all these things are true. His mother, for example, was a young woman like me, like many, who did not expect God to come in that way and at that time. While I wait for Jesus to answer my prayers—and to answer prayers that I have yet to even pray—he is at work in all kinds of unexpected ways. If I only look for him to come in the way that I want him to, then I miss all the mysterious, beautiful ways that he is already present. I need to remember to wait for him. I need to trust that, like the string threading itself throughout this art, he holds all the strange, often puzzling parts of my life together, and the frustrating parts too. When I do trust him, I find that my heart is filled with gratitude. Some days it is filled with wonder.

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This was great! African American basketball athletes who missed out on mainstream glory, recognition and opportunities because of segregation. The articles in today’s N&O were awesome too. I remember Reggie Hawk Ennis from growing up in Smithfield. He was a legend!

http://www.newsobserver.com/videos?media_id=32243381

It’s tragic. It really is to think that such a short time ago things were so different. What are the important civil rights issues of our day?

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So much to be thankful for!

Let us praise and thank God for all great and simple joys;
For the gift of wonder and the joy of discovery;
For the everlasting freshness of experience;
For all that comes to us through sympathy and through sorrow,
and for the joy of work attempted and achieved;
For musicians, poets and craftsmen, and for all
who work in form and color to increase the beauty of life;
For the likeness of Christ in ordinary people,
their forbearance, courage and kindness, and
for all obscure and humble lives of service;
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the
Holy Spirit ever world without end. Amen.

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If you’ve always considered science to be incompatible with faith, I would encourage you to take some time to explore the lectures on our God, Science & Truth site.

A little back story….

Back in January, I was having coffee with parishioner Dr. Josh Mugford. Josh is working on his post-doc at UNC-Chapel Hill. I asked him how the Church assists him as a Christian who works as a scientist. He replied, rather bluntly, “I don’t think it does.” His point was well taken and I think he’s right. The Church often is afraid to venture into the waters of science, rationalism, and even natural theology (a realm the Church should be very articulate in).

Through our conversations and prayer we started talking about getting other Christian scientists in our congregation together to talk about what has become the elephant in the church. The God, Science & Truth seminar was born. If you have any questions, let me know.

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The Problem of Evil and Suffering from The Veritas Forum on Vimeo.

Peter Kreeft, Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College (Empire State Building), in New York City. He is a regular contributor to several Christian publications, is in wide demand as a speaker at conferences, and is the author of over 59 books including:

    Handbook of Christian Apologetics
    Christianity for Modern Pagans
    Fundamentals of the Faith

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Church Planter

h/t (long overdue) to 2 Sparrows.

When older men stop investing in younger men, younger men stop caring.

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My favorite sonnet by William Shakespeare, set to melody by Rufus Wainwright:

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

In 1994, I was living on the southern coast of Spain working this sonnet over with a professor for an academic project. At the time, I was not a follower of Christ. Over the course of my time there, the words of Shakespeare got into me. I wrote about this sonnet. I talked about this sonnet. I dreamed about this sonnet. I inhaled and exhaled it for months.

One night, lying in bed, lonesome, weary, awake, and thinking about these words, I experienced grace. I cannot explain it other than to say at that moment I knew I was not alone. Not only did I know I was not alone. I knew I was beloved by God and that this God was not just some aloof, transcendent deity. He was the thee of the sonnet and at the moment in the encounter of his sweet love, something changed within me.

In that moment, I knew that one day I would serve him and his people as a pastor and priest. I don’t think I could have articulated it. I didn’t know how this would happen or, honestly, even why. I just knew. For a 21 year old guy whose father had been dead for 9 years, this was an incredible experience of the father-ness of God. It was a reassuring nudge, a prod to go in a certain direction, a safe guarantee that, “I am with you always, even until the end of the age.”

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