"God in the Arts"

My family and I enjoy the productions of TBA (a local theatre group).  As their name illustrates, they train better artists.  Memories of seeing their production of "Fiddler on the Roof" continue to form my mouth into a smile.  With anticipation, my family and I await their rendition of "It's a Wonderful Life," which we will see this coming Friday. 

With equal anticipation, I look forward to Saturday as well.  On that afternoon my wife, oldest son, and I will watch and listen as my youngest son graces the ivories during the Winter Recital.  What parent doesn't love seeing their child share a talent?

This weekend, at least for the Goodman family, will be one filled with theatre and music - filled with art, in other words.  Gratitude overwhelms my heart when I contemplate the thought that God, the greatest artist and artistic director, filled creation with color, sound, beauty, music, and awe.

Art connects me to my Creator.  As I listen to music, I hear the miracle of sound and the use of talent.  When I view paintings, I see the fruit of one's expression that found its voice on the canvas.  "Christian" and "secular" art alike arise from a motivation to create (even if the artist is not aware).  God grabs our attention, when we choose to notice, through the art of nature and the art of human creation.
 

View Rembrandt's "The Return of the Prodigal Son."  What do you see? 



 










Attend to Van Gogh's "The Starry Night."  Do you see the glory of God in the sky?










Listen to Elijah Bossenbroek's "I Give Up" and you will hear a bit of the music of heaven. 

Tune into Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" and you will hear expression of loneliness and temporary solace.  The song reminds me that our world needs more hope. 

Watch Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" and the music will move your innermost being. 

Experience "Fiddler on the Roof" and feel the honesty of Tevye's musical protest to God that poverty, while not a shame, is "no great honor, either."

On Friday, as I watch the artists of TBA and Saturday as I listen to the talent of my son, I will smile and thank God for the gift of the arts.  Watch and listen; you will see and hear the creativity of God.

#ordinarylives

Kindness

An angel walks into a bar . . .
No, it isn't a joke; it's a story. 

Just over a month ago, a couple dined at a family-owned restaurant in Euclid, Ohio.  After enjoying a nice meal and purchasing a fine wine to go, the waitress, to her stun-worthy surprise, received a $1070 tip. 

Samantha "Sam" Meyer could not believe her eyes and, therefore, asked if there was a mistake.  (I once left a $50 tip with the intent of leaving $5 - wow that now sounds cheap!)  The generous gratuity giver assured Sam that he wrote the number he intended. 

Using the "average generous" tipping percentage of 20%, Sam would have received $24.45.  One thousand forty-five dollars and fifty-five cents richer, Sam declared, "God works in mysterious ways."  She knew that the bills she struggled to pay in October were covered, even after she shared her gift with her fellow servers.  The family owners considered the patron to be an angel. 

Acts of kindness warm our hearts - even when we receive nothing other than the joy of hearing about them.  When have the acts of others blessed you?

I recall . . .

  • the check that arrived in the mail when we needed to replace our boiler.
  • the financial help from my parents and in-laws over the years.
  • the words of encouragement from a friend during a difficult time.
  • the tow out of the sand when our dip-netting trip took a turn.
  • and so many more times when others blessed me and my family.

Now for another question.  When have your acts of kindness blessed others?  I hope several occasions enter your mind.  That time you . . .

  • helped a neighbor.
  • gave that gift with no strings attached.
  • said that encouraging word.
  • forgave the debt.
  • carried the load.

If it has been a while since you were that mysterious way through which God blessed another, change that today.  Look for an opportunity to practice an act of kindness.  See it, do it, and then look for another.

25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:25-28 (NIV)

#ordinarylives

Fire

I like fire.
 

While pyromaniac would be a severe overstatement, pyroenthusiast is fair.  As a Boy Scout, I learned the required knots (square knot, clove hitch, etc.); but I loved burning things.  Actually, fire was one of my favorite activities of Scouting - that and playing with (I mean to say safely handling) knives.  I have a wonderful reminder in the form of a scar.  I loved the camping, canoeing, hiking, archery, and knives; but, again, I really enjoyed the fires.

Interestingly the Bible is full of stories of fire.  Some tell of expansive destruction; yet others deal with less destructive events.  Think . . .

  • Moses and the burning bush.
  • The fire of protection by the Red Sea.
  • Elijah vs. the prophets of Baal.
  • The fires of burnt sacrifices.
  • Fire representing the mighty power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible mentions fire over 500 times.  Twenty-six times occur in Revelation.  Revelation tells, in summary, of the great victory of Jesus over the evils of Satan and the resulting unification of God's people with Him.  


The Bible promises (which means it will happen) that Jesus will return to earth to set things right.  Jesus' return is the central focus of the season of Advent which begins this week.  Many churches use fire (candles) to help the worshipers progress through the season.  Then, during Christmas Eve, children and adults hold lighted candles while singing something along the lines of "Silent Night." 

As you see candles, lights, and fire this season, remember the promise of Jesus.

12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.
13
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

Revelation 22:12-13 (NIV)

#ordinarylives