My Lenten Series
-Pastor Melissa Fain-
I need to do something a little different today.
Tomorrow marks the last day of women’s history month. It came and went without much fanfare.
As a form of celebration, and in honor of Lent, I’ve decided to share a few of the pieces I’ve done over the past month, and explain them. You already saw New Creation. As a reminder, it’s a piece that looks at God’s gifts and promises, and whether they can be held by women. It doesn’t answer that question, but simply asks it.
But What If She Could?
The whole time I was working on the above piece, I was asking the question, "But what if I could?"
I knew what I'd draw. First, a transition from day to night. Second, an explosion of light, that can only be properly experienced when started in darkness.
This is my imaginary playground. Every once in awhile, I can see the potential- it explodes out. Then I realize it can't happen, and I'm left with the idea, and no way to do it. See, I am constantly living in the world of "what if," knowing there is little more that I can do.
I wrote two scriptures into this drawing's foundation.
The first is John 1:1- "In the beginning was the Word, and the world was with God, and the Word was God." It tells the viewer this is still a new creation. You can tell from all the chaos that needs ordering. Beautiful new chaos. This image is exciting in it's potential. This image is fun. There's protection too. The "1:1" looks like 7:7- "The world can’t hate you. It hates me, though, because I testify that its works are evil." A little proof texty, I know- but when you have image to tell a story, you have to tell so much with so little. It speaks to Christ taking the burden. God's love made known through the new creation.
The second is Luke 13:34- "Jerusalem, Jerusalem. The city that kills the prophets and stones those that are sent to it. How I've longed to gather your children, like a hen gathers her chicks." That turns this drawing against itself. I told you it was potential. Jesus' words were potential too. He's speaking to the potential to care and save Jerusalem, knowing they would crucify him in return. Notice the ground. It's a hidden rainbow. She is standing on God's promise. The rainbow was considered God's war bow, pointed away from the earth, but now she's standing on it.
It's so beautiful, but in it's beauty it's sad too.
When I was a child, I wanted to be part of church. The only way I could, was to light the candles at the beginning of church, and be part of the children's moment.
The children's moment, was a 5 minute mini-sermon given before Communion. The kid's would come up. An adult would tell a story, ask a couple of questions, and sometimes we'd get a treat.
There came a point, where the adults felt I had aged out of the children's moment. To be fair, I was still a kid- 4th grade. They just decided I was done. The problem was, they couldn't keep me from going to the front of the church. My dad sung in the choir, so no one was there to tell me, "No!"
One of the matriarchs took it upon herself to be that person. She took it upon herself to sit next to me one Sunday. When it came time for the children's moment, she firmly told me no. I ignored her, because she wasn't my dad, and started to go up. She grabbed my arm, and tried to hold me back. In shock and fear, I pulled away.
That was how the church decided to tell me, and I had multiple nightmares about that event throughout the rest of my childhood.
Gals keep other gals from God's promise in a multitude of ways.
Maybe it's under the guise of reciprocity. One generation didn't get something, so a future generation shouldn't have it either. Only the previous group can't see it wasn't fair for them, and in turn, it's not fair now.
Maybe it's under the guise of justice. "These are the rules and we've been following them for generations." The matriarch was only enforcing the rules, and her sense of justice gave me nightmares about God's house. But, I've seen the guise of justice being used in other ways too. Maybe it's the way the rules are harsher on women in ministry to prove a point. If one can find a single grain of guilt in a sea of ministry, that's it. It's stifling.
Or maybe, just maybe, it's the feeling women get that puts ministry as a limited resource. The churches only have so many jobs for women in their building. The media only has one woman they can raise up as their spiritual darling. It forces us to fight one another for something God promised abundantly. We lose sight of the fact that me getting it, helps you get it later. You getting it, is celebration, because you getting it helps us all.
We also become far more critical of one another, because we know that failure speaks to all of us, not just the woman who failed. It's painful, and it's real.
She Had, and She Will
Flipped Mitten Press is a publishing company started by Kristy Burmeister. She used her words to begin to tell the story of trauma suffered through the institution of Church.
I made this for her.
She is doing it. She took God's promise and made something with it. She will continue to do so. There is nothing in this image, but love.
The Word Was God
This piece is the entire reason all of this exists.
I've been spending 12 weeks long-term subbing for high school art class. Whenever I long term sub, I always immerse myself in the content. That's why the pieces look so diverse in their media. With the exception of a few pieces I went home and did because I was inspired, they are all pieces to help me, help the students. This was the first week with Drawing/Painting II. The prompt was "Illuminated pages." While they took on Fairy Tales, I took on John 1:1-4.
It's currently hanging in Fig Tree's worship area, and you can see it behind me Sunday mornings.
This piece lit the flame to get me to explore how to preach without physical words, but with Word.
Oh, I know how uncomfortable this piece is. I can simply explain it, and you should see it differently than you are probably looking at it now.
Their are two images fighting for your focus: Communion and Dead Church.
Communion was broken and made whole. (Notice the mended cup.)
The Church was whole and is now broken.
This is an image of focus. What are you going to focus on? The building that will eventually decay and go back to dust? OR The Communion that is eternal?
And finally... "Goddess of Life."
I want to end here for a couple of reasons:
First, I don't want to end on Dead Church. I find it to be a solid piece, and I love it, but it's dense, and let's end on a lighter note.
Second, we're ending on life, and that makes this piece perfect.
The image on her brow is one of the Native American symbols for life.
There are four quadrants, and each quadrant has four meanings.
There is only one type of person who has fully lived in all four: and older person.
This person knows all of life.
What I love even more are her wrinkles. As we age, our skin creases in ways that show how we lived. This woman laughed! You can tell from her crows feet.