Saturday, April 7, 2012

Breakfast at Dawn

Personally, I have never attended an Easter sunrise service. But my wife has told me how powerful they have been for her. Perhaps it’s the anticipation of glorious Easter—when we get to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. Perhaps it’s the magic of witnessing the light of a new day—joining the morning birds to sing praises to God. There must be something special for christians to celebrate this way for so many years. However, I bet they were nothing like what the disciples experienced one beautiful morning.

The Gospel of John has a wonderful post-resurrection story. The last chapter reads like an epilogue of sorts. Peter and some disciples decide to go fishing in the night. They catch nothing. At daybreak, Jesus appears on the shore. He instructs them to cast nets again. They catch an abundance of fish. Realizing their Lord has returned, they quickly sail to shore where Jesus shares a fireside meal of bread and fish with them. Jesus then specifically speaks with Peter. Jesus asks, “do you love me” three times – one time for each betrayal Peter committed on the night of Jesus’ death. And after Peter responds “yes,” Jesus instructs him to “feed my sheep.” How wonderful that morning must have been.

In this painting, I tried to imagine that beautiful morning meal. The composition is both macro and micro. Brother sun rises over the world’s horizon—illuminating the sea with dancing light. The reflections swell to the shore where we see the abandoned boat and a circle of fellowship. Looking close, you can see a communion of grace taking place.

This is more than a sunrise breakfast. It is morning worship. God’s people abandon the work of the day, gather together to break bread and be near the Lord again. In this circle, Christ makes himself known to us, teaches us, and forgives our sins. Christ feeds us and calls us to act in love for the world.

Today, the circle spans around the world. In fact, this painting was commissioned by a patron living in Singapore. The Resurrected One calls us, from all shores, to come together and dine in grace. Wherever you are, may you answer the Lord’s loving call and join in the feast. And may the song of Alleluia, be heard all over the world.

Happy Easter.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lenten Labyrinth

30" x 30" Oil on Canvas

“It is finished.” My most daring painting project yet. Fans of my blog often tell me how much they like to know my thoughts behind the art. Well, this time, I painted my thoughts in the form of a labyrinth.

Labyrinths are ancient meditation tools. Unlike mazes, labyrinths are not puzzles to solve. They have the same entrance and exit point. The traveler merely wanders to the center and then journeys back out. The purpose is to journey into prayer and meditation while traveling through the Labyrinth’s many twists and turns. Although many labyrinths are large enough to walk through, most of the ones that I have been exposed to have been on paper. However, with paper ones, I find my eye finishing the journey in too short of time to fully engage in the labyrinth’s mystical potential. I decided to paint my thoughts and meditations into the twists and turns of a labyrinth in the hopes of rekindling its contemplative character.

For many Christians, the season of Lent is a time of deep reflection on the sacrificial life and death of Christ. Going though Lent prepares the heart for a more meaningful Easter. Traditionally, people devote themselves into a discipline for the season’s forty days. My discipline for this year was this painting project. The symbolism in this labyrinth reflect my thoughts influenced by my own lenten experience this year. Some inspirations came from worship, some came from explorations of scripture, and still others just came from Spirit-lead meditations on the life of Christ. Every inch is covered with paths of repeating symbols. Some are pictorial. Some are abstract. Some patterns involve specific numbers to add to their meaning. Others are purely random. Some paths are clearly defined, while some are harder to follow. Together, they take you into deeper thought about God’s Sacrificial love in Jesus Christ and what it means to live as a follower of The Way.

Because this labyrinth is meant to trigger your own contemplation, I won’t go into great detail explaining its meaning. I will, however, get you started. The labyrinth begins and ends with the black path at the bottom. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and ends with Good Friday. Both are services about darkness, and death. Likewise, this Lenten Labyrinth begins and ends with the darkness of the cross.

Here are some themes you might find:
Covenant Relationship
The Law
Readiness and Patience
Christ’s Passion
New Life

The center is left blank. Empty, unpainted canvas. That is your place. Once you make it to the center, you can add your own thoughts. I welcome you to take some time out of your day to journey with this labyrinth. I would love for you to share what comes to YOUR mind when you reach the center, and what changes when you are finished.