Monday, March 12, 2012

Saved by Art: Lent 4, Year B

by David and Anita Saunders
This Week's Lectionary Texts
This Week's Reflection
A while back I read the gospel lesson for this week which made me look back at the reference it made to Moses and the serpent. I've been extremely fascinated by this story ever since. There are a couple of specific reasons why. I'm not even going to try to touch the whole issue of God sending serpents to kill the Israelites. I can't make sense of that part of the scripture. I mean I can think of ways to interpret it that make me feel better, but truly making sense of it is beyond my capabilities. 

However, here is what stands out. When the people ask for help. They are given help. In fact, when they ask for help - "Please Moses, get God to do something about our loved ones dying of snake bites!" - Moses is told to create a sculpture of a serpent. 

Creative Common License
If you are a regular reader of this blog, I hope by now you realize that I believe art is a gift from God. I believe to be created in the image of God is, in fact, to be made to be creative people. So, God speaks through art in ways that is not likely in other ways. This is true for all sorts of artwork - music, visual arts, theatre, poetry, etc.

So, back to this snake on a stick - God tells Moses to sculpt a piece of art which is the image of the serpent. Those who have been bitten are to look at it, to view the piece of art, and they will be saved. In other words, art saves lives.

26 Lifted Up by Jo Ann Deasy
There is one other thing that is most fascinating to me about this passage. The work of art which is created in order to save lives is created in the very image of the thing that the people feared the most. This is incredible to me. The snakes are biting the folks, they are terrified, people are dying, and the thing that is going to save them is to face that very thing in the form of a sculpture. 

How often do we use works of art to face our fears? In what way is the Christ at work here? What kinds of art can we introduce to congregations in order to help them see Christ's light more clearly?

Art is a healing tool that God has used from the beginning. May we be in touch with our God-given creative abilities in order to speak a healing word to God's children today.