Today we begin a new series on the site that will continue each Wednesday for the foreseeable future. Rosanna Cartwright, a life-long Lutheran and mostly-life-long artist/teacher routinely creates works of art that intersect with faith. We’re going to look at some of her pieces and open up conversation surrounding them. Feel free to join in. As we go along, we might even feature works from other folks, including members of our congregation if they’re willing. For now, Rosanna has enough stuff to keep us going for a good while!
The first piece she’s submitted is called “You Are the Light”. Take a look!
The inspiration comes from Matthew 5, when Jesus says, in the sermon on the mount, “You are the light of the world.” You might remember him saying that nobody lights a lamp, then hides it under a bushel basket. You might also recall the words we say at every baptism when we present the candle, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
I love two juxtapositions in this piece: the sun in the sky stands apart from, but in relationship with, the ground, just as the words, “You are the LIGHT of the world” stand apart from, but in relationship with, the words, “Even me?”
We have a terrible habit of dividing the world into categories like sacred and secular, holy and mundane. We do this with people too: saints and sinners, good folks and bad. When we hear the words, “YOU are the light of the world,” our tendency is to say, “Who, me?” We know our faults and failings. We understand ourselves as “just ordinary”. If something sacred inhabits the world, it must be inside someone else. If holy places exist, they can’t be here, on this ordinary soil on which I walk.
For every Instagram photo showing a perfect person on a perfect beach living a perfect life, there must be millions of other people who say, “That’s not me, but I wish it was somehow.” We define goodness by comparing it to our own mundanity. We view God and faith through that same lens.
Except look what happens in this piece. The light shows to, and through all the words. The light shows to, and through, the city and ground too. Everything is glowing! The question, “Even me?’ is transformed into a solid declaration, “Even me!!!” by the addition of just one word: YES.
How many of us grew up thinking God was the great NO? “Don’t run in church. Don’t be bad. Don’t do this and don’t do that. Keep yourself perfect for Jesus.” Suddenly, in this frame, the light explodes over us all, exposing all of our peaks and valleys, yet shining off them to hit the eye of the viewer. It’s implied that the light shines on the ground where they stand as well, and that they, too, have a home in this city.
We hear God’s, “YES” every time scripture hits our ears or we receive God through the sacraments. We see it in the eyes of our friends and neighbors, feel it in the purpose we’re given. It’s everywhere around us, singing to us daily. We are beloved. We do matter. There’s something worthwhile to do today. The most normal things are also very, very special. Our lives are light for the world!
We’ve opened up the comments on the site so that they should show instantly when you make them. Feel free to reflect here on what you see in the picture, and how you understand God’s light shining in your life and world!
You can find Rosanna’s Facebook account here: https://www.facebook.com/rosanna.cartwright.3
Come back next Wednesday for a look at more of her creations!