Art For Life … The Rest of the Story

Blacklock Cliffs

 

We are killing our planet!  Our oceans are a prime example.  I am becoming more aware of  how detrimental plastic is to our environment.  And I will be the first to confess that I too have been guilty.  Did you know that over 200 billion pounds of plastic are produced worldwide each year and that only 4 to 7 % is actually recycled.   Plastic pollution now affects at least 267 species worldwide.   These are photos of pollution that has washed ashore:

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100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die yearly from entanglement.   There are estimates that marine debris kills 1 million seabirds a year.   80% of marine debris comes from land via street storm drains, waterways, and rivers that eventually empty into the ocean.   Apparently we Americans use approximately 1 billion disposable shopping bags that create 300,000 tons of waste each year.  Fish and birds confuse the debris for food.  Plastic has moved into the food chain!  Plastic is not biodegradable.  It eventually breaks down to the size of plankton.

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Fish bites can be seen from marine animals mistaking the plastic for food.  This can be deadly by blocking their digestive tracts and reducing their ability to absorb nutrients.  In addition plastics contain contaminants … a toxic meal.  Scientists on research boats mid-ocean have opened fresh caught fish and found pieces of plastic in their stomachs.

An ocean gyre (jahyur) is a large, slow spinning vortex of ocean currents caused by trade winds.  There are five major gyres in the world’s oceans pulling plastic garbage from every continent and churning it into bite-size pieces for sea life.  It is estimated that 11 million tons of plastic ride the North Pacific Gyre between Asia and North America eventually washing ashore on beaches or breaking down to microscopic pieces.

Art 101-Bandon

 

When we were on our annual spring trek to Bandon by the Sea in Oregon earlier this year we became aware of the Washed Ashore Project.  All this information is from their exhibit in Bandon and their website.

Artist and director Angela Haseltine Pozzi leads the Washed Ashore community in creating large-scale sculptures of the very sea life that is threatened by the marine debris.  Communities, schools, and state parks gather the debris off of the beaches.   They are then washed, sorted, drilled, cut and processed into art supplies.  Only re-purposed plastic debris found on beaches are used in Washed Ashore art.  

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The Project has impacted the lives of over 1 million spectators.  The exhibit features massive sculptures.

Washed Ashore

 

100’s of volunteers have processed over 4 tons of plastic pollution into art supplies.  Washed Ashore’s traveling educational exhibit of sculptures continues to spread the message internationally.   Activity/Action Books and Curriculum based on Washed Ashore’s Marine Debris Awareness Program can be ordered through their website.

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Use less plastic.  Bring your own water bottle and mug with you.  Use cloth or canvas grocery bags.  Buy in bulk.  Refill containers.  Reduce and re-use whenever possible.  Recycle.  Contact Washed Ashore to start a Satellite Project in your community.  Each one of us can make a difference.

Amaryllis pt 2 Christmas 08

 

Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature …” (Gen. 1:28).

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  You have set your glory above the heavens.  From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

Bandon Stars

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet:  all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”  (Psalm 8)

Bearing in mind that ruling requires constant care and wisdom let us each do our part to help preserve our planet … God’s creation.

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Humble Servanthood: Jesus Washing the Disciples’ Feet

a chalk and grisaille on paper by Edelfelt from www.turnbacktogod.com

a chalk and grisaille on paper by Edelfelt from http://www.turnbacktogod.com

After his ‘triumphal entry’ to Jerusalem seated on a donkey’s colt Jesus predicts his death.

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me.  Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say?  ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name!”  

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”  The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said and angel had spoken to him.”   John 12: 23-29

Now Jesus and his chosen few withdraw to an upper room in Jerusalem to partake in the Passover Feast.   Here he institutes the “Memorial” of the Eucharist:

“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.  For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”  And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way , after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”  Mt.26: 26-29, Mk.14: 22-25, Lk.22: 17-20.

He then makes hints of being betrayed by one of them at the table and they question each other who it might be.

It seems absurd, amidst this setting, but it is presumed due to Jesus’ indication that the coming of his ‘kingdom’ is imminent, some of the apostles begin to discuss which of them is the greatest.  How can this be?  After walking with Jesus throughout his ministry, listening to his teaching regarding the nature of this ‘kingdom’, how can they not understand?

Of course, now, this is so easy from my current perspective.   I am not being persecuted under the power of the Roman Empire longing for a new ‘earthly kingdom.’  So what does Jesus do?  He begins to wash the feet of his disciples.

Painting by Ford Madox Brown 1865; from www.turnbacktogod.com

Painting by Ford Madox Brown 1865; from http://www.turnbacktogod.com

“A dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest.  Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.  But you are not to be like that.  Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.  For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?  Is it not the one who is at the table?  But I am among you as one who serves.  You are those who stood by me in my trials.  And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Lk.22: 24-30

a painting of Jesus washing feet at Last Supper; from www.turnbacktogod.com

a painting of Jesus washing feet at Last Supper; from http://www.turnbacktogod.com

“Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.  The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus.  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”

“He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”  Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”  “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”  Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”  “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”  Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean.  And you are clean, though not every one of you.”  For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.”

“When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.  “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.  “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.  Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.  I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  Jn.13: 1-17

I can only wonder how long before the disciples fully discerned the incredible intensity of Jesus’ love for them and the nature of his humility toward them.  He, their Lord and Teacher stooped to serve their needs, and they (we) should do the same for one another.  This example of humility in servanthood is what we “followers of Jesus” are to show one another.  I find this very convicting.  Our western culture is so ‘me first’ oriented that I will truly need an extra measure of grace to not walk in the path of least resistance.

A contemporary painting of Jesus washing feet; from 'Words of Life-shadowlilies.wordpress'

A contemporary painting of Jesus washing feet; from ‘Words of Life-shadowlilies.wordpress’

The sovereignty of Christ from the cross is a new sovereignty.  It has destroyed forever the formula that might is right.  It has put to shame the self-assertion of false heroism.  It has surrounded with imperishable dignity the completeness of sacrifice.  It has made clear to the pure heart that the prerogative of authority is wider service.  The divine King rules forever by dying.       Brooke Foss Westcott (1825-1901)

My dear Jesus, Lord and Teacher, this example of humility and service … preceding the ultimate humiliation of the “Way of Suffering” …. crucified for all humanity … Even though you possessed the very nature of God, you claimed nothing for Your own advantage but emptied yourself taking the form of a slave.  Thank you for coming to serve and giving your life as a ransom for many.  I fear that I am too self-centered and selfish.  Help me to become more like you.  Show me how to humbly wash the feet of my brothers and sisters, bringing glory to the Son of Man.    Amen

 

 

 

Rebirth; A new creation

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“Get thee behind me, Satin.”

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  (John 3: 6)

Continue to work out … your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling … for it is God who is all the while at work in you–energizing and creating in you the power and desire–both to will and to work for his good pleasure …(Philippians 2: 12-13)

As Francis does an “about face” to follow Jesus, he chooses to ignore the laughter of his ‘old friends’ and becomes  angry, but not at them, but rather at himself.  For suddenly “he sees his former life before him, in its folly, its lack of object, its childish vanity.  He saw himself in all his pitiful reality–and in front of him stood in shining beauty the life he hitherto had not led–the true life, the just life, the beautiful, noble, rich life–life in Jesus Christ.  (Jorgensen)

Francis began to seek the will of God.  Nearby, just outside the city limits was a cave in the cliff where he liked to go to pray.  Sometimes alone, but usually with a single friend, a distinguished person who remained true to him despite his “change of mind.”  (Thomas of Celano)

And there, away from the world, in this dark cave, he found a ‘secret chamber’ where he could pray to his Heavenly Father.  And little by little, day by day his desire to do the will of God increased.  He began to devalue himself and eventually the poor took the place of his ‘old friends.’

As God’s sons and daughters, we should be without the kind of guile that gives to others only when it will mean a good return in some way for us.  We should seek, before God, to be His humble servants, pure in our heart’s desire to give and do, just as He directs us …

God’s Spirit will come to rest upon you, and upon anyone who will live this way, enduring to the last the constant temptation to live for yourself alone (Isaiah 11:2).  The Father has promised that if we obey his command to love others, He and His Son, our Jesus Christ, will come and make their home with us and dwell with us forever (John 14: 21-23).  Moreover, we will be seen and known as children of the heavenly Father because it will be obvious to all that we are busily, faithfully doing His work and not seeking our own ends (Matthew 5:45).

When we live this way, it may be said that we are truly wedded to Him–in spirit, we the brothers, the sisters, and the mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 12:48-50).

A man or woman begins to live in the Spirit by determining to become “the bride” of our Lord.  In faith, we wed our souls to the Spirit of Christ and begin to enjoy doing His will.  We become His “brothers and sisters” as we do the will of His Father who is in heaven.  And we are “mothers” to Him when we allow Him to sit enthroned deep within our hearts by loving Him dearly and purely, keeping in good conscience by surrendering to His lordship over all that is ours.

As we knit ourselves with Him in this way, joined to Him in our hearts, a new spirit is born in us.  Thus, our spiritual progress is similar to the way life grows within a physical womb.  Eventually, we will no longer be living like men and women of the world.  Instead, we will be so filled with the Spirit of Christ that we birth Him again into this world by doing the loving acts He himself would do if He were present in the body (John 14: 12)  First Letter to All the Faithful: 45-53   (A Day In Your Presence, David Hazard; Rekindling the Inner Fire, Series)

This then, Lord Jesus, is my prayer and desire:  “that something more of you may be born into this world through me.”   Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

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And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.  Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

 

This, then is how you should pray:

 

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from the evil one,

for yours is the kingdom 

and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

 

Matthew 6: 5-13

The Path of Life

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Stand at the crossroads and look;

Ask for the ancient paths,

Ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

And you will find rest for your souls.    (Jeremiah 6:16)

 

Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

To the house of the God of Jacob.

He will teach us his ways,

So that we may walk in his paths.   (Isaiah 2:3)

 

Teach me your way O Lord;

Lead me in a straight path.   (Psalm 27:11)

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge him,

And he will make your paths straight.   (Proverbs 3:5&6)

 

I run in the path of your commands,

For you have set my heart free.   (Psalm 119:32)

 

In the way of righteousness there is life;

Along that path is immortality.   (Proverbs 12:28)

 

You have made known to me the path of life;

You fill me with joy in your presence,

With eternal pleasures at your right hand.   (Psalm 16:11)