See this painting, it’s by Stanislaus Rapotec, it was awarded the Blake Prize for Religious Art, doesn’t look like something you’d hang in a church does it? It’s a bit modern, it was also controversial… But guess what? It tells the story of Jesus, his death and resurrection. It’s a modern piece of art for this generation, but the message is the same. It’s description is, that it has “suggestions of redemption and regeneration that may emerge from trauma”. It hangs as a permanent piece in the NSW Gallery of Art. A lot of Christians don’t look like what you would expect, sometimes they are just the kind of Christians we need. The ones that don’t make anyone feel like being a Christian is some unrealistic lifestyle. That u have to act a certain way, dress a certain way, stop putting pictures up of yourself in a skimpy bikini on the beach, stop having a few to many drinks, stop saying the F word. News flash – you don’t. I like this painting, it depicts REAL, imperfect perfect with the same powerful message – We are a mess, so God had to step in for us. The message is NOT – I’m a christian so I no longer do the wrong thing.
I’m not a Catholic, I’m a Pentecostal Christian. The roots of this strain of Christianity come from long ago when protestant Christians had a revelation that God wasn’t confined to a building, that he didn’t live in objects he lived in us. When we sin we don’t have to go to a priest to ask forgiveness we can pray to God directly wherever we are, whoever we are, no matter what we did. So in this movement, much of the relics of the Catholic church, the ostentatious celebrations with the gold, and the step by step rituals were thrown away with. It was actually a very bloody, cruel period of time. It defined so much of that era.
Despite my strong belief in Pentecostal, Christian values, I still find peace and beauty as I enter any cathedral around the world. I’m writing this in St Mary’s in Sydney, the largest ecclesiastical cathedral in Australia. This gorgeous building stands timeless in an ever changing, modern city that surrounds it.
It’s bells ring out like an echo of times gone by and of what still goes on. Believers sit in the wooden pews concentrating on something bigger than themselves. Not a bigger anything that says it’s okay to follow your feelings and wants as long as it makes you happy. That seems to be what the modern world likes these days…. follow happiness, have no real restraints.
God isn’t about rules either, but he does have guidelines that he recommends to keep if you want to have your best life, to protect his people from hurt. We all fail miserably at keeping them, and he says that’s okay, that’s why he died on the cross so we didn’t have to suffer punishment for our faults. But he doesn’t omit his guidelines, they stay the same.
I find these “ostentatious” buildings a reminder to my faith, to its roots, to its eternal impact on the human race. God is older than yoga (yes), gluten free, cross fit, and a cappuccino with brunch.
All the fluff of the world dissipates here. And I remember the very foundation’s of myself, what I would die for, what plenty of people still do die for, or get butted in the head for.
I sit in this straight backed pew and I look at the light shining through the glass, depicting the prominent scenes from Adam and Eve to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Then there are the saints, the disciples, the people who carried his message of forgiveness into the future. I am apart of that. I may look different, sound different, but I still hold the same faith they did, I still believe in Jesus, just like this church I sit in does too.
You are the bottom line to every question I ask. You are my very DNA, you made me in my mothers womb and you knew me there. He knew the world and time I was to be born into, and he wanted me and you to be the very example of him that that time desperately needed. Whether your an abstract painting or a piece from the Sistine Chapel, what matters is the values that remain in you, through whatever change goes on around you.