Focus

Focus blog

This image is based on John 4:1-42, The story of Jesus encounter with the samritan woman at Jacob’s well and what the led to. I have situated the image part of the way into the story where Jesus is addressing his disciples about the mission of God: “The fields are ready for harvest”. His disciples are focused on food but His food is to complete the mission of God.

Meanwhile the Samaritan woman has left her jar by the well and gone down into the town to tell others about Jesus. They respond by coming out to investigate – could this Jesus be the Messiah. They conclude that He is and say as much to the woman: “First we believed in Jesus because of what you said, but now we believe because we heard him ourselves. We know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

An entire village is evangelised by the most unlikly evangelist who has only just met Jesus and still has questions and doubts. And where are the disciples in this? These future pioneers of the church? Sitting on thier backsides and fussing about lunch, bread and wine.

 

 

 

Bargaining

This image is part of a set I am putting together on the stages of Grief and the Passion of Christ, exploring the parallels and connections between the story of Jesus and his disciples leading up to and including his crucifixion and burial, and the stages of grief we experience – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I started this series a couple of years ago when I was facing a significant change in circumstances and my behaviour was seriously affected by it; I identified that I was going through the stages of grief. About the same time I realised that my changing circumstances were a bit like a death – being abandoned and buried and I saw a reflection of my experience in Christ’s. I sought to explore the connection and reflect on my situation as a way of helping me cope and find hope.

I did a few images (yet to be uploaded) and moved on – I decided I would finish the project at a later stage.

Recent events have caused me to re-start the project. I read an article that suggested that the lockdown due to the corona virus has sent us all into  the grief process as we deal with so many losses and have to adjust to a very different world with no certainty of returning to our ‘pre corona’ normaility.

In this image Jesus is bargaining with His Father – ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ (Mt 26:39) or ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ (Lk 22:42)

The image depicts Jesus face down on the ground praying. The surrounding trees create a darkness that emphasises the loneliness and isolation he feels. Even his disciples are incapable of praying with him and are a short distance behind, sleeping.

I wanted to somehow represent the ‘cup’ which I do using a blood moon to illuminate the scene as though the cup was being poured out on Jesus. In the background is a hill with a path leading to the summit where the suggestion of a cross on its crest foreshadows the awful event that is soon to take place.

As I did the image I realised that Christ has been this way before us and knows the path we tread, and resurrection is coming. Whatever happens.

Peace of the risen Christ be yours

 

Journey

This image has several ideas behind it. The first is from Isaiah, the prophet who cries our “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down!” (Isa 64v1). He looks with hope to God to come and redeem Israel, to transform the nation.

The image shows the clouds parting to reveal the shining star, symbolising that great light heralding good news and echoing Isaiah’s word’s “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” (Isa 9:2)

The green hill is reminiscent of the hill where the shepherds heard the good news from the lips of an Angel of the Saviour, a baby laying in a manger  (Luke 2v8-15)

The hill reminds us of the hills on which Jesus preached, the path of the way he walked to the cross on which he died, echoed in the shape of the star.

The glory of God is revealed.

Invitation

This image began at Cliff College at their Tuesday evening gathering. I was present as I was accompanying a team of young Methodist Mexicans connected with John Wesley Seminary in Monterrey on a mission trip to the UK. I finished the image at  the 3Generate youth conference at Southport, later  that same week.

The Service began with worship that focused on the action of Christ’s redeeming working in rescuing us from the darkness of sin and bringing us into his glorious light. The worship leader invited us to enter into this light as an act of worship through the choice of songs and his prayers. The scripture, Heb 2:12, invited us to join in this declaration of God’s glory. The text used for the sermon again echoed the sense of invitation to enter into the light of Christ: “I the Lord am holy, you shall be holy. I will take you as my people and I will be your God”

In my mind I saw the cross as a shadow cast by the light of Christ, a light that shone in the darkness and drew people into Christ’s presence. This is a scene of worship.

Hope journey

Liverpool District Synod 8/09/2018

Text Mt 19:16-22

Key text that stood out to me: ‘What one thing must I do to get eternal life?’

DC Sheryl Anderson told a tale of a Holy woman who found a precious stone in a river but later gave it away to a man she encountered who asked for it. The man left and then returned to find out what it was that the holy woman had that she could freely give away a great treasure.  This is the basis for the image but overlaid into it is something else that occurred to me from the text.

In the text I saw an impetus youth looking for the simple straightforward answer to know what guarantees eternal life. Jesus kept pointing him to a relationship with his God; the starting point and fulfilment of the ten commandments and the direct call to follow Christ. The cost was to give away his great treasure. Why? presumably because it was a burden to the journey to eternal life, a hindrance. However it might also be to demonstrate  his rejection of the idea that wealth is God’s blessing upon the righteous.

The big question being asked by Methodism seems to be ‘What one thing must we do to see growth again?’  We are seeking the magic bullet that will solve our problems; the shortage of ministers, ageing congregations, the lack of people to take on the tasks of the church. This for me was the touching point with the text and I wonder if the answer Jesus gives is the same.

‘Oh yes we have done these things since our childhood’ (But is it working?)

What would it mean for us to cast aside those treasures we hold tightly to? What misconceptions of what makes for faithfulness in our stewardship, mission and worship of God are we rejecting when we do so that we might journey on with Christ to learn what is truly needed?

 

Depression

depression web

Based on Jonah ch 4

Was Jonah suicidal? Was he depressed? If so why?

Maybe God had disappointed him?

Maybe he felt that he was made to look a fool? Delivering a message of impending judgement which God then changed his mind and didn’t carry it out.

Perhaps he was just tired and exhausted after  three days of confronting an entire city with their sinfulness and doing it alone.

Maybe his expectations were not met and he wondered if his reputation as a prophet was now trashed. Maybe he wondered if he had a future as a prophet.

Perhaps he was just confused by God.

Risk

Images from Notts and Derby Synod. My last one as I move out of the District at the end of July. Its a challenging time for me as I have not been stationed as yet and I am wondering what God has in store for me. The last image came to me as I reflected on the challenge.

The theme of the Synod presented a challenge to the Churches and circuits to explore what ‘Intentional Discipleship’ means for us today. It seemed as though God was speaking into my personal situation, and I wonder if there is some mutual cross-over and connection, a shared journey, a stepping out together.

This piece of music expresses the challenge and the only reasonable response. It gives voice to the desire to step out of the boat and conveys that sense of vulnerability.

Suffering Saviour


I created this rather ghastly image a little while after the Grenfell Tower fire and I guess it was my prayer for those that suffered, and continue to suffer. It might seem a strange image and a strange response but sometimes we have to find a way to express our thoughts and prayers (a phrase that has come to be shorthand for ‘do nothing’). We can’t all rush to help and whilst sending money might be helpful, nothing and no one but God alone can sooth the suffering soul. To pray is to do something. My image is a prayer that says that God is present, and was present, in the suffering. Some might say that God would have been more useful to have stopped the suffering before it happened – but that was our task, our collective task, the task of all those empowered to make decisions about fire safety. We dropped the ball  and others suffered but God is the one who gathers up the broken in his arms, both those lost to us and those who survived the disaster. So how can we help? How can we comfort those who live on?  Thoughts and prayers, and perhaps an increased attention to the needs of others, especially those who are the most vulnerable and least able to secure their own well-being. I’m sure the inquiry will likely highlight other factors that could help prevent such a disaster occurring again. The survivors and witnesses of the fire may gain some comfort from that hope. My hope and prayer for them is that God by some divine power brings peace to their spirits and they can pick up the pieces of life and start over. May God grant them peace and strength to do so.

On finding old art

Lifeless

I have been having a clear out of my stuff and I checked through a box of old journals and stuff and found a few sketches that I had done a good few years back. No titles but it was surprising what I could see in the images that invoked a sense of a spirituality. The one above is of a tree without leaves and yet other trees have leaves. ‘Lifeless’ is how I would title the image and it perhaps reflects how I was feeling in August 2002. I had been redundant for about 6 months without work and finding the search for new work quite dispiriting. It would be another year before I would be working.

This second image created at the same time I’ve called ‘Pathway’ and pathwaythere is a sense of a pathway leading out into an open space and I guess that reflects the sense of direction that I began to sense as it was about this time I considered that my future work lay in another direction, as indeed it turned out to be the case.

The last image I found has no date but it likely was created about the same time. It depicts an old fishing smack at anchor in still water with some nearby trees and a hill in the distance. ‘Stillness’ is the title I would give this one and it perhaps reflects the stillness of a working boat that is waiting for the tide before putting out to sea to catch fish. Interesting that this is perhaps a suitable metaphor for the work that I would soon be engaged in in working for the Church (reference to Jesus calling of the disciples, Simon and Andrew – Matthew 4:18-20 ), although at the time I had no idea where, when or how that would take shape.

stillness

Retreats and Quite Days

Recently I have had the opportunity of a quite Day (Under 5s) and a guided retreat (MDO area group) and I have taken art materials along with the view that they may help. The result has been 4 different images (3 from the quite day and one from the retreat) and a bit of poetry.

The first three are from the quite Day

still waters - web

Still Waters

Cross refletion - web

Cross reflection

competance - web

Competence

I thought about how knife-edge it can feel be to operate on the boundaries of your comfort competence (what you know you can do) and trust that the Holy Spirit can enable competence where you are beyond your experience.

The last image is from the MDO Area Group retreat

We are Deacon - web

We are Deacon

This image started of as prayer bubbles of thankfulness in paint (play) and developed into relationships of Deacons, MDO, Methodist Church, Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit.

I wrote some Haiku to go with it (which I did as I went along) as this was something suggested as an option in exploring the issues of gratitude, Promises and Living truthfully in the context of the shared life of the Methodist Diaconal Order. My first attempts at Haiku.

I tried to think of gratitude in terms of rhythm of change as an antidote to grumbling. My initial thought was the natural rhythm of a boat and how a crew needs to develop a sympathetic movement to enhance the speed or risk slowing the boat down by trying to force the pace of maneuvers.

She has her rhythm

You cannot force change on her

You can move her flow

This then developed

To Move in God time

to measure the pace of life

is to be in peace

In terms of promises I thought about the importance of being at one with each other, committed to the relationship. These two poems try to cover this sense of interdependent commitment. I really like the first one. It conjurers up the image of a rope.

We Strands together

Take up the strain together

and hold together

and the second of the two

Others me complete

Others together complete

Others I complete

and finally on Living truthfully three more

Open Book I seek

Open Book I am not yet

Opening Book

and

Some Pages I share

Some pages I keep hidden

Some pages despair!

finally

Christ rewrites each page

with mercy, grace and forgiveness

Jesus saves each page