Friday, May 04, 2007

the beauty of the Lord

I currently have this photo of a stained glass window on the "desktop" at home and on our main computer at work. I love it, especially from a little ways back, and imagining the sun shining through it (which it probably is on the photo).

It reminds me of the recent thought I read from N.T. Wright in his book, Simply Christian in which he sees beauty as being an echo of the voice of God to the world, and how this beauty is fulfilled in the coming of Jesus in bringing in the kingdom of God which ushers in the new creation. Of course we remember the beauty with which the Bible Story begins and with which it ends.

Tom Wright believes Christians should point to beauty (along with justice, spirituality and relationships) as being important for people to come to hear the voice of God in Christ, and that this is of great importance in a world that might see life as merely utilitarian. It's a beauty that is wonderful in itself, yet points beyond itself to the Beauty that we are called to behold, contemplate and even take more and more of its image on ourselves (some extra thoughts added here, I believe). And even enter into.

As I have been looking at the stained glass window for a number of days, it has helped me to want to meditate on, ponder and behold (and be beholden by) the beauty of the Lord. This is what icons are meant to do. They were made to be windows or pointers to draw attention beyond themselves, in this case to the beauty of the Lord and of his revelation to us in Christ.

Beauty is all over God's creation, even as it groans under the curse, awaiting the glorious resurrection of God's children. I love Spring when all is fresh and beauty can be seen nearly everywhere not obscured by concrete or the like. This beauty can lift us and help us to worship and want to live in the Beauty from whom all beauty comes.

What about you? Do you see validity in appreciating stained glass windows and icons in appreciating God's beauty and the glory of his revelation to us in Christ?

9 comments:

Every Square Inch said...

Ted,

Thanks for the post. I find that the phrase "beauty of God" is something that is hard to grasp. What comes to mind when you think about the beauty of God?

Doug Jones said...

Clearly, the Beauty of the Lord is seen in His handiwork and His ultimate Work of Atonement. I have been trying to become more alert to and aware of God's beauty in my everyday life. To pause and slow down and not walk by the complexity of a flower or the majesty of a blue sky - to acknowledge the beauty of the Lord. This has clearly helped me become less driven by my agenda and to also become a more patient and more present person. What a great thought about beauty in our world being an "echo" of God's voice...

Ted Gossard said...

I should have added in this post that Tom Wright emphasizes Christians expressing beauty through the arts, that this is important in pointing to the beauty of the Lord and his revelation to us in Christ.

Ted Gossard said...

ESI, Beauty certainly involves the mind but it involves the whole being. It involves our senses, our spirits, our imagination. Beauty draws us in and some times takes our breath away. And we are not only moved by it, but want to be nearer and experience more of it.

All these experiences point to the Beauty from which all beauty derives, the Triune God. God in Jesus gives us a revelation of beauty and all about the kingdom of God is beauty.

That came to my mind right now. Thanks, ESI.

Ted Gossard said...

Doug, So well said. And I really identify with it myself. Though I know I can grow in it much more.

Surely the work of atonement by God in Jesus is of great beauty to the eyes of faith. Even an imperfect presentation such as "the Passion of the Christ" film for me helps us see this beauty. And more importantly Scripture itself.

I think people need to see the beauty of the Lord in us, his people. I pray this would be true in my life and in the lives of our gatherings.

L.L. Barkat said...

That is one of my absolute favorite stained glass pieces! I even started a book once, with it as inspiration (now, where did I put that?).

Ted Gossard said...

L.L., Yes. I can't say I've seen one yet that I like more. That would be an interesting book. Maybe an idea for upcoming blogs?

Ted Gossard said...

One of the things that has been coming across again to me recently is the beauty of Scripture itself. The words are beautiful (cf., Psalm 19). And no matter what translation (as long as it's one of the many generally reliable ones that are now available).

The beauty of the words, particularly in the psalms, but elsewhere as well, in telling the Story God wants us to receive and become a part of in Jesus.

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