This week’s WordPress Photo theme is “Color“. Rather than simply writing about different pictures I’ve taken, I’m instead trying to write “photo sermons” based on these topics. In these posts, I want to try and use the photo itself as my “text”–trying to see how God reveals himself in his “other” book, in addition to the Bible.
In our last photo sermon, I talked about how I love that Easter comes around Spring time and so the natural world beautifully reflects the spiritual truth being celebrated. Also in line with this truth is the fact that Easter–just like Spring–is not just one day–it’s an entire season in the Church calendar.
It takes time for beauty and truth to get into and blossom within our souls. It takes preparation and anticipation for the roots of our hearts to quicken like the trees around us–to feel life coursing in them once more.
This is beautiful. And it doesn’t need to be this way.
Most of Christian theology has believed that because the world was created “through Christ”, this means that the world is woven throughout with little bits and pieces of his character and nature. And one of the primary ways he does this is by Color.
The more I think about it, the more Color seems absolutely unnecessary. There’s no reason the world needs to be so colorful. It’s a purely gratuitous gift of a good God to show us who he is. And it does this on many levels.
Color is an “emergent” property. It radiated from within something. It is inherent to that thing. It cannot be imposed upon something else. Even when we paint or dye something, we are covering one object with another object that “radiates” the particular color. It is part of the nature of things and emanates out from them.
This is a beautiful picture of who God is. In the “portrait” of God’s nature, each of his “attributes” are different “colors” of the overall picture. And this is woven into the world around us. We worship a “colorful” God–a God that is gratuitously manifold in his shades and palettes. And he loves to take the form of all of those colors.
(And so do we. Here’s a fun exercise: how would you “describe” your favorite color? What adjectives come to mind when you see it? Studies have shown that many of these same adjectives are what you would use when describing your “ideal self”–or how you wish you were perceived by others. We live to embody our favorite colors as well.)
And, just like Color, the youngest of infants can perceive and know these colors, but the most skilled of artists can spend years training themselves and still be surprised by the interplay of color and light. And it is their joy to do this, even as it is our joy to do our own “Color Theory” explorations, when it comes to God.
We do this through Scripture, Prayer, and Sacrament, yes. But we also do it by seeing the very literal colors that he has woven into the world.
Both the incarnation and God having created this world as a temple-world in which he intends to dwell for all time show us that the creative work of God is “big” enough to not only “communicate”, but also contain the fullness of the Divine. He has endowed it with the capacity and ability to hold Him, even as h is the force which holds it together.
And so, in a sense, one can see colors as the actual “emergence” of God all around us.
The opposite of abstract art is “representational art”, or that “re-presents” something already around the artist. When we do abstract art, then, it is usually consisting of lines, forms, and colors not “re-presentative” of anything currently in existence.
Abstraction is usually employed to inspire sensation, heightened sensitivity to body and emotion, engagement with the whole person, and as a pure expression of the most basic and elemental parts of the human experience, soul, and mind–especially the artist’s.
When God created, there was no analogous thing for God to base his work on or, in other words, “re-present.” The created world around us, therefore, is God’s abstract piece of art. (even the incarnation was God putting into the world an “image” and “form” of something already in existence.)
These colors all around us are the pure expressions of the heart and intention of God, just as an abstract expressionist painter would rather have as undiluted and true of a picture of his intention on the canvas as possible, rather than “merely” copying something already around him–no matter how beautiful that “re-presentation” might be.
Do we–can we–have a sense for the reality that God inhabits even the wavelengths of light all around us, and that our eyes are constantly receiving the light of the world, just as our hands and mouths receive the bread of life each week at the Table?
Could it be that God is graciously offering himself to us at all moments of all days, and that our sense feast on him even when our mind (and even heart) are not consciously engaged in the process? Could he be constantly feeding us, nourishing us, communing with us–even sometimes in spite of us?
Not only has God given, inhabited, and used these colors around us, but he has given us the capacity and charge to do the same in the world.
Look back at the picture above. One of my favorite parts is the fact that all of the houses are painted completely different colors as well. Including, you will see, a house painted the same color as the tree!
So how do we see these “colors” of God?
Interestingly, as talked about in this segment of RadioLab, human cultures throughout history have literally not been able to, in a sense, see colors in the world until they are able to make that color themselves.
In a similar way, I wonder if we can most tangibly see and experience God’s “colors” of grace, love, security, rest, etc.when we ourselves are embodying and “creating” that color itself.
Want to most clearly and quickly experience God’s grace? Be gracious to others. Service? Serve others. Generosity? Be generous with your resources. Presence? Be present where he has said he would be.
The Beauty and unnecessity of Color in this world is a picture of the “givenness” of all life–a picture of God’s grace by giving us above and beyond what he need give. And it’s by this that He lovingly sustains us, feeds us, and takes joy in His own work.
May we learn to do the same.
In the name of Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
[See my past Weekly Photo Challenges & Sermons here.]
This is WordPress’ little plug for the Weekly Photo Challenges:
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in our Weekly Photo Challenge to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in Post a Day / Post a Week. Everyone is welcome to participate, even if your blog isn’t about photography.
Here’s how it works:
1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.
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7 thoughts on “It’s Still Easter: a Theology of Color [photo sermon]”
Thank you for that. It is a blessing.
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wooooow! that is amazing! i just started a photo blog myself check it out? 🙂 http://cupcakesandshit.wordpress.com/
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