Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Crown

The last few weeks I have been sharing about a painting done for my church during the Christmas Eve services. I want to share a few thoughts about that painting and post the final photos.

This was the third time my pastor has asked me to paint during the service.

The challenge is to create something which will supplement the message, be somewhat complete within two hours, at least understandable at the end of the first, allow me the freedom to explore creatively what the Lord would have me learn and contemplate at that time, and most importantly, tune out all of the distractions of standing on a stage during one of the best attended services of the year and focus on God.

This time I had an image in mind:

(click any of these pics to enlarge)

Starting with a photo of my first child (who died two weeks after the picture was taken) I thought and drew and contemplated, and prayed over the idea of God incarnate, divinity made flesh.

There isn't any escaping the idea that this infant lying in a feeding trough was intentionally taking on all the frailties of being human, including the inevitable consequences of mortality.

The wounds of the Crucifixion on the infant was not a slowly developed feature of the painting. It was instantaneous. The week before I was to do it, while I was worshipping, the image of an infant floating in a blue sky bearing terrible wounds sprang clearly and fully into my mind.

On that Christmas Eve morn I taped the sketch to the top of the easel and began to worship.

By the end of the first service I had it roughed in, and by the end of the second service it was complete enough for others to see the vision.



But it wasn't finished.

Before the next week was done, I had gone over everything, layering thin veils of gold, pushing back the obvious wounds, making the crown of thorns less even, more natural, emphasizing the eyes and laughing mouth.


But something wasn't quite right about it, and it took my blog readers to point it out.

The thorns.

The crown of thorns was too sharp, too clear. The eye is drawn to fine details (a technique I used to emphasize the laughing eyes and mouth).

Friday I went over that crown of ridicule thrust upon His head, and changed it:

Infant Messiah - Infinite Messiah

Now the crown placed in mocking tribute is transformed with flaming gold, a hint of a halo, echoes of a golden crown shimmering in His light, His grace, His glory.

And that is the message behind the painting.

He came to Earth, lived a blameless, perfect life, and meekly permitted His own creation to spit upon Him, beat Him, flog Him, nail His body to a cross.

And with that act He permitted me to place my sins atop His suffering. As He was lifted up on those rude pieces of wood, as He supported His weight on pieces of metal piercing His body, He opened a rip in time and allowed me to take all of the nasty, hurtful, angry, petty, disgusting, self-centered actions of my life, and dump it like the offal they are onto His already bruised and outstretched body. They no longer lay upon my shoulders.

And the crown... that hateful, hurtful, horrible crown meant to mock Him was transformed upon His brow into a symbol of glory, of true Kingship. He showed that mere men cannot touch, cannot sully, what is divine, what is glorious... His love, shines beneath that crown through a laughing smile large enough to breathe life into the universe.

He demostrated true kingship. He showed that being a king is not about the honors of men, but is intrinsic to the king himself, to the King Himself.

In the moment He meekly accepted that crown of torture He transformed the meaning of kingship. He made all the coarse humor of Roman soldiers an ironic first tribute to the only true king. For He demonstrated a king is one who loves so greatly that self-sacrifice and loving and serving are a part of being a true leader, a true shepherd.





18 comments:

jel said...

YES!!!!!!!

Terry said...

Dear Curious Servant...How wonderful!!
Tears are filling my eyes and joy is filling my heart!! Thank you!!....From Terry

The centurion that was at the cross saw this too, I think..At first he admitted, "Certainly this was a righteous man...Luke 23:47 but at the last he had to admit, "Truly this was the Son of God" Matt 27:54.. Mark 15:39

Anonymous said...

Somehow this made me go yes and feel joy - this did it - it got you where you needed to be...

curious servant said...

Thank you. I think it did help quite a bit. Go thank Jim over at Jim's little Blog for the suggestion!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comments on Joe's blog about parenting. I taught middle school for 7 years, I am now at an elementary school. I could identify with you completely. It's as if you read my thoughts and words for the entire time I spent in the warzone I call Middle School....

God bless! I love the painting. I have been trying to convince my preacher to have a talented artist in our congregation do that very thing for a year. I should send him to you site.

Thanks, again!
Michelle

T. F. Stern said...

Very talented, and insightful to boot. He did come knowing what would happen and came anyway. I hope we can live up to His gifts.

donna said...

thanks will and God bless

Jim said...

This is a wonderful portrayal of Christs life, C.S. Not that there was anything wrong with the first.
I have mixed feelings for the extra work and grief I causeed by my comment.
But it did come out very nicely and if you didn't us to settle in on that crown of thorns, this keeps us going on through the whole Gospel for sure.

Thanks too, for thanking me. I appreciate that but it is undeserved as I inadvertently touched on an area you felt could be improved upon.
..

Ame said...

YES!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow! God Bless You!

Terry said...

Dear Curious Servent...Guess what?
Noel Lewis is working on putting the links on my blog site and pretty soon your's and Jim's and Jel's will be there along with a lot of others of the precious Chrisitian friends that I have met the last year in blog-land...

I was talking to Noel and he noticed that you mentioned him a couple times on my blog that you were going down to his site. He said he thought that it was really "neat".

He has posted a lovely picture of himself and his wife on his blog site so you maybe should go and see it,eh?

Thank you for all of your encouragment!...From Terry

Anonymous said...

Dear Curious Servant,
This is how it was meant to be, isn't it?
You have made a triptych of Messiah, true man, true God.
Born under the nightblue sky in shiny white starlight. Through pain and passion victoriously gloryfied. Our living Saviour.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Curious Servant,
You have made a triptych of messiah, true man, true God.
Born under a nightblue sky enlightened by white stars.
Through pain and passion revealed as our victorious Saviour.
Wonderful.
Thank you for letting me in, in the complicated process of creation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Curious Servant,
You have made a triptych of messiah, true man, true God.
Born under a nightblue sky enlightened by white stars.
Through pain and passion revealed as our victorious Saviour.
Wonderful.
Thank you for letting me in, in the complicated process of creation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Curious Servant,
You have made a triptych of messiah, true man, true God.
Born under a nightblue sky enlightened by white stars.
Through pain and passion revealed as our victorious Saviour.
Wonderful.
Thank you for letting me in, in the complicated process of creation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Curious Servant,
You have made a triptych of messiah, true man, true God.
Born under a nightblue sky enlightened by white stars.
Through pain and passion revealed as our victorious Saviour.
Wonderful.
Thank you for letting me in, in the complicated process of creation.

Anonymous said...

Dear Curious Servant,
You have made a triptych of messiah, true man, true God.
Born under a nightblue sky enlightened by white stars.
Through pain and passion revealed as our victorious Saviour.
Wonderful.
Thank you for letting me in, in the complicated process of creation.

curious servant said...

Now THAT is a posting glitch!

Thanks for dropping by Elise!