The Kingdom Breaking In

3 Mar

For school, I was assigned a project where I had to take a passage from either Acts or one of Paul’s letters and explore its meaning in both its original context and a current one through a creative medium. I chose a passage from Acts and decided to examine the text through three specific paintings. Although the paintings I created are not my best work in terms of artistic expression, I found the actual assignment greatly illuminated my understanding of  the text. So I thought to post the project for anyone who might be interested and in the hopes that you might enjoy the Word communicated through a different lens.  

The three paintings I created reflect the passage from Acts 2:38-42 and communicate the meaning of the text, as well as my personal experience with its message in a current church context, showing that the Word is as alive and vibrant as it was at the inception of Christianity.

Repent and Be Baptized

The first painting specifically reflects the scripture 2:38. “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven.” Related, I gave the painting the title Repent and Be Baptized.  Placed within images of water is a photograph of my adult baptism, which occurred a year and a half ago. The water is reflective of the act of being dipped in water, which is where the word baptism derived and also reflects the subconscious, where sin often breeds. The painting speaks to the church in a contemporary context, in that our church baptizes individuals when they are at an age to consciously choose to follow Christ. It also reflects a direct overlay with scripture in that since the time of Jesus, baptism has represented a critical stage in one’s walk with God.

The Holy Spirit Descends

The next painting portrays Acts 2:38 referring to the gift of the Holy Spirit being given. Entitled, The Holy Spirit Descends, my painting communicates the Holy Spirit descending and anointing those choosing to be baptized and to follow Jesus. The scripture reads, “And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our god calls to him.” As the artist, I chose this image for I definitely felt the Holy Spirit descend upon me during my baptism. Likewise, many times during worship at our church, the Holy Spirit is palpably present making for a profound and joyous experience. This continually fills me with wonder, which is one of the reasons why I chose this passage for my NT project.

Basileia Tou Theou or The Kingdom Breaking In

Finally, the last painting represents the culmination of the scripture 2:41-42. “So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The painting depicts a garden representative of the church body at the time of the church’s beginning and now in 2010.

I give the painting two titles. The first is Basileia tou Theo, which is Greek for the Kingdom of God and the second title is The Kingdom Breaking In. Going with the first title, the painting expresses that through God’s people living a cruciform ministry, the Kingdom of God is here and now. However, because we have not emerged into a complete eschatology, the second title – The Kingdom Breaking In, may more accurately represent the scripture. I came to this awareness when try as I might, I could not get the painting aesthetically right despite having painted numerous images of flowers previously to my liking. As I worked on it, I realized that my act of painting the picture reflected a parallel process with the church body striving to spread the Gospel. We as Christ followers do our best to imitate Christ but of course fall short at times. Likewise, we have still to inherit the Kingdom and yet when in union with God the Kingdom is present. It’s a paradox of sorts. A yes – but.

Addressing the church in a modern context, the final painting communicates the wonder of the church body in full blossom via worship, various ministries and fellowship. I use the imagery of a garden for a few reasons. One, a garden is beautiful, as is God’s grace and love. But a garden is also something that needs to be tended to as does our spirituality and spiritual community. It must be looked after with care to ensure growth vs. stagnation or choking from weeds and things that would destroy its beauty. The garden represents many types of flowers reflecting diversity and inclusiveness, which is the Christian community. God’s chosen people now includes all who accept and follow Christ. And finally, the garden represents the Garden of Eden and the restoring of cosmic order after the fall from Eden. It is a microcosm of the kingdom breaking in here and now.

4 Responses to “The Kingdom Breaking In”

  1. Stephanie March 4, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    Beautiful, Lise! Thank you for sharing your project and insights with us. Love to you!

  2. April King March 7, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    I love your pictures and explanations of them. Thanks for sharing them, Lise.

  3. ken March 9, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    It’s ok to slow down and enjoy life….I remember that day well.


  4. lisesletters March 11, 2010 at 2:42 am #

    Thanks, everyone! And Ken – hoping to slow down but I don’t see that happening any time soon. Longing for the ocean to knock some sense into me. Once the sun comes out – enough of all this mental stuff!!!!! Water and sun provide a wonderful momentary pause.

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