God Creates All Things New

My niece in Arizona had her first day of kindergarten recently.  I was moved by pictures of her first day of school. Such an innocent, fresh, excited look on her face!  Everything around her was new– new clothes, new school bag, new school, new teacher.

One of my favorite lines from the bible is found in the book of Revelation, when God says:  “Behold, I make all things new.” (21:5)  Although the context is about the end of the world and the forming of a new heavenly reality, I think it points to a deep reality about God:  God is Creator.

God did not merely create the earth in six days and then set his creative talent on a shelf until human history comes to the end of the world.  God is Creator, and God is still creating today in many ways. God planted traces of his own creativity in the creation: just look at how the seeds develop and mature, how life continues among animals with the birth of little pups and kittens, how the calendar of the earth time cycles around and begins again.

Our own lives can be instruments of God’s creativity when we try new things on for size.  We may try a new recipe, paint a room a new color, overhaul an engine, or show new skills to a young child.  We may reach out to a coworker and discover a new friend. Perhaps we travel to a new place or try a new way of volunteering.

Sometimes trying something new coaxes us out of our comfort zone. It can feel a little awkward and we may be a little tense (am I doing this right?).  But in stretching us a bit, the Holy Spirit seeks to re-create our lives into something new. We may make mistakes along the way, but that is part of the learning process, God creating new awareness within us.

As we enter into a new season of the year,  let us pray to the Holy Spirit to guide us and to re-new us.  We ask that the Holy Spirit to deepen our prayer lives and show us each how to use our unique giftedness to serve others. Let us pray for one another as we continue to move forward into this new chapter in our faith community. Let us put our hope and trust in God to re-create us.

Nature, creativity, and Creator God

I hope all of you are enjoying summer this year.  Here’s a photo I took of a monarch butterfly who kept flitting around the sandy beach.  I had fun adding the quote about Creator God.

Butterfly on sandy beach with Apollonius saying--Julie McCarty

Creativity often benefits from a playful attitude. In order to be creative, one has to let go of the critical self (writers call this “inner critic”), at least in the beginning, lest the new creation be crushed even before it’s out of the cocoon. It often helps to approach a new project with the spirit of childhood play.

I wonder if God would have created us, if his divine mind was filled with worries and fearful “what ifs” … What if they sin too much? What if the humans hate me? What if they hurt each other–or kill each other? What if NO ONE returns to the Garden of Eden (heaven) to be with me?

The creative energy just doesn’t flow with this sort of thinking. If God had been tangled up in nervous “what-ifs,” we might not even EXIST at all.

When I say this, of course, I’m really preaching to myself. In order to be creative, one has to silence the inner critic–at least in the initial stages. The inner critic can suggest improvements later, when it is time to edit or improve the work in progress.

May God bless you with a creative and re-creating summer…May your inner critic take a vacation so you can create something beautiful–be it sermons, recipes, vacations, work projects, art, photos, or simple messages on greeting cards. . . And may all you plan and create be filled with the wisdom, love, and Spirit of the Ultimate Creator.

Until next time, Amen!

(For more spiritual nuggets, visit Spiritual Drawing Board on Facebook.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus is the Light of the World

Hope the Lenten season is going well for all of you.

Here is an image I created this morning:

 

I am the light of the world--words of Jesus on yellow paint--design by Julie McCarty

Would you join me in prayer?

Dear Jesus,
You came into the world
to bring us the light of wisdom and compassion
and give us abundant life, that is,
the life of your Spirit.
Drive out all that is impure in us,
and transform us,
a little more each day
into your image and likeness.
May we become vessels of light
to all those around us,
especially those who are hurting or feel alone.
This we ask in your holy name,
and in the communion of the Holy Spirit,
Amen. 

Good Hair Day– Mary’s painting to feed hungry children

This original painting, called “Good Hair Day,” was recently created by 9-year-old Mary K., a young person I know who attends our church, Easter Lutheran.

It’s called “Good Hair Day,” and Mary has decided she wants to help feed starving children by selling prints of her work, which is approx. 13 x 19 inches.

Good Hair Day--by Mary Kotrba

 

The prints are $10 and Mary is donating the money to Feed My Starving Children. I know this family and this offer is legitimate. I am so happy to see a young painter create something so lovely and use the experience to help those in need.

If you would like to purchase prints, you can find more information on the April 8th post on “Sara’s Blog” at http://kotrbapianostudio.blogspot.com/

Until next time, Amen!

 

 

Lenten reflection: Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion

I haven’t had the opportunity to blog as often lately, but I thought some of you might like to revisit a reflection I wrote three years ago about Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion.” I really enjoy Chagall’s unique style, and the “White Crucifixion” is  an amazing work of art –and good for Christians to ponder as we draw closer to the special time of Holy Week.

The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways: this post was brought back into my awareness when Pope Francis said “White Crucifixion” is his favorite work of art

White Crucifixion--oil painting by Marc Chagall, 1938
White Crucifixion–oil painting by Marc Chagall, 1938

 

I have found that reflecting on the “White Crucifixion” is a kind of visio divina— that is, a prayerful meditation on a work of art. It brings my mind and heart into the realm of paying attention to God. To read that post, visit April 2011 on this blog.

May the good Lord bless you with awareness of his loving presence in your life in the days ahead. . .

Until next time, Amen!

P. S.  If you enjoy this blog, look for “Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty” on Facebook. 

 

 

 

 

God’s frost artwork, “through a glass dimly”, and our future

[Note: I began this draft last week, and the weather is quite similar today. That’s Minnesota for ya!]

For now we see through a glass, indistinctly,
but then, we will see clearly, face to face.
Now I know somewhat,
Then I will know completely–
so much that I will even know myself
as I am known.
(paraphrase of 1 Cor. 13:12)

It’s January in Minnesota, and today’s weather dipped into the dangerously cold zone, so frigid that school was called off because children would likely get frostbitten just waiting for the school bus.

Capture--Jan 23 2014 weather on MPR

I’ve been keyboarding away on my computer since early morning hours, by the light of the half-moon, when suddenly I noticed the sun was up and forming this pattern on the drapery:

Through a glass dimly--photo by Julie McCarty

When I pulled back the curtains, here’s what I saw:

God's Artwork--Ice Crystals--photo by Julie McCarty--Eagan MN

(window plus storm window–click to enlarge)

For a time, I just took in the beauty of the ice crystals sparkling in the sunlight, and then grabbed my camera. I call this “God’s Artwork”:

Frosty ice art on window pane--photo Julie McCarty

(Click on photos to enlarge.)

After taking many photos, I noticed a rainbow effect in the sky parallel to the sun, and began to search for a “sun dog.”  I didn’t get to see the sun dog because I went nearly half blind trying to look for it in all the glare. (No wonder St. Paul fell to the ground after seeing the Light of Christ in a vision. I felt fairly disoriented while I waited for my eyes to readjust.)

Here is a “sun dog” photo I took in December:

Sun dog--Dec 6 2013--Julie McCarty - Even Smaller Copy--with sig

We often think of Christ as the “Light” of God who came into the world. Early Christians sometimes compared God the Father to the sun, and Christ as the divine ray of sunlight sent to earth to bring us new life.

My experience of seeing shadows of ice crystals through the curtain — a sort of “veil”–and then seeing the beauty of the frost directly, and finally the sun beyond (practically blinding me–I’m still not really “seeing” the sun), reminds me that there is much to know about God, and much to experience of God’s presence. Even the most Spirit-charged experiences in this life are nothing compared to what we can expect in the next life.

In Chapter 13 of First Corinthians, Paul writes about this pattern of spiritual growth: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (vs. 11)  Then he turns to his belief about the future:

For now we see in a mirror [or glass], dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.  (vs. 12)

Paul is reminding us that there is so much more to come. Even if we have come to Christ, prayed, studied the bible, attended worship services,  and experienced the power of the Spirit in various spiritual gifts, there is still more for us to discover about God–and experience one day in God’s presence in heaven.

Thank you God --Gods artwork--frost on window--photo Julie McCartyNow, we see the light of God, as through a veil, or in a glass dimly; one day we will see and know  and experience God face to face.

I think that is Good News.

Until next time, Amen!