Tag Archives: Jessetree

The Jesse Tree: Grapes

The second Sunday of Advent brought our attention to the Promised Land which serves as both a promised home but also a metaphor for the church of the eternal home of God’s people. I write more about this in an earlier post entitled, Could We But Stand Where Moses Stood. Here, GPC artist, Adah Freeman has taken as her inspiration the image of the cluster of grapes brought back from the Valley of Eshcol in Numbers 13. As we move through Advent, we are to consider the longing for the place and reception of home, of abiding, of place, and most importantly, the abiding presence of God.

Take a moment and see what your imagination reads of the painting. How might you bridge from Numbers 13, grapes, the promised land to the coming of the Christ Child? You may read my take in the poem below.



When we returned from the land of flowing
Milk and honey — full and green and growing,
We carried the abundance, the grapes bursting
With the fruit-full promise: no more thirsting.

But then doubt set in, underneath a mumbling
That bubbled up to a fount of grumbling
The people, giants; their cities tow’ring
And a land full of enemies devouring.

Have we come this far only to die?
To be squashed? Skins left out under the sky?
How will the death of a generation
Bear the fruit: a promised, holy nation?
What pressing and crushing will remove our sin?
What life trod and poured, that we enter in?

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thank you.
artwork: © Adah Freeman 2019, “Grapes” acrylic on canvas.

Jesse Tree Art: Slingshot

GPC’s Advent art project, The Jesse Tree, is being installed. New pieces are on display each Sunday. One of those pieces is a plywood sculpture of the Jesse Tree which I’ll be writing more about later. The other pieces are a combination of abstract art and poetry.

Why Abstract Art?
Representational art is often viewed as being inherently more worthy than abstract art. The seemingly inherit chaos of the art is viewed in some circles as refuting the idea of transcendent truth. This is false. All art abstracts at some level. The artists eye and imagination always works to communicate and focus. Every artist embellishes, adds qualities, or makes use of symbolism. Abstract art, however, does this with an abandon. The artist hands-over the painting’s meaning to the viewer, and in so doing, the viewer’s imagination becomes as important as the artist’s imagination in order to give the painting meaning.

How Do You Read Abstract Art?
There are several cues one may use to help read abstract art. Many abstract paintings have titles. The titles give you some clue as to the artist’s intent. Next, look at the colors and lines. How has the artist used line, color, and flow to communicate? Secondly, look at the larger context used. Is there a theme to the series? What sorts of references may the artist have been drawing from or which you are aware that may help you discern a meaning? Lastly, talk and share with others your ideas. Abstract art is about engaging the imagination and discovering meaning.

Each piece of art in this portion of the Jesse Tree project is accompanied by an ekphrastic poem. Ekphrastic poems are poems which are written in response to a specific piece of artwork. In ekphrastic poetry we are offered a view into the poet’s imagination as they dialogue with the artist’s work.

Here’s the first piece in the series. It corresponds to 1 Samuel 17 and the story of David and Goliath. The painting is titled, “Slingshot.” How do you read the colors? The lines? How can you derive a story from the painting about David’s struggle with Goliath? Because this is part of the Jesse Tree project, how does this relate to Jesus? How might who Jesus is and what he has done be brought to bear in the artwork’s meaning?

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© Adah Freeman 2019, “Slingshot” acrylic on canvas. All Rights Reserved.

Here’s my attempt to read the painting in poetry. This poem too, is entitled, “Slingshot.”

Once the world was shining-new, golden-bright,
Untouched by shade or stain but brilliant-white;
Then an enemy came
To steal by dark deeds, claim.

The menacing darkness blurred, broke, and scarred—
Tore with violence, crossed, mangled, marred
The field of shimm’ring gold
Whence all was lost or sold.

The darkness continued to blur and streak,
Sent giants: Despair, Dementor, Defeat
Who laughed at our fear, scoffed,
Defied our Lord, and mocked.

But God’s Shepherd descended in between,
Went outside the camp where he was last seen—
For our glory-sealing,
Bearing stripes for healing.

He flung himself at death, and slew the Night
And with his arms he slings us up in life.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This sonnet is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thank you.

The Suffering Servant

GPC’s Advent theme this year is The Jesse Tree. Over the course of the past year, the older primary aged children have been participating in a class called, Rooted in Christ. In this class students have been learning how Jesus’ coming was foreshadowed in the Old Testament, and they have been making ornaments for a Jesse Tree which you may read more about HERE.

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This week’s sermon passage is from Isaiah 53, and it foretells of the coming of the Lord’s Suffering Servant. The Advent theme for the second Sunday is “love.” The candle we light in the Advent wreath acknowledges the love of God which is demonstrated in the coming of Jesus Christ, the Suffering Servant.

Now, love is more than a feeling of affection. Though love often begins and continues with desire and affection, love is most often demonstrated rather than felt. We experience love in the lengths to which we go in order to love (oftentimes in the form of our own sacrifice) and in the lengths others go in order to keep loving us. You may read more about that kind of love HERE.

The amazing grace of the gospel is that God has gone to every length in order to save us. Being rooted and established in that love? Well, it’s apparently a power which can be ours if only as Isaiah says in Isaiah 53, we may see the significance of the ‘arm of the Lord’ and believe the message of His revelation.