By Ken Robertson, Assistant Pastor
Starting Sunday, September 7th, Church of the Advent is launching into a new Sermon Series rooted in Genesis 1: "Human." This sermon series will use the text of Genesis and the gospel of Jesus Christ to look at what it means to be truly and fully human.
To complement this series, we're highlighting two works of art that reflect this theme.
For the sermon series website banner, we focused on Michaelangelo's "The Creation of Adam," a fresco painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in 1511. It is an iconic image of humanity's creation in the image of God for a reason: the physical anatomy, the dynamic movement, and the symbolism (check out Wikipedia's "Popular Theories" section on the piece) are captivating. For the website banner, we chose to zoom in on God's & Adam's hands: both because genitalia on a website banner would be slightly awkward, and because the hands are so exquisite they just about say it all. The font used is from the Aquiline family, chosen as an homage to the age of renewed humanism that inspired Michaelangelo. However, this age often chose "Man" over and against God, and reflected a humanism that results in a dead end philosophically and spiritually. Our desire is to foster a "Christian humanism" that sees life in Christ as a recovery of full humanity.
For our bulletin cover, Adventer Jason Dudley chose a work by Expressionist Georges Rouault titled, "Head of Christ," painted in 1939. Rouault was an avowedly Christian painter, who was once quoted as saying, "My only objective is to paint a Christ so moving that those who see him will be converted." However, his work was significant both for its subject matter and its form, and it has earned great acclaim in the years since his death in the 1950's.
"Head of Christ - 1939" is a beautiful portrait of the humanity of Christ. Painted in earth tones, with a simplicity of style and downward focus, the painting reflects the Son's condescension to take on the form of dust that is our mortal nature. The halo that classically surrounds Christ is hidden and subtle, but not absent: divinity is cloaked in a shroud of humanity. It is only my speculation, but the figure behind Christ seems to be that of a person (only the top of his bare head can be seen). Christ seems to be stepping in front of him, as if to say: "Don't look at yourself to define true humanity: look at me. I am the source, and goal, and the truest picture, of everything it means to be human." Alternatively, the image behind Christ could be the cross: the symbol of his death, and the symbol of his victory over death. Through Christ, human life is no longer a parenthesis; it is a vocation that lasts into a new creation beyond the tomb.
As we trace the narrative of Scripture from creation to redemption this fall, may we remember that true humanity comes from being born in the image of God and experiencing the restoration of that image in Jesus Christ. We hope and pray that as we journey through Genesis, you'll find yourself becoming more fully human in the process.
"The glory of God is a human being fully alive" - Irenaeus