This week I came across a quote by Madeleine L’Engle, author of the well-known children’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time (among other books). In Walking on Water, L’Engle reflects on the intersection of faith and art and writes these words:
There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.
What she means is that there is nothing in this world that cannot give evidence to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. A baby, a family living their daily life, a donkey, a simple feeding trough – each of these ordinary, everyday objects were present when God entered his own creation. Each of these earthly things then, became sacred, because they played a role in the working out of salvation; in witnessing and making known the savior who had come down.
And, as Madeleine L’Engle reminds us, simple objects and activities can today still be vehicles for conveying incarnation truths. As she writes:
…to paint a picture or to write a story or to compose a song is an incarnational activity. The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birthgiver. In a very real sense the artist (male or female) should be like Mary who, when the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, was obedient to the command.
Stories, no matter how simple, can be vehicles of truth; can be, in fact, icons. It’s no coincidence that Jesus taught almost entirely by telling stories, simple stories dealing with the stuff of life familiar to the Jews of his day. Stories are able to help us to become more whole, to become Named. And Naming is one of the impulses behind all art; to give a name to the cosmos we see despite all the chaos.
If we are willing to look, we will find evidence of the incarnation everywhere. A meal reminds of God’s provision, and of Jesus’ feeding thousands. A glass of water refreshes, and fills us with the knowledge of the One who gives water that we may never thirst again. And art, especially art, whether music, book, or painting, reveal to us a God who is the author of creativity, beauty, and intentionality – allowing us to be like God in our own endeavors to create.
Whether artist or observer, creator or lover of creation, we can find evidence of incarnation in many places, and echoes of a baby’s birth, who changed the world forever.
~Pastor Mike Middaugh