All His fullness

stream

 

In the beginning the Word (Jesus) was existing. And the Word was in fellowship with God the Father . And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity.

John 1.1-2 (Wuest)

And the Word, entering a new mode of existence, became flesh, and lived in a tent (His physical body) among us.

John 1.14 (Wuest)

Shortly after achieving the impossible by placing the entirety of His divinity into the skin of the man (Jesus), God achieved more of the impossible by placing all of His divinity in us, through Christ. And He did it over and over again. It became His delight, His raison d’être, God pouring His divine self into a human self and making it new; a man, a woman and a child. An image once badly spoiled, a human image, my image, rescued, redeemed,transformed and restored. His life’s work, made good in the confines of a human span. 3000 souls on Pentecost and others added daily, the sheer goodness of it, escalating, racing, souring through nations, carried on ships across the sea, along the trade routes and the pilgrim paths, echoing in the corner of the earth, a new word spoken in every language known to man.

God was glad to have all His fulness dwell in Him and God is glad to have all His fulness dwell in you. This is where heaven touches earth, at the moment when you know it must be true. When you believe that incarnation, God made man, means God made man in you. In your failings and your troubles, in the things that went wrong way past any human power to redeem, in the ugly, in the impossible, in the wildly absurd, God stepped in disguised as a man and pulled off the greatest undercover operation in the history of our crime.

All of His divinity.

In sickness and heart ache, in failure and through overwhelming troubles, in the ugliness and desperate gloom of a broken world, all of the divinity of God lived in Christ and you have that inheritance too.

For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things.

Colossians 1.19-20 (NIV)

 

 

 

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Five Minute Friday: Release

rest

This week’s prompt at Five Minute Friday is RELEASE. It caused me to think about releasing things in my world, either my internal or external world, so that I can receive more of what God has planned for me. Sometimes the things we release are clearly things that are bad for us but sometime we let go of something that is not in itself bad to make room for something greater that God has stored up for us.

GO

In which we release to receive.

The little girl in the princess dress with the plastic tiara balanced on her baby girl curls trips and stumbles to the front of the toddler group circle where the grown-up helper is handing out drinks in brightly coloured sippy-cups. In each hand the small child holds a favourite toy secure in the knowledge that no other child can play with the plastic donut or the princess teapot whilst they remain steadfast in her grasp. At the front of the circle reaching out to take a drink the little girl in the princess dress is confounded how she will drink when her hands are so full. However hard she tries she can’t take a cup from the tray because her hands are otherwise occupied. There she stands in front of a full tray, and she is welcome to take, but her hands are too full to receive.

Out of the crowd of chattering parents a mother emerges to help the little girl in the princess dress with the plastic tiara balanced on her baby girl curls. There is a quiet word and gentle reason, an adult hand that helps the tense fingers to unfurl, toys forgot, hands free, drink enjoyed.

It is plain: we must release and let go to receive.

The little girl in the princess dress with the plastic tiara balanced on her baby girl curls joins the other children on the mat for songs.

STOP

5minutefriday

What is Five Minute Friday?

We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that Lisa Jo Baker posts at 1 minute past midnight EST ever Friday at lisajobaker.com. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.

Unscripted. Unedited. Real.

The Man Who Gave Too Much – a trip to the gallery and a book review

A review of Anita Mathias’ children’s book, Francesco, Artist of Florence: The Man Who Gave Too Much

I seem to have taken a little writing break without even planning it. All across the internet big time bloggers are burned out and announcing dramatic online sabbaticals and somewhere along the way I just petered out …

On Wednesday Anita Matthias published, How can a Christian Blogger keep Fresh and Green Without Burnout?  and I remembered my unfinished blogging project: a review of her newest children’s book, all partly written, in fragments, unfinished.

On Saturday I took myself off to the museum. Up the stairs and across the landing, marching myself through four centuries of beautiful art, hardly looking up at the walls, because I wanted to be in the room with the moss green walls, sitting on the little bench in front of the copy of the Mona Lisa, with my note book and pen. I wanted to be amongst the fragments of rescued altar screens and the panels from triptychs and diptychs painted in red and green and gold. I wanted to study the skin tone of the cherub faces and the folds in the skirts of the weeping mother of Christ. I wanted to consider the  stature of the men who took the Christ form the cross and held his ragged body in their disappointed arms and to see the marks on the surface of the painting where the brush of the artist had once been.

angel

So there I sat with the room all to myself, for quite some time, thinking, resting and writing … until the Saturday afternoon children’s art class arrived, with their noisy clip boards and enthusiastic teacher.

Though I am committed to the idea of children in galleries, I quickly escaped to the adjacent room, Late Renaissance Italy, which is where I saw something I have never noticed before, a marble and pietre dure table, similar I guess, to one of the pieces described in Anita’s story, the one I have intend to review. Pietre dure is an inlay technique created using highly polished coloured stones to create images and patterns. The stone is sliced thinly and cut into intricate shapes that fit together like a jig-saw puzzle. Anita’s story is illustrated with fine photos of the most exquisite work; precious stone, laid like wooden pieces in a marquetry picture, birds and flowers, scrolls, fruit, and carefully arranged tessellating shapes. Though the Liverpool Walker’s example is beautiful it is nothing compared to the examples that Anita has chosen for the book: such fine colours laid against shining black marble, I notice how the natural grain of the stone is married to the shadow and contours of a fruit or the wing of a bird, the stems of the flowers are impossibly fine and the veins in the wings of a butterfly executed with a precision and symmetry that seem impossible.

table2

table

And this is how I come to finally pull together the pieces of this book review.  Exiled to the Late Renaissance room of the Walker gallery on a rainy Saturday afternoon I sat myself beside the pietre dure table and made myself a new set of notes. I am reminded of all the times I have sat in the museum with my notebook and spun a story of an artist or the people and places he had painted. A non-fiction of my own. A retelling of the story behind the artistry that helps me understand the ‘whys’ and ‘what ifs’ of a piece of art or an artefact. I scroll back through the photos on my phone where their are murals from the ancient worlds, armour from the Orient, Anglo-Saxon jewels, tapestries and African masks. These are good starting points for stories.

Francesco, Artist of Florence: The Man Who Gave Too Much, is a brave children’s book: brave in subject and brave in human sentiment and spirituality. The starting point for this story is a sixteenth century artist who work in pietre dure. In a culture where almost all the most popular children’s fiction occupies a relatively small range of possible worlds, Anita has ventured into a rare time and place, a foreign cities, lost treasures and the exceptional yet ordinary people who made them. Not content to stop there she ventures into the emotional tensions of an artist’s life: an artist who must believe in himself and his gifting even when he receives no recognition or reward for his work.

stonewallpaper

stonebirdsFrancesco is a artist who loves his work, bestowing upon it an almost sacred significance, creating flowers that will never fade and birds that will never die. With every selection of stone, the colours and the grain, its sympathy to the final picture, he is creating beauty that will never die, and “painting for eternity”.  Yet Francesco is troubled, a victim of the astute bargaining skills of his customers and his over ambitious ideal that every eager customer should own something of beauty for their own home.  He is not a business man. Francesco must live with the pressure of his failure to make enough money and the wrath of his disappointed wife who constantly reminds him he has not provided for the family as he should. In church, under the gaze of Masaccio’s La Trinita, Francesco brings his weaknesses and failures to God. He must forgive the friends and associates who have taken advantage of his kindly nature and robbed him of the reward that is due for the art, but most of all he must forgive himself. He must show himself mercy, he has not fulfilled responsibilities for the un-paid bills and the much needed savings. Towards the end of the story  he says to himself, (or maybe to his God),

“I look forward to the latter day of eternal beauty, which shall be for all creation.

I look forwards to the day of eternal lowers, and the everlasting bouquet when the hard nosed shall sit with the soft hearted, when it will be safe for the lamb to be gentle as he sits down with the lion, for the lion will now be gentle too.”

francesco

 

24-Anita

 

Anita sent me a free copy of the book for me to review. You can buy an ebook or  a hard copy of Francesco, Artist of Florence: The Man Who Gave Too Much at amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Anita Mathias blogs at anitamathias.com

You can read Anita’s own review and presentation of the book here on her website

The pietre dure table I found was in the Walker Gallery Liverpool.

If you are a teacher or interested in sharing the themes of the story with your own children, I can recommend this review from Adrianna at Classical Quest. It includes informative  links and great craft ideas. Don’t miss the video from the V and A that shows a pietre dure artist at work.

The book would make a great present for primary age children who are familiar with museums and galleries and it would be a great illustrated read for older independent readers.