Experiencing God’s Word in Color | WE ARE BEING TRANSLATED

Written By Holy Scripture

The Body of Christ / Covered with the Robe of Christ

Today’s Scripture:

And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”


Luke 22:19

One of my artistic heroes is the Renaissance author and preacher, John Donne. The most famous passage from Donne’s Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions comes from Meditation XVII, and is recognizable to most people even today. It comes at a time when Donne is lying in his sickbed, afraid of his own death, and he hears a church bell ringing, which he takes to be someone’s death knell. He contemplates the relief he feels that it is not his own and is drawn into somber reflection that all men are a part of the body of Christ, including the stranger whose death knell is ringing:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

In 1 Corinthians 12:12, Paul says, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” The ritual and sacrament of communion is a reminder that because of the broken body of Christ and his shed blood, we are integrated into a body of believers. Under the sun, we are a part of the great march of time, which is a body of death. The hope of the Christian is that we will be grafted onto Christ’s eternal body of life, and we will one day be given a new body, one that will not pass away. I kept this in mind as I tore off each piece of rice paper and dipped it into the cup of pigment, integrating it into the final painting.

In the beginning of Donne’s Meditation XVII—my favorite part—he compares the body of Christ to pages of books that are translated from transience to glory through the experience of death.

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

If you would like to engage Kelly’s work in person and learn more about this particular piece and read the full essay that explores the ideas behind it, “Geheimnis” is on display at the Downtown Campus in our Four Chapter Gallery through August 21. Join us on a First Friday or during open gallery hours to immerse yourself in this amazing meditative work on Ecclesiastes.

 

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