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GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY :
MAY 3, 2020
Welsh Farm, 14" x 11", oil pastel on paper
The following copyright line must appear with descriptions and/or images: Copyright 2020 Barbara Sartorius Bjelland
During times of great distress, it can be difficult to pray. The Holy Spirit groans within us and turns our groans into prayers (Romans 8:26,27). The Holy Spirit can also use visual art to point us to God and make us aware of God's care for us.
The Green Pastures of Psalm 23
Psalm 23 says, “The LORD is my shepherd….” While meditating on this passage, I though it odd that the psalm concludes with “goodness and mercy chase after me...” I usually think of God going ahead of me to prepare the way, which God does. Then I realized that God also follows me and won’t let me go even if I feel lost. He spreads a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
Thanks be to God for his tender care.
Related Scripture: Psalm 65:12,13: The meadows and pastures rejoice over the bounty God has given them; they "gird themselves with joy (RSV)"; they delight in God's presence within themselves--we can do the same!
Response: Slowly read all of Psalm 23. What stands out to you? What enemies are you facing? How is God providing, spreading a table before you? You may draw a picture of a table with God's provision on it. God's "provision" may include people or things in your life or gifts or abilities God has given you.
Jesus the Good Shepherd, 7" x 5", pencil on paper
Jesus the Good Shepherd
Christians have depicted Jesus in art as the Good Shepherd since early times. This image carries with it the prayer, “Lord, save me as the Good Shepherd saves the sheep.” This image also calls to mind the words of Isaiah 63:9:
"In all their affliction he was afflicted,
and the angel of his presence saved them;
in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old."
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who calls his sheep by name (John 10:3). In these troubled times, let’s remember that Jesus suffers with us and also has the power to lift us up, because he is human and he is divine.
Related Scripture: Duet. 1:30, 31 (God the Father carrying his people); Exodus 19:4 (God carrying the people like a nurturing Mother eagle); Luke 15:1-7 (Jesus rejoices to carry his lost sheep--we are not a burden to him!): Hebrews 13:20, 21 ("May the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep...")
Response: How has God "carried" you in the past? How do you need God to "carry" you now? You may lift up your hands to God with palms open, asking God to carry your lament, your concerns and your very self.
Jesus, Children and Lamb, 10" x 8", pencil on paper
The Good Shepherd of All Creation
Jesus loves the little children, the lambs, and all of Creation. All will sing his praise at the end of time (Revelation 5:13).
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep. The Shepherd uses his rod and staff to fight off enemies and to pull lost sheep back to his side. The sheep know their shepherd and hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, leads them out and goes ahead of them (John 10:1-11).
We can be assured that our Good Shepherd is with us always (Matthew 28:20).
Related Scripture: Acts 13:18 (God leads his people out of Egypt, that they might worship him)
Response: What is Jesus leading you out of of? Where is Jesus leading you to? You may dance or sing a song of praise!
The Shepherd's Staff Became a Cross
"The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood." John 1:14, MSG
In my painting of Christ on the cross, Christ appears to be both descending into the neighborhood of earth and drawing the people up, as he ascends into heaven. Through the cross, believers in Christ already are ascended with him and seated in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). We join with the saints and angels in worship, until Christ returns and heaven and earth become one.
This painting won "Honorable Mention" in the Oakton Foundation Visual Arts Competition, Fall 2017.