Occasionally, when we tell others we do arts ministry, we get raised eyebrows. Often, the questions boil down to, “Why art?” One of our favorite answers to that within Inspiro is: “Because the Gospel is beautiful.”
In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
For many around the world, this is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, during which there is an increased focus on thankfulness. As I considered what I wanted to say in this article, I found myself hitting a bit of a wall. “Yes, Lord,” I thought, “But what about saying something about how hard things are this year? Is there a way I could creatively talk about thanksgiving that might make people feel better? What about those of us who just aren’t feeling that thankful this year?” I started considering Scripture passages about thankfulness, and I was struck by this commonly known (but no less beautiful) verse in 1 Thessalonians. And then a bit of tough love hit me. The verse does not say, “In everything give thanks….but, when there has been almost a year of COVID, division, anxiety, depression, and other things, then you don’t have to be as thankful. Also, if you don’t feel thankful, you can skip it altogether.” No, it simply says “in everything give thanks” (emphasis mine). It even goes on to say that this is God’s will for us! However you slice it, there is no easy way of getting around this verse – we are meant to give thanks to the Lord regardless of what our circumstances may be.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn
- “O Holy Night,” Adolphe Adam
This refrain from the popular Christmas carol “O Holy Night” has been on my heart recently. As I have considered Advent, the season of preparing one’s heart for Christmas, in light of this year’s events, it seems the world needs this season more then ever. With the ever-present reality of COVID-19, increasing political tensions, extended periods of isolation, a rise in focus on racial reconciliation, and rescheduled and cancelled plans, 2020 has seemed bleak, indeed. And yet, here in the very thick of the anxiety and heartache is the season of Advent, reminding us of the beautiful reality of the birth of Christ.
I rekindled my passion for painting in 2016 when I switched from working full-time to part-time. A friend connected me with her art teacher, and, for practical reasons, I learned acrylic painting. Inspiration for my first painting was from the cover of a Christian book, sitting on the side-table next to my bed. It caught my attention, and “Psalm 23” became my first attempt. Learning by imitating is a good start for beginners. I began using Google to find images I could imitate. Very soon, painting Bible ideas became my focus. Eventually, I was thrilled to participate in the Singapore Bible Society’s Annual Art Competition for two years in a row, painting pieces on Hope and Promises in the Bible and People in Need in the Bible.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.”
- Luke 2:13-14
It was not a silent night.
Joy, a profound reality bathed in suffering, rooted in touchable hope
“Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King!” We sing.
“He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
The innocent newborn baby’s cry which gave tremendous joy to His parents mourns for the betrayal, the humiliation, the crucifixion, and Jesus’s own burial merely three decades later.
I wonder, if Mary and Joseph had known this beforehand, would that cry of baby Jesus bring joy?
But the angel said, “[…] I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).
In our modern culture love is all around – so it seems. Considering songs hitting the charts, soap operas, movies, and pink heart-shaped posts on social media, you cannot help thinking that love is the currency of society. But aren’t we all experiencing something different? The pandemic stifles the hope of men and women, deprives them of their zest for life, increases isolation and loneliness... Aren’t these the opposites of love? Sometimes, people talk a lot about things they wish they had: more money, more days off, more good friends. More love, too?
Christmas Day is just around the corner. With mixed feelings, we’re looking forward to what will no doubt be a strange and awkward celebration. When year after year we anticipate being with family and loved ones, it seems unfair and painful we need to plan to keep our distance.
But maybe some goodness hides in that pain.
This month, we are so excited to officially welcome Maria Kausalainen as our new Director of People! We were able to catch up with Maria recently to ask her a few questions about her new role. Read below to find out more about Maria!