Creation of the Sun, Moon, and Plants
Michelangelo Buonarroti 1511 Fresco, Cappella Sistina Vatican
Image courtesy Web Gallery of Art
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”
This is the beginning of the Apostle’s Creed and for many faith traditions, something that is recited every Sunday. Why is this so important? Why should we do this as an individual and as a community? Is this really necessary? What does it do for us as we recite this declaration of our faith?
As I am pondering these questions I am haunted too
by a conversation I had last weekend with an older lady who was very drawn to my book about the arts, but who could not take it home with her because she had basically written God off. It seems her grandson is lying in a hospital undergoing some kind of awful treatment for leukemia….what do you say to that kind of story. I’m afraid I didn’t handle it very well…I just listened, but I have not forgotten.
And so as I begin this look at the Apostle Creed expressed through Art, I begin by saying yes I believe, in spite of everything or maybe because of everything, I believe. To be a person of faith means to get up every day and plant your feet firmly on the ground pressing on and saying, I believe. I am a person of faith. Despite all the poverty and sickness, the disappointments, the feeling under appreciated, I believe. Despite the government shut downs and yet another country’s unrest…. I believe. Despite all the world’s corruption and heartache, I believe in God.
And this is exactly what I see in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo painted a ceiling he did not want to paint for a Pope who just wanted to keep him busy. He got up everyday and planted his feet squarely on the ground and painted one of the greatest testaments of faith every known to man. This sculptor, painted the scenes of God creating the world. This is the heart of the artist and the person of faith. To say that yes I believe God is in control and that good will overcome evil. To be committed to leaving something filled with hope behind for future generations. This is Mozart’s Requiem as he is clinging to life. This is Beethoven’s Ode to Joy that he never can hear….this is Maya Angelou’s I know why the caged bird sings, because in these moments these artist are declaring their faith in a God who is ultimately in control….and when they do they leave behind their songs of hope.
Remember Jesus on the cross uttering in his last words “Father into your hands I commit my sprit.” ( Luke 23:46) Because in his final breath he is telling us:
I believe in God the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth!
Heavenly Father, I pray this week for that little boy and that grandmother and all those like them who are struggling with their faith. Shine the light of your love into their lives and help them through their hour of despair. Help us all to listen more attentively and make time for those around us this week.