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Satisfying the Hunger... is a blog written by the ministry staff of Evangelism & Church Growth

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May 1, 2012

What Have We Seen

“… what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life …”  1 John 1:1

Last week, during an annual youth ministry conference, I attended a lecture and then a class designed to be a follow-up seminar to the lecture.  The topic of both of these activities was the Saint John’s Bible.  An artistic, calligraphic rendering of the Bible.  A ten year effort, created and collaborated on lovingly by a group of ecumenical artists from around the world.  I think it’s fair to say that I am still being moved by what I saw and what I heard, even a week later.  From the St. John’s development team – here is a brief description:  The Saint John's Bible is a work of art and a work of theology. A team of artists coordinated by Donald Jackson in Wales and a team of scholars in Central Minnesota have brought together the ancient techniques of calligraphy and illumination with an ecumenical Christian approach to the Bible rooted in Benedictine spirituality. The result is a living document and a monumental achievement.

Here is a link to the St. John’s Bible project.  Click on this right now if you can – I think you’ll be interested!

Over and over in our lives as disciples and followers of Jesus Christ, we can continue to be moved, shifted, inspired by God’s word and by the ways in which others are inspired by the Word.  We will read the scriptures many times throughout our lives.  We will study them, write about them, preach about them, teach them, construct crafts that help children approach them, pray them, and ponder them.  We will love some of the scriptures and hold them close to our hearts – returning to their words and images as much as we curl up with our favorite blanket.  We will draw strength from the gospel stories and inspiration from the epistles.  We will rub our heads in absolute confusion at some of the older Hebrew tales or Paul’s resolute ideas and laws.  And we will feel the divine inspiration of detail and drama as we consider the detail and design of God’s mind.

Long ago I was taught the spiritual practice of Lectio Divina – or “Holy Reading.”  Last week I was invited to consider “Visio Divina” or “Holy Seeing.”  I was invited to read, wrestle with and then witness the Bible as it’s been illustrated in the St. John’s Bible.  What I saw made a deep impact – upon me, upon my husband (who also attended) and upon those who also attended the event.  I’m not sure if we’re simply surprised that despite the thousands of human efforts to illustrate scripture – there was apparently ANOTHER possible AND wondrous at that!  I’m not sure if we were maybe just overwhelmed by the routine of our work and our faith – that we had forgotten the profoundly wonderful impact God’s word can have on our lives.

When 1 John was written it is believed by most scholars that the book was circulated through Ephesus, through the cluster of Christian communities surrounded by Gnostic communities (Gnostics could not reconcile the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ – so they chose to promote only the spirit portion of the son of God).  It was deeply important to the Christian church to witness to the reality of Jesus.  That he walked, talked, taught and lived among them.  That they had SEEN and LOVED a real person.  Not just a mystery, or a history, but a person.  This is the same “John” who wrote so beautifully of Jesus being THE WORD. 

So, as I sat in a classroom and lecture hall, and feasted my eyes and soul upon gorgeous paintings and images of THE WORD I was reminded how important it is to not simply read or think but to SEE.  And when seeing, to give thanks and praise.