Grace lies Beneath the Surface


To convey my understanding of the nature of Jesus’ beattitudes found in Matthew 5:1-12, I decided to create a piece of visual art.

Begin with a blank white board (here, pastel board.)

Write the verses, or any important message across the board.

Cover the entire surface with beautiful, opulent, shiny, brilliant colors – use heavy layers, creating texture and brilliance.

Take a paint knife (or penny) and scratch off the colors to reveal the message beneath.

In the same way, even when we cover up emptiness with brilliance, extravagance, sparkle and things that others might find appealing, God’s grace lies beneath the surface.  God’s blessing transcends our temporal happiness and success.

Blessed are the poor in spirit – those who willingly empty themselves.

“There is a story about a university professor who came to a Zen master to ask him about Zen. Nan-in, the Zen master, served him tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. ‘It is over-full. No more will go in!’ ‘Like this cup,’ Nan-in said, ‘you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I teach you Zen unless you first empty your cup?’ – Zen tale

To follow Jesus means to become a mystic.
It is about learning to see as God sees.  The Kingdom of God becomes “God’s view.”

“Evagrius Ponticus, one of the Desert Fathers who had great influence on monastic spirituality in the East and West, calls contemplation atheoria physike, which means a vision (theoria) of the real nature of things (physike). The contemplative is someone who sees things for what they really are, who sees the real connections of how things hang together, who knows – as Thomas Merton used to say – “what the scoop is.” To attain such a vision, spiritual discipline is necessary. Evagrius calls this discipline the praktike – the taking away of the blindfolds that prevent us from seeing clearly. Merton, who was very familiar with Evagrius’s teaching, expressed the same idea when he said that the contemplative life is a life in which we constantly move from opaqueness to transparency, from the place where things are dark, thick, impenetrable, and closed to the place where the same things are translucent, open, and offer vision far beyond themselves.” – Contemplation and Ministry, Henri J. M. Nouwen

The sermon: Grace Lies Beneath the Surface


Categories: Art, Faith

Author:Chris Heckert

Senior Pastor of Haddonfield United Methodist Church Musician, communicator, husband/father, seeker of a better way through reconciliation by the healing power of God's love


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