Thursday, May 15, 2008 12:00 AM
With the advent of projection systems in worship settings the sermon can become a visual as well as an oral event.
Among available possibilities, (video, sermon outline, clip art, photography) I have been exploring art, (paintings, images of sculpture, and icons). Artists depicting biblical scenes offer commentary and interpretation of biblical stories that are often as insightful as written commentaries. Since the approach to the stories is visual it requires the engagement of intuitive right brain thinking, which is open to more imaginative approaches to familiar stories. That may immediately make many pastors trained in the historical/critical, "get it right according to the facts" way we have been trained, nervous. But the Holy Spirit has never been confined to half-brained or half-spirited work.
Art is accessible through the Internet. When I began looking at art as a resource for reflection, inspiration and proclamation I had never visited an art museum, or spent much time considering the depth and insight into scripture that artists might offer. When I looked, it became clear that artists had much to say to anyone with eyes to see. Two Internet sites provide quick access to biblical art through the centuries. Though it takes some time to see with understanding, the fruits of seeing are wondrous and inspiring.
This site allows one to search for art by pericope or verse. The art work is not clip art or kitsch. Paintings, images from illuminated manuscripts, wood cuts, and icons from throughout the centuries of Christian art are included.
This site is similar but not as comprehensive in breadth of texts served. What it does is place the art in historical chronology so one can see the development of artistic reflection on Biblical stories. Where a text is connected with art the breadth of works provided is much more extensive.
Google Images Search
A third simple way to access images is through a Google images search at images.google.com. This is particularly helpful for more abstract concepts like "joy," "patience," and "love."
Looking at art as a resource for reading or seeing biblical stories and preaching requires practice and patience. At the same time, looking at art offers an insightful but neglected group of interpreters the opportunity to witness the faith in a stimulating way.