Good morning all!
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
Today would have been Diego Rivera’s 126th birthday. Good even changed their logo to reflect this artist today. He has been noted by many as the most influential artist in the 20th century. This painting above is his famous “Man at a crossroads.” He tried to highlight consumerism and what it does socially, politically and personally to human beings. We are placed directly in the middle of everything here. This painting caused such a stir in New York that the work was stopped and Diego had to find another place to paint this mural.
Diego was a devout atheist but came from a religiously mixed family…some devout Christian while others very opposed to especially what the clergy were doing in Mexico at the time. He grew up though with a deep call in his art. He was drawn to frescos and to call out the wrongs in society. The worker movement has really latched on to Diego Rivera’s art as a centerpiece to highlight the worker’s struggle and connect very deeply. Rivera highlighted the struggles of workers in America and all over the world. Through art, he restored a vision of what is and what could be.
Psalm 126 is all about restoration and rejoicing. There is a dream of what life could be when God restores. When there is restoration, there is laughter and joy. And what do we need restoration from? For Rivera he saw a deep need for workers to be treated with more dignity and to restore humanity from parts of society. There are deeper things at play here but he saw something to call out to restore workers in society by making art public and out there for all to see. For our Psalm writer we are asked what enslaves us? What is in need of restoration? Because then we can feel joy in our lives if we are restored from that…and this seems to be more than compensation but a radical reversal of what is. God reverses radically in our lives according to the Psalmist. This is the God we serve…the one that makes radical reversal or calling out through art possible.
I am thinking of moments in life when I need restoration or radical reversal from something…a decision, the way the day is going, or even something major in my life. And at that point, can I call out to God and dream of a different scenario? Maybe today that is something to think about…what would that look like? And then how do we celebrate when restoration happens? God seems to like to party when this happens (ie the prodigal son, the lost coin, the lost sheep, etc). Sounds like a good idea to me.
Prayer: O God, let us appreciate art today. May we recognize the work that has gone into colors, schemes, and moments to highlight what you might be doing today. May we recognize a need in ourselves to invite reversal, restoration, and celebration. Amen.