Tag Archive: Art


Yesterday was Reformation Day, which I started by humming “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”  As a side note, I personally believe that every day should begin with this song! Anyway, after a musical beginning, I headed out early as I do every morning to Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) München so that I would make it to my Hebrew class in time.  As I walked into the building from the subway I was thinking about spending time with my husband and one of my best friends later that afternoon.  Half daydreaming, I looked up at the door and there was a sign on it that said the building would be closed on Thursday, November 1 for Allerheiligen (All Saints’ Day).  I grinned, knowing that this day off gave me more time to spend with my hubby and friend, but then I looked pass the paper sign and through the glass door.

Through that door and on the left side of the grand old university hallway was a homeless man, sitting on one of the metal chairs that folds down from out of the wall.  He was wearing a black winter hat and had his hands tucked into his jacket pockets.  His head was leaned forward, bowed down in sleep.  I had seen him there before, wandering the university’s halls or sitting on the chairs on colder days, so I wasn’t really surprised to see him in the building.  However, seeing the note about Allerheiligen – about All Saints’ Day – and looking at this man jarred my senses.  The question that came to mind was: “who are the saints of God?”

On Tuesday, October 30, I had visited the Alte Pinakothek, a gorgeous art gallery featuring medieval and Renaissance art from all over Europe.  A lot of this art is religious in nature, and many of the paintings featured saints with their golden halos and the symbols of their sufferings, deeds, and miracles.  Having minored in Medieval Studies in college, this was all familiar (and wonderful!) to me.  I know a lot of the saints stories and so looking at these paintings featuring these people is kind of like visiting old friends.  But thinking about these depictions in contrast to the man I saw sleeping in the hall of the university… what a world of difference.

“Who are the saints of God?”  “Who are the holy ones of God?”

Are they just those who have lived exemplary lives?
Are the saints limited to those who have been martyred in the name of Christ?
Are they only those who can work miracles?

Martin Luther spoke of Christians at “simul justus et peccator” (simultaneously justified through Christ and sinners).  This means that while we are forgiven and washed clean of all our sins in baptism, we still continue to sin – we are always, at the same time, saints saved through Christ and his righteousness, and sinners.  Crazy!  Through Christ’s loving acts – his death and resurrection – we are all glorious saints, just like in those in the paintings.  At the same time, we are also imperfect people who continue to mess up, hurt ourselves and others, and fall short.  And as sinner/saints, we are dependent on God’s grace and not on what we have done or haven’t done.

And what of the homeless man?  I don’t know his situation or circumstances.  I don’t know his story.  I have no idea whether or not he believes in Christ.  I have no idea if he’s been baptized.  But what if I were to act as if he were one of the holy saints of God?  What if I looked a bit closer and saw Christ in him?  How would this change things?

I still love medieval and Renaissance art.  The vibrant colors and masterful depictions of Biblical stories, classical myths, and saints continue to enchant me.  But looking around, I think that there are other beautiful works of art.  They’re not depictions done in the medium of gold leaf, rich paints or delicate carvings, but depictions artfully crafted by the fingers of God in flesh and blood.  They’re images with flaws and imperfections, shocks and surprises, but maybe if we look a bit harder, we might see a halo poking through.

© 2012. Annabelle Peake Markey. All rights reserved.

“Homeless Man Sleeping with His Bible”

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Transformative Moments

Into The Light

“Do you want to be transformed by me?”
You ask, already knowing the answer.
My heart leaps and shouts, “yes!,”
But, sadly, my reasonable mind begins to whirl.

“What would I have to change about myself?
Would I lose myself – my personality – completely –
Be someone I’m really not and regret it?
Would I have to stop having fun or being lighthearted?”

You smile. You knew this would happen.
“Do not be afraid,” you reassure me,
And I know in an instant I am a fool
For fearing that which I’ve been thirsting after.

“You will have to change for sure,
And it will be difficult and challenging,
But you will not be losing your personality,
Rather becoming closer to who you really are.

You were created to share love, joy and laughter,
To be with others in happiness and sorrow,
To give certain gifts to the world,
and to see the gifts others have been given.

And I am working in and through you,
In order to bless creation and work good in the world,
Though sometimes it may be hard for you to see,
Or nearly inconceivable for you to believe.

But do not be afraid, beloved child of mine,
Be gentle and see yourself as I see you.
I am here and if you want to be transformed,
Know that it will happen, but not overnight.

I will work through the simplest of things –
In silence, in the words and faces of others,
In music and art, in prayer and in nature,
In struggles and celebrations, sadness and hope.

To see what I am about, keep your heart open.
Listen to that still small voice that tugs,
Quietly and persistently at your innermost being,
Even though the world would try to drown it out.

Revel in the ways in which I will surprise you,
And share with others what you have experienced
So that you might hear what I’m doing in them.
Trust one another and trust me.”

You smile and stand there patiently,
Not rushing or hurrying me to an answer.
My heart aches and I know that all you say is true.
I open my mouth to speak, slowly uttering:

“I just don’t know how to let go.
All I can do right now is sit with you.”
Your smile broadens – I almost cannot believe it.
“Yes, dear one, that is more than enough.”

© 2011. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.

What Did Jesus Look Like?

While reading my Systematic Theology book, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God by Elizabeth A. Johnson, my fiancé Jeff and I started talking about what Jesus looked like. We agreed that he wasn’t the long-haired, blue-eyed man that so many western artists have depicted him as. In fact, scholars have recently put together the following image using the remains of a Jewish man from the same timeframe in which Jesus lived:

Modern Reconstruction of Jesus

With all of this in mind, we set out on a Google Image quest to find different depictions of Jesus in art. We found some wonderful artwork I’d like to share with you here. Please note that I’ve tried to keep the titles true to what the images were labeled as online (all of these found through the Google Image search!). Enjoy!:

Aboriginal Easter Art from Australia

African Jesus

Arabic Madonna and Child

Depiction of Jesus from Asia

Black Jesus

Coptic Jesus

Ethiopian Jesus

Indian Madonna with Child

Traditional Western Depiction of Jesus

Jesus with Children

Madonna & Child - Apache Depiction

Native American Jesus with Children

Our Lady of China with Child Jesus

The Temptation of Jesus

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