(Text and images copyright 2015 by Barbara Bjelland)
I took this photo during a fabulous trip to Italy this summer. It is from the San Martino Cathedral in Lucca. I had never heard of Lucca before, but it is quite the hot spot in Italy, known for its mediaeval architecture and concerts by celebrities such as Elton John.
This image is carved in white marble, and sits below a painting of the Last Supper. Notice the chalice below the right foot of Christ, the grapes at the top and the wheat at the bottom. The sculpture makes plain that in Communion, we drink from a chalice filled and flowing from the life-blood of Christ. The tall crown indicates that Jesus is a King, not of this world, but over this world and all the cosmos. (Communion is at the heart of Christian worship. To see my intergenerational book on Communion, go to http://www.amazon.com/Supper-Savior-Communion-Bible-Today/dp/157383453X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449667293&sr=1-1&keywords=supper+with+the+savior)
The Feast of Christ the King was celebrated this year, on November 22. “Christ” means one anointed by God. In Bible times, a king would be anointed by having sacred oil poured on his head, to show that he was chosen by God to act as God’s representative. Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in 1925–a time when secular dictatorships were rising in Europe. This feast emphasized that our true allegiance is to Christ, who is Lord of all.
Now we are in the season of Advent. Among other things, we think of the shepherds and the wise men from the East, and remember that Christ came for both Jews and Gentiles, for everyone and for each one.
Though they may not have understood that Jesus is divine, the wise men recognized that Jesus is King, and they bowed down and worshiped him (Matthew 2:11). Our spirits are formed in part, by gestures and actions that we do with our bodies. The Bible often connects worship of God with bowing or kneeling, as a sign of reverence, and willingness to surrender the whole of one’s life to God:
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care. Psalm 95:6,7 (NIV)
This psalm reminds me that worship involves trusting God to care for me; He is a gentle shepherd-King who provides and cares for his flock. God is reminding me that I don’t have to live by my own strength and power. As I wait for God’s strength, I can rest in His love.
Worship is saying “I love you” back to God.
We love Him with our whole lives.
This Advent, may you anticipate the coming the King of the cosmos.
May He also be King over your heart, mind and soul.
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT:
- What does worship mean to you?
- What gestures help you worship?
- What feelings and memories are connected to your experience of Advent?