Community

We all cringe when we chase the channels and stumble across the show where the young girl is confronting her boyfriend to tell him that the baby she is carrying isn’t his. You know, Jerry Springer, Maury Povich…or any one of the cringeworthy shows on MTV.

Human tragedy, on display for our entertainment.

I don’t stick around to find out the outcome of those horrible spectacles on TV, but sometimes I wonder what happens after the lights turn off, the cameras stop rolling, and the audience goes home. Who is there to dress the wounds and sort through the carnage? Because what happened was nothing short of an emotional massacre.

What about when it’s your family? What happens when a disease drains your bank account and leaves your family stumbling around doing a new sort of mathematical juggling act of figuring out which bills to pay? Or when there’s an addiction that keeps pulling someone you love back into its black hole where more is never enough? How about the fog of depression and mental illness? That one is harder to understand and harder to name because that person is looking at the world through glasses that remove all hope. Your family? Your community? Will it survive?

When I made my ceramic quilt called “Community”, I spent an inordinate amount of time carefully crafting each colored tile and the bordering solid colored tiles. Each piece was lovely on its own, but I then took great care to attach them to each other with copper wire. They are connected and bound to each other in sort of an unspoken commitment to my vision of what community looks like. They contrast and they complement. The thing about communities and families, when they are committed to God’s vision for them, is that they are more beautiful when they are connected to each other then they are individually. And if one of the tiles fail, or one of the people struggles, the rest of them are strong enough to keep it all together…because they are connected.

Sometimes families fall apart and sometimes people let you down. It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking. It’s not what God wants for us. I have to believe that it grieves God when his people get this part of life wrong. Jesus was relentless about pursuing the broken, the outcast, the ones running away from him. He didn’t ignore indiscretions or injustices…he exchanged them for reconciliation and redemption. That’s why he came.

My family, my community…We are more beautiful together than we are apart. Together, we are strong enough to hold each other up.

If You Want Freedom…

If You Want Freedom…

Jennifer Chetelat

2018

Ceramic Plates

~10” diameter each

First Row from Left to Right

Have no other gods

Don’t make any thing more important than God

Don’t disrespect God’s name

Rest one day each week

Respect your parents

Second Row from Left to Right

Don’t murder

No adultery

No stealing

No lies about your neighbor

Be content with what you have

God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments because he loved them. Because he loves us. I think they could use some rebranding. Maybe a better marketing campaign with a catchy slogan and a memorable spokesperson. We got them from an old guy with a speech impediment on some clay tablets.

To the person who isn’t sure if God is real or if he actually loves them, they are a hard sell.

All organized societies have rules. Sometimes they are written down and decided on by a group of leaders, and sometimes they spring up more organically from mistakes made and lessons learned. But they generally keep peace. And they keep people’s behaviors from getting in the way of their progress as a society.

That’s how I view the Ten Commandments. Following them keeps my behaviors from getting in the way of my progress of not just growing in my faith, but growing as a person.

It would be easy (but lengthy) to take a deep dive into each commandment. However, I don’t think most people struggle with all of them. I would guess that most people only get stuck on two or three of them.

The other day, I took a sabbath. For the whole day. I spent time with my husband, I spent time with God, and I spent time with myself. I didn’t work in my studio. I didn’t answer any emails. I didn’t do any ministry work either. I went out to breakfast with my husband. I napped. I prayed. I read. I checked in on a friend. I watched dumb movies. I ran errands. I felt like a normal person who wasn’t trying to squeeze my to do list in to an impossible number of hours.

Disclaimer- I did spend an hour in a Verizon store which definitely was an interruption in my sabbath and a descent into one of the levels of hell from Dante’s Inferno…but when I left, I was back to my Sabbath.

This whole sabbath idea of creating space in my schedule for a pause is a hard one for me. I’m a doer. Resting happens when I sleep. But it’s not a good way to live. It’s mostly not good for my heart. While my body and mind may be able to accomplish all of these tasks, my heart needs a minute to disengage from the list and the expectations. God knew that and that’s why he warned against living the way I often do.

When I made my “If You Want Freedom…” piece of art, I was trying to reimagine the Ten Commandments. It was based on a sermon I heard at church and a new way of thinking about this list of rules, I wanted to give them a new physical representation as well. I guess it’s my attempt at rebranding. These ten ideas lead to a simpler life. One with less drama, heartache, and exhaustion. The kind of life where it’s easier to stay connected with God and people.

While I do struggle with a few of the other commandments, building a sabbath pause in to my schedule is my current challenge.

Makoto Fujimura is one of my favorite artists. He’s a Japanese painter, writer, and advocate of the arts. He’s also a Christian. Recently in an interview he said, “Schedule an hour every week to waste time with people and you will be amazed at how much it will rejuvenate you and end up speaking of the gospel because essentially the gospel is God wasting time with us”.

If I want freedom, I will make space for a pause in my schedule. I will purposely waste time with people. I will take a minute to enjoy the privilege of God wasting time with me.

What do you need to do for freedom?