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How It Is, Dec 17, 2023

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, Advent B3

Theme: Love

It’s how it is.

I’ve heard that phrase a lot these days. It is usually spoken when someone is somewhat disappointed because of a recent experience. Perhaps a favorite project didn’t work out as planned or a furnace broke down at an unexpected time. Maybe a loved one has become ill resulting in an unfortunate change of plans.

It is usually an expression of disappointment in life in which one has been handed.

I chose the Picasso painting Guernica to express the mood. It shows many images of pain.

Guernica (Spanish: [ɡeɾˈnika]; Basque: [ɡernika]) is a large 1937 oil painting by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. It is one of his best-known works, regarded by many art critics as the most moving and powerful anti-war painting in history. It is currently on exhibit in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

The grey, black, and white painting, on a canvas 3.49 meters (11 ft 5 in) tall and 7.76 meters (25 ft 6 in) across, portrays the suffering wrought by violence and chaos. Prominently featured in the composition are a gored horse, a bull, screaming women, a dead baby, a dismembered soldier, and flames.

Picasso painted Guernica at his home in Paris in response to the April 26, 1937, bombing of Guernica, a town in the Basque Country in northern Spain that was bombed by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy at the request of the Spanish Nationalists. Upon completion, Guernica was exhibited at the Spanish display at the 1937 Paris International Exposition and then at other venues around the world. The touring exhibition was used to raise funds for Spanish war relief. The painting soon became famous and widely acclaimed, helping to bring worldwide attention to the Spanish Civil War that took place from 1936 to 1939.

When I read the text chosen for this Sunday’s liturgy, it is this painting which comes to mind. It expresses outrage, suffering and pain. That is exactly the condition described in Picasso’s painting.

This Sunday’s scripture text was written by an Isaiah prophet some 2,300 years before the events depicted in Picasso’s painting. Although, the prophetic writing and the painting are from different periods in history, they do reflect situations where humans suffered from events which were out of control for the ones actually suffering.

However, the Isaiah prophet obviously shows a faith in a loving God who will hear his lamentation. He recognizes God’s love and compassion even in the midst of the suffering he describes.

The author expresses a trust in God’s love even when things seem to be coming apart.

That’s… how it is.

Come to worship with the congregation at First Christian Church, Warrensburg, Missouri as we recognize a God who loves us even amid our ordinary lives. No matter what our situation might be.

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