O’ Holy Creator,
Before the beginning, when the void was without form or figure, you confronted the darkness by stepping into your studio. With a palette of raw pigments, a mason jar of brushes, and a blank earth as your canvas, you gave yourself over to the divine labor of painting into existence that which did not yet exist.
There, with a splattered apron, charcoal stained fingertips, and paint in your hair, you got carried away. Phthalo blue for the midnight sky, yellow ochre for the changing leaves, burnt sienna for the Carolina clay. And then you got even more carried away: the brilliance of one Peacock’s feather, the second hump of a camel, the sheer folly of an anteater’s nose. Indulgent in beauty, it was if you intended the natural world to be a curated outdoor museum of awe.
Not done, you turned yourself into a piece of living art, a human being, coming among us as the masterpiece of Jesus. With messianic expectations rampant, the masses were scanning the horizon for a politician who would demonize his opponent, a military general who would ride his black stallion to victory, a messiah of our own misguided making. Instead of cursing the other side of the aisle, or capturing prisoners of war, you arrived as a peasant carpenter who began and ended his first sermon, to the surprise and shock of all, with blessing.
Blessed are you who trespass nightly in a squatter building, for your permanent address is eternity; blessed are you who are slandered in public and reviled in private, your reputation is made righteous; blessed are you who unclench the fist of punishment for the open hand of reconciliation, for you will be called merciful; and blessed are you who have been delayed and denied, put off and pushed aside, relegated to waiting without a reservation. Hear the Good News, the Beatitudes begin at the back of the line.
And it is here, gathered in last place, that we offer this fresco in your name. Through the listening to and sitting with, the sketching and tracing, the plastering and the painting, the seeing each other as you see us, we pray that this wall will serve as a reminder of your creative intent. That following you isn’t about turning the world upside down, but rather being your faithful apprentices to finally and fully set it right side up.
From this day of dedication on, inspire our words, reminding us that every utterance is a chance to share the most Christian words of all, “God bless you.” Amen.