Sunday, April 22, 2018

John 15.1-8: Apart From Me

Vines, vineyards, fruit of the vine. All are familiar to readers of scripture, appearing in parables, stories and analogies. In John 15.1-8 (Easter 5B) the vine is used to symbolize Christ, but it is not a symbol in isolation. Rather relationship is the order of the day. Before the vine was the vinegrower - the first person of the Trinity. From the vine grow branches - followers of Christ. So there is both the antecedent and the descendant of the vine. Before and after. Relationship.

The relationship is important, especially for those who come after the vine. Apart from me, Jesus says, you can do nothing.  The vine is the perfect illustration. American sculptor Patrick Dougherty provides the contrast in his piece Running in Circles.
Patrick Dougherty. Running in Circles. 1996. Tickon Sculpture Park, Langeland, Denmark.
In Running in Circles the artist weaves willow and maple saplings into the poplar trees, echoing the shape and forces of the coastal wind as it breezes and swirls across the countryside. In addition, the ovals and circles created by the willows and maples frame views of the ocean, changing how viewers see the landscape just beyond the line of poplars.

One of the things that characterizes Dougherty's work is its transience. He calls the installations Stickwork and each one can take weeks or more to create. Over time, of course, the saplings that are his central building material will decompose. The weave will not hold - no hardware or supporting structure is included in the installation. And, eventually, it will be as if Dougherty and his art were
never there at all.

That is only partially true for Running in Circles. While the saplings will indeed decompose, the poplars will remain in place because they are literally rooted. The branches will produce leaves, the leaves will fall as the seasons change. New leaves will appear in due season. All because the branches are still attached to the trunk, which is planted in the ground. The saplings have been cut from their roots. Apart from the roots, the saplings will survive for a time, but not forever.

This week Art&Faith Matters' Facebook page features a look at a sarcophagus. Click this link.
For thoughts on Acts 8:26-40 (Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch), click here

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