Sunday, September 30, 2018

Job 1.1, 2.1-10: Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

It's interesting to think about what is going on the world right now that will come to pass in the future. Seeds are being planted that will become next spring's flowers. People I don't yet know are moving through their lives on a path that will cross with mine next year...or five years from now. My next job is being readied for me...or maybe things are being orchestrated so that I will stay in my current position for the rest of my work life. You just never know what things are happening out of sight. Job will find that out (Job 1:1, 2:1-10).

Bartolo di Fredi was, in the second half of the fourteenth century, the most important painter in Siena, Italy. He had a large working studio and was a registered member of his town's Guild. He assisted with the commission to paint the Council Hall in Siena in 1361. Earlier, beginning in 1356, he had been commissioned to decorate the Collegiata (principal church) of San Gimignano - about 20 miles from Siena. The frescoes along the entire left aisle are his work. Given the descriptive title Scenes from the Old Testament, the work was signed and finished in 1367.

Two of those scenes illustrate episodes from the story of Job. This is one of them.
Bartolo di Fredi. God Gives Satan Permission to Tempt Job. 1367. Collegiata Santa Maria Assunta, San Gimignano, Italy. 
In this scene, Job and Mrs. Job (both wearing crowns), along with some of the little Jobs are feasting and making merry. They sit at a table with gold cups and linen tablecloths. Musicians blast herald trumpets, play the bongos (or something like them), and touch the keys of a portative organ. Dogs look for the crumbs that fall from the master's table. Bread is distributed from the door of Job's house at the left of the composition. Three figures (servants? children? townspeople?) gaze down from the top of the composition at the wondrous feast and celebration happening in Job's house. Life is good for Job. He is living like a king and helping others, too.

In silent movies, when the action cuts from one scene or location to another, an intertitle would appear on-screen, giving the audience the information they needed. In westerns, one of the intertitles that often appeared was, "Meanwhile, back at the ranch..." While one character was living life, having adventures away from the ranch, things were still happening back on the ranch. Those things would often influence the main character's life and destiny. He or she would have to come back home to save the ranch from the swindlers or find the rustlers or rescue the one true love from a dastardly interloper.

Job is feasting and listening to music and enjoying family time. But meanwhile, up in heaven (or the upper left corner of Bartolo's fresco), God and the satan are having a conversation that will greatly impact Job's future.

People often say, "If I had known this was coming..." Imagine the traveler heading out of town, boarding the plane, settling in at the hotel. All the while not know that the next day would bring a broken ankle and a hospital stay in that far-away city. If I had known...

Do you wish you knew what was going on "back at the ranch" that would impact your future? Or is it ok if you don't know?

For thoughts on Mark 10.2-16, click here.
Psalm 8 and Hebrews 3:7 are the subject of this week's Art&Faith Matters Facebook page. Click here.

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