Christ is our Bridge to Heaven,
by Elisabeth Wang (1942-2016),
painted in 2008,
oil on canvas,
© Elizabeth Wang, Radiant Light

Christ is our Bridge to Heaven,
by Elisabeth Wang (1942-2016),
painted in 2008,
oil on canvas,
© Elizabeth Wang, Radiant Light

Gospel of 17 May 2019

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life

John 14: 1-6

Jesus said to his disciples:

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; if there were not, I should have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you with me; so that where I am you may be too. You know the way to the place where I am going.’

Thomas said, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’

Jesus said: ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’

Reflection on the Painting

Today, there are many contemporary artists who are active, painting Christian art. However it seems that most of these artists are working in parallel to the mainstream contemporary art market, rather than be in the midst of it. In my view, the Church and the Arts haven’t been on good terms since Vatican II: the Church seems to have moved away from the Arts as a tool to communicate its message, whilst artists themselves have become so individualistic, that they prefer to create artworks outside the Church rather than within. Contemporary artists almost see the Church as possibly limiting their artistic output, and hence they don't want to engage with the church. So the two have, over the past few decades, been growing further and further apart, where both have become mutually suspicious of one another.

We are now at a critical stage where we, as a church, need to re-engage with the arts. I believe the arts themselves are ready for this. Why? Whilst there is still a great deal of public interest and support for the arts (exhibitions, art fairs, etc...), there also seems to be a great deal of confusion about where next contemporary art can move to. We can be right in that space to make our contribution. Whilst the challenges for artists and the church are great, the opportunities for both have never been greater to work together.

Here we see a visually striking painting by a 21st century artist who worked away, quietly, at home, creating her own style of christian artworks, away from the wider art scene. I can hear some of you readers, who are in the midst of the contemporary art scene, maybe not fully engaging with this picture, but it is nevertheless worth looking at this, as it is also part of what is being created 'today' out there. Elisabeth said that she painted 'at the request of Christ' and discussed her work closely with her parish priest. The full title of this painting is 'Christ is our bridge to heaven - the only Way across the gulf between earthly life and eternal glory'.

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