Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Michelangelo arrived in Rome at the ripe old age of twenty-one. His reputation preceded him and won him great favor with Pope Julius III who commissioned him to build a tomb for the Pope. Later he would be honored with the task of describing Catholic theology upon the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He spent four years painting and supervising this incredibly powerful work.
One of the most famous sections of the chapel ceiling is the Creation of Adam. The humanized figure of God reaches out to almost (but not quite) touch the finger of Adam. The gap is connected by the power of the Spirit and Adam comes to life.
The image of the powerful right hand of God reaching out to creation is incredibly potent as we experience Holy Week together. We don't know all that happened in that moment but we do know that the touch of God can change the world. In fact, we see it happening all the time.
I see it in the face of new believers as they begin to realize the power of love. I see it as hearts overflow with passion when people find their calling and begin to live by faith. I see it when hope begins to rise in a life that was once captured by sorrow and depression. I see it when people read the Word of God and begin to realize that it speaks a message of authority into their lives.
Ephesians chapter one must be my all time favorite section of scripture. It is filled to overflowing with the ripe and rich image of God's power and purpose. I especially love the prayer of the Apostle Paul. Imagine for a moment that he is praying this prayer just for you.
"I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms..."
The powerful right hand of God...the same touch that brought life to Adam...is at work in the life of the believer. The same power that established creation and raised Jesus from the dead is likewise available to those how have placed their faith in our God whom we know as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
That, my friends, is worth a cosmic celebration. Michelangelo created a beautiful image that helps us imagine how it might have happened. God does it every day and invites us to remember. It is Holy Week, remember.