From My Desk to Yours

From My Desk to Yours: Creating in the Image of God

ULS President’s Newsletter | Fall Term 2018-19

Volume I, Issue 13


Over the summer, ULS focused some attention on our art holdings, cataloguing the location and significance of each work, updating the written descriptions accompanying them, and, in some cases, rediscovering pieces in out-of-the way locations on our campuses. From ancient Near Eastern religious statuary and items from the Reformation to modern pieces expressing spiritual themes, our collections are educational, beautiful, and rewarding on many levels.

As a student, I had a special opportunity to complement my studies in math and science by enrolling in as many philosophy and religion courses as my schedule would permit. My study of art history was very enlightening in that it initiated my lifelong appreciation of biblical art works and the master art works in history. I invite you to pay special attention to the works of art displayed in the halls, classrooms, and libraries of ULS. Such appreciation of art can also be an acknowledgement of the grace of God and the talents given to us.

Luther - Diet of Worms - ULS
“Luther at the Diet of Worms”
Oil on canvas with gilt frame. Given by Mrs. Martin Buehler, of Germantown, PA, in 1882 to the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg Library. Currently on display in the AR Wentz Library, Gettysburg.

Even absent specific reference to religious imagery, art is a deep expression of faith. When artists craft a piece, they are expressing God’s wish for us — “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them” (Genesis 1:27) — to act in God’s image, to be creative, to join God, in a sense, in the act of creation itself. And of course, it is not just the visual arts that join us with God in the act of creation. Writing, music, dance, and other expressions all partake of the divine, expressing the image of God the creator in each of us. Even one’s life itself can be a work of art if lived intentionally, creatively, and compassionately.

Last Supper
Printed reproduction of 15th century icon, purchased at the gift shop of the Byzantinischen Griechan Museum, Athens, Greece.
Krauth Memorial Library, Philadelphia

Art can bind us to God in other ways as well. The act of creation can become a reflective ritual, opening the mind and heart to God as in prayer. Experiencing art as the audience can also become a contemplative, or even an ecstatic act. As the Holy Spirit joins us in worship as we hear the Word of God, so can we make contact with God through viewing a painting, in hearing a poem, or in watching a performance.

Our mission here at ULS is also a form of art in this sense. We act as God wishes us to act — in God’s image — in Unifying, Learning, and Serving, in studying and writing, in teaching and researching, and in making this institution the best it can be for everyone who depends on it. All of our actions are creations as we strive to create, as God wishes us to, in God’s image.

Generous creator, you have given us the gift of art, of making and contemplating, of expressing and performing, and all in your image. Help us to use your gifts to foster unity, learning and service in your church and in the world, and here in this seminary dedicated to your Word and your glory. Let us approach each task as an act of creation, praying for you to guide us so that everything we create is good in your sight. In the name of your son, our savior Jesus Christ, we pray.

Amen

 

Richard Green
Interim President


Significant Events and Updates

Annual UTI Lecture

On Tuesday I had the privilege of reconnecting with Rev. Dr. Alyn E. Waller at the Annual UTI Lecture on the Philadelphia campus. I was also given the privilege of speaking at this event. If you weren’t able to attend, the entire event can be viewed here.

Conversations on Culture

Trauma specialists Rev. Dr. Christine Kennedy and Warren Young met with students on both campuses in April and May, and out of those meetings is coming a series of three Conversations on Culture, the first of which will be offered next Monday.  These student-focused, interactive conversations will explore how trauma affects individuals and communities, and how to respond to the impact of trauma how to create a space for crucial conversations on race, culture, gender identity, sexual orientation and religious/spiritual beliefs how can trauma act to galvanize growth and positive change in a community, and what is the role of trauma in the origins of the early Christian community.