13 June 2014Exodus 35:30 - 36:1
“[God] has filled [Bezalel] with the divine spirit, with skill, intelligence and knowledge in every kind of craft, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, in every kind of craft.” (vv. 31-33)
Today's passage is in part a repetition of Exodus 31:1-6. In Exodus 31, the Lord says these words to Moses, and now Moses is relaying the information to the Israelites. What is significant however, is the change in the retelling. Moses says to the Israelites that God has given both Bezalel and Oholiab the ability to teach others (verse 4). So here God's Spirit is both a spirit of creativity and of teaching.
The Church has had a varied view of the arts down the centuries, many masterpieces have been commissioned and are displayed resplendently in churches and cathedrals. Correspondingly the Church has also criticised and condemned art which it considers to be profane. Hundreds of years ago actors were even excommunicated and denied a Christian burial because of their profession.
In the final verse we read that the gift of the Sprit is put into practice - "Bezalel and Oholiab and everyone skilful to whom the Lord has given skills and understanding to know how to to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded" (Exodus 36:1).
It is not only a gift that is given, but also a gift that is to be shared.
- How do you view art? What do you consider to be sacred or profane? Are they boundaries that Christ art or art by Christians should not cross? If so, what are they?
- If someone asked you to describe what Christian art is, what would you say? What would you say is its purpose?
- What gifts (creative or not) has God's Holy Spirit given you? How do you share them?
- If you have time, have a look at the pictures in the Methodist Modern Art Collection. Which ones catch your eye? Why?