The Artistry Of Advent

One thing I ask from the Lord, 
    this only do I seek: 
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life, 
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
    and to seek him in his temple. 

 

Good art is relentlessly concrete. Poets, painters, and playwrights deal in visible things — nudes and nukes, grass stains and leaves of grass — all the subjects of art are tangible. They give tactile expression to abstractions like love, hate, beauty, and wonder. They express experience by creating it, not describing it.  

They incarnate.  

I have always been taken by the idea of God as artist. I think we can learn about his character by examining what he has created. This is true of any artist. Every sculptor, filmmaker, and musician reveals her heart in her art. The pages of a Hemingway novel reveal a soul of tortured strength. The bars of a Kurt Cobain song reflect a soul of anger and wounds. And the frames of a Coen film show an affable but dark sense of humor.  

So what can we learn from the world’s greatest Artist? What does creation reveal about the Creator? Apparently, he is wild and beautiful. Grand and untamed. Sensual and transcendent. Efficient and organic.  

And from Genesis 3 to Luke 2, he is unseen. Hidden behind the cosmic easel, he paints scenes from afar. Separated from the stories he crafts.  

But at Bethlehem, the Artist paints himself into the story. This might be the most helpful way to think of Jesus as “begotten, not created.” The eternally-existent son “wrote himself into our story” and thereby embodied the artist’s highest calling.  

God wasn’t content to teach us about love. Or to give us a slogan about love. Or to paint a moving picture of love from afar. Abstractions aren’t enough for an artist. He became love. Personified it.   

The artist as art. The divine incarnate. The untouchable tangible. The incarnation was a miracle and a sign and a lot of other things. But it was also this: the world’s greatest work of art.