This is the New Testament reading for this week. If you are interested in seeing the Gospel reading you can find it at the bottom of this post.
I don’t normally like drawing Paul’s work because of how wordy it is and hard to translate into image. I had already drawn the gospel reading this week so thought I would give it a go..I feel like the theme for this reading is about who I am or who I was and who I could be.. Paul is sharing how grateful he is to Jesus for giving him the responsibility to be the leader he is, despite the fact that he wasn’t exactly in the best position to reflect that before he met Jesus.. He acknowledges that he had been violent and a blasphemer and one who persecuted others.. but he did it out of ignorance.. Jesus met him in this place and literally opened his eyes to who he was and what he was doing. Then he transformed him for a different purpose.
You may have noticed that when God’s spirit moves over a person I often use the Japanese wave pattern. I love the power that it exhibits. The waves, and the movement of God is not a slight lapping at the ankles but a powerful and transformative overcoming of what was. I think of who Paul was, a leader in the Jewish community who task was to persecute and kill Christians being transformed into one himself, I never realised before the danger that put his life into.. Those who he most trusted he now became the enemy of. I think how powerful must have that encounter with the living God been that it would bring him to risk this much!
It is from the tears of grief, sorrow and shame, that humility comes and brings refreshment and space for the growth of something new. Paul says that Jesus offers him mercy and that the grace of the Lord overflowed with mercy and love..
I was thinking about the things we carry in our lives, the things we do and judgements we make based on ignorance. The barbed wire fences and stone walls that keep others and God out and stop us from being open to the possibility of new things God is saying to us.. Jesus comes into those places that are overflowing with grace, mercy and love.. This in turn brings hope..
If God was able to break through to Paul, one so caught up in his ways and religion that he could no longer have compassion but only saw the enemy. How much more is God willing to break into our world, offering grace and mercy .. Transforming us for a new way and giving us the strength to overcome what we were, to be what we could be.. If you look beside the old Paul with the whip, there is the heartbeat sign. It was used a lot to demonstrate hope, I liked it because it reminded me that whilst ever there is a heartbeat there is hope.
This drawing was one of my early attempts at lectionary doodles.. The thing I noticed with this reading was that before the joyous finding there was deep loss and grief first.. I also noticed that the people who had lost things went to embarrassing lengths, giving up all sense of pride to retrieve it.. In all of it was the overwhelming sense of the lost things being treasured and even the brother who remained and could not see his value to the father was equally treasured.. I loved when I thought about it, how God deeply treasures us and goes to embarrassing lengths to find us when we are lost..