Advent is a wonderful time to remember the Incarnation of Jesus Christ and the hope of salvation. It is an expectant waiting of the arrival of our King. The Advent Hope project kicked off in August of this year (2019). Six visual artists got together from the community to form The Visual Arts Collective of Hope 2019.
We contemplated over the meaning of Christmas and the Hope it brings. The key take away from biblical reflection was The Kingdom of God. Christmas was a celebration of the birth of a king. The shepherds, Herod and the wise men acknowledged Jesus as King. Jesus went about preaching saying the Kingdom of God is “at hand” (Mark 1:15). This king’s birth is still celebrated amongst people of different tribes and nations. We are called to remember and celebrate this King (of all kings). What you see in the first panel is a representation of this celebration. People in different ethnic attires are seen worshipping king Jesus (just like the shepherds and the wise men from afar). The celebration is carried on from generation to generation (the little warli people are leading out of the panel) and gives life and light to live by (John 1:4). To depict this celebration we used the Madhubani folk art style (Bihar, India). The few of the characteristics of this style of art are fine double lines and a prominent presence of different elements of nature around the central theme. Here the people are positioned within the petals of a flower – a sign of a thriving plant. We are created to thrive and to worship our Creator. Being a collective from diverse backgrounds we had a lot of discusion on the people who need to be represented, the attires, the skin color and even the color or patterns of their garments.
Leading us into the second panel is the string of warli characters. These characters represent this King’s kingdom. The people of the Kingdom of God are the ones who call out injustice and work at loving all people well (Micah 6:8 and Luke 10:27). A discussion over the acts of justice and mercy that were close to our hearts are represented in the second panel. Some of them are people helping an elderly mom by getting her water (water shortage in India), people caring for the earth, the sick etc. This tribal art form (Warli art) primarily uses geometrical shapes. The central image is of Warli characters continuing the celebration of the kingdom of God by loving people ( a kind of working out of the characteristics of the people of this kingdom).
What is the point of all this celebration and the working out of the faith in this King, the Deliverer? Why and what are we as kingdom people meant to do ? (especially at such a time as this – wars, famine, murders and rapes…) We are called to remember who our King is (celebrate) and live as His people (love God and people) just as the angel reminded Daniel (Daniel 12:13, The Message) “And you? Go about your business without fretting or worrying. Relax. When it’s all over, you will be on your feet to receive your reward.” Life in the very presence of this King ruling with no opposition – that is our reward. Hence the rejoicing will go on and on ( Revelation 22:1-5; 2:7) . The king, our Creator God Himself will give us the fruit of the Tree of Life, the very tree that was protected and kept away from us after the Fall (Genesis 3:22- 24).
While we anticipate the coming of our King as a Judge and Ruler we pray ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven… ‘ We are His people and we have been shown what needs to be done. Indeed The Kingdom is Now!!
The Advent Hope project was initiated at SAIACS, Bangalore by Uday Balasundaram. The project included three collectives – Visual artists, Writers and Musicians.