Friday, September 13, 2019

That Which Lies in the Mirror

Detail from the "God's Own Child Mural." 2019. Edward Riojas
(All images Copyright © Edward Riojas. Images may not be reproduced.)

Copyright © Edward Riojas

I don’t need to go far to be reminded of sin’s consequences. That sort of thing crops up in nearly every piece of art I create.

A case in point are some of the figures in a current project, the “God’s Own Child Mural,” destined for St. Paul Lutheran Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Out of more than 70 figures, mortality stared at me from a single face. In the mural, an elderly man shuffles behind a procession of sinner-saints. He could easily be me in a couple of decades. Or less.

The Fall not only created  a mess of Biblical proportions, it also made a mess of “lesser” things. In spite of what usually rolls off the tongue, aging is NOT a normal part of life. It wasn’t meant to be so ugly. It wasn’t supposed to be so debilitating. It shouldn’t be part of a ghastly, downward spiral.

Detail from the "God's Own Child Mural."
So the face before me was painted with wrinkles and age spots – attesting to the degeneration of muscles and degradation of elastic skin. In its place, the cartilage of ears and noses continues to grow – sometimes in ridiculous proportions. Bones degrade and dissolve so that the back refuses to hold up the shoulders and head. Senses fail. Hearing loss, cataracts, and macular degeneration wreak havoc. Youthful minds become hidden behind gnarled countenances and aching joints. Often, youthful minds simply dry up and blow away.

But to be honest, I don’t need a painting to remind me of all this. All I need is a mirror.

The affects of the Fall, however, are not exclusive of the mature or aged. Infants can die in the womb. Some are born broken. Toddlers die. This is neither natural, nor part of some morbid “circle of life.” Sin, Death, and Satan suck.

But thanks be to God, we have a Redeemer in Christ Jesus, who has changed things mightily. He has taken our sin on Himself, put Death to death, and has defeated the hellish knucklehead, Satan. This should be abundantly obvious in the mural – even more so than an image of an elderly man. In spite of the reality of our condition; in spite of the reality of aging and illness and death, the realities of Christ’s cross, our redemption, and eternal life far outshine that which lies in the mirror.

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