The B begs for explanation. That, and the “mass” sculpture. What does it mean to be Biblical? Why is there a huge tangle of colors in the corner the sanctuary? The answers are intertwined, of course.
Our New Covenant “bridge” identity is metaphor, image, and acronym. Human beings need connection — to God and to each other — in a variety of ways and on multiple levels. Isolation and loneliness are epidemic. We are most whole when we weave through each other’s lives. When we are rooted in Jesus, like the sculpture is anchored in the ceiling.
Traditional bridge images don’t move me. Maybe because I’m not an engineer. Diagrams of Jesus crossing chasms, photos of cement and steel, don’t really resonate with my experience. Throughout the Bible, God reaches out to human beings in varied, creative ways. Over the course of my life, God keeps reaching out to me, calling me to new challenges, unexpected journeys. And those are also the stories I hear, the witness of fellow travelers of faith.
The colorful sculpture suspended in our space of worship was created by artist Laura Wennstrom, who was a part of the NCF community while she was earning her MFA. Laura’s work of art has become our bridge image in a way that embodies the full complexity and beauty of the metaphor. Creativity. Flexibility. Community. Endlessly varied in structure. Changing depending on where you stand, whether you peer closely or observe from afar. An image that seems true to New Covenant.
I am ambivalent about acronyms. Are they too clever, constraining? Whom do they serve? Leaders’ need for definition? I have not always been enamored with the BRIDGE acronym, waiting patiently for the next identity iteration. Which may someday come.
But I am so glad that Biblical is first in our description of self. It explains why I go straight to the Bible each morning, searching for sustenance for the day. Why we dig deep into scripture in our Sunday morning teachings, and our songs put verses to music. Why we spent a school-year of Saturdays examining interpretations of scripture as our journey toward fully embracing our LGBTQ+ family. Why every leadership team meeting begins with Bible study.
Meanwhile, we are keenly conscious of how the Bible has been wielded as a weapon. Enslaving rather than freeing. Defending evil instead of good. Used by Satan to attempt to tempt even Jesus. To heap unbearable burdens on the vulnerable, and to obstruct seekers from the kingdom of heaven.
Sometimes the sculptural “mass” looks like a random tangle of ropes, with no rhyme or reason. We don’t always see the beauty, or understand the purpose. Sometimes we demand (seemingly) straightforward Christian symbols, crosses as decorations. We are frustrated by the mystery, irritated with ambiguity. That each of us sees something so seemingly different.
The struggle is the journey. The questions are the point. The conversation is the relationship. God is not easily defined. Humans are not easily understood. This is the beauty — in the tiny details and in the glimpses we get of the whole — knowing that no matter where we stand, we can only see from our own viewpoint.
Art and structure. Poetry and symphony. Psalm 119. The beauty of the Lord’s Instruction.
I love your Instruction!
I think about it constantly.
Your word is so pleasing to my taste buds—
it’s sweeter than honey in my mouth! Ps. 119:97,103 (CEB)
May we continue to discover the sweetness of scripture, appreciating the beauty of the detail and the whole. May our connections to God and each other be vibrant and alive, as we embrace the colorful expression of God’s kingdom among us.
(Find out more about Laura Wennstrom and her artwork at her website.)