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The Beatitudes 

White Stone Gallery presented an exhibition exploring Christ’s Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount with expressionist oil paintings by New Zealand’s Cornelis Monsma and stained glass by North Carolina’s Vanessa Wright Hollifield.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
-Mt 5:3

This glass plate is explores the beauty of simplicity and emptiness. The central white glass panel represents God’s fullness and purity. The border, made of hundreds of glass droplets, represents the need to empty ourselves. The blue collection settling at the bottom is a sign of the outpouring of ourselves, allowing God to move and dwell inside us. With an emptied and humbled heart, we can be more capable of receiving and giving back God’s great love.

Less is more.
‘Blessed are the kind are merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.’

-Mt 5:7

This beatitude is the first of those which address the attitude outward toward fellow man, rather than inward toward God. Christ’s statement of mercy was probably based on Old Testament Hebrew. The Hebrew-Aramaic word He would have used is ‘chesed.’

This glass work explores ‘chesedh’ mercy. At the top of the plate is a piece of swirling red glass, suggestive of an eye, symbolic of our call to get inside the skin of people and ‘see’ through their eyes. Red glass pieces encompass the plate, representative of the intimate level Christ calls us to relate to others in---as if it were our own self. A dark purple boarder surrounds the entire plate, representing Christ’s commission for us to give mercy.

This glass work explores one of the greatest statements in the Bible. It is also the most central of all the beatitudes. You cannot be poor in spirit without having a pure heart. You cannot be meek, you cannot be merciful, you cannot be a peacemaker or be prepared to stand persecution for the name of Christ without having a pure heart.

In the center of the panel is a frosted handprint. As we are ‘created in His image’, the handprint represents God’s visible presence in the world. The green glass strips on either side of the handprint represent the process of seeing God….almost as if looking through a forest of trees to a great clearing ahead.

A pure heart is the simple decision and ultimate goal to experience God’s presence in our daily life, and to live for His glory…not ours. Our lives then become a daily walk with God that delights Him, blesses us, and fills us with joy until we are with him for eternity.

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” Job 42:5
“Blessed are those whose hearts are pure…..for they shall see the face of God.”
-Mt 5:8

This work is an expression of the feelings of pain, isolation, loss of direction, and grief, represented in by the color blue. A small glass marble sits on a glass pedestal lost and enveloped in a sea of blue. There is only a small window of light in the distance.
The amber glass mosaic boarder symbolizes the new life that the small window opens into…representing the new life we will enter into once we leave this earth. All love and loss will be reunited in our great God. Inscribed on the glass border is the text from Christ’s sermon.
“Blessed are you who mourn and feel that you’ve lost what’s most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the one most dear to you.”
-Mt 5:4

This work of art is an expression of being meek, humble, and content with who we are as a child of God and our place in His kingdom/plan. A small blue glass marble sits on a pedestal in front of a rose-colored piece of glass--reminiscent of a fiery sky at sunset. The blue marble is not the focus of the whole work, but is a small part of the overall composition. There is a delicate balance between the small marble and the larger pieces of glass in the background….they exist in harmony. The entire work is simple in design, but it is visually balanced and feels ‘complete.’

Similarly, when we surrender all that we are, all the we have, and all that we will ever be or ever have, we truly find ourselves in God’s hand and are ‘complete‘ in just being. That is also the point when you will find joy and God’s presence in the beauty of creation….something that is not ours to posses, but to exist with and see God’s fingerprint.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are--no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. ”

‘Blessed are the meek and lowly…for the whole wide world belongs to them.

-Mt 5:13

“You‘re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. ”
-Mt 5:13

This work is the perfect example of the power of color. The entire glass panel is composed of white, clear, and frosted glass----colorless and ‘flavorless’. The blue glass panel in the center is a rich and bold mixture of blues….contrasting sharply to the simple background.

Similarly, we are here to bring out God’s flavor here on earth. We are to be the seasoning to make the world tolerable. We are to be an echo of God’s dramatic and powerful color. If we lose our flavor, what will happen to the world? How will people taste God’s goodness?

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world...Let your light shine for others to see…be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you‘ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
-Mt 5:14-16