Into Your Family (Artful Devotion)

How God loves his people by John Muafangejo
John Muafangejo (Namibian, ca. 1943–1987), How God loves his People all over the World, 1974. Etching. © John Muafangejo Foundation. Source: The African Dream: Visions of Love and Sorrow—The Art of John Muafangejo, p. 64

All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

—Romans 8:14–17

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SONG: “You Are the Lover of Our Souls” by Mike Crawford and His Secret Siblings, on Bright Hopes! (2017) (written 2012)

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Artist John Ndevasia Muafangejo was born around 1943 in southern Angola, a member of the Kwanyama tribe of the Owambo people. He moved to Namibia as a teenager and was educated at an Anglican mission school, then spent 1967–69 in training at the Evangelical Lutheran Church Art and Craft Centre in Rorke’s Drift, South Africa, an art school that scholars credit as integral to the development of modern African printmaking. Muafangejo is one of the most famous alumni of the school, gaining international recognition for his linocuts, which have been exhibited throughout Europe and America. But his career was cut short in 1987 when he died suddenly of a heart attack, just three years before Namibia gained its independence.

The artwork pictured above is somewhat uncharacteristic of Muafangejo, being an etching (he was much more prolific with and is better known for his linocuts) and excluding the political and autobiographical content that mark much of his other work. Church life and biblical narratives, however, did regularly find expression in his prints. He thought highly of the church, whose local leaders fought against apartheid, supported his art, and (through Father C. S. Mallory) cared for him during bouts of mental illness.

How God loves his People all over the World shows God the Father embracing all his children, who tenderly place their hands over their hearts. A family portrait! What Muafangejo visualizes in anthropomorphic terms, Mike Crawford, in his music video for “You Are the Lover of Our Souls,” suggests through images of sun, sea, sky, and breeze, which feel like a hug from on high. “God, you are so good / You are beautiful / So mysterious / How you’re calling us into your family / You’ve invited us into your family / We’re your sons and daughters now. / . . . / Yes, you have adopted me.”

For more information on John Muafangejo, see The African Dream: Visions of Love and Sorrow—The Art of John Muafangejo by Orde Levinson (Thames & Hudson, 1992).


This post belongs to the weekly series Artful Devotion. If you can’t view the music player in your email or RSS reader, try opening the post in your browser.

To view all the Revised Common Lectionary scripture readings for Trinity Sunday, cycle B, click here.

One thought on “Into Your Family (Artful Devotion)

  1. Perhaps it is just me and I’m not seeing the faces clearly, but his “People all over the World” don’t seem to include women. Just an observation.

    Like

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