Lent, Day 28

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water . . .

—Isaiah 35:6b–7a

I will open rivers on the bare heights,
    and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
    and the dry land springs of water.

—Isaiah 41:18

I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.

—Isaiah 43:19 (from tomorrow’s Old Testament lection)

LOOK: Paper River Flow in the Desert by Young-Ly Hong Chandra

Hong Chandra, Young-Ly_Paper River Flow in the Desert
Young-Ly Hong Chandra (Korean, 1970–), Paper River Flow in the Desert, Joshua Tree National Park, Southern California, 2021. Traditional Korean mulberry paper with acrylic, watercolor, ink, and gel.

Born and raised in Seoul and currently living in Pasadena, Young-Ly Hong Chandra is an artist who works primarily with paper, fabric, and found objects and in a range of sizes, from small collages to large-scale installations. From October 2020 to June 2021 she was an artist in residence at the Brehm Center at Fuller Theological Seminary, and she is now a facilitator in the program. She is also an artist in residence with Inbreak.co.

One of the main materials Hong Chandra uses is hanji, traditional handmade paper from Korea made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree. She cuts the paper and paints it on both sides with acrylic, watercolor, and ink, then she applies a thin coat of transparent gel to make it more durable and waterproof. “Paper stained glass” is what she calls these creations.

For her Paper River Flow series, she attaches together numerous pieces of this paper stained glass to form long blue rolls that can be rolled up or folded and packed in a bag so that when she travels nationally or internationally, or when she moves about her home city, she can carry them with her and create installations as the mood strikes her. “I am a small river bearer,” she says, “who’s conveying the big vision of the river flow to give life to many and will reflect the glory of God clear as crystal.”

The photos in this post are from Joshua Tree National Park. View more at https://younglyhongchandra.com/home/paper-river.

Last year Fuller Studio created a six-minute film about Hong Chandra and her art, including her Paper River Flow series:

The river is a symbol of healing and renewal, she says. In our dryness, in our barrenness, God springs up, offering life and nourishment. The image of the river is used many times in the prophetic book of Isaiah—I’ve cited just a few examples above—and also appears in the final book of the New Testament, where it flows down from the throne of God, watering the new creation (Rev. 22:1–2). Hong Chandra says,

The image of river for me is from Revelation 22 . . . the river flowing in the holy city, reflecting the glory of the Lamb of God sitting on the throne. And what I’m doing is still far from reflecting that glory. But I want this piece to be an invitation to others to come and taste the living water that was given so freely.

LISTEN: “하나님께서 | Agua viva fluye del Señor | May the Love of God” by ​Young Beom Kim, 2002 (CCLI #6461951); Spanish translation by ​Josh Davis and Juan Alberto Camacho; English translation by​ ​Greg Scheer (CCLI #7035272) | Performed by Jaewoo Kim, Josh Davis, and Grace Funderburgh of Proskuneo Ministries, 2020

KOREAN
하나님께서
당신을 통해
메마른 땅에
샘물나게 하시기를
가난한 영혼
목마른 영혼
당신을통해
주 사랑 알기 원하네

[Phonetic]
Ha na neem geh suh
Dang shin eul tong heh
Meh malun ttang eh
Sehm mul nag geh ha shi gee lul
Ga nan han young hone
Mohk mal luhn young hone
Dang shin eul tong heh
Joo sarang ahl gee wun ha neh

SPANISH
Agua viva
Fluye del Señor
A través de ti
A esta tierra seca
Al que tiene sed
Dale de beber
Que el amor de Dios
​Sea mostrado en ti siempre

ENGLISH
May the love of God
Spring up in your soul
Like a healing stream
In the wilderness flowing
And may the love of God
Quench the thirsty soul
Feed the hungry heart
May the love of God flow through you

Roundup: Alternative Advent, Fuller Studio videos, Desmond Tutu and Jeff Chu interviews, Psalm 121 in Arabic

“Lift Up Your Eyes” (Advent 2021): Kezia M’Clelland’s annual “Alternative Advent” video is here—a compilation of news photos from the year, from various photojournalists, matched with promises/declarations from scripture and a song. (I’ve described this project in years past; see here.) Migrant caravans, refugee camps, hospitals overwhelmed with COVID patients, a protest against a military coup, wildfires, volcanic aftermath . . . the global suffering we hear about in headlines and statistics is made personal in these intimate photographs of people who are experiencing it firsthand. M’Clelland bears tender witness to this suffering, but she also takes care to include signs of hope. Alongside images of devastation and misery are images of love, joy, and fortitude. The overall tone is one of somberness but not despair. As I do with each year’s “Alternative Advent,” I spent an afternoon interceding with God for each person in the photos and for others enduring the same harrowing journeys or disasters. I realize how my privilege as a white, middle-class US American insulates me from a lot of these realities, and I know that prayer must be accompanied by action.

Find out more context for the photos and their sources on Instagram @alternative_advent.

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VIDEO ROUNDUP FROM FULLER STUDIO: The Arts for the Life of the Church: In these six, five-minute videos shot by Fuller Studio, artists and creatives (most of them participants in the Brehm Residency) reflect on the diverse ways that the arts enliven, shape, and define their faith, their theology, and their work. Here’s one from the series, in which interdisciplinary artist Dea Jenkins discusses the ways the Spirit’s leading can be intertwined with the process of art-making, and how art has the capacity to be both prophetic and healing.

The other videos feature . . .

  • Young-Ly Hong Chandra on how she sees her creative work participating in God’s work of creation
  • Michelle Lang-Raymond on how theater and the arts can create opportunities for us to safely yet deeply engage with today’s polarizing issues
  • Rachel Morris on how incorporating the arts into worship services and pastoral care can contribute to the church’s healing work in the lives of its members
  • Jin Cho on the holistic, social, and communal dimensions of preaching and the liturgy
  • John Van Deusen on the significance of creating art in community and on the ways we are shaped by inviting both God and others into our creative processes

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ON BEING INTERVIEWS:

>> “Remembering Desmond Tutu”: The South African Anglican bishop, theologian, and human rights activist Desmond Tutu died December 26, 2021, and the On Being podcast re-released this 2010 interview Krista Tippett conducted with him. It’s a great introduction to his story, which includes especially his faith. He discusses the Bible as “dynamite,” our identity as “God-carriers,” the interfaith makeup of the anti-apartheid movement, God’s sense of humor, reconciliation as a process, his experience voting for the first time at age sixty-three (after decades of disenfranchisement), how entrenched racism had become in his own thinking, the beating heart of love at the center of existence, and more. And oh, his laughter is so sweet!

>> “A Life of Holy Curiosity: In Friendship with Rachel Held Evans” with Jeff Chu: Jeff Chu is a journalist, preacher, and co-leader of the Evolving Faith community. When his friend Rachel Held Evans, the famous Christian writer, died unexpectedly in 2019, he took it upon himself to bring to fruition the unfinished book she was working on, Wholehearted Faith (HarperOne, 2021). I enjoyed learning more about Evans through this conversation, and about Chu. They read several excerpts from the book and discuss Chu’s Chinese Baptist upbringing, the recent phenomenon of “religious-but-in-exile,” the enormity of God’s love, the Incarnation, the Psalms, doubt, grief, and the lesson of the compost pile.

(As a side note: I recently came across Evans’s other posthumously published book, for children, titled What Is God Like?, in Target and bought it on a whim. It’s fabulous.)

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SONG: “I Lift My Eyes” by Christopher Tin: A setting of Psalm 121 in Arabic, performed by Abeer Nehme with Christopher Tin and the Angel City Chorale. Nehme is a Lebanese singer and musicologist, one of whose specializations is sacred music from the Syriac Maronite, Syriac Orthodox, and Byzantine traditions. [HT: Joy Clarkson]