handlettered magazine project – 1 john 1

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I wish you could go back in time to Thursday the 28th at 11pm and somehow make it onto the 4th floor of the George Sweeting building at Moody Bible in Chicago. You would find myself and a wonderful group of people presenting this class project we’ve worked out hearts out on and sharing the meanings behind it. I wish you could hear my team speak – they were so eloquent and beautiful as they were explaining why we chose to combine handlettering and Scripture, why we cling to the importance of creating beautiful art as Christians, and why we believe in the value of this magazine we made. I wish you could hold the printed pages in your hands and see our beaming faces. You would feel the pride rolling off us in waves and you’d know that creating was exactly what we were made to do. Just as that guy in the classic running movie feels the pleasure of God when he runs (Chariots of Fire. Totally didn’t have to google that. I know things.) , I think we felt the pleasure of God as we created and celebrated art. I wish you could have been there.

Instead, you can just look at these files and imagine those things. Please do.

We chose this passage, 1 John 1, because we loved the imagery of light and darkness and wanted to play with shadow and light in our photography. But as we worked, and designed and meditated over these words for hours (more hours that I’ve ever put into any hermeneutics class, I might add), these words sunk into our hearts. 1 John 1 begins by the apostles giving testimony – we have heard, seen, felt, we have walked with and have known Jesus. We have experienced truth. We’ve seen lives change and we know this is the real thing.

And then the passage goes on to explain God as light – God is the source of all that is good and true. “Nothing is truly understood until it is understood in the light of God.” John the apostle explains that they have seen and know God and the truth, and now invite others into it, into the hope and glory of life in the light of God.

We are invited into the hope and glory of a life in the light of God. Even in our darkness, even in our brokenness, even when we don’t know how to believe it.

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Alex Hunter, Brea Westenbroek, Kayla Thornton, Ashley Kim, Rebecca Koss. Thank you for giving me the privilege of leading your creative minds and for believing in me and the importance of what we were doing. Thanks for being willing to challenge with me the way we see information and art, putting equal emphasis on meaning and beauty back into both.

We had lots of doubts through this process- the foremost for me was if we were even making something important at all. It is extremely easy, as creatives and artists, to begin to believe that the meaning of a media comes from the originality of it’s message. In a book called “Learning to Die in the Antropocene”, which is basically a critique of how a culture should live in light of the fact that it is dying, the author, Roy Scranton, speaking of the over mediated nature of our culture, says:

We must suspend our attachment to the continual press of the present by keeping alive the past, cultivating the info-garden of the archive, reading, interpreting, sorting, nurturing, and most important, reworking our stock of remembrance. … We must inculcate ruminative frequencies in the human animal (I love all those big words! Basically we must re-instill the treasured practices of humanity) by teaching slowness, attention to detail, careful reading, and meditative reflection. We must keep up our communion with the dead, for they are us, as we are the dead of future generations.

Slightly morbid, but also a reality. The truth is that we will not always have something earth shattering or new to say or create.

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of God will stand forever. This Bible, these words, this sacred language of truth was here long before we showed up and will be here long after. We learned through this project, and are still learning, the value of slowness, meditative reflection, attention to detail and beauty as we relate to God and as we handle His Word. 

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This is just me talking now, not for my team, but –

I don’t always know how to believe it. I don’t. Some days I wake up and just lay in bed, wondering how to get through a day of Bible school when I’m not sure how I feel about this Jesus guy today.

But studying this passage and working through this project, I was reminded over and over that we are invited into the hope and glory of a life in the light of God. Even in our darkness, even in our brokenness, even when we don’t know how to believe it. Even if we say we have no sin, if we say we don’t need it, if we say we have fellowship but choose everything else over Him. Even on the days that I get really sick of the word “grace”, the very word that is allowing me to even ask these frustrated questions in the first place and allowing me to be in a place of brokenness.

I’m learning that the “Christian life” is SO much more complex than I thought, that I’m not anywhere near getting a handle of who God is, and that it’s not a steady uphill climb. And although that sounds really negative, I’m realizing more than anything, it’s just humbling me, which kind of leaves me in the absolute best place to do this faith thing. I haven’t thrown in the towel yet, and He hasn’t thrown it in on me, so we’re working this out.

His invitation still stands. A life lived in the light of God. As much as I hate it and doubt it and fight it, it’s still the best thing I’ve ever known.

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