Material expression: the Lamb slain

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The following reflection was written to accompany one of my creative projects at Regent College. The class is called Christian Imagination and focuses on the connection between Christianity and the Arts. As well as reflect on art work and write a theological paper, we were asked to produce something, to ‘make art’. This piece was made for that assignment.

A Heritage: Covered by the Lamb, Slain
“… the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” Revelation 13:8

“If you offer a lamb, you are to present it before the Lord” Leviticus 3:7 … as sin offering (Leviticus 4:32) and friendship offering (4:35) for guilt (14:21) and atonement (5:6) … (among other references)

“… the lambs will provide you with clothing”  Proverbs 27:26

“… he was led like a lamb to the slaughter” Isaiah 53:7

“the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” John 1:29

“… with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect”  1 Peter 1:19

” ‘Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ ” Isaiah 1:18

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony … ” Revelation 12:11

“And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’” Revelation 7:14

“For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'” Revelation 7:17

My grand mother made woolen cot blankets for my younger cousins, heirlooms embroidered in wool thread. Flowers, furry critters, their initials – often in a wreath shape – a little bit of their story, stitched in time.

A few years ago Loren Wilkinson, one of my lecturers at Regent, brought that verse, Revelation 13:8 to my attention. The lamb slain – for forever, from the beginning. There was something deeply poignant and almost poetic about the phrase that has kept it coming to mind.

As a lover of textiles, I began to wonder about the different metaphors we use in describing salvation and sanctification. Many of them seemed to me rather closely associated with the textile medium. We talk about washing, wool, whitening, having stains removed in a manner similar to the way we would speak regarding clothing. While I realise that the discussion is far deeper than a lesson in doing the laundry well, there seemed to be a way of speaking to the physicality implied in these words by engaging this especially tactile medium. I wanted to tell this story, our story, in textiles, in wool.

Instead of a wreath, I used the circle of a Celtic cross. The ‘cross at the centre of the world’ is the central piece of our heritage as children of God. First there were the fiery sacrifices teaching us that though sin brings death, death can bring life. God designs atonement. Then there was the language of God as shepherd, teaching us what true, costly love can mean. God makes a way, protecting and providing. Then there was the perfect, unblemished Lamb, Jesus, slain and risen. He was crowned with thorns in death, but is now enthroned in Heaven. His death made a way for our stained lives to be washed, fresh and new. Instead of staining, His blood was the most effective whitener the world has ever seen. His innocence has renewed our own. This is our heritage as His children, for “this is what we are” (1 John 3:1).

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