Archive for March 25, 2022

A Picture Is Worth…

Posted: March 25, 2022 in Uncategorized

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s pretty true, and, if anything, a thousand is pretty low. How long would it take you to describe something you have seen? I mean sure you could give an oversimplification, but to truly do the scene justice would take an almost infinite number of descriptors. I think of my friend Glenn Riegel. Glenn is a photographer par excellence. I was looking at a photo he had taken recently at a local nature preserve. At the time he took the picture about 50,000 snow geese were sitting on the lake. He took the photo just as many of them had simultaneously taken flight. The photo was astounding. I tried to show it to my mother on the two inch view screen on my phone and she thought it was gravel, that’s how many birds where there the white and gray tones of the flying birds all but blocked out the sky. Viewed as the picture was intended to be viewed, one can see the intricacy of the flight. How these birds did not collide with each other was something to behold. As you can see my words are pitifully failing to capture the essence of what I saw, but were you to see the photo, you would understand it instantly. That is the power of a picture. (You can see Glenn’s amazing photography at https://www.griegelphoto.com).

The power of a picture is infinite, and if the Lord has given you the ability to create visuals, He has given you a power to communicate. Don’t neglect that gift. There’s an old confucian saying that says, “What I hear, I forget, what I see I remember, what I do, I understand.” Now please don’t take from this that I am diminishing the power of the spoken word, especially when the spoken word is the Word of God being preached. The Holy Spirit has endowed the preached word of God with power, but imagine what would happen if you incorporated pictures with the words. Now abstract concepts can be more clearly understood, because they can be seen. Pictures help people to understand. I think back to the time in school when I was learning (to some degree) algebra. I was failing at it miserably and I hated it. The following year, I was going to be taking geometry and my teachers were concerned that I would fail because of my struggles with algebra. Truth be known, I did well in geometry. Do you know what the difference was? I could see geometry and because I could see what the numbers were doing, the numbers made sense.

What if we added pictures to the way we communicate the Gospel in church? Maybe it’s through photographs of God’s creation, maybe it’s a painting of a biblical scene it might even be something abstract that is just designed to touch hearts and emotions. Of course, visual art is just one way to do this. Drama, film and dance can all enhance the worship experience. It can help people to remember, understand and retain what is being taught. I know it seems redundant and maybe a little obvious, but visuals help people to see. Let’s put them to use.

Case in point. In this easter season, I am doing a series called Witnesses of the Passion. It’s all about the people who were involved in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Each week I prepare a message and part of that message involves be portraying the person as they speak to what happened in their part of the story. Now I’m not one for wearing costumes, and things like that. Instead I have made paintings of the various people being discussed. This week’s message in on Pontius Pilate and while I flesh out the story, the dialogue is straight from the Gospels. To illustrate this, I have created slides that have Pilate and Jesus, along with an image of the crowd that was outside Pilate’s home that day, attributing the passages (with references) to the people who said them. My hope is that as I am speaking, the people will experience the story as it happened and that these two dimensional images on the screen will help them to “picture” what happened.

Here is a sample slide.