In Lieu of God
The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, in order that they may see the food with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’ ” And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord, to be kept throughout your generations.” As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the covenant, for safekeeping. The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land; they ate manna, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. Greet my relative Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; and greet his mother—a mother to me also. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
For people who believe in a God who is supposed to be omnipresent, we sure make a lot of substitutes for Him! Part of the Protestant Reformation (particularly among John Calvin as well as some of the Anabaptists). They stripped the worship down to its bare boned foundation of Preaching the Word as primary, and Sacrament of Holy Communion, somewhat secondarily. They removed the stain glass, much of the music, the paintings and statues. They did their job so well that most Protestant churches still vaguely see statues as ‘idols’ or ‘graven images’ of which God has forbidden us to make of Him.. Statuary in or around churches is almost always seen as a marker of Roman Catholicism
The Protestant Reformation was not a good time to be an artist. It was a good time to get into the infant industry of printing though. Translating and reading scripture, as well as bible study and commentary on these translations became the new focus. Slowly the painters came back along with the musicians, still maintaining that focus on scripture and scriptural interpretations. It was an attempt to trade things they perceived as getting between them and God for new things that reminded them and brought them closer to God. The intentions were good, but as most experienced artists know, remembrance and connection are very subjective things. They are not one-size-fits-all.
But then, what is?
We substitute daily personal relationship with God, not by having art or souvenirs that remind us of God, but when we settle for those substitutes instead of using them as temporary handholds to compel us forward to God. Sometimes it is not even objects, it is people we use (as if they were objects) to give us our God fix. Whatever it is, the things themselves are usually not bad. The way we use them is.
What things or people do you keep close to keep you close to God?
What limits do they present on your ability to connect with God?