Bringing the Text to Life
There are two contemporary works of art that have rare symbolic power: the Vietnam Memorial and the AIDS Quilt. Both address the mystery of suffering that has no rhyme or reason; both restructure reality to enable us to deal creatively with the mystery of suffering.
In the last half-millennium, a work of art which has exerted great symbolic power on a vast number of people is the "Isenheim Altarpiece," completed in 1515. (Note: It would add immeasurably to this sermon if you get a picture of this and either put it up on the screen or have a copy store copy it and include it in your bulletin.) One art historian has called it a "work of such tremendous and dismal grandeur of expression that nothing on earth seems to equal it." This awesome altarpiece, measuring 10 feet long when closed, 21 feet long when opened, and eight feet high, is now housed in a museum in Colmar, France.
The Order of St. Anthony commissioned the altarpiece for their monastery at Isenheim. They asked Mathias...