We are All Artists

On Facebook yesterday someone posted, “I don’t see why musicians have to make social statements at awards ceremonies.” I looked at that statement for a while, tempted to respond, then for some reason I decided not to. I think it was because I had no idea who the artist was or what he/she had to say. Regardless, the point I would have made is that all art, in some way, is social commentary.

Many of the religious paintings that we admire were painted in Medieval and Renaissance times. They are beautiful depictions of biblical stories at a time when the church was in charge of just about everything (social, political, etc.). Religious characters were painted in the garb of the day. Villages, as well, that were supposed to be of Biblical times, were really depictions of a more modern time. It brought the stories into their world; commenting on their times. It truly gave the stories a “here and now” feel, which is social commentary.

Leonard Bernstein, who was born August 25, 1918, was blatant in his personal and artistic conviction that art and artists were social commentators. West Side Story, if some of you remember, was extremely controversial in its time.  Many Americans were very concerned that it was the musical Nikita Khrushchev was taken to see when he visited New York City. The last orchestra Bernstein where he was principle conductor was the Vienna Philharmonic. Back then, he could have had any orchestra he wanted, but he chose Vienna.  Imagine, a gay Jewish boy from Lawrence, MA playing in of all places, Vienna. What a statement!

I think, really, whether we consider ourselves artists or not, we all make social commentary by what we do and say. I feel, in some way, we become what we believe. So the challenge for us at Island United, as we seek to look outward in our ministry, is to be what we believe: to bring the teachings of Jesus to our community, to be personal advocates for justice and peace. Painting a picture, doing a dance, or singing a song becomes expressions of who we are along the way.

Think about it,

Anyone Got Directions?

There are many ways for me to get from Sunnyvale to Island United Church (IUC). They range anywhere from 30 minutes to over an hour. I can drive 280 to 92, which is by far the most beautiful way as one drives over hills and valleys and sees California in all its natural splendor. Unfortunately, one uses more gas to go this way, as the mileage is longer not to mention the terrain more variable.

I can also drive 85 to 101, an older highway with a more direct route. It’s the shortest in distance; however, to me it’s not pretty, has a lot of traffic, and the lights from the exit to the church can be horrible. It’s a gamble to take this route, but when all is going your way, one can make it to IUC in just under a half hour this way.

If I want to take my time and do some shopping along the way, I can go De Anza or El Camino Real. I know I can go this way, just by looking at a map. And yet, taking a route with tons of streetlights is not very appealing to me, so I have opted out of either of these routes. Perhaps one day if I ride my bike, I will choose one of these ways, but not now.

In any event, it is clear that there are many variations to the path one can take from Sunnyvale to IUC — combinations too numerous to mention. However, as long as I am Acting Pastor at IUC, I’m sure I will just choose between the first two. Regardless, the important thing is that, eventually, I get there.

The same goes for all of you, members and friends of IUC, as I’m sure that there are many different ways you can choose to get from your home to IUC.  But also, like me, the point is you get there and not the way you came. Very seldom, if at all, does anyone ask or care how one travels to IUC – we’re just glad that somehow folks tend to make it. Often we pray for ones that don’t in hopes that they will find their way back the following week, especially in cases of illness or travel.

The same goes for our spiritual journeys, our quest for spiritual wholeness. There are so many paths, so many ways or directions one can go, that your options are truly limitless. The good news is there is a way, a direction for you to feel spiritually whole — you can take any route you want and take as long as you want. What is important is the journey itself and your desire to get there. Whether it’s the longer scenic route, the short efficient route, or any other route of your own choosing – we will be here to help one another along the way and make sure that we all get to enjoy the journey together!


New Beginnings Update

We did it! It is difficult to see in print, but as the chairperson of the New Beginnings committee, I am breathing a huge sigh of relief as we successfully completed the renovation work of our sanctuary ceiling and carpeting.

We all hope that you are pleased with our new look, feel and sound. The ceiling work started immediately after the last day of the preschool and was completed in time for school to start. A very tight schedule and we have successfully minimized the impact to our school.

The project included all new lights, insulation and drywall. We have a fresh coat of paint and of course finally new carpet. A major milestone has been met and we are very pleased!

We thank you for the strong support that we continue to receive from the congregation. Your gifts and good thoughts are greatly appreciated.  We still have some major milestones ahead for seating and cabinetry, but we hope that you invite friends and family to share in the new look created by our New Beginnings.

Paul Bade