Hanging in my office are three large pictures, all sources of inspiration for my work as a pastor and service as a Christian. First is “Sunday Morning in Sleepy Hollow”, a painting by Washington Irving. It portrays a small group of early Americans, likely in New England, walking up a hill toward a church. It appears to be a nippy Spring morning. All are dressed in their finest for church and look to be enjoying the day. I’ve looked at this painting many times and have noticed some of the details. The young man and young lady are off a bit from the rest, with likely a romance is in the works. The little girl is enjoying a bouquet of flowers. And the little boy has his hand held tightly by a fatherly figure. I’m thinking he would love to get loose of that grip, maybe jump into the creek? Going to church on a Sunday morning- it should be enjoyable, leisurely, an old-time immersion in nostalgia. Of course some of us can relate to a more hurried and hectic experience! Most important to me is that you get there. If peace and serenity is not part of the experience, we will help you find such things!
Further to the left, on the same wall, is an old-time portrait of George Washington in prayer. It is somewhat grey and bleary, obviously a wintry setting. The brightest part of the painting is his face. It is not a handsome face, but it is lifted to God in earnest plea. From my studies, I understand that Washington was indeed a man of prayer. It was widely believed that God sustained him through the ordeals of the American Revolution. At times his coat would be shot full of holes, yet his body untouched by the bullets! The scripture under the portrait is James 5:16, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This serves as a daily encouragement for me to be a man of prayer.
And on the other wall, directly across from my desk so I see it regularly, in a large frame is an old-style map of the world. It is my reminder that all the world needs God’s love through Jesus Christ. There is more than me, more than my corner of this place. And I dare not forget! So I pray for the world. And so I am to regularly encourage my church to engage the world with the message of the gospel. Therefore we support missions. The upcoming Lottie Moon month of prayer and giving for missions is reflective of this conviction.
What paintings and portraits hang on your walls? It would be good that they remind you of the things of God, eternal matters.
May God bless you this Christmas season!