I never expected a 9-year-old girl’s painting and words of inspiration to have such a profound impact in leading me to worship Jesus over Easter weekend. But God used Addy Orozco to do just that: lead me…and over 200 others who experienced the Maundy Thursday art worship experience at Arapaho Road Baptist Church.
In fact, not only did Addy help lead us, but also several students from college age to elementary school such as Madelyn Liles, Isabella Bemont, Leah Shaw, and Ethan Perry all helped lead us to a better understanding of Jesus’ question to His followers: “Who do you say I am?”
Under the leadership of artist in resident and church member, Dawn Waters Baker, these students, along with Dawn, helped our community engage with the answers to this question along with the sufferings of Jesus. The massive, bleeding crown of thorns hanging above the stage was breathtaking and sobering all at the same time.
Each of the artists’ stations depicted a different “I AM” statement that Jesus made about Himself in the gospels. As I made my way from station to station, I was reminded that Jesus said:
I Am the Light of the World. (Artwork by Madelyn Liles)
“For this piece, I wanted to use a tiny, clay oil lamp much like the people of Israel would have used in the past for a light in the darkness. Through this representation, I want people to understand how dark the world was before Christ came to earth, and that the Light of the World pierced the darkness with His sacrificial death on the cross. Only Jesus, the eternal light, can pierce the veiled darkness that has cloaked the earth since the fall of man.”
I Am the Bread of Life. (Artwork by Isabella Bemont)
“My favorite food of all time is bread! Bread is filling, can taste amazing, and satisfies my hunger. I chose rosemary bread with sea salt, because of what every ingredient represents. *Rosemary is known medicinally for boosting memory and concentration, and for bringing clarity to the mind, and was (and still is) used to honor the death of someone. * Olive oil is another key nutrient for the brain. * Sea Salt is for remembering that we are to be the salt of the earth…not only does it bring amazing depth and flavor to all foods, but it also brings necessary nutrients to the body, and is also one of the most necessary and sought after spices to complete a meal…in the same way as we are to be salt to all on earth.This bread is full of flavor, and full of needed nutrients…it satisfies the body and mind, as Christ satisfies the spirit!”
I Am the Door. (Artwork by Leah Shaw)
“Jesus says that whoever enters through the gate will find pasture. A pasture offers abundance and safety and this is what Jesus is promising to those who enter through Him. I used color to emphasize the beautiful eternity with God versus a dull purposeless life without Him.”
I Am the Good Shepherd. (Artwork by Madelyn Liles)
“Jesus is known as “The Good Shepherd”, tending to his “flock”, the people of the world who believe he gave his blood for the sins of the earth. In this piece, I wanted to convey the parable passage in which Jesus describes the Good Shepherd tending for all his flock. Jesus loves all his children the same way the shepherd tends to and cares for all of his sheep, even the single one that was lost and then found. We have all sinned and fallen short of God, but with Christ’s gift of eternal life, we are saved.”
I Am the Resurrection and the Life. (Artwork by Evan Perry)
“I wanted to portray the power, glory, and light that was brought into the world in the moment of Jesus’ resurrection. I tried to pack in a lot of visual symbols that may not seem obvious at first, but I think that’s the beauty of creation! The painting with the handprint is meant to show the life breathed back into the world amidst the darkness, painted green for new beginnings and growth and red for sacrifice and love. The hole from the nail is also shown in the palm with light peeking through, showing that Jesus’ pain allowed us to see the light of God and personally build a relationship with Him. Calvary and the tomb are layered in front of the painting to serve as a way to add contrast from the rebirth theme of the painting and to emphasize Jesus’ miraculous conquest of death and the blackness of sin. The glass in the shadowbox is broken to illustrate the breaking of the barrier that kept humanity away from God. Lights are placed inside along with pearlescent pigments to portray God’s light piercing through all of creation in that moment and the joy that resulted. God really touched my heart throughout this process of prayer and creativity—I really hope I was able to capture those moments so you can experience them as well.”
I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life. (Artwork by Dawn Baker)
“I wanted to show how our path is narrow and takes us to places where we cannot see everything that will happen next. It is the way through the dark woods. A path that is walked by faith not by sight.”
I Am the True Vine. (Artwork by Addy Orozco)
“I was trying to show that Jesus – being the roots/vine/trunk – is very powerful. We—being the branches—are alive and healthy with fruit, when we abide in Jesus. Contrasting against the other two trees that have no good root/vine system and are very sick and dying.”
As I came to the final painting and contemplated what Jesus meant by referring to Himself as the True Vine, I noticed that Addy was nearby. I waved her over to tell her how wonderful I thought her painting was as I prepared to take the Communion cup that was prepared in conjunction with this station. My family was with me as I asked Addy to tell us about her painting. She then went on to explain such a richness of depth and meaning behind the various elements of her piece of art that I was left speechless. I had a lump in my throat. I was taken back at the insight and layered expression that helped me understand all over again who Jesus said He was.
A child had indeed led me. I get tears in my eyes again as I write and contemplate the gravity of that moment with Addy. She spoke with confident conviction. Her smiling eyes helped me to see deep into her painting. Addy exuded an innocence that Jesus must have been thinking of when He told His followers to come to Him like little children.
Please enjoy the artwork and their descriptions that made such an impact on so many during the Maundy Thursday art experience. Thank you to each of the artists who helped point people to Jesus through your offerings of artistic worship and expressions.