gail song bantum

blog on identity, leadership, discipleship

Archive for the category “he qi art”

the burning bush -a life of being and pursuing

the burning bush

by artist He Qi

so often in our lives when we face difficult situations or trials, we look and seek after signs of some sort -signs that tell us that someone knows us, signs that someone hears our cry and actually cares. we wait for that definitive voice from on high or a strike of lightening, etc…. kind of like an “in-your-face-can’t-deny-the-truth” moment. a burning bush moment.

in the old testament, in exodus 3, we are given a story of a man named moses and a mysterious burning bush through which god speaks and makes god’s self known to him. it is a bush that is raging with fire but never consumed, it is alluring to the one who comes upon it yet is too great to take full on, it offers words of hope but a hope that is marked with a call to action. a bush that, upon it’s presence, acknowledges that the battles we face are not ours alone but that god is and will continue to be with us.

though we say and we know that christ has come and has sent the spirit of god to each of us, to dwell within us, we find ourselves still looking around for that bush. waiting for a sign, looking and hoping in things external when god in god’s love has come to dwell within us through the holy spirit. the same spirit that ignited a bush is the same spirit that abides in us. in this way,  i like to think that our lives are like flaming bushes, which burn but are not consumed. the very god that is in us purges the death on our branches in order that we may bring forth new life. as we are continually made new, we manifest and speak forth a light and a hope to those who encounter us. and in such lives of givenness, we are not found depleted but renewed.

the burning bush is a call to faith, a call to hear and a call to action. believe that god actually hears your cry as he heard the cries of the israelites in captivity. silence the clammering noises of fear and uncertainty and rather choose to hear the voice of hope and love as god is continually speaking to us and through us. know that a life of faith is never a life of comfort or a stagnant reality but a call to put feet to that which we claim as just and right, feet to that which we believe love is. faith is active and always in pursuit of the other. it is in our pursuit of the other that god promises to be with us as he was with moses and the people of israel. god does not call us to something just to abandon us later but calls us in order that god’s faithfulness may be witnessed more fully.

friends, i pray that we do not remain satisfied in our own well-being but the flame of the holy spirit would forever ignite a passion and a fervant desire for those around us.

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life as a stranger

RuthAndNaomi by HE Qi

what does it mean to be bound to a people who are “other?” to see your identity in someone that is a stanger? or, in a different light, what does it mean to be the stranger? the other? these are some questions that i believe are central to the issues of our christian identity narrated through the lens of immigrant reality.

in this piece entitled, ruth and naomi, by the artist he qi, i am reminded of such a story in the old testament about a daughter-in-law, ruth, who had decided to leave the only land she knew in hopes of being bound to a new people, a new land, through her mother-in-law naomi.  it is a story of a woman who saw her identity so closely bound to her husband’s people that she chose to become the stranger as a moabite in bethlehem. in ruth 1:16 she tells naomi,

where you go i will go, and where you stay i will stay. your people will be my people and your god my god….

what does this mean? why is this so profound?

for those who have been to my home in seattle, you know that this artwork stands prominently as the focal point in our living room. it is not only a reminder of my immigrant parents who each, in their own way, struggled with the overpowering pull of assimilation, but more profoundly, it is a reminder of my own struggles of placedness and identity, both culturally and as a christian.

though i am an asian-american woman, more specifically, a korean-american woman, i have often found my home/refuge/comfort to be amongst a people whom most koreans have historically considered as “others”- the african-american community. in friendships, in communities of worship, in my affinities, and ultimately in my spouse, i have found a freedom, love, embrace with a people who i now cannot see myself without. however, like many things that are worth something, it has been costly.

as the painting so intimately depicts, our binding to another that blurs the very lines of where one begins and the other ends, is the binding that christ calls each of us to – to a people who may be strange to us, foreign, or alien to all that makes us comfortable. in this way, are we willing to be the stanger? to be the one who picks the fields after another, who waits for the other to determine our livelihood?

friends, this is the space where christ dwells. it is in christ’s body where all are bound together. may the same spirit that binds us to our creator, bind us in ways that begin to transform who i think you are to who christ says we are.

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