St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Displays The St. John’s Bible through Feb. 20

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church Displays The St. John’s Bible through Feb. 20

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is showing the St. John’s Bible until February 20th

News Story by Annemarie Frohnhöfer

This news was made possible by contributions from readers like you to FāVS. Thank you.

In 1998, the monks at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, decided to ring in the new millennium by imagining the 2,000-year-old (or more) words of Scripture in a way that would capture the zeitgeist of modern times without losing the concept Human being by AnnoDomini. The result is St. John’s Bible, an illuminated Bible reminiscent of the ancient texts transcribed in abbeys across Europe over the last millennium.

Now that Bible is on display in Spokane.

Kathy Chase, a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church of Spokane, visited St. John’s Abbey and saw the texts firsthand.

“It was amazing to see the calligraphy and the original tools used,” she said.

She explained that the artist responsible for the work, Donald Jackson, used quills and other traditional tools to create the volumes and prints.

Chase is one of several faculty excited to be showing 10 prints alongside Volume 6 of the St. John’s Bible Heritage Edition at St. Mark’s (316 E. 24th Ave.). The volume is one of seven.

The volume on display in St. Mark’s includes the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The artwork is on loan there from St. John’s Abbey until February 20 as part of a collaboration between St. John’s Abbey and the Collegeville Institute. In 2015, St. Mark’s applied for a fellowship with the Institute and was one of 14 communities selected to participate in a Communities of Calling experience.

Tom Fallquist is a member of St. Mark’s Vocations team and a passionate supporter of the St. John’s Bible and all things related to finding one’s spiritual calling.

“After five years, here we are…[appreciating] God’s Word in the Holy Spirit to see and hear this divine holy work,” he said.

Fallquist said that finding one’s calling and calling is personal and that the experience and outcome depends heavily on each person’s individual talents. Finding your place takes a lot of reflection and spiritual imagination. As part of its commitment and participation in Communities of Calling, St. Mark’s provides a safe space for spiritual reflection and artwork that can spark inspiration and ideas.

Fallquist asked Rev. Martin Wells, former bishop of the ELCA’s Northwest Intermountain Synod and former pastor of St. Mark’s, what certain images from St. John’s Bible evoked in his mind.

“It was a spurt of imagination to me,” Wells replied.

The public as well as church groups, scientists and artists are invited to view the artworks. Docents are on hand to answer questions, but this is not your typical art exhibition. Artworks are placed primarily throughout the church in a manner that encourages thought and spiritual imagination.

Rev. Edwin Weber explained that the purpose of the exhibition is not to proselytize, but to allow viewers to deepen their own personal connection with Scripture and their calling.

Wells led the faculty in a prayer of blessing and guidance. He asked God to help St. Mark’s Basilica and the faculty to create a space for those “weary with life and seeking hope.” He continued to pray, asking for openness and guidance as he sought answers to “wondering questions.”

Twenty years into the new millennium, there are many who are “worn down by life and looking for hope.” A recent New York Times op-ed piece analyzed the causes of mass shootings and came to a unique conclusion: people are desperate. The Bible of John does not shy away from despair. There are images of chaos alongside images of light. There are images of destruction and the swirling cosmos. However, images of despair are accompanied by words and images of hope. There is an image of a very human-like Christ in blue jeans sown the seeds of his words over the text.

Photo by Annemarie Frohnhöfer (SpokaneFāVS)

The final print in the exhibition is an illumination inspired by the Gospel of John: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

The collection is transcribed from the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, compiled by the National Council of Churches in 1989 to provide the most comprehensive and comprehensive version of the Christian Bible. In addition to this text, the artist Donald Jackson provides marginalia and illuminations. A viewer sees elements of Eastern religions, Kente fabric patterns, and in a passage full of genealogy (the Old Testament’s famous “begotten, begotten, begotten”) a keen viewer can see strands of DNA working their way through images and text.

Wells explains that the Lutheran tradition retained “the colors, vestments, and sacredness of the liturgy” and that St. Mark has a tradition of infusing his services with art in all forms, be it music or the visual arts.

Wells cites the influence of ignation spirituality put into practice by Ignatius of Loyola to bring all the senses into Scripture. It’s not just about knowing that Jesus traveled the roads from Nazareth to the Dead Sea, it’s about getting a feel for what it feels like to climb up and down steep and narrow roads of the dusty desert and plant the seed to spread the word.

Fallquist is struck by the parable of the sower and what the images evoke. It was the first piece of art he had seen from St. John’s Bible, and he said he now realizes that this was no accidental introduction. The Heritage Edition of St. John’s Bible shouldn’t be under glass, he explains.

“It’s not about a university or a text, it’s about seeing or hearing directly how God speaks to us,” he said.

For more information, call St. Mark’s Lutheran Church at 509-747-6677.

Visiting hours: Consultation hours without a lecturer M-Thurs 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Fri 9am-12pm. Mondays with lecturer (January 30; February 6; and February 13) 12pm-3pm. Wednesdays (February 1; February 8; and February 15) 4pm-7pm

This news was made possible by contributions from readers like you to FāVS. Thank you.

Annemarie Frohnhoefer is a writer, editor, and ghostwriter based in Spokane. Her work has appeared in the High Desert Journal, The Inlander, The Spokesman-Review, and other publications across the United States. You are a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and baptized Roman Catholic.

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