2024 Award

Allen Browne, Teaching Pastor

Love is a big ask in a world of injustice.

Your brother says, “Let’s walk together,” but his own advantage he seeks. He’d do anything to compete. From domestic violence to war, Cain’s heart controls to conquer.

What does it mean to “Do everything in love” where blood stains the ground and cries for justice?

We need a picture of someone who shows us what it means to “do everything in love,” even when his brothers and enemies join forces to take him down, a person whose blood speaks a better word than Abel’s.

The Theme for the 2024 Mandorla Art Award is:

Refocus

Reference: “Let all that you do be done in love.” (NRSV) 1 Cor 16:14

 

Theme commentaries

I am Loved.

Amanda Viviers

There is a heartbeat that forms the plumblines of history, where kindness is the motivation behind every little moment forged. 

The thumping sound of airport doors as loved ones return to their long-awaited homecoming. It’s the clarifying cry that heals a mother’s pain from the tearing wrath of childbirth. 

The sound that mindlessly escapes as a father cheers his son across a finishing line or a star shoots across the sky. The steam from a teacup that rises early in the morning as dawn promises the possibility of a new day. An echo repeats the lingering song after a precious one’s wake. 

It also marks the hunger and desire that holds us eternally captivated by the promise and fulfilment of that yet unresolved. The innocence of school notes scribbled with inconsistent poetry and the taste of freshly robbed honey from a hive. A long moment of silence that builds connection in places long forgotten or a hug that speaks volumes amid a storm.

The feeling rises from one’s soul from the smell of a home-cooked meal placed carefully at the door. An unexpected gift that meets a need, raw and waiting—the rebuilding of a temple torn apart by the promise of restoration. 

It’s the chair that sits empty after the passing of age, mire and care. The flashing signal of a message left just “checking you are okay?”

We see this plumbline seeking out its weighted reminder across seasons, pandemics, wars, and moments of victory with our eyes wide open and holding tight to convictions and captivating the heart of one’s longing. 

A simple head-nodding across pathways as neighbours walk to the local shops. A bin forgotten on the curbside dragged back to its usual spot. 

Writers listen for its whistle. 

Children are safe within its arms. 

Courage is fortified through its forgiveness. 

It is the whispered knowing that concludes with a liturgy that repeats.

“I am loved.”

“I am loved.”

“I am loved.”

*1 Corinthians 16: 14. 

 

Mandorla Theme – Theological Reflection

Dr Tania Watson

The announcement of the 2024 Mandorla Art Award theme coincides with the season of Pentecost. During these 40 days, the Christian community pause and take on the posture of “waiting”. In so doing, we are reminded that the mission of Christ is not something that are to accomplish in and out of our own resources.

Pentecost is a season of recalibration for the (redeemed) human heart. We remember that in Christ, we are set free from slavery to human agendas and desires. In Christ, the human heart is transformed (metamorphosised). This transformation is necessary for the mission of Christ which He intended to be accomplished through the empowered, living presence of Christ.

And what is it about the living presence of Jesus that we are empowered with? First and foremost, we receive the capacity to love like Christ. This love is a supernatural capacity. Christians believe that whilst all people can experience the effects of God’s love, it is only possible to know and express God’s love from a heart that has been transformed by the sacrificial love-act of Christ.

One cannot express and extend to others that which one does not possess. The injunction to show love in everything you do (1 Corinthians 16:14 CEV) is no average statement from the Apostle Paul. He is calling for the Christian community to love in transformative ways: ways that go beyond the inherently selfish human desires of love.

The enormity of the capacity for the transformed human heart to express love is perhaps best captured in Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:19 (CEV):

“I want you to know all about Christ’s love, although it is too wonderful to be measured. Then your lives will be filled with all that God is.”

Love is a witness. This witnessing love is meant to be extraordinary in its expression and in the extent of its embrace. God’s love is for the whole world and so also must our love be.

 

LOVE IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN LOGIC

Dr Peter Christofides, University of Notre Dame Australia

As means towards the attainment of the best ends, there is no comparison between these. The latter may convince the understanding and leave the heart unchanged, but the former will win the heart, and with that gained, the understanding will usually soon surrender. The difference between them is similar to that between a mallet and the sun in reducing ice to water. The mallet may break the ice into small particles, but each particle will remain ice still, while the sun’s heat falling upon the ice will melt it into a fluid, and so impregnate the fluid with its warmth that while that warmth is continued the water cannot assume again its icy condition. That is also the case in changing opinions and reforming habits. Arguments will be of little benefit without a loving disposition behind them. The opinions, after all, cold pure arguments, will remain generally unchanged, or probably assume another false complexion, and the habits, if broken up for a little, will soon resume their usual round. But if love prevails, the eyes looking at it, the face beaming it, the words expressing it, the whole demeanour demonstrating it, the stronghold of opinion will melt before the loving assault, and the heart will become ablaze with the sacred glow. Love and logic should at least go hand in hand in seeking the regeneration of the world.

LOVE AS A MOTIVE

Ask yourselves what is the leading motive which stimulates you while you are at work. The question is not what your leading motive is for working, that is a different thing. But when you are fairly at the work, what is the motive which keeps you there? If it is the love of that which your work represents – if, being a landscape painter, it is the love of hills and trees that move you; if, being a figure painter, it is the love of human beauty and the human soul that moves you; if, being a flower or an animal painter, it is love, and wonder, and delight in petal and in a branch that moves you, then the spirit is upon you, and the earth is yours, and the fulness thereof. But if, on the other hand, it is petty self-complacency in your own skill, trust in precepts and laws, hope for academically or popular approval, or greed for wealth, it is quite possible that by sturdy industry, or even by a fortunate chance, you may win the applause, the position, the fortune that you desire, but one touch of true art you will never lay on canvas or on stone as long as you live.

THE KEY WHICH SETS THE WORLD TO MUSIC

Human life consists of many “things done.” Activity is at once the law and the necessity of his nature. Humans only really live as they act, inactivity is death. But whilst the acts of people are numerous and varied, the animating and controlling spirit should be one, viz., love. It should be like this on earth. This one spirit of love will:

  • Make us happy in all our activities. The labour of love is the music of life. All labour, however menial, if shaped under the inspiration of love, must yield happiness.
  • Make us useful in all our activities. Every work performed by love is generous, it has a brightness in it to enlighten, a balm in it to soothe, a piece of music in it to charm, an aroma in it to please.
  • Give unity to all our activities. As the circulating sap binds the root, the trunk, and the branches, the leafage, blossoms, and fruit, into one organic unity, so love will give harmony and completeness to all the numerous and varied acts of life. Why are many everywhere so unhappy in their labours, and their labours so socially evil, so disharmonious and divided? Because they are not animated and governed by this one spirit of love. The human labours of the world that spring from greed, ambition, vanity, blind impulse, envy, and resentment, keep individuals, communities, and nations in constant conflict and confusion.

Let love for God, for humanity, and for one another, be the motive of all our conduct.