A few weeks ago I read a news story that spoke to me about people and life. The USA Today article told of a woman who lived in an apartment in Compiègne, France, a small town on the outskirts of Paris. The reporter shared how the woman owned a small piece of artwork that hung over a hot plate in her tiny living space. The art was old, mysterious, and worn.
As the story goes, one day a friend took notice of the odd piece and encouraged the woman to have the painting appraised. Through a series of conversations, art experts discerned that the religious painting showing the mocking of Jesus was painted by Cimabue, a 13th Century artist whose works later inspired Renaissance artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. The woman was amazed by this discovery. She was obviously taken back when the small painting was estimated to bring between $5 to $6 million at auction.
I cannot imagine how she felt this fall when her painting sold for over $30 million! Wow! How would you feel?
I thought of several things when I read that story. On a practical level, maybe people in the tiny town of Compiègne, France were all looking a little more closely at the art in their homes. I also thought about how this image of Jesus that sold for such a grand price is a reminder that Christ always has the power to transform how we see and value ourselves and others.
Our Auburn UMC church staff recently visited the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) monument and museum in Montgomery. We were met there by Olivia Nichols, a grad student at Auburn who shared with us the stories of the four lynching victims whose names are written on the Lee County Monument. As she shared their lives and the horror and hate of lynching that day, it was reminder to all of us how people and lives can become easily devalued and overlooked through the lens of hate, silence and indifference.
I give thanks that, on this Sunday at Auburn UMC, we will take time in worship for everyone to “Remember Their Baptism.” This special service is a call to remember that God creates and deeply values all people. The love of God also reaches out in grace and forgiveness and longs for all people to accept who they are as children of God and live according to the example of Christ.
This Baptismal Covenant is a call to see the value God places on our lives and on everyone around us.
If you are looking for a place to worship and discover God anew in 2020, we would love for you to join us Sunday as we remember that we are all valued children of God.
Dr. Cory Smith is the Senior Minister of Auburn United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, The Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He is married to Alicia, and they have one daughter, Sarah Morgan.