Von Uhde’s “Let the Little Children Come to Me”


More from Fritz von Uhde, the 19th century Lutheran artist we’ve been discussing.  This one, “Let the Little Children Come to Me,” is an example of von Uhde’s device of portraying Bible stories in contemporary settings (that is, contemporary for his time).  The effect is for viewers to see their reality of these Biblical truths for today and for people like themselves.

And this painting is particularly Lutheran, as I’ll explain after the jump. [Read more…]

Von Uhde’s “Christ with the Peasants”


XIR198475 Christ with the Peasants, c.1887-88 (oil on panel) by Uhde, Fritz von (1848-1911); 50x62 cm; Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France; (add.info.: Le Christ chez les Paysans;); Giraudon; German, out of copyright

More from the Lutheran artist Fritz von Uhde, another variation on the theme of “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest.”  Also note von Uhde’s common theme of Christ coming to ordinary, lowly folks.  This painting is titled “Christ and the Peasants.”

By Fritz von Uhde, 1887-1888, – 1. magnoliabox.com2. The Bridgeman Art Library, Object 198475, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33788904

A painting of “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest. . .”


In researching yesterday’s post on Saying Grace, I came across this painting.  I said to myself, that’s the Lutheran table prayer!

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest

And let these gifts to us be blest.  Amen

I used to look down on this prayer, when I first became a Lutheran, because it sounded just like a children’s prayer.  I do prefer Luther’s Table Prayer given in the Catechism:

The eyes of all look to you, O Lord, and you give them their food at the proper time

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing

Lord God, Heavenly Father, bless us and these your gifts,

Which we receive from your bountiful goodness.

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

But I’ve come to appreciate the Common Table Prayer.  It draws on a powerful Lutheran teaching:  Christ’s presence.

Lutheranism is a theology of presence, and this is at the heart of Lutheran Christology:  Christ’s real presence in the Sacrament, yes; but also His omnipresence thanks to the communication of attributes with the Father, so that He is present in the Divine Service, in the world, in vocation, and, yes, with families when they sit down together in His name for a meal.

I had never heard of the artist, Fritz von Uhde (1848-1911).  It turns out that he was a well-regarded German artist and a devout Lutheran.  A pioneer of the realistic style, von Uhde did many works with Christian themes, rendering Biblical scenes with realistic contemporary characters and picturing Christ appearing to common, ordinary folks, including the lower classes and the poor.

This painting, at the Berlin National Gallery, is called “Come, Lord Jesus, Be Our Guest.”  This and his other works in this vein (which I think I’ll also blog about)  was criticized by Roman Catholic critics for lacking reverence.  But he is simply portraying the Lutheran theology of Christ’s presence!

After the jump, read what his Wikipedia article says about him. [Read more…]

Dilbert creator likes Trump & questions climate change


One of the funniest comic strips still going is Dilbert, Scott Adams’ satirical takedown of office culture and the corporate world.

Adams would appear to be anti-corporation, which would stereotype him as a liberal.  But he isn’t.  He is apparently in the tradition of Al Capp, as a very funny conservative cartoonist.  (Actually, it has been said that all satire is intrinsically conservative, because it measures absurdity against an objective standard.)

Scott Adams is a Donald Trump supporter who questions climate change, on the basis that scientific modelling–which is the basis for all of the dire predictions–is nearly always wrong.

So even though Dilbert doesn’t directly take up politics or these other controversial issues, the hue and cry has begun to pressure newspapers to drop the comic strip. [Read more…]

The cup for the laity

The communion practice of the Roman Catholic Church, up until Vatican II, was for the priests to drink the wine.  Laypeople were only given the bread.

Brian Stiller, writing on the Christianity Today site, reflects on Luther and the Reformation as he sits in the City Church of Wittenberg.

He sees a detail in Lucas Cranach’s altarpiece–one that I hadn’t noticed before– that gives him a flash of insight into the Reformation.

Now Luther would not be happy with all of what the author says about Holy Communion, since Stiller believes that the Lord’s Supper consists of symbols rather than the true Body and Blood of Christ.  Stiller even extrapolates his conclusions into meals in general.

But he does pick up the detail that Luther is sitting around the Table at the Last Supper with Christ and His disciples.  And Luther gives the cup to a servant–a layman, not an apostle.  Stiller explains why this is so significant and why offering the cup to laypeople–imaged here on the altar–is so expressive of the Gospel as proclaimed in the Reformation.

UPDATE, FURTHER THOUGHTS:  We shouldn’t take this privilege for granted.  John Hus was burned at the stake largely because he insisted on giving laypeople the Blood of Christ. For us laypeople to receive the Cup means that we are all priests (the doctrine of vocation) and that there is no spiritual superiority of one caste or another in Christ’s Kingdom. And that He poured out His blood for all.

[Read more…]

Making church buildings beautiful again

Version 2 Church buildings used to be made so that they would be beautiful.  This was true not only of Gothic cathedrals but also of small Protestant churches, whose simplicity and lack of adornment had a classic, elegant aesthetic impact of their own.

This is not so true of churches built over the last 50 years or so.  They tend to be utilitarian, plain, drab, unsymmetrical, and often, well, ugly.  But this appears to be changing.

I discuss what happened after the jump.  I also tell about this striking example of contemporary church architecture that we saw in Finland, which reflects the history, struggles, and victories of confessional Lutheranism in Scandinavia. [Read more…]