Trust has been on the mind of the Rev. Kendall Shaw recently. The pastor of Gilead Ministry Center in Brunswick and in Jesup contemplated the idea in an essay on the topic for the local Painted Prayers: Prayers During a Pandemic exhibit at Glynn Visual Arts.
In Shaw’s piece, a part of an interactive initiative by local artist Randy Siegel, he details the challenges trust faces in times like these. His work joins one shared by the Rev. Tom Purdy, rector at Christ Church Frederica on St. Simons Island. Purdy explored the theme of gratitude in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. The public was then encouraged to take part by emailing in one word detailing what they were grateful for in their lives. Those words were used to make a graphic that now adorns the walls of GVA.
In Shaw’s essay, he conceded that trust and faith prove difficult during a pandemic. But he urges readers to dig deep and pray hard.
“As I ponder over the critical state of our world, facing so many challenges we have never experienced, while also facing familiar challenges we can’t seem to overcome, I can’t help but notice how all of these challenges are impacting our faith. Faith in the Greek is ‘pistis,’ which means, ‘God does exist and He is the creator and ruler of all things,’” he wrote.
“Faith has been tested through numerous generations and still emerged strong and vibrant and relevant. Now, again our faith is being tested and questions are being raised as to why God appears to be silent in the midst of a pandemic. It is through that apparent silence that we are afforded an opportunity to request insight in prayer.”
As with Purdy’s contribution, the community is encouraged to participate in the exhibit by emailing or texting a one word prayer or intention to firstname.lastname@example.org. They also may be posted on GVA’s Facebook page. The prayers will be collected through Dec. 10 and will also be compiled in a graphic to be displayed at the art center.
The final essay of the Prayers During a Pandemic series will be written by Rabbi Rachael Bregman. Her topic will be service. That call to action — Dec. 10 to Jan. 2 — will be a food drive with collections being offered to Sparrow’s Nest Food Bank in Brunswick.
As for Shaw, he hopes that the community will use this time — a period that is sacred to many religions — to focus on the notion of trusting in God to shepherd humanity through these days of darkness. And, he offered his own prayer as a way of tapping into a sense of trust once more.
“God you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in troubled times. Therefore, we accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be. Father, we realize a new season is being ushered in and our world has forever changed,” he wrote.
“We are committed to embracing the new places, new platforms, new people and new purposes in our lives, knowing that our thoughts have creative abilities and will determine the course of our lives.”
The artwork for Painted Prayers: Prayers During a Pandemic is available for viewing through Jan. 2. Glynn Visual Arts is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday at Glynn Visual Arts, 106 Island Drive, St. Simons Island. It is also available online. Masks are required in the gallery. Private in-person showings are also available by appointment by calling 912-638-8770. Visit glynnvisualarts.org for more information or to read the clergy’s essays in their entirety.