Climbing Trees

So he ran ahead and climbed a tree to see him...

The lectionary this Sunday is the story of Zaccheaus, who was so eager to see Jesus that he climbed a tree in an effort to overcome his short stature.  In looking for an image to place on the front of the bulletin, i found this beautiful piece by Piet Mondrian.

Piet Mondrian is one of my all time favorite painters, right up there with Mark Rothko and Gaugin, and Matisse.  Of course, if you are familiar with Mondrian, this painting may look out of place, because Mondrian became know for his work with hard lines and solid colors, an effort to communicate specific ideas and/or emotions through Art as concisely as a language does.  His aims were high, and even if he failed, the effort for admirable.  

This painting, titled Avond (Evening): the Red Tree is from his earlier works, before he moved towards full abstraction.  But one can still admire the almost architectural style in exhibiting the limbs and branches of the tree, and knowing where his future work was headed, it kind of makes sense as part of a general movement towards pure abstraction that is structural in style.

Enough of my efforts at Art Historian, I am posting it because I was just so struck by this painting, and i don't have a ton to say more about it other than a desire to share something of such great beauty.

OK, the preacher in me can't get away with saying nothing, I love modern art because they were willing to break the rules, i know it could be argued that by the time Mondrian was painting, the rules included impressionism and expressionism, but there was a willingness and desire to explore, to expand boundaries, to reflect the world in new ways.  

Zaccheaus, in attempting to climb that tree to see Jesus, is breaking the rules in his own way. First off as a tax collector, he wouldn't have been made to feel particularly welcome in the presence of the pharisees (read as: churched folks/church establishment), who were known as sticklers for the rules, classicists if i may.  

Zaccheaus had a vision of a broader kingdom of God, one that included sinners like himself, outsiders, rule breakers. Many Mainline churches today talk about welcoming all people, but how many churches are looking up in the trees?  How many churches have tree climbers in them? How many are bold enough to really expand the Kingdom of Heaven?