"Remember the ballerina who, asked to say what a particular dance meant, replied, 'If I could have said it, I wouldn't have needed to dance it.'" (Wright, Surprised by Hope, 263)
Over the last six months, our community has been in the process of shaping (or should I say collectively receiving) our identity. Our name, the art that conveys who we are, the phrases that best capture what we hope to be...all of these have been gestating in our collective womb for some time now (actually about 9 months!).
It's time that we introduce a couple of key pieces of our identity as a church: Our logo and, next week, our new name. I want to start with the art...because, you know, a picture says a thousand words...but I promise I won't!
So without further ado...
As someone who is not a visual artist, but is deeply invested in this image, let me briefly describe what I see here. And I'll speak about this art in an overly simplistic way that only a non-artist could...in colors and shapes.
We believe the church is meant to be (and we are grateful that ours actually is) a place for all kinds of different people. The colors represent the beautiful and infinite variety God has created in humanity. One of the early church fathers once said, "In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith...There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:26-28)
The first shape you are likely to notice is the overall "O" or circular shape of the logo, which has layers of meaning. First, it stands for Oakland, because we are committed to her flourishing spiritually, materially, and socially. Second, It's circular like a table where everyone has a place, where we are all looking into each others eyes, and participating in community together. Third, it's arranged around our center, where you see in the negative space a sun, or a starburst, or a light. Speaking of Jesus, the gospel of John says, "What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out."
No less obvious are the petals in various colors. Each of these has a soft exterior but an intensity about moving toward the center of our life together. Some are closer to the center, some farther away, but each one is dynamic in its movement toward the Light. And it's this movement inward that also creates a movement outward. Again, looking in the negative space, you see as many arrows moving out as you see petals drawing in. This too is the life of the church, moving both inward toward God in community, and outward toward our neighbors in need. And the one propels us into the other.
Believe it or not, there is even more to say about this image, but since I promised it wouldn't be a thousand words I'll leave it here. let me just say that I'm grateful to God and to each person/petal in our community that makes up the truly beautiful image of our communion.
This image says, in short, "We are a spiritual family centered on Jesus and committed to justice for the whole city of Oakland." May it be so.