Eat — Peter’s Vision (Acts 10)— 2018
by Michelle L Hofer
Mixed media painting on paper
I like a good metaphor. God’s imaginative way of clarifying who is eligible to receive the Good News of Christ is a wonderful example. This artwork commissioned by Central Plains Mennonite Conference centers on Peter’s vision from Acts 10:
Egyptian style — an artistic style I’ve loved since I was a child. I am using the language and forms of the Egyptian culture/religion to convey how strange God’s instructions sounded to Peter.
Three ravens carry a sheet from heaven — these are symbolic of the heavens opening and the vision repeating three times. Some translations use “rift” or “tear” to describe the sky opening. I recently learned ravens are not considered birds of prey because they tear and stab at their food with their beaks instead using their talons.
A menagerie of “unclean” animals — depicted in white and gold to illustrate God’s declaration of “clean” and a connection to a strange dream I had recently featuring all-white animals. The arrangement is reminiscent of Edward Hicks’ Peaceable Kingdom symbolizing God’s intention for peoples of all nations to be unified in the hearing of the Gospel.
The word “eat” — written in Egyptian hieroglyphics. In Peter’s vision, “eat” meant “accept”. Other instances in Scripture where “eat” is symbolic come to mind — Ezekiel receiving a scroll and Christ offering bread.
Perhaps you were struck with a sense of confusion in viewing this piece. That is intentional. I wish to incite an initial reaction similar to Peter’s. Finding the meaning and messages hidden within requires careful and imaginative effort. What other messages might this visual interpretation bring to us?