When heaven & earth click

Sister Mary Corita Kent (American, 1918-1986) activist artist, “God’s Not Dead He’s Bread”, silkscreen serigraph

“While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” -Luke 24:15-16

Maybe Jesus has been right next to you, and you didn’t even realize it.

In the early 1960s a Catholic nun named Corita Kent saw Andy Warhol’s new, explosive art: Campbell’s Soup Cans – a series of silkscreen prints of exactly what it sounds like. Warhol’s prints remain controversial,  but for Corita, they clicked. There was something more going on under the brand labels and advertisements that we see every day. Soon, Corita Kent was the “pop art nun.”

Through her own art, Corita began to highlight how spiritual messages might be found in the aisles of the grocery store or in-between the newspaper headlines.

Her 1962 silkscreen print wonderbread depicts twelve round communion wafers in the blue, red, and yellow style of Wonderbread packaging, inviting us to ask, “What really is the wonder-bread?”

for eleanor displays the giant cursive “G” logo of General Mills with the added text: “The big G stands for goodn[ess]”

Another print blares the word TOMATO in the giant block letters of advertising, while the smaller handwriting includes the words: “if a canned food company feels justified in saying their tomatoes are the juiciest, it is not desecration to say, ‘Mother Mary is the juiciest tomato of them all.’”

By bringing the mundane and commercial into the realm of sacred contemplation, Corita Kent invited us to look beyond the advertising messages constantly bombarding us, using them to push through all this consumerism and peer into the realm of the holy. 

In the ancient Easter Proclamation, which Pastor Jim read during the Chapel’s Easter Vigil service this past weekend, we hear these wondrous words: “This is the night in which heaven and earth are joined – things human and things divine.”

This was the theology behind Corita’s art. She once wrote: “We lift the common stuff – groceries and signs about groceries – out of the everyday and give it a place in our celebration, and heaven and earth will not be so far apart.”

The connection of heaven and earth; the mundane and the holy; the human and the divine – this was also the point of Jesus coming into the world. Corita wanted to remind us that the connection between us and God continues in our own daily lives. “The Incarnation is still going on and is still bursting like firecrackers and sending out great shoots of light into all things around us.”1

Maybe Jesus has been right next to you, and you didn’t even realize it.

In the gospel story that has come to be known as the “Road to Emmaus” (Luke 24:13-34), two of Jesus’ disciples are walking from Jerusalem to the nearby village of Emmaus. It’s Easter Sunday, just hours after Jesus’ resurrection, and they are trying to process the week’s chaos: Jesus’ arrest, his speedy trial, his crucifixion. And now word is spreading that Jesus’ tomb is empty; some of the women are saying that they saw angels, who told them that Jesus is alive. But no one else has seen Jesus.“We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel,” they say, and the question hangs in the air: was he or wasn’t he the Messiah?

As they’re walking along, a man joins them on their way. The author lets us know that the man is Jesus – but the disciples have no idea. For some reason they don’t recognize him. He joins their conversation; he teaches them about the Messiah from the scriptures; they feel the power of his teaching…but they still don’t recognize him.

Until dinner. There’s a moment that would have been so ordinary for these Jewish people: Jesus takes the bread, offers up a prayer, and passes it around.


In the breaking of ordinary bread, they suddenly realize that Jesus has been with them this whole time.

Maybe Jesus has been right next to you, and you didn’t even realize it.

We long to know God’s presence through undeniable events: miracles, visions, answers to prayer.

We find it easiest to feel God’s presence in grandeur: the bright, towering windows of the Chapel; the soaring music of worship; the perfection of our plans.

But the most holy moments in the life of the church are made up of the most ordinary things in the world: water, bread, and wine. God comes to us in the things we know. God comes to us in the things we need. After all, it’s the ordinary things we need most: food and water; shelter and safety; relationships; moments of stillness. And it is through these things that God has promised, over and over, to be with us.

As one of Corita Kent’s prints puts it: “God’s not dead, he’s bread.”

Pr. Kate

April 20, 2022

1 About her work on the celebration of Mary Day at her convent. Quoted in Cassidy Klein, “Finding Solace in the Work of the Pop Art Nun,” Sojourners, August 2021. https://sojo.net/interactive/finding-solace-work-pop-art-nun Accessed 19 April 2022.

Rev. Katherine Museus Dabay takes turns writing weekly devotions with Rev. James A. Wetzstein at Valparaiso University, where both serve as university pastors.