Focus of attention

Wood bas-relief figure of Jesus complements Stations of the Cross
April 3, 2007

Jack Sellick doesn't mind if the attention of the parishioners at St. Luke's wanders a bit during the Sunday morning worship service. Hanging on the wall above the altar is a 7-foot, 3-inch intarsia figure of Jesus Christ that he made in his woodworking shop.

The large intarsia "is a way to focus on the mysteries of our faith," said the Rev. Carl Buxo, rector of the Shelby Township, Michigan, church. He commissioned the work for his 25th anniversary as a priest.

Intarsia is an art or technique of decorating a surface with inlaid patterns developed during the Renaissance. Sellick constructed the figure from various shades of wood, from dark walnut to white aspen, and set it against a green background that complements the 14 Stations of the Cross that Sellick made and presented to the church two years ago. The only nonwood substance on the new bas-relief figure is the 23-carat gold leaf used so that the halo stands out from the dark walnut hair of Jesus.

"It all helps us focus our attention on why we are here, so that we remember Jesus and what he did for us," Sellick said. The long-time member of St. Luke's also made the Pascal candle stand, an eagle on the lectern and carved images on the fascia of the baptismal font.

"That is what I can do best for the church," Sellick said. "I cannot get up and say a sermon, so this is what I do."

Bishop Wendell Gibbs of the Diocese of Michigan dedicated the wood mosaic during a visit in January to the church, located 25 miles north of Detroit.

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