Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16
We tried something creative and different this weekend at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church. The discipleship team organized a retreat, but instead of going off-site we stayed home and had it at the church. We enjoyed breakfast, lunch, and dinner together and participated in art-oriented spiritual exercises in between.
The concept of art-inspired spirituality – led by Pastorist Rev, Lisle Garrity – makes a lot of sense, especially considering the fact that God is Creator God. Incorporating creativite expression into our reading and understanding of scripture brings what it means to be made in the image of God directly into how we read God’s word.
The first activity involved music, listening to the 23rd Psalm, and working with crayons in response. Every few minutes Rev. Garrity called time and had us rotate a chair to the left and then build on one-another’s work. It was an interesting and effective way to respond to scripture.
Talking about what we gleaned from the interactive art experience dovetailed with what we learned from the verses. I thought it was a good way to work as a small group.
Huge Splashes of Color:
After lunch the art became significantly more ambitious. I joined with a group working with silk fabric and paint to produce banners. The theme was “welcoming” people into church in response to either Psalm 23 or the story of Jesus and the woman who washed his feet with expensive perfume (and her tears) at the Pharisee’s dinner party.
We were instructed to cut the silk, mount it on bamboo poles, plan out a design, play with the colors, and then risk being bold with how we applied it to the silk.
I worked with Les and Sharon and the creative process was remarkably satisfying. We started with a waterfall, added a river, then decided some sunflowers would look good in the foreground. I painted in a boiling liquid sun and let it pour down like another waterfall.
The more water we added the more the colors swirled together on the silk. Water, light, flowers, vegetation. Our intention was to blend the message of Psalm 23 with the idea of welcome at church, to express both our sense of peace and reassurance from the Psalm and our identification with Christ’s invitation that absolutely everyone is welcome at his table.
It was a good day, and we will continue the message via Rev. Garrity’s message Sunday morning at both worship services.
We gathered together to study, to enjoy fellowship, and to let God seep into our consciousness in new ways. For me the lesson was all about how I tend to restrict my experience of the Spirit to my comfortable and familiar routines.
Maybe I will continue to move forward in the future, and be more imaginative in how I respond to God. I’m not sure that I’m an artist, but I am sure that God is not done when it comes to pushing on my margins…
Enjoy these photos of what turned out to be an illuminating process.
Peace, and more peace – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.