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The Church and the arts have had an on-again off-again relationship for a couple of millennia. At times, the Church has been a patron of the arts, supporting and encouraging sculptors, painters, and musicians. At other times, the church has been standoffish toward the arts, seeing them as a waste of time, or worst, an expression of hedonism.
Today, although many churches could hardly be called artist-friendly, there is a resurgence of interest in and advocacy for the arts, loving the arts is like loving your grandma, only the most backward philistines don’t. So we’re going to explore the relationship between arts and the church or art sand faith this evening and I don’t really want to put any confines or definition on ‘art’ at this point, let’s engage with the breadth of the term as we go forwards…
Lord, you are good and creative and worthy of praise.
Thank you for the world you created, that you declared it good, and that you invite us to participate in forming it.
You are a creative God, and you make us in Your image. You have made us creators like you, and in creating we call forth reminders of Your beauty and goodness.
You are a creative God, so delighting in the act of Creation that You gift us with the ability and skill to shape and mould, to craft and refine, to imagine and dream, to experiment and change. Creation continues, as a collaborative union of Holy Spirit and humanity.
Lord Jesus, inspire visions within us. Give us eyes to see what could become, and the boldness and courage and the willingness to pursue it. Help us to challenge our thinking, to be open to new ways, to reimagine and discover life to the full in following you. Bless us with opportunities to collaborate with you in creating moments and relationships.
Show us where You are, moment by moment, as we build Your kingdom here. Amen…
What is your favourite piece of art and why?
Who chose a painting? A piece of music? A film? A sculpture? A piece of clothing? A piece of dance? A building? Who thought it was a stupid question? Who liked the question but couldn’t answer it?
There are so many forms of art it’s almost an impossible choice – It could be the museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the shape of oak leaves, the visual aesthetic of blade runner, Holst’s the planets, Rothko paintings or Jackson Pollock paintings or your kid’s paintings. It could be looking for shapes in clouds or Shakespeare or Tom Stoppard. It could be the names that decorating companies give their paint. It could be building lego models, photos of abandoned fairgrounds, ‘Linger’ by the Cranberries, postcards of motorway service stations in the 60s…
And that’s why it’s worth discussing the arts – they are everywhere, creativity is engrained in every part of our world.
Lots of people about creativity and they say “I’m not creative” by which they mean – I can’t draw. But faith can be expressed in any way that strengthens your relationship to God and as we’re all made in the image of the ultimate creator, there is something special about using our imagination and artistic abilities, our creativity to engage with God. However you apply your creativity through sewing, sculpting, design, fashion, cooking, spoken word, photography, poetry, modern dance, painting, building lego models, gardening, creative accountancy, performing arts, visual arts, culinary arts, music, film – whatever it is – I believe you’re tapping into a major part of who God made us to be…
Engaging with art can help us to explore our spirituality – not necessarily through discussion or the process of creating but just by asking “what does this thing, this piece of art tell me about my faith journey?”
“what does this image tell me about my faith journey today?”
You can use any piece of art for this exercise, many galleries around the world now have their collections available online.
Isaiah 64:8 ESV
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Exodus 35:35 ESV
He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver—by any sort of workman or skilled designer.
Exodus 35:30-35 ESV
Then Moses said to the people of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, with intelligence, with knowledge, and with all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, for work in every skilled craft. And he has inspired him to teach, both him and Oholiab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. …
Exodus 35:25 ESV
And every skillful woman spun with her hands, and they all brought what they had spun in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen.
2 Chronicles 2:14 ESV
The son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre. He is trained to work in gold, silver, bronze, iron, stone, and wood, and in purple, blue, and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and to do all sorts of engraving and execute any design that may be assigned him, with your craftsmen, the craftsmen of my lord, David your father.
1 Chronicles 15:16 ESV
David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brothers as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.
Exodus 31:2-14 ESV
“See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.
Jeremiah 18:3 ESV
So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.
1 Chronicles 22:15 ESV
You have an abundance of workmen: stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and all kinds of craftsmen without number, skilled in working
Proverbs 31:13 ESV
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.
1 Samuel 8:13 ESV
He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
2 Samuel 5:11 ESV
And Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, also carpenters and masons who built David a house.
All praise and thanks are yours, Lord our God,
maker of the universe and Father of us all.
We praise you and thank you
for letting artists see the beauty of your creation
and share it with us through works of art.
Teach us to reflect your truth and your goodness
in our lives each day, and so give you honour and glory.
Blessed are you, Lord our God,
for ever and ever.