At my church, Church in Bethesda, lead pastor Todd Thomas will occasionally have us listen and respond to Scripture via creating some kind of art which we create together. We’ve done “community canvases” where many of us participate in painting a pre-lined drawing. Even those of us who have zero skills in art can participate. The other non-threatening activity we do is collages.
So when Todd told us that he would be having sessions for making collages at the “Making Art” tent at Wild Goose, you can bet I was jazzed about that! Along with both daughters, we made our way to the tent to start our mornings with some reflective work on the chosen passages.
When we do collaging as a group activity, the Scripture is the focus of the work. The passage is read several times, by several voices, male and female, younger and older, and sometimes (if available) in various translations. The participants then consider the words and seek to hear the Spirit’s leading as they respond through artistic expression. (Yes. Sometimes we do this during a church service. Try it some time!)
On Friday morning, we joined a bunch of folks and responded to readings of Psalm 8.
Here’s my collage for that:
As I listened to the psalm being read, I asked God for the phrase or phrases that were “mine” to respond to that morning. The phrases that struck me were:
“how majestic is Your Name in all the earth” (v 1, 9) AND “through the praise of children and infants You have established a stronghold against your enemies…” (v2)
As I meditated on those words, I found a picture of a tree growing by the wall erected on the West Bank. This artificial barrier was a man-made “stronghold” – one that has fractured neighborhoods and removed families from one another. The West Bank remains a place of struggle, or barriers, of loss. Yet it is God’s world. God is majestic in all the earth!
I pondered what it would be like to loose God’s love, to see freedom come to this war-torn place. I prayed about the families whose hearts are broken over the loss of relatives in the ongoing conflict. I prayed to embrace and share in their sufferings, if only for a moment as I worked on my collages. I “owned” their struggle as my own.
In the midst of this struggle, I pondered how I would be able to praise God, to yield my life and my situation to God’s control. And I prayed for those who, as my neighbors, remain in the path of violence today.
And in the end, I praised God for being majestic in all the earth – even on the West Bank.
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On Saturday morning, Todd chose the Beatitudes from Matthew 5 for our featured text. I spent some time thinking about what the passage itself means to me, and to my calling as a pastor and a chaplain. I asked God for a unifying picture to help me as I created this collage. It took a while. This was my final result:
Finally I came to a place of seeing the Beatitudes as a moving force for the Church. If we live them out, we respond in a way that leaves a positive “footprint” on the world. That includes caring for the world God has given us as its caretakers.
To be part of the Church who is “the light of the world” and “the salt of the earth” means that I am participating in a grander scheme and greater work than I can do alone. I am a part of something which does indeed “capture” my heart, my imagination, and leads me to respond. The experiences and conversations I had been having at Wild Goose were having an affect on me, on my husband and my children. Even though I am still grappling with how to express it, I am aware of the tugging of the Spirit and am praying we each respond as God has asked.
That’s a lifetime project, isn’t it? 🙂
UP NEXT: Photoblogging – comments and reflections based on some photos I took