I must admit there are days I wonder if anyone is listening…if maybe all the time spent to write, produce, publish and market a book, has been worth all the effort. If I let myself, I can get to feeling pretty down…As artists, the world doesn’t really give us a parade very often and the pay off seems to be nothing anyone can cash at the bank….
But then, I will meet someone that makes me realize this is “A Wonderful Life” especially this year..and no, I’m not thinking of jumping off any bridges:)
I have made many new friends this year but I want to share with you one aquantance in paticular and that is the precious little family of Adam and Sarah Nettesheim. I met them last March as I was invited to speak at the Tulsa workshop. They are both visual artists and so when they saw my classes of “God thru the Arts” on the program it was a perfect fit. I can still see Sarah and Adam sitting front row center, really taking it all in with open eyes and hearts as they began to imagine all the possibilities for their home congregation. (The Church at Loveland http://www.churchatloveland.org )
When they returned home to Loveland CO armed with my book and also a wonderful memory of an experience at Terry Rush’s congregation of Memorial Drive in Tulsa. (It seems he had a sermon series where an artist had created a painting for each sermon.) Adam and Sarah began to speak more passionatly about using the arts as part of their Bible study or Spiritual Formation.
Their idea was to create a “community art project” as something not only for the children’s ministry, but instead a project that could bring the entire congregation together, young and old, to tell the story of Jesus.
Adam describes: 23 artists chose pieces and their work was beautifully diverse in their media choices and interpretations. Some chose paints, some pencils, some photography and photoshop. There were painted ceramics and stained glass work, there were collages and a sword crafted from wood.
There were musical offerings too. One of the presenters wrote and performed an original song, another shared a song she had found that spoke to her of the emotions Mary must have had as she processed the Angels news, and another performed a medley of songs that began with songs about the birth and the Manger, then flowed through songs about the life of Christ, then ended with songs of the Cross.
Everyone brought what they had been gifted with to tell the story … It was beautiful and I’m thankful for everyones.. heartfelt offerings. I believe it prepared our hearts for Christmas this year in such a unique and powerful way.
And Sarah enthusiastically endorses the event:
I absolutely loved seeing the variety of perspectives, styles and mediums presented by members of the congregation at The Church at Loveland for our “Art of Christmas” series. Everyone brought such a unique vision of the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. As a whole, this church-wide project has given me a tremendous amount of Christmas joy. What an awesome way to worship our Lord!
Their minister Gary Nichols commented:
I was amazed at the variety of perspective presented by members of the congregation at The Church at Loveland for our “Art of Christmas” series. Everyone brought such a unique vision of the events leading up to the birth of Jesus.
and when I asked Adam to tell me how my presentation and book had influenced him he quickly replied:
Reading your book and attending your classes got my mind spinning about appreciating Christmas much more than it would have otherwise. Advent is not really something I’ve done much with, but your book opened me up to it. … So yes, your book was very inspirational in direct and indirect ways.
Why is this important? And what could the arts possibly do for your congregation? As I read recently in Greg Boyd’s book Seeing is Believing
“How often do we find our minds wondering during prayer? The reason St. Francis of Sales (1609) suggested is that our minds, which think by concretely re-presenting reality, cannot focus well on abstractions.” p. 92
(more on this in the New Year:) for now…Matthew the 13 chapter, verse 8 is ringing out to me:
“still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown”
I praise God for this little family and our chance or maybe not so chance meeting at the Tulsa Workshop so that we could all “Connect with God thru the Arts!”
Great job everyone of you who participated in the Advent Art Series this year. You have been a tremendous encouragement to Adam and Sarah and… to me… as I write to you from Frederick Maryland:)
God Bless Us Everyone!