Thoughts and insights from Jubilee Church Wirral

Visual art as worship

By Dawne Cooper, Jubilee Church Wirral

Worship is an overflow of what’s inside of us, what we desire and love.

We all express ourselves in different ways and as such our worship will reflect that. Be it singing, poetry, dance or art – to name but a few ways.

Visual art can do so much. It can create identity, define space, dramatise parts of worship, shape movement, mark time and even anchor a memory.

Through art, feelings and responses can be expressed in a way which would otherwise be limited by the finite words of the English language. Don’t mishear me here. Singing as a form of worship is certainly a vital aspect of worship, particularly when joining together with fellow believers. But that’s a topic for another time.

Visual art exists predominantly for two outcomes:

– For God to reveal Himself

– For us to glorify God.

Pablo Picasso once said “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things.”

You only need to look at creation for the ultimate example of God creatively revealing Himself.

During listening to worship music, or reading God’s word, don’t rush in. Wait for revelation, listen for inspiration, listen for meaning. What is God trying to say? What emotion does it provoke?

The process involves adoration, proclamation, submission and service. So before you start, pray, commit yourself to God and ask Him to speak to you. Be open to Him speaking to you and through you.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Before my illness, when I began having problems with my breathing, I didn’t do anything like this. It was all sports and fitness. I played football and cricket to a high level and ran for miles. In not being able to do that anymore, I tried a lot of things to find a sense of purpose again. If you have a look at my Facebook page, Crafted From Faith, you will see examples of things that I do.

God revealing himself aids in healing. This is in the process of creating as well as the creation itself. It creates freedom in spirit and expression. Creating visual arts also brings visions and words to life. A permanent reminder of Gods promises in both yours and the lives of others.

So how does visual art work for us to glorify God?

As a young believer, and even before, I used to be confused as to why cathedrals, monasteries and other places of worship were so lavish. Why didn’t they take the money they had invested into these buildings and given it to help the poor, or put it to better use? But then I realised they were doing it to glorify God. To give their very best. To aim to display just what God means to them, but again I digress.

Often, spoken and written word is valued higher than the artistic word. However, you only need to take the briefest of looks at the Bible to see visual art as an expression of faith. In Exodus, we see God calling Bezalel to craftsmanship.

“See, I have called by name Bezalel… And I have filled him with the spirit of God, with ability and intelligence with knowledge in all kinds of crafts, to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” (Exodus 31:2-5)

World class sculptor Matt Tommey said this: “Before Jesus ever preached a sermon, or did a miracle, He was working as a skilled artisan in the marketplace, honouring God, engaging with clients and making a living from His craft.” As an artisan you’re in good company.

You don’t have to be a skilled artist, either.

In 2 Corinthians 8:12 Paul writes: “For the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable.”  Put simply, God looks at the heart.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look to improve your skills, so practise, strive to improve, enrol on courses, learn from other people.

Because as Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 10,  “Whatever you do, do it for the Glory of God”. If you’re doing it for the glory of God, why wouldn’t you strive to be the best you can be?

So where can you begin? Here are some examples of things you can do – but by no means are you limited to this list:

– Create an art journal

– Create sculpture or jewellery

– Create fabric art

– Turn what you’re learning in the Bible and quiet times into artistic expressions to encourage others, for example bookmarks, coasters, etc.

There’s no right or wrong when you create something. Do what you feel and what you feel led to do. Creativity is a conversation between you and God. God made you unique, so embrace it.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepares beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

So go, enjoy, embrace your uniqueness, use your time to further explore your creativity, and be free in who God intended you to be.

Jubilee Church Wirral Life Group leaders Rick and Chantal Robertson

Dawne Cooper of Jubilee Church Wirral

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