Experiencing Art as Worship
“They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign.” — Psalm 145:12“
Arts help mediate both the story of the faith, that is, the narrative of God’s historically specific ‘mighty acts,’ and the presence of God in ‘the glorious splendor of the kingdom.’” ——John 1:14, 16-17
We are all creatives because we are created. As works of art, we tell stories of God’s character through our own lives. We are indwelled temples of worship.
In our day-to-day lives, we walk around and forget that we are a joining of art and worship. Often, our sense of the artist’s flow—a space where creatives describe losing track of all awareness outside of the work they are creating—can feel confined to particular moments and spaces, such as within church buildings. We tend to forget that we live within a larger sanctuary where we are invited to create with our entire lives. Art as worship is not just a calling for some, it is an ingrained part of who we are.
When we engage in worship, fully immersed and present, we experience the same feelings and concentration of an artist at work. The depth of this type of experience, this flow, is not something that occurs often unless we pursue it. It comes from a profound place.
Our upbringing and traditions likely play a profound role in shaping how each of us views art. When we speak of religious art, Italian Renaissance paintings and sculptures or Gothic Cathedrals covered in stained glass are often the first things to come to mind. “Art” draws to mind epic grandeur, but what of smaller more intimate expressions? Voices joining together in song, a child’s drawing, the outpouring of words in our journals and prayers. These too can be significant acts of artful worship.
Some of us are more inclined to label ourselves as artists in the traditional sense. Wonderful—may the artists among us always be encouraged in the process of worship while immersed in their craft whether or not the end result hangs in a church. But one need not pick up a paintbrush or master an instrument to worship. Anything we create rightly understood can point us back to the divine Creator.
May the spaces and projects where we find flow continue to be seen for the art forms they are. Let us engage in our making with a worshipful heart, following the example set for us by God, and living into the gifts, skills, and talents we have been given. Our creative actions reflect the majesty of God. For if we are created creatives, each act, from painting to cooking to woodworking to gardening, is an act of worship that points back to the Ultimate Creator.
We desperately need art in our worship just as our worship flow is an art of its own. They are interwoven in the story of creation.
Words: Sabrina Dawson
Images: Steve Johnson