Category: Worship

An Anabaptist Response to Gun Violence

There is a gap in Mennonite response to mass shootings. After a  shooting, when secular headlines buzz with gory details and harrowing survivals, Mennonite news outlets often continue posting business-as-usual news. Over the past few years, as shootings occur, I’ve begun Googling the location + “Anabaptist” or “Mennonite.” […] Continue reading An Anabaptist Response to Gun Violence

Worship Pieces: God’s Faithfulness

Call to Worship (based on Psalm 89 and Matthew 13:31-32): We sing of God’s steadfast love, And proclaim God’s faithfulness to all generations: The faithfulness that grows a seed into a great shrub; the faithfulness that welcomes birds of the air. The faithfulness that provides sturdy branches for the nests that are built. […]

The Strumbellas

Review of “Hope” by The Strumbellas [Six Shooter Records, 2016] As a middle-aged casual music listener I do not try to keep up with all the latest Canadian recordings. I recently added a few vintage Gordon Lightfoot and Guess Who records and I bought the latest releases from Blue Rodeo [1000 Arms] and the Great Lake Swimmers [A Forest of Arms]—What’s with the fixation on arms?—whom I discovered a few years ago. […]

Beauty (Part 2)

This Biblical motif of fruitful labor [see the previous post] shows the inherent longing of our hearts to be remembered, to do something which lasts, to create. We were, in fact, designed to mimic our Creator. My dad has speculated that two ways we are designed in God’s image are our abilities to “create and relate”. Humans unlike animals, are able to design computers and skyscrapers; and, unlike angels, they can marry.
Creating is Important.
Creating is important not only be God calls us to create, but because He Himself creates and delights in beauty (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Psalm 50:2; 96:6; Isaiah 28:5; 4:2). Dannah Gresh writes, “Beauty and fashion aren’t condemned by the Christian faith. On the contrary, beauty seems to be nearly synonymous with God’s glory....Beauty is one of God’s greatest expressions. I think it’s only fitting that we, created in His image, strive to express ourselves through beauty as well. So express it.” Margaret Clarkson calls this expressing our sexuality which God instilled in us (86).
To my practical mind, I don’t always prioritize the arts or value my inherent desire to create beauty. Decorating, painting, scrapbooking are trivial hobbies which get in the way of bills to pay, laundry to fold and even supposedly reading the Bible. I often find myself downplaying my creative pursuits to others, as if they’ll view it as wrong to write without huge audiences in mind or to enjoy my job enough to work during my summer vacation.
Often I assume that “work” can’t be beautiful, nor do I think that the arts can be spiritually successful. The truth is that everything we do should be worship; everything we do should mimic God’s beauty, glorify Him and produce fruit.
Ann Voskamp points out that God values artists: “Did you know that the first people that we know from Scripture to be filled with the Holy Spirit were not priests, not kings, not generals. The first two people to be filled with the Holy Spirit were — two artists, two craftsmen, two makers named Bezelel and Oholiab — who built Moses’ Tabernacle (Exodus 35:29-31)?”
Creating is Worship.
Creating is a natural response to beauty. Elaine Scarry in On Beauty and Being Just, argues that our two natural responses to beauty are gaping and imitating (1, 9). Beauty makes us long for more and to attempt to create our own beauty. The psalmist displays this response: “I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord, all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple” (27:4).
I've been amazed at how creating, working and seeking beauty have caused me to marvel at God, the Creator.
When I first started putting more energy into writing, I assumed it'd cause me to think about and describe God. I didn't realize that the very process would point me to Him.
Writing has caused me to study God’s creation (nature, stories and people) for analogies and His imprint and to rejoice that God is a storyteller and beauty creator.
Additionally, I've been dependent on God for inspiration, strength, direction and the right motivation. As Psalm 127 says my creative efforts are nonexistent without Him: “Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. In vain you get up early and stay up late, eating food earned by hard work: certainly He gives sleep to the one He loves.”
Isaiah 26 echoes this, saying in one verse “You [God] have also done all our work for us.” and Isaiah 49:4 states, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and futility; yet my vindication is with the Lord, and my reward is with my God.”
So when I seek to imitate God’s beauty, I find myself redirected back to Him. He is both the Vineyard Keeper and the Vine (John 15:1), the Giver and the Gift, the Painter and the Artwork.
Clarkson, Margaret. So You’re Single! Wheaton: Harold Shaw, 1978. Print.
Gresh, Dannah. Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty. Chicago: Moody, 2002. Print.
Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Bible, 5th ed., Nashville, Tennessee: Holman Bible Publishers, 2004. Print.
Voskamp, Ann. "What Is Success? Life in the Upside Down Kingdom." N.p., 09 Nov. 2010. Web. 06 Nov. 2016. .
Creating Blogpost Series:
3. Femininity Expressed (This blog post, also titled "I Blame the Paint" will appear on 12/15/16.)

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