A call to Christian artists:
Human beings, in a certain sense, are unknown to themselves. Jesus Christ not only reveals God, but “fully reveals man to man”. (23) In Christ, God has reconciled the world to himself. All believers are called to bear witness to this; but it is up to you, men and women who have given your lives to art, to declare with all the wealth of your ingenuity that in Christ the world is redeemed: the human person is redeemed, the human body is redeemed, and the whole creation which, according to Saint Paul, “awaits impatiently the revelation of the children of God” (Rom 8:19), is redeemed. The creation awaits the revelation of the children of God also through art and in art. This is your task. Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny.
Pope John Paul II, 1999 Letter to Artists
Quoted by Michael O’Brien, “Subsidiarity in Art”
The O’Brien article comes to me in a timely fashion; just last night I met some sisters for Advent prayer and the theme God put on my heart to pray for was the artists of our generation, a group to which my husband and I belong. We prayed that artists would ask God for the revelation of His heart, for new songs and new paintings, for new stories and new poems. I was led to Deuteronomy 8, where two verses stood out to me:
So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD.
and Deuteronomy 8:18
And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.
The first verse speaks directly to my heart this Advent, as I have been hungry for the culture of Redemption we are preparing to celebrate in the Feast of the Incarnation. He lets me hunger during this fasting time to remind me that I do not live on bread (read sensuality, the overwhelming of the senses, particularly at Christmastime) but on every word that proceeds from His mouth (and fittingly, the Word made flesh in the Incarnation). The second verse I came across last week in my Bible study about faith, and I have been praying it for Zachary and for me, in the sense of financial blessing. He gives us the power to get wealth so that He may establish His covenant! (And let me tell you the story of how we were blessed with an unexpected $1000 a week after I prayed this!) But last night God showed me that as an artist, He also gives me power to get a wealth of revelation from Him, to put into my music, my lyrics, my stories, my poetry. I find it delightfully interesting that Pope John Paul II also used the term “wealth” in his call to artists.
Fellow artists! Let us pray that the God of all the earth and of all beauty will give us power to get artistic and divine wealth, that we may share it with the world, bringing His words of redemption and love and grace to those in desperate need of it, ourselves included.
Grace to you in the hope of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God,