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Worship and Creativity

So, it’s Sunday night and I’m writing my post for Monday morning. Not like me.

I have a headache and I’ve been facebook trolling for a little bit after tutuoring my husband on the intricacies of the Blackboard Grade Center. Not feeling ‘super spiritual’ or even qualified to be writing a post on worship and creativity. But I have to take a step back—worship is a lifestyle. And I want to style my life to be one of worship and creativity. One day it will be a continuous stream. But for now I can sometimes be a Facebook troll and know that Jesus loves me.

Guys and gals, a lifestyle of worship doesn’t mean that I want to spend all my time on the guitar or listening to Christian praise music. It means so much more than that.

It means creating a personal liturgy where Jesus is my constant companion, where I want to have an awareness of Him, His nearness, His goodness, His kindness, all the time. Recognizing Him for who He really is and responding in love. That is worship.

I have this theory, taken in part from James K. A. Smith and his book Desiring the Kingdom, that everyone has a personal liturgy. That we already automatically structure our lives to worship something or someone. That the things that we choose to do reveal where our hearts lay. It could be shopping or social media or status symbols or good grades or physical fitness or philosophy or relationships…for me honestly, it’s been food and my appetite.

Worship isn’t confined to a five-minute devotion in the morning; it has to be the structure of my life. (There’s a whole book lurking my fingers on this topic…) And the thing that draws me more deeply into worship is carving out time in my schedule to create.

Creativity and Consumption

My sister Jennifer has a drive to create that rivals Ray Bradbury (his repertoire includes 27 novels, 600 short stories, 21 plays, 25 screenplays, and numerous pieces of plus children’s literature and nonfiction works). The girl creates almost nonstop. You can see some of her work here and here. So creative.

In college she took a fabrics class and it resulted in some really neat work, though it was strange to me at the time. One piece, entitled ‘Grandma Death,’ made me think, “What’s going on in the head of this sister of mine?”

GrandmaDeath

Jennifer with ‘Grandma Death’ at her senior art show, 2010

But the more I get to know my sister and the more I get to know the world around me as I get older, I realize her genius. It is unique and beautiful and an interpretation of the world around her and the thoughts in her head. So awesome. I love it! I love her!

About a month ago, I was reading the book of Revelation and it led me to a passage in Exodus 28 about the Ephod for the High Priest to wear when he ministers before the Lord. (Sorry for the long quote…)

“They shall take the gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and the fine linen, and they shall make the ephod of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen, artistically worked. It shall have two shoulder straps joined at its two edges, and so it shall be joined together. And the intricately woven band of the ephod, which is on it, shall be of the same workmanship, made of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen.

“Then you shall take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel: 10 six of their names on one stone and six names on the other stone, in order of their birth. 11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, you shall engrave the two stones with the names of the sons of Israel. You shall set them in settings of gold. 12 And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod asmemorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial. 13 You shall also make settings of gold, 14 and you shall make two chains of pure gold like braided cords, and fasten the braided chains to the settings.” (NKJV)

Whoa–all the sudden, I saw my kid sister doing mixed-media art and clothing projects as a reflection of the creative heart of God! And she has this thing for rocks…(which my daughter Lily has inherited, somehow…).

In creating and sharing our creations with others, we reveal the beauty of God.

Jennifer probably wouldn’t call her artwork worship, but even so her creativity spurs me on deeper into the heart of God.

Worship is definitely not limited to music. As people who desire to be worshipers like the Father seeks (in Spirit and truth), we have a huge realm of choices in being creative! Music, art, words, food, clothing, gardening—there are so many more ways to create than I can think of right now!

The thing is that I usually live my life as a consumer rather than a creator. And that causes me to take things and people for granted. We must consume to some extent—food, electricity (this might be optional for some?), oxygen? But I find that for myself I consume much less when I am involved in the creation of something. Making creativity a part of my daily liturgy adds a balance to my life that I otherwise lack.

Take a meal, for example.

I cook every other day. (Many thanks go to Kelley Stone for teaching me how to meal plan when we lived together last year…) If we just buy food ready-made, I am much more likely to eat more than ‘my share’—aka, what is good for my body and my little growing baby inside. But when I participate in the act of preparation—thinking through the menu, purchasing the components of the meal, prepping them and combining them with some form of heat—I am more circumspect about how much there is and how much we’ll need to last us through eating tomorrow.  And in my circumspection I am thankful that I don’t have to cook tomorrow.

How does this relate to worship?

Carving out time to be creative forces us into a rhythm. Our souls crave rhythm.

Being creative also makes us less critical. The more I cook, the more I am in awe of the contestants on reality cooking shows…The more I play my guitar and write songs and share vulnerably with friends and family the things God is teaching me, the less I am apt to criticize the singer at church on Sunday morning for being off-key or messing up the words.

Creativity is vulnerability. 

Noah was pretty vulnerable building the ark. Looked like a big stupid idiot for 120 years. And then came the flood. I know all those animals were thankful. And his kids. And wife. And his kids’ wives.

If we don’t take the risk of vulnerability in creativity and worship, we are stiffing the world around us. We have something to offer as we connect with God, as we learn who He is, as we recognize His beauty and translate it into art.

Don’t stiff the world.

Don’t stiff the Church.

Don’t stiff yourself.

Carve out a time to create. Make an empty space to fill. Daily? Weekly? Make it a part of your routine, your liturgy.

I promise you, you WILL be surprised at the things that flow out of you. If they scare you, keep going. Ask for grace. If they awe you, keep your eyes pointed to Jesus. Ask for grace.

Just don’t stop worshiping Jesus. And don’t stop creating.

A poem. Tuesday, July 30. Waco.

Fire.
Early.
Eyes that see.
Windows, lamps
Beckoning, “Come.”
Drink and taste
Passion and victory
Every day’s a door
into the mystery.
Fire.
Late.
Burning all the time.
Not devouring but consuming.
Suffering and joy
flint toward Jerusalem.
Cross, grave, cloths, stone,
angel, garden, road with friends
My heart is burning within me.
Selah.

What are you creating?


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