Thursday, January 24, 2013

Move along, nothing to see here... {thoughts on art in the sanctuary}

 What helps you to meditate on truth?

In what environment are you most receptive to the means of grace?

How can what you see with your eye encourage your heart and mind to see?

The good news is, well, it's actually the Good News! 
It doesn't depend on us, on our faculties for attention, 
on our access to excellent environments for worship. 
It does depend on our hearing, on God's enabling us to receive his grace 
through the means which he has given.

A few weeks ago I was asked to design something to hang in the space behind the pulpit 
at our church, framing the cross, facing the congregation of the saints. 

I'm sure I overthink these things, and honestly that might normally prevent me 
from producing anything at all. But, since the time frame between being asked for a design 
and getting started on the project was around 24 hours, 
with the deadline for completion in less than a week, 
I had to move quickly and my thinking-creating-evaluating process was severely truncated.

In considering the environment, the physical context for the gathering of the church, 
for the hearing of the Word by the people of God 
I wanted to create something that, in a sense, people wouldn't see. 
Well, yes, I know they see it, but I hoped it would not call attention to itself, 
not become a distraction to those who are hearing and worshiping.

And yet, maybe subtly it could draw the eye and the heart and the mind toward Christ. 
I envisioned something rough, something ordinary, unpolished, even broken. 
I thought about vertical lines sweeping upward and about 
muddy, dark and dingy things becoming lighter and brighter.

We used ordinary, cheap, scrap wood shims, broken, battered, and discolored 
with various drab shades of paint, oriented in a vertical pattern almost imperceptibly graduating 
from a slightly darker to lighter shade of distressed, weathered wood.

I'm still not sure these panels achieve (or under-achieve) all I envision art in the worship setting should, but they're up, and they're messy, and they point heavenward. I guess I'm hopeful that we broken believers, as we gather to worship, would do the same.


Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 
by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, 
that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, 
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  
not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, 
but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:19-25


  1. From idea to implementation to final backdrop... impressive - as well as a thoughtful reflection. Thanks!

  2. by the way, I like your closing. Great visual metaphor for us sinner/saints who look away from ourselves to Christ -

    ... but they're up, and they're messy, and they point heavenward. I guess I'm hopeful that we broken believers, as we gather to worship, would do the same.

  3. I LOVE the new art - and yes it's perfectly understated...


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