Sharing the message through art
Easter Sunday was a really special day. Our home church The Mission Chattanooga is now meeting in person at outdoor worship services. This just started recently after a year of only coming together virtually. Being together has an extra special meaning because we closed the doors of our old sanctuary permanently last spring. Our church purchased a new building which needed an extensive renovation. It was finally complete last March and we planned to move in.
We have had this incredible new space that had just been sitting, waiting for us while we all stayed home. A few weeks ago our community finally felt that the time was right to come together again in person.
Our beautiful new courtyard would be the perfect space.
I knew that our Easter service would be a special one and a tiny voice inside of me kept reminding me of how much I missed creating “Artworship”.
This is the process of creating a work of art live during a service as an act of worship. When Jason and I lived in Houston, we attended Ecclesia Houston where this was a common practice at most services. Scott Erickson was the Artist in Residence there and he would paint to help teach the message being shared. Eventually Scott began asking me to fill in for him from time to time and after Scott moved back to Seattle, I began to take the practice on more regularly.
Creating art in this way was a chance for me to blend two parts of my life.
My faith and my art are what make me who I am. I know that God made me with a special gift and I’ve worked my whole life to try to figure out what to do with it. I know I am made to create, but what and for what purpose? It’s something I think a lot of artists struggle with.
When I was painting live each week as part of our service at Ecclesia, I could see in a tangible way how my talent could be used to enrich the lives of not just the wealthy who could afford to purchase art, but of everyone who would have the experience of watching it’s creation and learning from the message I was illustrating.
We moved to Chattanooga in 2013 and shortly after we started our family. When life changed, I found myself with a lot less free time to plan out worship paintings. I also wasn’t really sure how to bring this practice to our new church, so I never did.
Fast forward to today, 8 years later.
I think God has never taken this desire out of my heart and it’s grown stronger recently. I just knew that creating art in this way was something I was supposed to do with my gift.
So I sent a quick text message to one of our pastors on a Wednesday afternoon, totally out of the blue. I said that I wanted to create a worship painting on Easter. The staff loved the idea. Plans were already being made for a very special outdoor service and this would be a unique way to share the glory of Jesus in a visual way.
I spend a lot of time praying and studying different imagery before I paint live. I learn what the message will be about and I try to find beautiful, inspiring visuals that will pull from the theme.
Our Easter sermon came from Luke where Jesus appeared to Cleopas and a companion after his resurrection. They did not recognize him. They were disappointed and confused after the man who they thought would be their Messiah was brutally killed. Jesus did not tell them who he was but he did explain to them why such an event needed to happen. He made it clear that the only way around the darkness was to go right through it. He was not a victim but instead a servant.
The couple invited Jesus to their home for a meal and it was the moment when he broke the bread when their eyes were opened as to who he was. This was the moment I wanted to capture in my painting. I made a clear dividing line down the painting and I painted the left side of the piece in cool blue tones to illustrate the mystery of who this man was. The right side is created in full explosive color capturing the beauty of the resurrected king. In the center is the cross marking the pivotal moment in history when death was conquered. The scene shows Jesus breaking the bread. This is the first meal in the new kingdom where all things are made new.