Acrylic medium on a canvas jounal
Also, I'm going to start looking for odd ways that people have used to deliver mail and messages. One such example is rocket mail - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_mail
Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Ephesians 2:21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord.
Nail scarred hand
Luke 24:36-39 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you."
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have."
John 20:27 Then Jesus said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
We regularly do live paintings at The Stirring were I go to church. Here's an idea I had for Easter. Then near the end of the message, I would complete the painting and moved it and the easel to the edge of the stage so that people could easily reach it. Next I would place my finger in some red paint and put a red thumbprint in the center of the hand. Then the pastor would encourage people to come forward and do the same. They would also get a wet wipe to clean their finger. By the end, there would be a large red spot made of all the individual prints. Sort of a symbolic a placing your sins in God's hands and then being wiped clean.
Maundy Thursday is always a challenging service at The Stirring. This year the theme was “journey” with the title of the sermon being Passage. I wasn’t even suppose to be a part of the service till I received a call that afternoon. The leadership had developed this idea about a having an artist create a cross painting that the audience could journey to and touch while still wet.
Great idea, but sure put me on the spot. I didn’t have a large canvas or enough paint not to mention I didn’t know what to paint. To add to the difficulty, it was important for it to be finished at a key moment. Also, I had to cover a 30” x 40” canvas in a short period of time. To help hide the painting, I used an easel that can lay the canvas horizontal and vertical. This way i could reveal the painting to the audience at the right moment. Then near the end of the message, I flipped the painting up and moved it to the edge of the stage so that people could easily reach it.
Then the pastor encouraged people to come forward and touch the still wet paint of the cross to symbolize their personal spiritual journey to the cross and the mark that the cross have left on their lives. It was really cool to be a part of that experience. It was a very spiritual experience for me and one of my favorite Stirring services. I don't recall the exact number of people in attendance. I think it was in the 500 to 700 range.
Full color photograph of this painting was printed in the Memphis Flyer ongoing art section in with a listing of my art exhibit at Java Cabana in May 2008.
Do you ever use your art to talk to others about your relationship with Jesus? Here are some of the answers I received from artists who have painted at The Stirring.
Alberto: Not really. A conversation about a certain piece may lead to me sharing my personal testimony. But to be honest... I try to use my art as a way to encourage others to share their spiritual blessings and hardships.
Brooke: Yes. Since my main focus is Cross art and I love to explain my special relationship I have, my triumphs and valleys, etc.
Julie: Yes, I talk about how my artwork is a God thing and that I prayed about what I am painting and how he led me to paint churches to look like stained glass on metal
Jennifer: Only when someone asks about a specific painting, I will go into how it was created through worship.
Mike: The art I have produced for the past several years has been a reflection of my relationship with Jesus. I send my work to a number of ‘unbelievers’ occasionally and sometimes a conversation ensues.
Kevin: No, not specifically but I have replied to questions about where I learned how to draw or paint...and I simply respond that God gave it to me.
Filled with the Spirit by Richard Fudge
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13
I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in. – Revelation 3:20
But if I say, “I will not mention Him or speak any more in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. – Jeremiah 20:9
The scripture encourages us to make a “joyful noise.” I believe that artistic expression is another way to worship the Lord; paint a “joyful stoke” or make a “joyful splat.” I began to see art in this way after visiting the Stirring. Back in 2003, I meet a nice girl and asked her out. She was involved at the Stirring as one of the lead singers in the worship band. She invited me to come and hear her at the Stirring. I had not been going to church for some time. I had moved to Memphis in 1995 from Fort Smith, Arkansas (where I grew up), and never really connected to a church here. I attended off and on, but nothing stuck. I never felt at home, but then I went to a Stirring service. I was just floored. It was unlike any service I had ever been to. Concert lighting, loud music, candles, and ART!?!
I really felt as if I had come home. Never before had I been in a church that had made art so welcome and a part of the worship experience. Being an artist myself, I felt welcomed. I continued to attend the Stirring and it didn’t take long for me to volunteer as a guest artist. It was a very unique experience. The idea of painting on stage in front of about 200 people is intimidating to say the least. I kept imagining all those eyes looking over my shoulder while I work on a piece. It was scary especially since I don’t really my works in galleries and such. But I wanted to get involved. I found that once I got started on my painting, the audience just faded away. It was just me and the painting with the band playing in the background. I loved it. So this is worship! Sure there are sometimes when I get nervous up there. But usually I tap my foot and paint away.
After attending the Stirring for about a year, I joined Hope (the Stirring is apart of the Hope). Soon after, the artist coordinator Terri came to me. She was going to be moving about an hours drive away. It was going to be a hardship for her to continue to be the artist coordinator, and she asked me to talk the position. I said sure. I tended to always be there. The senior artist and gallery manager at the Stirring is a volunteer position. I would argue that it really could be a full time position to really do all that could be done in this ministry. Finding artist to paint at the service, connecting with other artists, reviewing and hanging art in the “gallery”, promoting openings, etc. My day job is Senior Artist (aka graphic designer) at a local health care organization's corporate communications dept. I am also apart of The Stirring’s Leadership Team (sort of a small group of all the volunteer coordinators and long time volunteers). We meet once a month to hear from our pastor about the up-coming sermons, events, etc. And you know, things that need improving, prayer requests from the team, praise, guidance, etc.
So that’s my story of how I ended up painting in church and worshiping through art. What’s your story?
Here are some of the answers I received from artists who have painted at The Stirring. (# at The Stirring) is the number of times that artist has painted for one month during The Stirring service.
Alberto: Painting let's me express my relationship with God and my spiritual struggles. I get a chance to express my feelings, my inner most secrets, the things i would keep to myself and not share with the world. I see painting more then just worship...it's my way of praying to God. (5 times at The Stirring)
Brooke: I love love it!! I feel its the time when I can connect with my "talent" and worship through my paintbrush and mouth as I sing the praise music. It is a very humbling time for me to be stage centered, on God's time, and surrounded by only encouragement. I think we heal through music and art, or at least I do, and this experience has let me do that. No better testimony to me than to show you my struggles but also how God has picked me up, dusted off me feet, and said take your pearls and follow me Brooke! I am very thankful for the opportunity The Stirring has given me to show "my pearls" per say! (1 time at The Stirring)
Cara: Painting with God really gives me clarity. I stop thinking about all my worries and just focus. (3 times at The Stirring)
Jennifer: I feel more peaceful when I am using artwork to worship God. It gives me more focus to make it a part of worship rather than excluding God from it. When I exclude God from my art, I am less driven, and get more frustrated more easily. (2 times at The Stirring)
Julie: I feel like I am a servant to God's kingdom and that the experience can be shared with others. I let God work through me. (2 times at The Stirring)
Kevin: Mostly I feel simply blessed that He gave me the gift and talent. Many times I feel like my art is not worthy enough, too. (3+ times at The Stirring)
Mike: It is extremely satisfying to me when the invisible (my imagination) becomes visible (my art). Usually, however, there is a frustrating discrepancy between my imagination and my reality. Reconciling this discrepancy illustrates the grace of God, in that He ‘sees’ me as a finished work. (many times at The Stirring)
Please add your own answer by leaving a comment.
This past weekend at The Stirring was incredible. It has given me a burst of passion for live painting at church. It’s something we do every Sunday at The Stirring, but I realized I haven’t made any posts about using art as an important part of the worship service.
The service was very spiritually charged and emotionally engaging. Along with the art being created on the stage, the worship music, and Michael's awesome message, we had an incredible artist panel. We had a panel of three artists who have volunteered to paint at the Stirring numerous times. Michael asked Chris, Gail, and Cara Ann these questions: 1, Explain for us your experience of worshiping God through art. 2, Do you use your art as a way to talk to other people about your relationship with Jesus? 3, If you to ever be in a room filled with Christians and spiritually searching people, what is one thing you would say to them about art? Their discussion was inspiring and one of the most tangible ways to explain to people how worship and art go hand in hand.
Everyone at the Stirring really gave it their all and helped make this weekend a masterpiece. I feel like I just finished senior thesis again and that this weekend was the final exam and presentation. For the question, that we are sometimes asked, "What is the Stirring? What is the mission or purpose?" Last Sunday is my reply.
I don't know if you made it but if you couldn't be there, I thought you might be interested in these links. Our special guest artist was Deeann Carson, a recent grad from MCA. She's written about the event on her blog and has some great shots of our gallery and her painting on stage that night. (BTW she sold 16 paintings that weekend).