Luke 9: 1-3
“Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, not even an extra tunic.”‘
To go and follow Jesus is a risky business and there are no guarantees. But when we truly go for it…when we trust in God and follow Jesus with nothing except ourselves…doors open, things happen, people gather and healing begins. As we begin to wind down from this whirlwind of a year with the Spiritual Arts Collective we hear God calling and saying – keep going but go bigger! Bigger??? Really? AND so we the design team find ourselves debating, struggling, and seeking how we will move forward, what is God calling us to do next? As we have listened and discerned throughout this past year, paying close attention to where there is energy and passion emerging. We have been watching for where is the Spirit at work, and we know without a doubt that this project is not done yet.
It seems that we have been called to enter a second phase in this project with a vision of a third phase in sight. We have witnessed lives being transformed and relationships have been forged and healing has transpired when we invited strangers to engage spirituality and the arts with us and the artists-in-residence. As each group played together by singing, dancing, writing, painting, sculpting and eating we moved together, we breathed together, we touched each other, and our hearts, minds and souls were engaged. The participants embodied the Spirit and it worked in us and others in ways we would never have guessed.
Now it’s time to give the congregation an opportunity to engage their faith through the Arts and see our worship transformed. In phase 2 we will add Liturgical Arts Collectives to what we’ve already established. We will invite people to gather around a liturgical season and create something for our worship service during that season. Perhaps they will create a ritual that we will use for the 4 weeks of Advent or maybe they will create a play, a dramatic sermon for Epiphany or a dance for the season of Pentecost.
The arts can deepen our understanding of the scriptures. These collectives will help people to discover more about the parts of worship and why we do what we do. Most importantly, they will explore the faith story, embody it and proclaim it to the gathered people at worship. We will invite a liturgical artist to join us for the year and provide leadership to these Liturgical Arts Collectives.
The vision for phase three is even bigger. We find ourselves envisioning a Western Canada Conference with a theme of Embodied Worship, Expressive Faith Communities, and the Arts. We want to help others explore the myriad of ways that the arts can be used in all expressions of the Spirit at work in us and others. We want to tell our stories of faith in ways that touch people’s hearts, which moves them to respond and live out their faith in their daily lives and in their neighbourhoods.
By thinking big we have discovered that several other aspects within the church that were stalled have now opened up. By dreaming big we have diminished the usual road blocks or walls that prevent us from moving forward. When you move into the chaos of the creative process you have a choice…a leap of faith if you will… where either you jump in with everything or you don’t. When we proceed with caution and baby steps we tend to maintain the status quo. When we risk it all we either learn from our failure or we create something that inspires and brings people together. We remember how many people commented that what we were proposing for this year was big, and because we took this leap of faith we have had more invitations for partnerships in the past year and each one seems to be leading us to more embodied engagement in our neighbourhood and the city. Things have shifted for us as a church. Our presence is not only noticed, but it is now being valued and we are a vital part of the neighbourhood in which we minister. Because we went big, we got noticed and we found our voice. Engaging the arts have helped us find a path upon which we are able to articulate who we are and what we value. What we have taken on this journey is our faith – Jesus asks only that we take our whole selves.
Written by Rev. Karen Bridges