October 28, 2022
All Saints Day
The celebration of All Saints Day is quite important in some Christian traditions, and much less so in others. We don’t have specifically recognized saints in our Disciples of Christ tradition, choosing instead to follow the Apostle Paul’s lead and approach this day by acknowledging that all who are a part of the church comprise the saints. Indeed, as Paul reminds us repeatedly in salutations of his letters to churches, the saints are the people to whom he is writing in the churches. The saints are in actuality all those who live in Christ, both those who have gone before us and those here today.
Nevertheless, we do know that the reason people have been recognized as saints in other traditions is often because of their remarkable wisdom and compassion and leadership within the church across the ages. We do then draw upon the riches of their stories, and their writings, to give us guidance and insight, and to lead us into prayerful consideration of many things.
I never celebrate this day without thinking of the remarkable tapestries that grace the sanctuary walls in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles. I have visited the Cathedral numerous times, and I am always amazed and inspired by these tapestries. I so enjoy that art form anyway, but I find the subject matter of these tapestries to be especially striking. In a church tradition where saints are formally recognized and celebrated, there are many such saints depicted on the tapestries. In addition, though, there are places on the tapestries where individuals, especially young people, are depicted, who have no formal recognition as saints, but who are included in the same way as the Apostle Paul included all of the faithful. These tapestries are remarkable for both their artistry and their theological statement.
I invite you to view these works of art at this website:
May your All Saints Day be truly blessed.
October 21, 2022
We each experience peace in different ways. For me, the beauty and artistry of God’s creation both grounds me and brings me peace. I recently took time to just sit and take in that beauty at the ocean. The immensity of the ocean, the infinite stretch of the sky, and the glint of the sun on the water filled me with peace.
To say more is to take away from the power of the moment, but I do share this photo with you, as you indeed envision or visit your own places that fill you with peace.
October 14, 2022
I often hear about, and read about, writer’s block. I imagine such a thing happens in a different but similar way with artists. Sometimes the creativity flows, and at other times it just doesn’t.
I am perhaps most familiar with such a challenge through the preparation of Sunday messages and the crafting of worship services. Of course, one can always repeat the pattern of Sunday worship from the week before, changing the songs and little more. And one can fairly easily put together an uninspiring sermon. But I still hope for more.
At times it is simply a matter of starting to do something, starting to write a message even if that draft eventually gets tossed in the trash, electronic or otherwise. I understand that to be true for writers in general, and even for artists of various mediums. The very act of doing something, of attempting to be creative, leads to creativity that may indeed surprise us.
Such endeavors feel to me like forays into the imagination, finding joy in the attempt itself, even if the results may not be what we are searching for. It is the freeing of the imagination that puts us in touch with the movement of God’s spirit, a spirit that can fill us and move us and inspire us if we are open to it.
This is not to say that there isn’t still hard work ahead, but once we have gotten a start, once we have encouraged our own inventiveness, even if we eventually head in another direction, then we feel energized and ready to engage the process of creating, whether it be a sermon, a painting or a novel.
We each have our own ways of going about encouraging our imaginations. It can come from reading the creative words of others. It may come through a time of wandering in a museum or art gallery. It may simply be some “creative time-wasting” in a setting which we appreciate and feel at home in. Wherever it may be for each of us, spending time nurturing our imaginations is one of the most worthwhile things that we can do.
October 7, 2022
World Communion Sunday 3
As we celebrated World Communion Sunday last weekend, I included all of the elements that I had suggested you might consider having in a worship experience you designed.
We shared the experience of praying the Lord’s Prayer in eight different languages, which is always a spiritual experience in itself for me.
We dressed the communion table with three cloths, including one from Sweden. People made bread, and we had two wonderful Swedish breads, plus wheat bread, tortillas and matzoh. In addition to the regular chalice which we use, we also had chalices from Oregon, Tahiti, Texas and England.
All of these elements added to the visual and textured experience of the observance of this special day. I share a photo here that shows the table mostly completed, with only the usual communion trays needing to be prepared. I ideally would have invited people forward to partake of whatever bread they chose, dipping the bread in one of the chalices. As we are still emerging from the pandemic though, we still served the bread and juice in individual cups. Perhaps next year we can add this experience.
Here then is the photo:
Welcome to my website. I hope you will discover a connection to the life of small churches, and the richness that the arts can bring to these churches.