Sunday, January 15, 2006


Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
His praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise His name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats and
two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations and
punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains and
their nobles with fences of iron,
to execute on them the judgement written!
This is honour for all His godly ones.
Praise the Lord!

This evening I was privileged to join with my new Fellowship at an event they titled ONE 4 NINE. This is a reference to Psalm 149.

This is a Praising Psalm - All about expressing Praise to God with EVERYTHING WITHIN US. And the event this evening was about the same thing. We are blessed to be able to express our praise through the arts. YES - Express praise through the arts. There was an exhibition of paintings and drawings by members of the fellowship. There was photography. There were paintings done by children from the Sunday School. There were incredibly well drawn portraits. They also sang songs of praise and it was performed incredibly well to the glory of God. All the songs were written by members of the Praise Team - some especially for the event. They were really cool songs. There was one young lady who worshiped in dance. I was not sure if this was "on the programme" as it were, but it certainly was a beautiful act of praise. At one point, while she was dancing, a little toddler wanted to get in on the act. Instead of becoming annoyed by this "distraction" the young lady simply danced around the little one and at one point picked her up and incorporated the little one into her dance. It was good to see. It reminded me of the scripture "Suffer the little children to come unto me." Between the songs there were readings of poetry. Those poems were really powerful. Towards the end of the evening a lady got up and unceremoniously started to paint on a glass panel (that had been set up for the purpose.) We watched with interest as the picture of a person bowing down in worship emerged. At the end of the evening, they showed a short film, that again pointed to God's awesome Creativity.

Some people may feel uncomfortable about the use of "the arts" in the context of "Church".
I am talking off the top of my head here and so I would welcome discussion on these opinions. The traditional church is more comfortable with visual arts - such as paintings, statues, architecture, etc. More modern Churches tend to be more comfortable with dramatic arts - such as singing, dance, poetry, drama, etc. I know this is a generalisation, and as such is very dangerous. I acknowledge that the hymns that are sung in the more traditional church such as those written by Sir Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley, etc. are in themselves art, though I would argue that they are not generally perceived as such by these people. Even the liturgies are a kind of dramatic art, though again, I would argue that most people don't think of them in those terms. If it is suggested that a dance be performed during a service, many Christians may be horrified at the thought, and say that such activities belong on the stage, not in Church. It's not that they would not readily go and watch a performance of an opera or a ballet in the theatre, just that, in their opinion, "It doesn't belong in Church." Is God any less present in the theatre than He is in the Church? If I can't watch, look at or listen to something in Church, should I be watching, looking at or listening to it anywhere else?

Do you agree with me that worship songs can be considered as art? Does art have only aesthetic value? I believe that a Christian artist can and should use his or her art for two primary purposes - firstly to glorify God with his or her gift, and secondly, draw people to Christ through art. Does that mean that artistic Christians (I believe that excludes nobody!) can only have Christian-themed art? i.e. An explicit reference to Christ or Christian teaching? I don't think so, but I look at the Scripture that says we should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. Thus, if a Christian, writes a song that is not explicitly Christian, it does not mean that the person is "back-sliding" or "turning their back on the Faith." If a Christian artist, like Amy Grant, makes it big on the secular hit parades, with a song that is not explicitly Christian we should not shake our heads or despair, instead, let us give glory to God for her talent, and rejoice and praise God for her achievement.

My mother is an art teacher - that is she teaches people (both young and old) how to draw and paint. This is an example of how we tend to have a very limited concept of art - we immediately associate the word "art" with painting and drawing. My mother is an art teacher, but she is not a singer (My mother reads this and she would agree with this.) She uses water-colours and other media very well to give glory to God. When she teaches she aims to inspire the students to glorify the Lord in their art. She also likes to write poetry, and in there again, she writes it to the glory of God.

My particular art, I am starting to realise, is the ability to write prose, and I have tried my hand at writing short stories for children, and little plays. I haven't published them, but I believe I will at some point. The stories are not all "Christian" in the sense that they explicitly teach about Christianity, but they do have a "moral." - as we used to call them - the stories are intended to teach positive values such as acceptance, honesty, etc. as well as helping children protect themselves against abuse.

Pushing the envelope a bit more - a few forms of art that don't quickly spring to mind: mime artists, magicians / conjurers, clowns, circus performers of various types, rap/reggae singers, break dancers, public speakers, puppeteers, fabric designers, seamstresses and tailors and many more.

Don't say: "I'm not artistic, or creative". I believe God has put a creative spirit in each of us.

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