It’s Art: The Visual Manifestation of the Holy

As someone who designs and implements worship, it is a constant struggle to connect those who sit in the worship space and the art around them. If the art medium is music, are the texts familiar? Is the tune or music content quality? If the representation is text, is the text spoken or is the text visual? How will this a viable connecting point for the worshipper to connect with the Holy?

It is perhaps the hardest thing I do — create, maintain and utilize effective art.

In the previous centuries, art consistently manifested itself in statues, icons, paintings, stained glass, permanent structures, and large cathedrals drenched in visually stunning items. God’s house was a permanent structure that was never changing — which reinforced the theology of the time, too. God was (and continues to be) strong, firm, vengeful, passionate. The images were tactile, as well as visually stunning. If you couldn’t touch it, you sure wanted to — to connect to the Holy.

But today, the modern worship structure is, at best, temporary. If all things are ever changing, what then is the most effective and best art for worship? What do we aesthetically cling to when all about us is change, yet we may seek stability?

Maybe, we worship stability and consistency far too much . . . or not enough?

Various prayerful techniques have been applied to the worship arts: Some try never changing liturgy but even that changes with language. Some try to never change a paint color but then it things look dated. Some try screens and video but that isn’t always interpersonal and interactive.

Art in worship has to be dynamic — meaningful in it’s moment and forward and backward. It is both nostalgic and forward thinking while being a slave to neither. A challenge, it is, to say the least.

No answers here from me today. Just a stream of consciousness in a quiet time of reflection with God while sitting at The Methodist Hospital, viewing their new wall art. Just saying . . . god grabs your deepest artistic attention when you least expect it.

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