Tag Archive: Art

My wife has been leading a group that would meet once a month to reflect on the scriptures and themes of upcoming sermons and then in prayer, with brush and paint, or pencil and paper in hand the members of the group would seek to creatively express their reflections. This past week was the first sermon in the Traveling with Jesus series focused on the Jordan River and below is one of the creative reflections that came out of the Divine Inspiration group by Lynn Carey.

LYnn Carey

It Began In The Jordan

My name is John. I am also called the Baptizer. As a youth, I heard a call to bring others to God. My message is a simple one. “Repent,” I urge the crowds. “The end is drawing near.” As was written by the prophets and I know in my heart to be true, this is the message I speak. The Messiah who will deliver us is coming; this is the reason for my sense of urgency.

Today, as I have for many days, I was standing in the Jordan, waiting to baptize those who seek it. Every day they come: simple folk and the rich ones, believers and skeptics, even the Pharisees. Today, however, was not like any other. Something wonderful came to pass.

I was waiting for each pilgrim to come forth when one man approached me who stood out from any other I have baptized before… or since. There was something special, unique about him. As he drew near, his eyes never left mine. He stood before me. Before I could lay my hands upon him I was overcome with a sense of awe and wonder. He wanted me to baptize him. But I could not bring myself to do it.

“You are seeking baptism from me?” I blurted out, “I am not even worthy to touch your sandals or the hem of your garment!” But he remained there, his eyes on mine, waiting for baptism.

Suddenly, above us, the clouds parted. An intense, almost blinding, white light shown upon him. A dove descended to him and a voice boomed “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” The Messiah had indeed come!

Since that amazing day, I hear news of great miracles that he does in his Father’s name.

What a blessing it is for such a humble and unworthy man like me, to be used as one of God’s instruments. Whatever comes to me, I know that the work I was called to do, I have done.

I can’t help but feel, however, that it began in the waters of the Jordan.


Given to Lynn Carey

To Him be the glory.


Lectures and Beauty

“Verily” by Linda Ruth Dickinson 


Last night I was teaching about the means of grace. I have been exploring and working out a metaphor of a divine hug to attempt to illustrate God’s grace and our response and participation in God’s grace. It was a good class, but I came away feeling like something was missing.

I have encountered God in the morning reading scripture and feeling God meeting me and speaking into me as I journaled my reflections. There have been times of sharing in communion where I felt as if I were allowed to peak behind a veil to see the whole communion of saints across time and space sharing in a heavenly banquet and I was graciously let in to the party as a special guest among the likes of Abraham, King David, Martin Luther King Jr., my grandmother and so many more. Holding a hymnal or looking up at a screen singing with brothers and sisters in Christ in worship I have had those moments where singing became difficult as tears would well up as this became an encounter with the living God – God singing a song of love over us and our singing to God. I have tasted the laughter and joy in a group of friends intentionally trying to live faithfully together into what it means to be a disciple that seemed to be a wonderful step deeper into the abundant life Christ offers.

So maybe this was the difficulty of talking about these things in a class. Only giving lists and details of the means of grace will always fall short of actually experiencing it. Lectures point to the good and beautiful grace that saves us. Metaphors help point beyond themselves, but the true goodness of God’s grace is only brought a little closer by metaphor. The more I experience of God revealed in Jesus Christ in these means of grace the more words of a lecture falls short.

Maybe this is where beauty comes in. Not the beauty of God’s own handiwork like the stars of the night sky or a sunrise, God is already speaking there, but the beauty created by the artist who uses broad language that grabs at the whole of our being, that captivates, and inspires. Beauty created by our hands to grasp at and to express the deep mystery of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ. I am surprised that more theologians don’t become amazing artists, powerful poets, and marvelous musicians.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your grace that comes to us without our cajoling and convincing you to love. Thank you for the mysterious beauty of the cross and the empty tomb that demonstrates the infinite extent of your love, grace and power. May we find the ways your have gifted us to respond to your love and grace so that we are perfected in loving you, ourselves, and others. Send your Holy Spirit to inspire us to fashion beautiful words, movies, art, and music to express the grandeur of your grace and draws all deeper in to you to declare the glory of God. Amen.


Check out more from the Artist Linda Ruth Dickinson http://www.lindaruthdickinson.com/main.html

Behind the Door

Doors on StageIt was behind those closed doors of fear that the resurrected Jesus appeared and spoke words of peace. Yesterday in worship we reflected on Jesus proclaiming peace behind our doors of fear: fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of death.

My wife has a small group, Divine Inspiration, that meets once a month that uses art as a creative way of engaging the scriptures. They received the scripture and the basic metaphor of sermon last month. Here are some of the pieces that resulted from their encounter with the scripture and prayer.


Lord Jesus, may we hear your transforming proclamation of peace appear behind our doors of fear and send us out as a people of peace to go behind others doors of fear helping the world unlock and walk out the door. Amen

Roots and Wires

clarafications IMG_1250A few days before the turn to the new year Jill and my boys took me around downtown Raleigh to the Artspace. We met an artist named Clara Johnson (check out her website: http://www.clarafications.com/ !!! Amazing stuff! ). She has these fascinating 3D sculptures using wires and beads that just drew me into her studio. There was one in particular that hung on the wall of her studio with its burst of sun and trees that captured my attention. Clara and I began to talk about this work of art and little did I know how God was preparing me for this recent pilgrimage journey of exploring issues of race and the church in our state of North Carolina. As we talked I noticed the sun giving life to the two magnificent trees with their branches and roots breaking the boundary of the frame. Images of the tree of life and parables of the vine and branches were flowing through my mind as I gazed upon this creation, until she points out the tombstones lining the bottom of the art. What is death doing in this? In avoidance my eyes went back to the red and yellow sun. Then Clara helps my eyes see that connecting these two parental trees is the silhouette of the continent of Africa. I didn’t see it at first, but right before me was a grand history of family and a story of pride with branches reaching out. I was given permission to witness the amazing roots of family and love that hold strong and break the boundary of the frame itself, but some of those stones of death seemed to have their own roots of bitterness and pain acknowledging a reality of injustice that continues to hold up these trees and stones.

Now I find myself wondering and asking questions after this journey around North Carolina. I heard stories of masters, slaves, stories both personal and institutional of dividing walls of racism that still separate communities today, and I heard of the all-to-seldom hero that would speak and act as if dripping wet with the waters of baptism resisting injustice and oppression in their various forms.  It all makes me wonder what kind of roots are we laying down?  What kind of roots are holding us up? Do we have roots of love and life, roots of death and destruction, or a strange tangled mix of both holding us up? Are our branches building up hedges that keep out or reaching out breaking boundaries?

Lord Jesus, there are some branches that have tangled together because the roots of racism and prejudice have nourished our trees to form hedges that only separate. There are some roots of pain and injustice that need to be transformed by your redeeming touch. Master Gardner Jesus, have your way with our roots and branches and heal us. Restore this garden to loving, interconnected, abundant life.   Amen.

Clarafications IMG_1251

Thank you Clara for being willing to bear witness in your art to a story that is greater than the simplified story I only want to see.  You tell a good story.