Creating as an act of worship

Every act of creating is an act of worship because it is an echo of what our great creator did in making us.

This month I’ve had one migraine after another – sigh! For me that’s just the result of stress and being too busy to find true rest. One of the more painful results of that is that I’ve been unable to stay in the room when we’re worshipping together at church or the awesome camps I lead on (SU’s Ubertweak, and Gateway Youth Camp)… because the music makes me feel like a hippo’s jaws are squeezing down on my head.

Photo of fighting hippos from Animals Time

On National Geographic’s TV show ‘Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr’, Dr Brady measured the bite force of an adult female hippo at 8,100 newtons (enough to crush a crocodile), but they had to give up trying to measure the male’s bite pressure because it was so aggressive.
Image source: Animals Time

I’ve found this time of personal silence challenging, but it’s also brought me back to an old truth – that there are so many more ways to worship God than just singing songs. The method of worship that I’ve found most powerful during this time is creating: every time I create, or write, or paint, or sew, I’m worshipping.

Me painting in 2011 during my ‘A Year on Canvas’ project.

Me painting in 2011 during my ‘A Year on Canvas’ project.

A couple of years ago I ran an activity at Youth called 1:1. The name was a reference to the beginning of the Hebrew poem that tells the creation story in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Over the course of the night, our 150 kids painted canvasses, journalled, made encouragement cards for each other, and made and flew paper airplanes. We revelled in the act of reflecting what God did in creating us.

One of my Youth girls’ talented artist mothers, Tess Geizer, made this cross for me for my birthday. I’ve worn it every Friday night since then for leading at Youth.

One of my Youth girls’ talented artist mothers, Tess Geizer, made this cross for me for my birthday. I’ve worn it every Friday night since then for leading at Youth.

Soul Survivor church in Watford, England, experienced revival in the late 1990s when they did something similar. They cut back their music team from the now-typical rock concert style to the congregation singing with only their voices. Why would they do that when they were already one of the leading worship music creators worldwide?

Matt Redman, songwriter, said, “There was a dynamic missing, so the pastor did a pretty brave thing,” he recalls. “He decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season, and we gathered together with just our voices. His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”

When the experiment was successful, and the church family had become producers of worship in many varied forms once again instead of just consumers of good music, Matt responded personally by writing a song: the now famous ‘Heart of Worship’.

The song’s lyrics say:

“When the music fades, all is stripped away and I simply come.

Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless Your heart.

I’ll bring You more than a song,

for a song in itself is not what You have required.

You search much deeper within, through the way things appear;

You’re looking into my heart.

I’m coming back to the heart of worship

and it’s all about You;

it’s all about You, Jesus.

I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it

when it’s all about You;

it’s all about You, Jesus.”

This is one of my favourite songs of all time because it rings true for me.

In terms of incubation theory, this is a great example of the creativity that comes when your main way of expressing something is denied for an extended period of time. The song is one that’s become famous in the Christian community – as so many of Matt’s songs do – because it expresses something unique: the urge to worship in an unfamiliar way.

            (You can read more about the story of Soul Survivor church here: http://www.crosswalk.com/church/worship/song-story-matt-redmans-the-heart-of-worship-1253122.html)

Worship. Hands reaching up through the noise and colour of the world towards one thing, the bright, true light of the cross.

‘Worship’ painting, acrylic on canvas. Hands reaching up through the noise and colour of the world towards one thing, the bright, true light of the cross.

During my own time of personal silence, I’ve tried to stay in a place of worship by creating – by drawing, by writing stories, and then by writing about the experience here.

'The Horsehead Nebula' painting I did in 2011 to celebrate the vastness of God's creation.

‘The Horsehead Nebula’, acrylic on canvas. A painting I did in 2011 to celebrate the vastness of God’s creation.

 

What does creating as a form of worship mean to you?

 

This post was written by TJ Withers-Ryan © 2015. Reblogging is always highly encouraged as long as you credit me as the author.

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