Written by Courtney McHill, United Methodist Pastor
In Oliver Sach’s book Musicophilia he states, “Music is part of being human.” Music and art are so human that they appear over and over in our biblical story. In the very beginning God creates. God creates in God’s image and so we spend the rest of our lives creating off the beginning. When we sing out, we are full of the spirit and when we create art we are working from the beauty already placed before us. In essence, we are imitating to exemplify God’s creation.
Throughout the Hebrew scriptures when one is overcome with praise to God (see many psalms of thanksgiving) one sings out to God. We are called upon to use instruments to sing out to God or even better, our own voices. Miriam sings out a song of salvation. King David sings out songs of praise and joy. Tambourines, strings, and lutes are played often to give glory to God.
In the New Testament, we are still encouraged to sing out and to create. In Ephesians, Paul writes to this church in Ephesus that when we are filled with Spirit, we can’t help but continuously sing in song. We sing hymns and songs of praise as thanksgiving to God. We do so (live a spirit filled life) because we imitate Christ. We imitate the one who has created and began life with God. As children of God, as Christian children, we must create and sing at all times to show our thanksgiving everywhere.
We all can create as well. This is not an exclusive activity. Although there are some in our midst that this is a deep passion and an obvious God given gift in all forms.
There is a little book called Art and Fear. I love this book because its basic premise is that everyone can create art because it is part of who we are. Those of us who say we can’t create, have let fear won. This is not so far from what our scriptures tell us about music, art and creation. David Bayles says this, ““In large measure, becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your voice, which makes your work distinctive.”
In that light, today we recognize the artists and musicians who express praise, joy, imitation of creation in some form and the self. We think these folks are restoring creation through their profound works and highlighting that restoration to us in different ways. We admire the beauty held up before us and see God reflected back to us in so many ways. This includes those among us who create music each week, who write liturgies, who paint, sculpt, draw, compose, and write in so many different forms. We honor those who vision a more enriched environment full of color and sound. What a blessing to have these in our midst!
Quotes for the Week
“All you can work on today is directly in front of you. Your job is to develop an imagination of the possible.” – David Bayles
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” ― Victor Hugo
“The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats…” ― Albert Schweitzer
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ― Pablo Picasso
“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” ― Émile Zola
“And now, I’m just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time.” ―Lady Gaga
Ephesians 5:1-3, 18b-20 (NRSV)
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints.
Be filled with the Spirit,as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 6: 41-51 (Message)
At this, because he said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come. Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’
Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see me.
“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”
Questions for the Week
Do you have a favorite artist? What draws you to his/her work?
If you could choose an art form to express yourself, what would it be?
When has some form of art played a vital role in your life?