Beauty n. state of being pleasing to the senses • Liturgy n. work of the people

Illustration by Alan Bamberg

Our Gift of Imagination

by Julia Washburn

Imagination acknowledges the wrestle

Life is hard. Some mornings take more effort than we can muster. Some days grief makes breathing impossible. Some weeks offer no common ground with colleagues. Some months are just plain gray. Some years fray the very last fibers of our sanity.

We feel alone and powerless. We are overwhelmed before we realize fear, guilt, inadequacies, disillusionment, and more hold us captive. Paralysis has shattered possibility.

We dare the sun to forget its rise or the ocean to stand still. But they do not listen because they were created for something else. A Divine Artist said light in darkness, every day, is good. Funny, that Creator kept the darkness. Is it because seeing the light becomes easier that way? The Artist stirred the waters and they never stopped. Undercurrents of reliable rhythms paint ocean scenes that are never the same one moment to the next. Harmony thrives within these tensions.

The Artist, Christ in union with God, created from divine imagination. Imagination comprises imago or the image of the creator. What we see is God making himself known to us in the wonder of the world. We sense profound beauty that only hope and love can create.

Imagination finds freedom in communion and creation

We hold to hope for a moment, but life looms larger. Where is the intersection of our now and what was and will be?

“My body, broken for you.” Christ longs for communion with his creation.

Christ’s fierce beauty conquered incomprehensible darkness so that we could live fully alive. He, broken for us, meets us in our brokenness and gives us a spirit of hope. And when we dare to relinquish control to hope, we test the moving waters and whisper “what if”? We become stronger than our doubt, failures, and every accusation. Bonds are broken. We trust, “I am strong in your weakness.” We are nowhere near fierce, yet, but we dare to wonder.

We become like children, rediscovering possibility. We are safe and free in hope and love. We play. We create through ideas, structures, friendships, community. And as we create, we commune with our creator and we extend Creation. In the beginning, God saw that Creation was good. He did not say it was complete. We, the Creator’s image bearers, are called to become co-creators.

Imagination is our worship

But it’s a little crazy. We are called to create against the odd backdrop of uncertainty.


By definition, “create” means to bring something into existence. We cannot be certain of what is not yet. So, in hope that promises “God with us,” we choose belief. We risk and work our messy way through mystery:

We explore extraordinary truths; we “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8),

We seek to know the image we bear:

  • a voice that favors quietness
    …after the fire came a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12)
  • a presence in unexpected places
    …the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. (Exodus 3:2)
  • a guide
    …the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9)
  • an artist
    …the skies proclaim the work of his hands (Psalm 19:1)
  • an equipper
    He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work… (Exodus 35:35)
  • a consummate creator
    …what is seen was made from things that are invisible (Hebrews 11:3)
  • a visionary
    …he has also planted eternity in the human heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11),

We grow with confidence in our Creator who “does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number” (Job 5:9),

We rest knowing we are fully known (Ps 139:6), and

We know, without doubt, that abiding presence where “…there is fullness of joy” and in whose “right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).

We live fully alive so that we are able to choose possibility—we contribute solutions and discover cures; we design more efficient methods and expand services, we explore unfamiliar routes, and discover the new in what is old. We build, overcome, mend.

We are co-creators of a still-unfolding, beautiful story that only hope and love inspires us to imagine. This is our daily work—our liturgy, our worship. What a gift.