It’s funny how when you walk with God through many years, that eventually you see threads being woven together. Some call the Christian walk a long obedience in the same direction. When I reflect on this piece of art, that is what comes to mind.
In 2019, I attended church consultant training. That was before the pandemic and I believed I had a rosy future guiding churches touched by trauma and tragedy toward a clearer vision. During the training I called Brandon with excited fervor over the idea of doing a visioning process with Crosscreek. I thought it could help clarify Crosscreek’s role within the community, and I would gain valuable experience leading the process.
We engaged in a visioning process that was more than I could have imagined. We envisioned new ideas as a congregation, and we developed plans to fulfill the vision God had given us.
And then the pandemic hit.
Church consulting was no longer an option for me. Many of the ideas we had dreamed about in our visioning process seemed out of reach. That was a time of grief for me, as I know it was for many of you.
God provided extraordinarily.
This year, our staff revisited the visioning documents and began praying over them to discern direction for our church. Brandon and Dixie developed a sermon series on the seven values that we as a congregation had distilled from the visioning process and deemed very important.
During that same time, I was invited to create art for Crosscreek. The plan was to introduce large, meaningful pieces in the foyer where the Beautification Team was designing an updated, more inviting space.
I had no idea how to build large canvas stretchers. Somehow, Alan had two very large stretchers he graciously offered for our use. Julia had a friend—an artist who is a fine art printer and framer—who offered to come to Crosscreek. She not only generously shared her time and expertise to stretch canvas, she donated the roll of canvas. In a very short amount of time, God provided extraordinarily, and we had two very large and very blank canvases waiting for art!
And those canvases were entrusted to me. My thoughts upon seeing them were: 1. That is a lot of blank space to fill, and 2. I am ill-equipped to complete the task. I stored them in my attic to keep them safe, and to keep me safe from their largeness and their blankness while I ruminated on what to do with them.
I am not really trained as an artist. I took an art class in high school and a few one-day oil painting lessons as an adult. I didn’t have a clue about where to start. So, I bought a primer on all things art and read it from cover to cover. I learned that canvas needs priming before anything else to prevent colors from bleeding through. And then I did what self-respecting adults do when they don’t know something: I watched a YouTube video on canvas priming.
Once they were primed, I discovered I was finally ready to paint them.
I had been listening to the sermon series on the seven values of Crosscreek, sketching ideas that came to mind. I revisited my vision processing notes from three years earlier, and found art I had done early in the pandemic on the values.
I shared a very early sketch of the painting with Julia. We talked about the piece and the process—what we each saw in it, what it communicated, what the experience felt like, and what road blocks stood in the way. By combining ideas from that dialogue, from pictures of inspiring art, the sermon series, and notes and art from the visioning process, the painting that is now hanging in the foyer was birthed.
When I sat down in front of the primed canvas to begin the final piece, I had all seven Crosscreek values in front of me, along with the early sketch. I had worship music playing. I sat cross-legged in front of that very large and very blank canvas and opened my hands in verbal prayer, thanking God for the opportunity, praising God for being the Creator, confessing that God was God and I was not, and then asking God to use me over the next several hours to create something edifying to the body of Christ.
And this is what came out. I have never done something like this before. And I doubted myself through most of the process. But when it came time to put paint on canvas, I enjoyed every single second of it. I felt the Spirit using me in a new and different, and also ancient way.
I have learned so very much throughout the whole proces and am thankful for the opportunity to contribute to the beauty of Crosscreek in this way. My long obedience in the same direction has led me to consultant training, a visioning process with Crosscreek, dialogue about art, witnessing community edify and strengthen one another, and seeing how all of those individual threads are woven together.
My prayer for you is that this piece brings you closer to the One who is the ultimate creator. That the colors invigorate you to live out the seven values that describe Crosscreek so well. And that you will share your interpretations of the designs with those around you on a Sunday morning so that they will hear what God has to say through you as well.
Beauty is liturgy, church family. And I am inviting you into the conversation. Because what you see when you look at this art is valuable and unique and continues the liturgy out into the world.