Art and Design · Bible · Church · Creativity, · Theology

Business As Usual ? Or Not ?

This morning, my daily prayer included these readings:
Genesis 13:2-18; Galatains 2:1-10 31 and Mark 7:31-37

The Genesis reading was about Abram and Lot (Genesis 13). At this point in the story, they both have considerable wealth – camels, sheep, goats etc. They realise that they it’s no longer sustainable for them to stay together. Their herders are beginning to fall out over where to graze their flocks, and they need more land.

So Abram decides that to avoid trouble, they must separate. By rights, Abram should have had the choice of where to go, and you might expect him to choose the best land. But he doesn’t. He gives Lot the choice, and Lot chooses the well watered plain of the river Jordan.

Abram’s generosity is rewarded as in the following verses we hear God reaffirming his promise to Abram, that his descendents will be numerous: “Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

What you might expect to happen (Abram having the choice, and getting the best land) doesn’t.

Skip to my next reading today, from the New Testament book of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul is sharing his story with church leaders in Jerusalem – how he has been working with the non Jewish believers. The idea that Gentiles could become a full part of the early (Mainly Jewish) church without being circumcised was a new thing. Yet the leaders in Jerusalem have eventually reached a point of accepting Gentiles without requiring circumcision.

What you might expect to happen (circumcision) doesn’t.

And finally, in Mark’s Gospel chapter 7, we read of the healing of a deaf and dumb man. Ordinarily, the man would have been deaf for the rest of his life.

What you might expect to happen doesn’t.

God’s way of working is often to challenge what we would normally expect, and do something different.

Link to …. Creativity

For the last three Thursdays, I have been attending a webinar – Just Imagine. Four sessions on creativity. Last night’s session was about the role of play in creativity. Questioning what things are usually designed to do, and playfully imagining something different.

All too often we live according to norms and recipes with known outcomes. Playfulness challenges this with no fixed outcomes in mind. This approach to creativity often starts with a question … ‘What if …’

Maybe God was playful in creation … ‘What if we had cows as well as galaxies ?’

One of the ideas I was especially fascinated by was from architect Steve Collins, who wondered …What if churches were like dark kitchens, which are based on a delivery only model. So unlike a take away, there’s no contact directly with the customer. Getting food out to the customer has never been easier.

The ‘What if ?’ question may not lead immediately to a workable solution, but it’s likely that many of the great ideas have sprung from such questioning.

And going back to play being part of God’s nature, we wondered how good our churches are at play ?

Part of the play process might be to start with two apparently disconnected ideas, and then play around with them and see where that leads. Candlesticks and Electric Scooters – I wonder where that would go ? Off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything ??!!

So, I’m thinking now about the first part of this post – about God doing things that are unexpected, and the idea of asking ‘What if … ‘ Mmhhhh …. think on.

Grace and peace





Art and Design · community · Creativity, · Poetry · Prayers

Are You A Creative Person ?

If you saw my previous post – a photo of a padlock on a rotting wooden door … I wonder what it made you think of ?

On Thursday last week, I started on a four week exploration of creativity with Jonny Baker. It’s just an hour a week on Zoom to help get the creative brain working.

The first thing we were asked was – “Do you think of yourself as creative ?”
Then he asked – “Do you think that everyone is creative ?”

I wonder how you would answer ?

We then spent some time listening to three people, telling us a bit about their creative endeavours.

We were then asked to come up with some ideas about how to combat loneliness in our neighbourhood whilst this lockdown is going on. Within a minute the chat in Zoom was full of ideas.

I’m guessing that most of the 270 participants were churning out ideas … but how good to have other people thinking about it with you. We were encouraged to have a conversation with someone in the week – either carrying on the ideas about cobatting loneliness … or whatever …

On a similar track, together with a few friends, we’re sharing some ideas about psalm writing. The psalms is a book of prayers in the Bible, and one of our friends suggested we worked on writing some of our own. The psalms usually come out of some intense experience of life … I’m working on that today in preparation for the chat with our friends tomorrow when we share our thoughts.

Grace and peace.

By the way – Tomorrow I’ll post my morning prayer for Monday, and then post each day through this week.

Art and Design

Jeff Wall at Tate Modern

I’ve just been to London for New Year.

There’s a great exhibition of Jeff Wall (Canadian photographer). Giant pictures, some of which have taken over a hundred separate pictures put together. Mostly very ‘composed’. It struck me how much painters and photographers refer back to others’ work.

Like poetry that is full of references to the classics, photos can be full of references to other works of art.

More of that another time.

The thing I wanted to say was … it made me think about doing some photos … just for me probably, but all with a theme of ‘outside looking in’

Maybe shots through a shop window … or into a family’s front room …. to illustrate the way that so many people are outsiders … sometimes through their own choice, but often not.

Financially, emotionally … whatever.

Good ? Shepherd