“So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NRSV)
Have any of you encountered something that was both so fascinating and foundational, that you all struggled to find the words to describe it?
Not only did I learn this at the Duke Divinity School’s Initiatives in Theology and The Arts annual symposium, it has happened to me first-hand. Not only am I struggling to articulate the big concepts I have learned from the symposium, but one of those big concepts is that sometimes our encounters with God and God’s Word cannot always be adequately shared through speech alone!
The arts (visual art, music, and others) add layers of knowledge, emotion, and beauty to reveal deeper meanings in life. Art can paint with words, speak with paint, and write with sound. Art brings meaning deeper into our lives.
Art even extends into preaching. Lutherans hold preaching in high esteem. We believe that the grace of God is conveyed to people through it. When preachers apply their craft, their words reveal God’s redeeming work to hearers through their words. Words and timing are carefully placed as an artist lays tiles in a mosaic. Alliteration, meter, and plays-on-words are carefully arranged. Rhyming, humor, and shock can shake people out of their old selves and free them to receive the new life in Christ anew. In preaching, we hear that we are new creations. Preaching is no mere transfer of information. Preaching too can be art.
Further, art steps into how God creates. Art often makes something new from what is old. It also can add to what already has been done. God breathes new life into creation; art parallels and takes part in God’s re-creating work.
But art is not merely about tagging along with God’s work of creating and creating anew. Art is also about showing what is hard to show. Christians can do many great works in reading and teaching God’s word. Art adds layers to the richness, beauty, and depth to our walk of faith.