the place of visual arts in convergence worship - Printable Version

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the place of visual arts in convergence worship - HelenaZF - 08-07-2008

Culturally, the Church goes through "ages". Before the intellectual awakening in Europe following the middle ages that brought literacy, the culture was primarilly visual, and messages were transmitted by the visual. That is the era in which the magnificent cathedrals of Europe and west Asia were constructed. They were pictures meant to teach the faithful about the Kingdom--with their changed light, their intricate carvings and frescos and statuary.

We live in a culture today that is becoming more and more visually influenced, and again it is time for the Church to make her Kingdom proclamations not only with spoken and written utterances, but visual ones. The visual arts have come into their own in this age and are a powerful tool for communicating the Kingdom in our current culture.

How do the visual arts figure into the whole convergence worship picture? Part of the aim of the three streams movement is to make the Church a complete icon to the world of the fullness of the Kingdom. Part of that picture--the Sacramental, through the form of the Liturgy--uses physical pictures and motions in the progression of the Mass to help tell the story. Movement and pageantry are already built into the Liturgy. Use of the worship arts are then a logical extension of what is already in place.

The visual and kinetic arts, in the same way, are just as important to the full expression of worship as having all three streams represented in our theology. Man is triune. He is spirit, soul and body. In the Hebrew way of thinking, all three parts are necessary to make one whole...therefore engagement of the body in worship is a necessary component. In <URL url="http://zionfirefriends.com/index.php?showtopic=383">Greek thinking, one can separate what the body does from what the mind and spirit does and is, which opens the door for the heresy that says the body is inherently evil and has nothing to do with the the spirit. God never talks about us that way. It is always as a whole being--three parts, but three inseparable parts. And we are called to worship God with all those three: Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, all thy soul and all they strength. The body is treated as an honorable part of that whole being and we are exhorted in Romans 12:1 to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship.

The place of visual arts in worship is a prophetic one. We do not move for the sake of moving, but move in response to the call of the Spirit, or to deliver a message from the Spirit. How do we do that? By using our bodies, our banners, and the objects we produce to make a picture of truth. How do we make sure it is Truth? By being accurate to scriptural tenets, symbols and gestures. As long as we are lifting up the Truth, we are prophesying--in the sense that prophecy is truth-telling (Dean adds: forth-telling, not necessarily fore-telling.) And the Holy Spirit then takes our visual expression of the Word and wields it as a mighty, life-bringing Sword.

Knowing this, we can look at the liturgy and find places that the arts can be used to enhance and expand upon. We can use the arts to interject the Truth (as the Holy Spirit leads us) and we can also, in our freedom, edit what we do so that only the sharpest arrows go forth. Seasoning and maturity in ministry will result in the discernment needed to know when not to minister as well as when to minister. The wise pageantry/dance leader learns to edit the involvement of their team in the services. This makes for the richest experience, as the Holy Spirit has many ways to speak to us, and we want that all things should be done in His order.

So it is important in convergence worship to make the fullest expression possible, using all that is in us to His glory. True convergence worship must have the visual arts component to be complete. And it must have the prophetic component included so that there is life in it.