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August reverie

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I remember blackberry picking as a child. Across the street from our house grew a bush filled with the summer-sweet fruit. It seemed downright greedy, my lust for blackberries – they were deliciously addictive.

My sisters and I would pick for hours, heaping ice cream buckets to overflowing, filling our tummies as we went. The fruit was so plentiful; much of it would fall to the ground, only to be crushed by little feet – a missed opportunity for jam [or wine].

But blackberry picking was also treacherous. Fortified by thorny brambles, the wild bushes resisted young visitors. Marching home defiantly, we would lick our fingers, stained deep purple by blackberry juice and blood.

So like our life in Christ! We have an appetite – a hunger – to know Jesus; to be filled to overflowing with his Spirit. And, yet, the Christ-life is fraught with trials and dangers. With human resistance. With sin that entangles. And, so, we must be stained with a different kind of blood.

Picturing the kingdom

I’m amazed how spiritual truth can be found in an August memory. So, too, can truth be found in many forms of art and imagination. God has planted “eternity in our hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), yet we cannot grasp its fullness.

Therefore, we create. We imagine. We paint. We draw. We compose music. We tell stories. All in a feeble effort to describe our indescribable Saviour and his kingdom. “The kingdom of heaven is like… is like… is like….” Our images, words, sounds are mere fragments – echoes – of the great mystery of God.

Vancouver church planter Nelson Boschman frames the artistic impulse in terms of God’s mission for humanity – and says it’s the reason he chose the name Artisan for his congregation.

Restoring everything that has been broken (Revelation 21:5; Colossians 1:19–20) is how I like to think of God’s primary mission in the world – the mission we, too, are invited to participate in. I began to look for names having to do with making new, redemption, renewal, the creativity and artistry of God, things like that. Eventually, Artisan hit us, and it just seemed to fit.

An artisan is defined as “someone who does skilled work with their hands; a craftsperson.” In short, one way to understand God is as the Supreme Artist, constantly “making things new” and “reconciling all things to himself” through Jesus Christ. And as his church, we are “co-artisans”; called to participate alongside him in creatively living and proclaiming the news of redemption in our city. The meaning of Artisan is summed up well in Ephesians 2:10 (NLT): “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Praise God for his faithful inspiration!

As God’s church, we must reclaim imagination and embrace our artistic calling. This doesn’t mean we discard reason or logic. But it requires us to exercise some different muscles. Let’s find ways to think innovatively and restoratively about the cultural challenges we face. To have vision beyond what can be seen. To taste the sweetness of the Spirit among us. To become co-creators with our Creator God.

In this issue  you’ll find our annual celebration of the arts. Much of what we regularly publish is “wordy,” as we communicate what we believe through articles and essays. This month, those beliefs – about faith (“Dining under grace,”), collaboration and community (“Creativity begets creativity,”), justice and peace (“The gift in God’s images,”) – are communicated through artwork.Take time to enjoy and contemplate the pieces we’ve chosen. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to paint a picture, take an artistic baptism photo to submit to us (see contest details) or tell a story about God’s kingdom this summer.

—Laura Kalmar

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