From the desk of Denise Lemos Snoke...

“We, at Neighborhood Church, believe that God speaks through the arts and its variety of expressions...”

This line is the beginning of a draft we are working on to introduce an expanded dimension of worship at Neighborhood Church. It’s such a privilege to be part of a church family that not only recognizes the beauty and value of artistic expressions, but desires to call out and raise up those in whom God has placed a need to worship Him with their creativity.

We have all been created to worship. Bottom line. Can’t help it, change it, or even go on strike. Our very being cannot help but to worship. WHOM or WHAT we worship is dependent on our free will. But the very breath of God into our lungs created a space for which its main function is to reflect the love and glory of God back to Him. His very thumbprint of the creative is stamped on your soul. It is beautiful and expressive and holy.

With that said, I must accentuate that worship is not always pretty. It is not always “in the lines,” choreographed and pristine. Those attributes have their moments, but I am referring to visceral, messy, come as you are worship. How do we worship in those “earthened” places? That very word is one the Lord gave me years ago as I was trying to understand greater intimacy with Him and what it is to be fully human, in our original design. We so often associate our humanity with sin and our perpetual struggle to keep it at bay. I wasn’t okay with such a sentencing, so I pressed in, and the Lord showed me that the more earthened we become (the closer to our original design) the more we encounter Him. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in our humanness AND His likeness. And in that place, we cannot help but to worship Him!

My early artistic training was primarily in the musical and performing arts. It was when I moved to Chico for college that I learned visual artistic expression. At the same time, I was learning to hear God’s voice more clearly and as I surrendered more of my life to Him, I found His voice in my art as well. I had struggled with feeling out of place among my artistic friends in that my best artwork was without sketch or plan, but as a worshipful response to His initiative; a conversation between Creator and creature. The more I tried to be intentional about design or subject matter, the more lifeless my work seemed to be. I’ve even come to realize that the very tool I use in my hand can determine the level of dependence I have on Him. Recently I have started painting with my palette knife instead of brushes. There is a spontaneity and freedom of movement with my knife. I depend more on the Lord to guide each stroke and placement of paint. And that freedom and openness is visible in the artwork.

So, “messy worship”...This past Sunday as I was engaged in worship and painting the second piece of what I believe to be a blue series, I loaded my knife with pthalo blue, cerulean blue and unbleached white, and with my left hand began applying it to the canvas with gusto and “SPLAT!” Paint had flung on to the wall behind my easel. I laughed, was slightly embarrassed, and tried to wipe it off the wall as best I could in the moment. A few minutes later, my beloved two year old daughter came over to me and stood by my left side to watch me. As I embraced her with my left arm, I took the fully loaded knife to the canvas again, and “SPLAT!” Blue paint landed on her hair. Ha! Again, laughed, embarrassed, cleaned it unsuccessfully. Later at home, I found the same glorious combination of colors had found their way to my jeans. Seriously.  At the end of the day, the splattering is the collateral “damage” of messy worship. But there was freedom in the painting. Using a tool that causes me to lean in closer to the whispers of the Creator is spiritually freeing, but less than tidy in the physical.

What worship tool do you find in your hand at this time? Is God expanding your worship with new experiences, people, challenges, discovery of giftings? Is it messy? Do you feel awkward and fully reliant on His initiative? (Insert grinning emoticon here).

As we wrap up the David series, and enter into a season of Psalms this summer, consider going on a worship walkabout. Allow yourself to discover new parts of your expressive nature and press into hearing God’s voice singing new love songs over you. Pick up a pen, charcoal, pastels, clay, paint, origami paper, or even dried beans and a glue gun, play some worship music and see in what conversation you and the Creator find yourselves. You were created creative! Let’s inundate our church and the community with worshipful expressions of His love! To God be all the glory!