Expanding the vision
I was looking for someone who could expand the congregation’s vision of how God is present and active in the creative arts to reveal His glory and power. I found such a person in Aaron Lee, an award-winning poet, bi-vocational pastor-lawyer, and a leader in the arts ministry. I first got to know him through Facebook. Later I got to know his wife, Namiko Chan– again on Facebook, and found out she was an award-winning portrait artist, and a Hula dance teacher. They are together the founders of Laniakea Culture Collective.
Sunday sermon: Made in the Image of the Master Artist
I invited them to take the Sunday morning message and the afternoon workshop. Aaron preached a message of how we are made in the image of the Master Artist and how we needed to submit to the ongoing work of the Master Artist as He shaped our broken lives into something glorious. The masterly and creative and precise use of words and videos were evident in his sermon. After all what do you expect from a wordsmith?
Kit Chan: I should have recognised her
I thought one of his guests looked like Kit Chan but she did not look like the glamourous Kit Chan seen on TV and the news. I could now see why the Jews had missed the Messiah – they had misconceptions of what the Messiah would be and do. The congregation was as clueless about her identity. And I lost a chance to get a picture with her.
A creative gift
After lunch, Aaron and Namiko-Chan began their workshop with an interesting piece of Hawaiian culture. They presented a makana (gift, or ho’okupu “token of honour”) to the host, WRPF church, represented by my wife and I. It looked like banana leaves and flowers tied with straws. It was actually lovingly made the night before with ti leaves and some flowers. Inside the leaves were five stones – a reminder to actively “play” throughout our lives.
Enthralled by their stories
Then they shared their journey in the arts. The congregation was enthralled by their stories of how they were called and mentored into their ministry in the creative arts. Namiko’s story of how the Lord led her into learning the hula from a Hawaiian master, and how God used their 10,000 Profiles project to serve the orang asli were reminders of how God leads and uses us with our unique gift-sets.
During the workshop, Namiko got the whole congregation involved in expressing a prayer song in movements of our hands and arms. Then she gave her hula dance interpretation of the same song: it was anointed and captivating. I sensed the presence of the Lord conveyed through the dance.
After a short break, Aaron gave us some tips on creative journaling. Doodling is one the interesting items on his list. There is hope for those who dislike writing. They can doodle! We ended with an open-ended exercise in journaling, a fitting closure to the workshop. For some, their journey has begun with this workshop, I hope.
Mind the gap
One takeaway for me was Aaron’s portrayal of the challenging gap of a lack of mutual acceptance and appreciation between the church and creative artists. Will creative out-of-the-box artists feel comfortable in a church that values respectability, conformity and acceptability? What would it take for a church to be more friendly for people of the creative arts to thrive in the church community?