The arts are all encompassing in our worship life. The arts, whether it be the visual arts of paintings, sculpture, pottery, ceramics and other visual delights, enhance spaces that are occupied by people. Like living, our worship life is enhanced by the arts. Art helps us build community.
Music, whether sung loudly in a shower, to a sold-out solo crowd, in a concert venue featuring anything from rap to rock to folk to opera, not to mention the portable stereos that issue music at picnics, backyards and children’s bedrooms, all set moods and understanding.
Ballet, movies and plays tell poignant stories. Storytelling is a great way to experience our scripture, hear hard truths in a gentle way and understand the world around us.
Jean Hunter, an artist and member at Gloria Dei, Winnipeg, really believes that art builds community and expresses how warm and welcoming a community may be. A community’s selection of art will also express how exclusive or inclusive a community might be.
The local arts community meets at Gloria Dei and is just starting to meet again post-pandemic. There is a great deal of co-operation and spirit. Many of the artists have donated pieces of art.
The original purpose was to make the entrance way more appealing. The plan changed to adorn the fellowship hall instead as the pieces could be hung at a better level to be viewed.
The community is responding well. People look at the art. There have even been several offers to buy some of the pieces. Through the art and the art clubs, many people hang around the church. It is, in many ways a community centre.
Hunter maintains her faith informs “Who I am.” It is in this context that she senses there are many ways in which the church can atone or make amends.
She laments the fact Mary and Jesus always seem to be fair-haired and fair-skinned. She wonders what would happen if the Mother and Child were presented as people of colour, or even if the nativity scene included same-sex parents.
It is a small step. It is a step that she admits having difficulty wrapping her gray-haired head around. She is also committed to reconciliation. “How do we make amends?” she asks. “How can we make it more equitable?”
The arts can be more reflective and pertinent to today’s understanding of creation and our place in our world. Having family scenes that depict a modern understanding and images that are closer to the true colour of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to reflect their Mediterranean background would be helpful.
BIPOC people, members of the Gay community and other groups could see themselves as being welcomed if the Christmas banners reflected a broader understanding of the human experience.
As for the tradition of Chrisoms, which have been traditionally white and gold to represent Christ’s royalty, Hunter suggests that we could make the designs red, yellow, black and white, to represent God’s diversity and indicate what we believe to be the colour of God’s skin. —Rev. R. David Lowe