Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Art of Worship

by Susanne Dietze

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1

“We played a flute for you, and you did not dance…” Matthew 11:17

Wednesday afternoon, it rained—really rained—at my house. It’s been so long since we’ve had a good downpour that I curled up in the chair by the back window to watch the shower. After a while, the clouds parted and shafts of sunshine pierced through.

My daughter ran out of her bedroom, camera in hand. “I bet there’s a rainbow!”
Courtesy of the author's daughter

So we all went outside. And there it was, gorgeous and vivid…God’s handiwork. A reminder of His care, His presence, and His creativity. God is a God who loves beauty.

It’s pretty amazing to think that God granted us the ability to not only enjoy His creation, but to create our own handiwork, too. To be artists.

Art: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
Michelangelo's Pieta

Some people I know use the phrase “Christian art” to distinguish something God-inspired or glorifying, as opposed to “regular art.” Paintings of Biblical scenes versus Monet. The Pieta as opposed to The Thinker. Veggie Tales versus Toy Story 3.

I might argue that there’s just Art--the ability to create and appreciate thoughtful, emotional, or spiritual  expressions. Our ability to make and be affected by art is a gift bestowed by our Creator. Sometimes our art glorifies God; sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the line between those two is wide open to individual interpretation.

But I believe the Bible is clear on this point: God wants us to worship Him with our whole selves—hands, brains, and bodies; our words, song, and dance; our gifts, skills, and hobbies. If our art, our “expression…of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance,” is inspired by and glorifies God, then we shouldn’t waste our artistic gifts. We should get up and use them.

This week we’ve been celebrating our own Dina Sleiman and her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion. One of many things I like about Dina is how openly she embraces the creativity and artistic skill God’s given her, and how she uses them to glorify her Lord. Dina uses art to worship God, with words and her body.
Earlier this week she said, “I’ve been leading dance worship ministries in churches for most of the last seventeen years, so dance has been a huge part of my life. For a long time, it was the way I best connected to God and entered into his presence. Dance provides an amazing opportunity to discover intimacy with Christ and to worship him with your whole being.”

The Bible is full of artistic expressions of worship. Dance (2 Sam 6:14). Poetry (Song of Solomon, to name one). Singing and music (too many Psalms to list). Craftsmanship (the bronze temple gate called Beautiful in Acts 3:2—can you imagine how gorgeous it must have appeared to earn a name like that?).

The same holds true today. Scrapbooking, playing bass guitar, crafting stained glass, sculpting, woodworking, decorating cakes, sewing, writing screenplays, acting…all can be used as mediums to worship God. All can bring Him glory.

And we can all appreciate art, be challenged by it, blessed by it, moved by it. During this Week of Dina, I’ve been reminded to be on the lookout for artistic expressions that challenge or inspire me in my relationship with God.

To that end, I have an exercise for us today!

Below is a video for the song “SMS [Shine]” by David Crowder*Band, a Christian rock group. And I think of this video as art.

This video got my artsy juices flowing. It got me thinking about my relationship with God and my family (more on that in the comment section later). I found the concept intriguing and the medium (Lite Brite pegs) surprising. I also found myself thinking about it long after it ended. It expresses something “of more than ordinary significance.”

Watch it if you like, and then I’d love to discuss it with you. My questions follow the video:

Now for our art discussion!

*What do you think the plant symbolizes?

*What do you think is the relationship between the Lite Brite world and the “real people” world?

*Has participating in art (either creating or appreciating) inspired you to worship or taught you something about God?

I’ll share my answers in the comments.

And don’t forget to enter the drawing for Dance of the Dandelion. Leave a comment today and include your email address. Drawing will be held at the end of the blog day, tonight, October 9th.

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,


  1. Hi Susie. This is awesome. I need to dash off to church right now, but just stopped by to mention that you opened this with one of my favorite scriptures. I promise I'll come back this afternoon for the video exercise. Looking forward to it :)

  2. Very nice post Susie. You pinpointed a very good topic for discussion about Art. Art to the eye and the mind is like food to the body, it is either healthy, junky or in between. If it is healthy it does not mean it is Christian food :)

    I like your rainbow picture. Many cameras can not capture rainbows for some reason. Have a blessed day.

  3. Good morning, Dina! That Scripture always gets me. I quickly realize how I'm not using my whole being to worship God, nor do I fully offer myself as a living sacrifice.

    I look forward to discussing the video with you.

  4. Hi Dani! I'm so glad you could stop by this morning.

    Didn't the photo turn out well? My daughter took it on her little Canon camera--nothing fancy.

    I like your quote: "Art to the eye and the mind is like food to the body, it is either healthy, junky or in between." Sometimes it takes a good deal of perspective and prayer to discern what the in-between stuff is.

    Have a blessed day!

  5. Great post, Susie. What a great post! I love your thoughts here. But I think I'm going to have to read it again to appreciate everything you said. Hugs.

  6. Hmm, I think the main point of the plant was our need for God's light in our lives in order for us to grown. I was also thinking of the relation to the sower sowing the word.

    There were lots of correlations between the light bright world and the real one, but the most obvious to me was that we need God's light to bring us to life. We are called to be a light in the dark world.

  7. I love this, Susie. It's very clever. I agree with Dina. She said what I wanted to, only so much better! :)

  8. Hi Lisa--I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

  9. Ooh, I'm so glad you shared your thoughts for our little art discussion, Dina. I confess I've been eager to talk about it.

    My husband and I have slightly different opinions.

    I like what you said about the plant representing our need for God. I also like what you said about God's light, and our need to be light to the world.

    Like the chorus of the song!

    I'll put my thoughts into the next comment.

  10. The video made me think about eternity. The "human" world is richer and more dimensional than the Lite Brite world, just as heaven is far more full and alive than how we live now.

    The plant came from outside of the Lite Brite world. One person in my family thinks the plant is love; I wondered about "Christ in you, the hope of glory." The plant is with the Lite brite lady through her life, but it's only after death that the plant truly explodes into fullness.

    What do you think? Crazy? ;)

    Either way, thinking of the fullness and wholeness we all receive in Eternity brought me to tears. So I'm grateful for the Lite Brite video, even if I'm waaaay off.

  11. Hey Suzie! I'm so glad you could stop by!

    The Dina is pretty articulate, isn't she?

    Hope you're having a blessed day.

  12. Mmmm...I like that Susie. The light brite world is the limited earthly dimension. Nice.

  13. Oh I've been fighting weak wifi today. What a lovely post Susie but I've only had a chance to read and agree. Thinking deep thoughts is not in the cards today. Vacationing with toddlers. Sigh.

  14. I love your thoughts, Susie. It's actually a great comparison. Not crazy at all. It's a lovely image.

  15. Thanks, Dina. It's fun to talk about this stuff.

  16. Deb, I've been thinking of you and wondering how your weekend has been going. I bet you are having a blast with those little ones!

    I'm glad you could come by.

  17. Hey Suzie--I also thought it was wonderful how the "real people" world rejoiced over the Lite Brite people (celebrating the wedding), paralleling how heaven rejoices over us. And the plant was watered--nourished--from beyond its own dimension.

    It just got me thinking... :)

  18. So as far as art goes, this video directed my thoughts heavenward and made me think of eternity. And I also rejoiced that someday I'll flourish and blossom like that plant, in the light of the Lord.

  19. I love your summation, Susie. It's lovely and inspiring. :)

    Is anybody else sad that our week of Dina is over? It was a fun week.

  20. I think this week was extra fun because the comments were so active. Thanks everyone.

  21. Week of The Dina was fun. I enjoyed all of the comments, too.

    Do we have a winner of Dina's book yet?


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