Scripture: 1 John 1.4
We write this to make our joy complete.
Reflection: Incarnational, Artful Living
By John Tillman
Madeleine L’Engle’s writings on the incarnational nature of art go beautifully with John’s writing. John focuses heavily on the mystery of the incarnation using some of the most artistic and beautifully poetic language of the New Testament.
In Walking on Water, L’Engle discusses the unique, incarnational nature of artistic work.
The artist who is a Christian, like any other Christian, is required to be in this world, but not of it. We are to be in this world as healers, as listeners, and as servants.
In art we are once again able to do all the things we have forgotten; we are able to walk on water; we speak to the angels who call us; we move, unfettered, among the stars.
We write, we make music, we draw pictures, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing. And during the writing of the story, or the painting, or the composing or singing or playing, we are returned to that open creativity which was ours when we were children.
We cannot be mature artists if we have lost the ability to believe which we had as children. An artist at work is in a condition of complete and total faith.
With the Holy Spirit in you, you are a creator. You manifest Christ in this world. Don’t downplay any creative acts he may inspire you to undertake. The humbler they seem the greater impact they may have for the kingdom of God.
Create a meal for guests. Create a shelter for birds out of broken fence planks. Create a garden in a barren spot of earth. Create space in your community for the outcast and the rejected.
Walking in the light, as John describes, is like walking on water—something L’Engle believes we still can and must do.
We, like Peter, don’t do it because of who we are, but because of who we are with. We move into actions of faith with the childlike belief in our companion, Jesus Christ.
It is no surprise that John, the artistic Apostle, is best able to approach and communicate the mystery of the incarnation. Art is incarnation—an act of love lived out in a specific creative way.
May we “make our joy complete” through incarnational tasks, creating joyful expressions of the gospel in our lives.
Prayer: The Greeting
You are my God, and I will thank you; you are my God, and I will exalt you. — Psalm 118.28
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.