Monday, February 23, 2015

Created in Christ Jesus for Good Works

     I am getting to this later in the morning than I usually do because I have been watching TV coverage of the Oscars.  Of course I was up til midnight last night watching it, but then today I like the aftermath of conversations about it - how was the host, what do you think about the winners and then the whole fashion thing.  I love movies and since the time I was a little girl I loved reading about movies stars.

   Now in my "later years" the movies still are important to me, but the movie "stars" not so much.  Instead I find myself attracted to and curious about the creative process and the way men and women are inspired by a story or an idea and bring it to life.  And then that movie can affect us in ways that are a lot more than just entertaining us.

 I remember watching "The Deer Hunter" in the sixties and "Platoon" in the 70's and know that both of them had an affect on me and my whole orientation towards war.  And in the past few years, I have come to a deeper realization of the sin of racism that continues in our country through watching movies like "The Help." "Precious"  The Butler" and "Selma." 

This year my favorite movie was "Boyhood" which was an amazing project to begin with -Richard Linklater had a vision that a movie could be made over the course of 12 years and follow a young boy's growing up.  Just that idea is impressive. As I watched it, I thought the film  really captured family life ,  the ways in which the parents' decisions affect children, and just what I would call  the muddiness of life. We watch a young boy trying to make sense of life and his parents doing the best they can as they have their own issues (don't we all). At the end there is an awareness of how quickly it all goes.  And boy, did that speak to me.

And so this morning I think about all of this as I look at the texts of this day.  (Job 4:1-21, Psalm 77, Ephesians 2: 1-10.)  Trusting that this word - like a good film - may contront, disturb, explain, inspire and help me to make sense of life.  The overarching theme of these readings  is that God is God and I am not.  Which means a lot - means I understand a part and never the whole, it means that I am like a "house of clay" easily washed away, it means that I am not holy before God, but can draw holiness from God.  And I start the day with God's word to remind me that I am HERE to be WITH God which means that I can then find what I need - strength, forgiveness, healing and direction.  That's my faith.

In the Ephesians Paul writes "For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life."

And the good works can be to live out our lives as creative beings.  To allow God to give us visions and inspirations to do whatever is our form of art and creativity.

An important book to me ofter the years has been Madeleine L'Engle's "Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art."  Here is what she writes:
"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 artistss 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. ".

I believe that we are all created to be creators in many ways.   And while I always enjoy the Oscars for a variety of reasons I now know that it is never about "winning" because there really is no competition between people who are each connected to living out their own "good work."  I remember watching "Amadeaus" and truly understanding that we each have our own call to create.  Salieri needed to be himself and not even try to compete with Mozart.

I also believe that when we are in that place of creating we are truly connected to God (although we may not realize it at the time!)  Which is not to say that it is easy.   As I think to times of creating sermons or retreats or anything I know I can find myself  consumed by ego or self doubt or judgment and criticism.  Madeleine writes  "the only way we can brush against the hem of the Lord, or hope to be part of the creative process, is to have the courage, the faith, to abandon control."  I think that means to be vulnerable and trust God.  Yes, that 's the journey, that's the way of life."

And so as I start this Monday morning I pray that this day may be a day of "Good Works" for God.
Here is a wonderful blessing by Maxine Shonk

May the God of CREATIVITY be with you, helping you to brave new ground and test new horizons;
calling you to trust and risk being a co-creator of the Kingdom.
May the gift of creativity bring you to a recognition of ever new revelations of God's goodness.
May the blessing of CREATIVITY be on you.  Amen


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