Monday, February 25, 2008

Go Ahead, Artist, Prophesy

Piano

The book of 1 Chronicles, starting around chapter 22, is a beautiful picture of the body of Christ, the church. One would be tempted to think at first glance that it's simply lists of who does what in the temple of the Lord. But on second and third glance, oh!

There are bakers-of-bread and gatekeepers, washers-of-utensils, oil mixers, treasurers, judges. And musicians. Musicians who are told to prophesy with the lyre, the harp and the cymbal.

Looking at this, I was struck by the necessity of each job for making the temple a holy place that would proclaim the beauty of God. I was also amazed that the musicians were a form of prophet. The verb used in telling them to prophesy does mean to sing or praise, but naba' also means more deeply...

to bubble up, to be under the influence of the divine spirit, to speak with ardour, to show and declare the words of God.

Imagine, that music could do this. And imagine that music does this in a place where all those other workers are keeping the place fragrant and abundant, beautiful and just. To me, this is a picture of the body of Christ. We all work together to prophesy, to show and declare God's word.

So go ahead, Artist, prophesy, and know that you are bubbling up with Glory.


Speaking of artistic fervor, check out the new and amusing group of Crossings pictures that Dave Zimmerman added to the Stone Crossings book club wiki.


Piano photo by Sara B. Used with permission.

NEW LINKS TO THIS POST:

Sarah Grace's An Answer, Of Sorts

Mark Goodyear's Finding God in Heifetz and Porcelain Life Jackets

the High Calling's Labors of the Artist

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22 Comments:

Blogger Sarah said...

I'm struck by what a high calling this is. Artisans sometimes get the short end of the "calling" stick, but this is something I can sink my teeth into!

4:23 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Great post . . . and I love Sarah's photo!

6:03 PM  
Anonymous heather said...

This post makes me happy!
I love prophesying, incarnating Christ to the world in my art.
I love finding bits and pieces of Truth in a story or in a painting.
I love drawing others deeper into Him with a simple tune.
I love being a prophet-slash-artist.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Christianne said...

so, my thoughts are still stuck on the variety of people it took to make the temple holy. it seems this subject is swirling all around me these days: that it takes our differences to incarnate God on the earth. i love being swept up in the wonder of the differences of how God made us and find it so beautiful when we can behold and embrace who each other truly is, for what each other truly are.

2:21 AM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Sarah is my new best friend because she used the phrase "high calling."

8:26 AM  
Blogger Nikki said...

A friend sent me an email yesterday that had an incredible fact from history: a 10th century poet had been sentenced to death by the king of Norway history knows as Erik Bloodaxe -- a name that is almost surely a reflection of character. But the condemned man wrote a poem for the king on the night before he was to die and subsequently received a pardon. Art has the power to move something deep in even the hardest of hearts.

As an artist whose deepest passion lies in music, I don't doubt its power to do a great many things. It regularly makes me cry, at the very least. That it can also be a sacrifice at the high altar is an amazing gift. That the God who made all of creation in its splendor would find pleasure in the expression of human creation is stunning...

I imagine this is probably part of the reason I have adopted a form of Christianity in my adulthood that embraces a complex liturgy (liturgy just means the "work of the people")-- one that reflects in some poor way the brilliance of throne-room worship and temple worship as described in scripture -- with incense, candles, glittering golden vessels, embroidered vestments, holy images, poetic prayer, mystery, hand-made bread, gifts of wine and voices lifted in song. Work for all in the house of God... especially for the artists.

8:34 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

very interesting tidbit.... and just goes to show what an integral part the arts play in the church and worship. people with these giftings sometimes have a hard time finding their niche in the church.

music is such a powerful medium....

8:35 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Mark, I'll admit I had to look up your profile to figure out what you meant. Then I clicked on your different sites and started to get sucked in. THEN, I realized that I should probably, you know, WORK at work and surf at home...but I'm definitely checking them out.

11:14 AM  
Blogger The Gyrovague said...

How beatufiul. I must admit I usually ignore Chronicles for the most part... I know, my bad. I will have to make a special trip and dive in a little bit.

thanks for sharing.

11:34 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sarah... are you an artist? Curious.

Jenn... thanks, and yes Little Sara gives me so much good stuff to work with!

Heather... glad to bring you happiness. I think in our culture we tend to think of the prophets as the Word People. This suggests that God's truth goes far beyond what can be expressed in words.

Christianne... it was interesting, yes, to consider the many tasks, some which might seem mundane even, which were all a part of showing God to the world.

Mark... I thought you might say that!

Nikki... what a great (and terrible) story. Beauty does have great power, if we allow it to touch us.

Blue... and I consider again your role in saving the mountains, bringing forth the truth that needs to be brought forth, through the simple offering of your regional music.

Gyrovague... I understand why people avoid Chronicles as well as a whole lot of other books in the bible. I've even toyed with the thought to write a book of some kind that brings forward all these obscure passages from the hidden corners of Scripture. Thought of calling it "Don't Boil a Kid", based on a passage in Leviticus, but I've gotten a little pushback on that one from some of my friends! :)

2:29 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Me? I'm a writer (not, mind you, published, but working toward that). I didn't really decide to try to make writing a reality in my life until last fall even though I've always wanted to be a writer. Part of the reason I didn't pursue it before has to do with ideas I picked up that said it wasn't a "real" calling (or that it was a strange one) and that there were better things I could do with myself--that's a lot of what I was referring to in my original comment.

I also do some painting and mixed media work, though that's been almost entirely just for me, without thought of showing or selling it. That's also a relatively recent discovery for me (I started last summer), but I love it. When my feelings are buried so deeply that I can't find words for them, I can often paint or draw and find them there.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L.,
Beautiful post. I almost felt like I was there. Definitely I love the smell of fresh baked bread. And the sounds of music. And the sight for the eyes. All quite wonderful.

Thanks for helping that passage come alive for me in a way it never has before.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Scott R. Davis said...

I saw a very similar scene to your video. my office is by a stream that has rocks covered by snow and a field in the distance. As I look at the scene on the walk to work, your words echo in my mind. thanks. scott

10:56 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

I like that you frequently point us to the Old Testament. For those who have eyes to see, the Old Testament is rich with vivid word pictures. God's written revelation as a whole can be understood much better when we don't sequester ourselves in the gospels and epistles.

11:23 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sarah... interesting to hear you are working toward writing. What has that meant for you? What would you like it to mean? And how are you going about it?

Ted... yes, the temple was a fragrant, lovely place. This passage gave me the same feelings of being there.

Scott... you walk to work. That's a blessing indeed. And past a stream!

Craver... so perceptive. I hadn't realized it was so obvious, but there it is. I really do love the O.T. And it's amazing how much Jesus used its words as His own.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'll post an answer on my blog soon and come back here with a link. I found that I could either answer your questions honestly or be precise and I couldn't do both, so thought I'd make a post out of it ;)

4:26 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Here it is!

6:24 PM  
Anonymous heather said...

You know, I've been thinking about your post, and I think that what you talk about here is why I was finally able to say, this is who I am, an imaginative theologian who loves the arts. It all goes together. It took me a while to put those pieces together, but this is why--as artists, we're prophets, we're truth-tellers.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

And also poetry and writing are artistry/prophesy....

7:45 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Sarah... thanks for your thoughtful answer. I put the link in the body of the post.

Heather... so glad you embrace the arts! Do you think there's any way in which we can lie with art and music and therefore not bring forth God's truth? Or, to put it another way, what does truth look like in the arts?

Kim... yes. Of course you know I had that in the back of my mind. ;-)

9:33 AM  
Blogger 23 degrees said...

Wow, loved this.

I think of Jesus' last prayer that we would be one [so we could proclaim the beauty of God].

Wonderful.

12:14 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

23... I did think of you when I wrote this post. Our resident cyber-artist. (Well, resident in cyberspace, with all of us waiting for the next installment.)

12:38 PM  

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