We at The Neighborhood Church have typically embraced lent as a unique and creative season for our community. Lent is about being emptied in order to be filled by God. Emptying is never for its own sake, but it has a purpose, a telos. Lent is also the preparation season for the celebration of Easter Sunday. Last year, our church community prepared by sharing our stories during the season of Lent. We sent out one email everyday with a different person’s own write up of his/her story. Over those weeks we got to know each other in deeper ways, and we found common ground. It was a breakthrough for us. We went from knowing where someone sits on Sunday morning to knowing their story, and it was powerful.
This year, we wanted to try something in a similar vein. We will be exploring devotional art pieces in order to open ourselves up to God during Lent. We’ll share a new piece every weekday for all six weeks leading up to Easter. We’re asking our congregation to submit different photographs, poetry, paintings, prose, videos, and forms of other artistic expression. People can submit their own work, or classical pieces art that have somehow moved them. Each submission will also have a short written reflection on the piece. The devotions will go out in email form and also be published on this site.
These devotions will help us practice being open to God in new ways throughout our week. Art has a unique way of speaking, and it isn’t always obvious. There are subtleties behind each stroke of the brush. There is a story behind a photograph, and poetry speaks with how it is written as well as the words that are used. Artwork encounters people holistically, and so it can be deeply spiritual. Good and beautiful art points to our good and beautiful God. Art can be redemptive in how it makes ugly things beautiful. The cross is an ugly symbol of death that has been made beautiful by Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Pascha is the word that the Orthodox church uses for Easter. The word Pascha is rooted in the tradition of passover. The Neighborhood Church is preparing for and celebrating Pascha this year with a feast of creative faith.