What's Happening Here?

Reflecting theologically involves a back-and-forth movement between listening and questioning. The aim of listening is to truly hear and receive the message, and the goal of questioning is honesty. Adding art to the process of theological reflection provides a visual outlet for listening and questioning. Such a conversation is important on an ongoing basis through life. In addition, whenever one completes a significant project or phase of life, it is particularly helpful to pause and spend extra time thinking theologically to discern the significance of the completion and next steps for what might be ahead. Slowing down and reflecting theologically is particularly helpful following the death of a close family member or friend, after a divorce, when the first or last child moves out of the house, when a spouse is serving overseas in the military, or following any major life transition. After I completed my PhD in theology, I began such a period of thoughtful reflection about the early years of being organizing pastor of a new church. Church planting had occurred simultaneously with working on my PhD so there had been little spare time to pause and reflect on what exactly had been happening during the first four years of the church plant. My PhD graduation was the catalyst to pause and reflect. I created a two-volume journal on the ministry, mission, worship, and community connections of Community Fellowship. The goal was to highlight key moments in the early life of the church plant and to reflect theologically asking, "What is happening here?" We had a series of baptisms during the spring and summer of 2012 which were inspirational to the congregation and the pastor for the affirmation of the movement of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. The images below right are transfers of B&W photos onto watercolor paper in a spiral journal. I dropped out the grey tones of the B&W photo using a simple photo application in PowerPoint and then partially colored the images using watercolors.  I used homemade and purchased rubber stamps to embellish and tell the story. The image bottom left is black gesso painted on watercolor with the words and image drawn using a bar of soap. The paper was completely covered with colored pencils in varying shades of blue and then the page was lightly washed under running water so the soap disappeared and the black lines emerged. The net feeling experienced during the art of theological reflection was JOY!