Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Creating Together

Recently, this quote really caught my eye (and brain):
"If you would like to establish a connection with people from another culture, it's always good to offer a few gifts as a gesture of friendship. But, an even better way to forge a lasting bond is by creating something together. Whether it's a meal, an art project, or just a spontaneous dance party, when you create with others, you build a connection that lasts a lifetime."
- From "The Social Synapse"
by Nora Epinephrine & Sarah Tonin
Upon looking up this quote – the two "authors" are fictitious, as is the “book” it’s quoted from - but the quote is still certainly worthy of thought. The quote is an item that the "Blue Man Group" puts up on the screen before every performance.
It got me thinking – how does this quote have meaning for the church?  How does it relate to being an intercultural church?  How do we offer a few gifts of friendship? 
Creating together IS giving a gift - a gesture of friendship.  By committing to creating something together with others, it is giving the gift of oneself.  It is about becoming vulnerable and opening yourself to others. It's also giving a gift to anyone who receives the creation.
Isn’t creating together what we do in worship, in worship arts, in our rehearsals and committees and pods? Even the 100-year-old space which we use to continue to create in has been a team effort – architects, engineers, tradespeople, interior designers, stained glass artists, all coming together to create something of beauty – something that feeds our souls, a place that creates ties that bind us to one another. 
How many of you have been to a camp or a retreat?  Growing up I went to several music camps.  The act of being together with participants from other geographic areas, creating together, and living a shared experience very quickly created relationships that have lasted a lifetime. 
There are several United churches including Robertson-Wesley who have been exploring the connections between the arts and spirituality and how becoming a safe place and creating something together develops strong bonds and deep connections.  Creating together can break down cultural, gender, age, and class barriers.  Using artistic media allows people to explore the deep questions, the longing of their souls, gratitude for this life and their hope for the future. 

The religious philosopher Martin Buber sums up the act of creating:
“We can only understand the true image of God when we live in community with others.  In order to create a true image, God created us in community.  In our very creation, God provides us with the potential for sharing, for reaching out to others, and for creating together with others.  We are most like our Creator, not when we create alone, but when we join others in the act of creation.  God says, “Let us...,” as if to say that in the course of creating together, shaping together, and building together we are acting in the image of God.”[i]

[i] Seymour Rossel,  Bible Dreams: The Spiritual Quest.  New York: S.P.I Books, 2003, p. 37.

Tammy-Jo Mortensen, M. Mus.

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