With each sermon series I’m challenged to consider what the artwork we’re creating is saying. Does the artwork engage the viewer? Does it create an open and honest dialogue? Does it make someone think? Does it challenge people? Is it clear?
My hope is always that the artwork we create at Westside would open up opportunities for conversation with people no matter where they’re at in life, whether they’ve had a relationship with Christ for many years or whether they don’t know him at all.
In this summer sermon series on Ephesians 1, we’re walking through different aspects of the blessings we’ve received in Christ and the blessings available to anyone who chooses Him, even if they may not know Him yet.
As we thought about the amazing truth—that in Christ, we are holy and blameless, adopted and beloved, our sins are forgiven, all things are restored, we have an inheritance, we have the Holy Spirit, and we have a great hope (Ephesians 1:3-14)—we tried to come up with a way to explain this visually. In Christ, these truths become part of our identity, because our identity is found in Him. Because we’ve received these blessings through Jesus’ work on the cross, they literally cover us and are written on who we are as Christian people. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) You no longer have to live in guilt or shame or hopelessness! You are named by Christ and have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! (Ephesians 1:3) What better way to convey this concept than to physically write these truths on people whose lives are marked by Jesus? It is a tangible representation of who we are in Christ and I hope it brings these truths to an even greater depth and realization in people’s hearts.
One of the things I enjoy the most is seeing other creatives using their gifts and talents to serve the church. This project was particularly special, because so many artists and people from our church body were involved in creating it. All the type was hand-lettered and painted onto each person and then photographed. Each of our model volunteers were amazingly patient and joyful throughout the process as we painted (and repainted) words onto them. Big thank you to Les Cole, Ray and Anastasia Akintemi, Chris Pulsifer, Melissa Menzel, and Grace Cheung for letting us use them as canvases! Melissa was also responsible for the beautiful hairstyling and helped with the hand-lettering along with Stephanie Brennan, Nicole Peterson, and Kanako Iwata. Levi Shiach and Aaron Rose were responsible for the striking photography!
My prayer is that we will never stop asking good questions about the way we use art in the church and how it can be used as a light in our communities and the world. I also hope that all artists in the body of Christ will continue to be challenged to use their talents to the glory of God— inside or outside of the church. That may look like serving in the arts in your church body, or it may look like the conversations that come out of how you conduct yourself at your day job. It may just look like creating excellent art that causes people to ask questions or start a dialogue. It is massively exciting to think that all we do as artists can become an act of worship toward our great God!
Tiffany Haines is on staff at Westside Church as a graphic designer and also works with the music ministry.