Art, Faith, and Spirituality
A month ago, on Maundy Thursday, Sarah B. was our cantor and Michael T. our pianist for our first outdoor, in-person worship service since October of 2020. As Sarah sang and Michael played, the congregation gathered sat still, mesmerized by the sound. Night was falling around us, and the significance of hearing live singing sank into us. The song sounded fresh and real, and it added that extra meaning to a tender night in our church calendar…one focused around service to one another, care for the neighbor, and humble love.
Two weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon, as Ken P. and I finished filming worship, the center courtyard starting filling with the sound of string instruments warming up and tuning up. The San Jose Chamber Orchestra was rehearsing and preparing for a short performance outdoors. The beautiful sound of multiple instruments being played by people who clearly are professionally gifted (no offense to the sounds I hear from the neighborhood kids who are practicing their instruments in their yards/homes!) was overwhelming. I stood, transfixed, under the Redwoods in our meditation garden and without warning, I began to weep. Music (and all art) has the powerful ability to reveal emotions in our hearts, to stir ideas in our minds, and to connect us to one another unlike any other form of communication. All of you who worship with us know that we are gifted with an incredible music program and group of musicians curated by Barbara Day Turner. She, along with our choir, audio engineers and video producers have worked so hard this past year to bring recorded music to our worship services. I am so grateful for the pivots we have made and the people like Marc F., David L., Ken P., Mike H., Michael T., the PoP Band, and our choir and soloists who have learned new technology in order to bring this artful aspect to our worship (and I know, we have mentioned them all before with gratitude, but it bears repeating so often!).
So much of our world has shifted online, and I am grateful for the nimble reactions of our congregation and the people who work in theatre, music, and formed art. We also have, in our congregation, an incredibly gifted group of live theatre directors, performers, and singers. Many of you have seen people like Karen D., Ginger D., Sarah B., and Mike H. shine on stage at our local theatre. companies. Live acting, (and the folks mentioned above can articulate this better than I) can take us out of our own minds and put us in the heart and mind of others. Live acting increases our empathy, enlightens our thinking, and sometimes makes us uncomfortable in the best kinds of ways…in ways that remind us that we are deeply human and connected to one another. Like so many of you, I miss opportunities to experience theatre in person! I am convinced that theatre, art, music—in all of their forms are manifestations of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the imagination we foster when we listen, watch, observe, ponder and make art connects us to God in powerful ways. It gets us out of our task-oriented, machine-mind into the creative pieces of ourselves that is part of the imago dei (image of God) that is in each of us.
With that in mind, I would like to share a wonderful idea and opportunity that Ginger D. introduced to us... A theatre company out of Berkeley (the Shotgun Players) has moved online. They have a theatre piece that is available online (on demand, meaning you pay for it and can watch it when it works for you). The title of the production is Feel the Spirit, by Noelle Viñas and it is (ironically!) about a Queer pastor’s efforts to move her congregation online during covid-19. Ginger and I would love to host a conversation (for all who watch it). You are encouraged to follow the link to the show, watch it on your own time, and then we will have gather on Zoom Sunday May 2nd to discuss. Ginger will lead (and for any of you who don’t know Ginger, she’s an incredibly engaging leader as well as brilliant theater director). Let’s dig in together, enliven that creative part of our Spirits and minds, and create some space for the Holy Spirit to move our faith! Zoom link for the discussion of “Feel the Spirit” is forthcoming. You will need to purchase your online viewing of the play on your own. The link to the show is:
Discussion Meeting: Sunday, May 2, 7:00pm on ZOOM
Email Pastor Sara if you need help!
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