Worship with God’s Living Word

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, we’ve asked members of our 2016 National Gathering planning team to share what especially excites them about this year’s conference, February 22-24 in Atlanta. We invite you to join the conversation here, on Facebook, or Twitter!

by Lisle Gwynn Garrity

A blazing bush breathes “I AM,” a billowing cloud signals the way, a valley of bones clatters to life, a thundering wind weaves all voices into one, and a barren grave whispers: “Mary, Mary–Do not fear.”  Over and over, our scriptures offer us glimpses of God meeting people in words and images, in visions and poetry, in dreams and revelations beyond our wildest imagining.

lisle workingAnd yet, when it comes to our worship, we are often bound to words on a page. We listen to scripture read and proclaimed, we recite unison prayers like a script, and we grip our bulletins like road maps telling us when to sit or stand. Thanks to a certain French Reformer, we’ve inherited a robust emphasis on the Word; we value the many ways scripture can instruct, inspire, edify, and ground us. But in our pursuit to centralize the Word in our worship, we sometimes become complacent, letting the Word lay flat on a page. Sometimes we forget that, before The Word was written, it was envisioned, and uttered, and breathed. To worship more fully and faithfully, I think we must embrace the promise that our scriptures are God’s living Word. To bring our full selves to God in worship, we must allow the scriptures to come to life.

lisle artSo, when it comes to what I’m most looking forward to at the NEXT National Gathering in February, I’m excited for worship. As the conference artist and a member of the worship planning team, I am energized by our plans to include a wide and artful variety of liturgical expression. Throughout the week’s worship services, we will invite the Spirit to speak through dance and drumbeat, spoken word and storytelling, live painting and art installations, movement and embodied prayer. We’ll set the Word loose, allowing it to shape and mold us in ways we might not expect. As we worship together, we hope everyone will be able to hear, see, and sense the stories God is so eager to tell. We look forward to seeing you in worship!

Lisle Gwynn Garrity HeadshotLisle Gwynn Garrity is a Pastorist (pastor + artist) of sorts, diving into ministry with a creative and entrepreneurial drive. A recent graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, she holds master’s degrees in divinity and practical theology, and loves bringing the Word to life through live painting, liturgical installations, and communal art banners.  See more of Lisle’s work at www.sanctifiedart.com or on Facebook at A Sanctified Art.