Friendship, Listening, and Empathy: A Prayer GuideTwo Hands: Grief and Gratitude in the Christian LifeSabbath Keeping FastingA Renewed SpiritualityNurturing Hope: Christian Pastoral Care in the Twenty-First CenturyThe Power of ListeningJoy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your CongregationPersonality Type in CongregationsPrayers of the Old TestamentPrayers of the New TestamentSabbathFriendingA Garden of Living Water: Stories of Self-Discovery and Spiritual GrowthDeath in Dunedin: A NovelDead Sea: A NovelDeadly Murmurs: A NovelBeating Burnout in CongregationsReaching Out in a Networked WorldEmbracing MidlifeAdvent DevotionalDraw Near: Lenten Devotional by Lynne Baab, illustrated by Dave Baab

Worshipping God the Creator: Co-Creators with God

Lynne Baab • Friday August 5 2016

Worshipping God the Creator: Co-Creators with God

Expressing creativity through art, music, gardening, and a host of other avenues is another pathway that can help us connect with God the Creator. And at the same time, allowing ourselves the time and energy to enjoy God’s creation can help our own creative juices flow. Just like in the area of simplicity, many people have told me that they experience a vibrant ebb and flow as they enjoy the creation God made and as they engage in creative activities themselves. One feeds on the other.

Last week’s post on this blog presented Bill’s story. He talked about the way that the creation speaks to him about God’s call to each of us to be creative. As Bill said, we are created in God’s image and God is creative. Bill believes that we are all called to be co-creators with God.

Some may object to the term “co-creators.” Clearly, we are not equal partners with God in creation. God created and continues to create in a way that is totally different than anything we can do. God creates out of nothing. We take what God has already created, and we create something using already-existing forms and objects.

In addition, God sustains the universe in a way that is completely beyond our comprehension and completely different than anything we could do to care for creation. “In him all things hold together,” the Apostle Paul writes in Colossians 1:17. As much as we might like to exaggerate our own significance in moments of grandiosity, no human being can make that kind of statement about himself or herself.

I experience great joy and a sense of noble challenge when I think of myself as a “co-creator with God.” I love the high call to be a partner with God in creating something that reflects God’s beauty, love, and truth. At the same time, I know I am definitely a junior partner in the endeavor to express God’s creativity in human artistry.

I started writing fiction in my early forties. The ability to imagine people and events filled me with awe. Truly I felt like a partner with God, making something where nothing had been before. I didn’t create the words I used to write stories, but I dreamed up the plots and characters out of nowhere. The exhilarating sense of oneness I experienced with God as I wrote fiction has spilled over into many other areas of life.

For me, writing is a significant creative outlet, whether I’m writing a book, article, blog post or email to a friend. In addition, mundane daily activities can call forth my creativity in a way that mirrors God’s tender care for creation: fixing a delicious and attractive meal, setting a table with attractive dishes and flowers, arranging a room, or choosing flowers for an outdoor pot. I remember reading Edith Schaeffer’s classic book Hidden Art many years ago. She talks about the artistry that can be expressed in homemaking. Her ideas felt overwhelming to me as a young woman. Now they make sense.

I’m amazed at the number of people I know who enjoy making creative photo albums for their families. I’m also amazed at the number of people who have significant artistic talent for drawing and painting. When I was an associate pastor at a church in Seattle, every year at Pentecost we had a “Festival of Gifts” at our church. People brought all kinds of artwork and crafts to show. The variety was amazing. One year a family brought a kayak they had made. The wife does quilting, and a quilt square decorated the front of the kayak, deeply embedded in multiple coats of varnish. One person made soap. Someone had etched interesting designs on drinking glasses. One person made little angels as Christmas decorations. One father had made a life-size sculpture of himself and his son, cut out of plywood. People also brought embroidery, quilting, needlepoint, pencil sketches, watercolors, paintings, and collages.

All of these expressions of creativity require slowing down enough to pay attention to something other than the rush and demands of the consumer lifestyle. All of them require standing apart from the pressure and fast pace of so much of life, in order to focus on this immediate expression of beauty. In order to connect with God the creator by being creative ourselves, it is essential that we embrace simplicity in some form. The themes described in this series of blog posts – simplicity, creative expression through artistic endeavors, and enjoying the creation made by our loving Creator – are all intertwined. They build on each other.

This is the tenth post in a series on worshipping God as Creator. Earlier posts:
     Nature calls us to worship         
     The Creation invites us to join in praise         
     The Bible and Creation         
     Some thoughts from midlife interviews         
     The good creation         
     Creation care         
     Voluntary simplicity           
     Voluntary simplicity in action         
     Bill's story         

(Next week: two more stories about people's experience with Creation. This post is excerpted from my book, A Renewed Spirituality. Illustration by Dave Baab. If you'd like to receive an email when I post on this blog, sign up under "subscribe" below.)

My short book on holding grief and gratitude in two hands helps us cope in hard times. Two Hands: Grief and Gratitude in the Christian Life guides us into experiencing both the brokenness and abundance of God's world with authenticity and hope, drawing on the Psalms, Jesus, Paul, and personal experience. It is available for kindle and in paperback (80 pages). 

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