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An Easter week art festival (proposal: Village Seven Presbyterian Church)

Village Seven Presbyterian Church (PCA)
(April 7-13, 1974)
(Note: Presented to the session of Village Seven Presbyterian Church, VSPC)
Easter is perhaps the one major Christian day of celebration which has not been commercialized to death. Even the Easter bunny and Irving Berlin’s “Easter Parade” have not obscured the great truth celebrated by Christians at Easter – the resurrection of our Lord. Yet for some reason, Christians have generally put more effort into celebrating the incarnation (Christmas) rather than the day which signified their redemption (Easter). Even Handel’s “Messiah” was taken from its original Easter setting (April 13) and placed in the Christmas season. At this special time when Christians commemorate their freedom from sin and Satanic enslavement, and when we recognize that our Saviour conquered death, not only for himself but for us, and brought about the beginning of Satan’s downfall, it seems most appropriate if we join all our gifts and talents together to raise a united voice of praise to our Lord for the Easter event. It is because of this wonderful day in the history of the world that the following is proposed.

“Man by the Fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over nature. Both of these losses, however, can even in this life be in some part repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and the sciences” Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

PRAISE THROUGH ART

Anglo-Saxon Christians have been historically strong in evangelism but weak in Christ’s Lordship over the entire man. We have valiantly fought for truth, but we have been lax in our fight for beauty. As we read the Old Testament account of the building of the Temple, we see ornamentation for beauty’s sake alone:
*II Chronicles 3:6, “Further, he adorned the house with precious stones…”
*II Chronicles 3:7, “He also overlaid the house with gold…”
*II Chron. 3:16, 17; 4:3-10

Furthermore, we read in I Chronicles 28:12, 19 that God himself, by written in¬struction to David gave the exact pattern for building the great temple, thus showing that the Creator is truly interested in beautiful works of craftsmanship. (Exodus 21:9f). The only time representational art (statues, figurines, sculptured objects, paintings, etc.) are condemned in the Scripture is when it is worshipped rather than the God it should represent and portray (Lev. 26:1; Deut. 5:8-9; II Kings 18:4)
Consequently, because God is a creative, beauty-loving Lord, it is proposed that we have a weeklong art & crafts show in praise to God in our new church building which will be open to the public and advertised as such. However, only Christian artists and craftsmen from VSPC and Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) will be allowed to show their work.

PRAISE THROUGH POETRY

God has given our church a number of gifted Christians who can and wish to write poetry in praise of God or in lamentations of our sinful nature. Clearly, the Scripture is filled with poetry and with poetic utterances of godly men and women. In fact, entire books are classified as poetry (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon).

In II Samuel 1:19-27, David even laments the death of Saul and Jonathan in a secular poem! And in II Samuel 23:1-7, David, “the sweet psalmist of Israel” ascribes his poetry (Psalms) as coming from God himself!

Consequently, it is proposed that a booklet of praise be printed, silk-screened or mimeographed, that would contain poetry as well as prose accompanied by illustrative art work, all done by Christian writers and artists in VSPC and EPC.

PRAISE THROUGH MUSIC

Music, both instrumental and vocal, has long been a source of uplifting and edification of God’s children as they attempt to more purely worship the Creator. Not only has it been a keystone in the great Reformed tradition but we see quality music being presented before God by his devout children in the Bible. We read in Exodus 15:1-21, where all the chosen people in the world, in one grand chorus and musical festival (including instruments and dance), praised God for their deliverance from the Egyptian army. We see in I Chronicles 23:5 an orchestra of 4,000 organized and equipped by King David himself “for giving praise to the Lord. (I Chron. 15:16) And in II Chronicles 29:25-28, we read of God himself giving the instructions for an instrumental praise to be offered by the priestly Levites themselves, in the Temple, no less: And this was to be done as an accompaniment to the burnt offering signifying remission of sin! What godly music it must have been:

Consequently, it is proposed that we have a musical concert of praise on an evening during the Easter week in which Christians from VSPC and EPC will offer to God, for our edification and praise, a demonstration of God’s musical gifts to them. While this, like all the events of Easter week, will be primarily a worship service, those outside the family of God will be invited to attend. It is also hoped that special music will be provided during the week’s other events and services.

PRAISE THROUGH DRAMA & DANCE

Perhaps the most maligned art form in Anglo-Saxon Christianity is the drama-dance form which has been out rightly condemned as hedonistic narcissism. Unfortunately, this beautiful expression has been given over, by default, to Satan and his emissaries. In the Scriptures, however, we read of numerous exhortations to express our love and gratitude to our Lord through drama and body movement. We read in Psalm 149:3, “Let them praise His name with dancing, let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.” and in Psalm 150:4, “Praise Him with timbrel and dancing. Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.” Yet no doubt the greatest dance passage in the Bible is found in II Samuel 6:14-16, where we read of David dancing with joy and praise in his heart before the Lord God himself, “And David was dancing before the Lord with all his might…Michal… saw David leaping and dancing before the Lord…” (See also Jer. 31:4, 13; Lam. 5:15; I Chron. 15:29)

While dramatic presentations of praise and gratitude are not commanded nor given exhortative emphasis in the Scripture, dramative offerings to God are spoken of in Ezekiel 4:1-3, when the great prophet lays siege to Jerusalem in a reenactment of the future destruction of Jerusalem. And clearly, the parables of our Saviour lend themselves to a theatrical interpretation of the truth which lies behind them. Obviously, the two sacraments (Baptism & the Lord’s Supper) are dramatic visible signs and reenactments of great spiritual truths to all true believers.

Consequently, it is proposed that a dramatic presentation with dance be included in the week’s activities. It is hoped, and expected, that VSPC or/and EPC Christians will write, direct, perform and produce the entire production in dramatic gratitude for the Resurrection of our Savior. (Note: See the dramatic Good Friday presentation “The Night Has Come” in another blog.)

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EASTER WEEK ART FESTIVAL

A steering committee composed of a Chairman for each event plus the pastor(s) and a ruling elder will be the organizing body for the festival. It will be the individual chairman’s responsibility to develop and coordinate all activities within his/her realm of interest. The Easter Week Art Festival Steering Committee will have final judgment on all works of praise to be publicly expressed. The session of VSPC will have the ultimate responsibility and control (even over the Steering Committee) in the content of the week’s activities.

ONE FINAL WORD

Dr. J.O. Buswell, Jr. in his Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion points out that the Scripture only records two instances of people being “called” to a vocation by the Creator: one instance is in Acts 13 & 16, where Paul and Barnabas are “called” to be evangelists of the Gospel. The other instance is in Exodus 35:30-35 and 30:1-6, where he calls Bezalel “to make artistic designs.” Let us at Village Seven Presbyterian Church during this Easter season give praise to God for our salvation and His keeping us through our church artists as well as our church teachers and preachers.

GOALS FOR THE EASTER WEEK ARTS FESTIVAL, APRIL 1974

1. To give those believers in both EPC and VSPC congregations the opportunity to express, using their artistic God-given gifts and talents, praise and thanksgiving to our Creator for the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Also, to give them the opportunity to express theological truth through artistic media.
2. To demonstrate that the artistic expression of Biblical truths is as valid and as scriptural as the preaching and teaching of those same truths.
3. To heighten the appreciation in our congregations of the artistic gifts and talents of those believers called by God to worship with us. Also, to help us become more aware and appreciative of the Christian arts in general and painting, drama, music, dance, poetry and prose, sculpturing, crafts, photography and graphics in particular as they relate and convey truth.

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