Finding and Enabling Human Response to God’s Love

Dr. Rebecca JohsonDr. Rebecca L. Johnson
Director of the Sacred Arts
Institute

As the fervor of election year spills into every aspect of our media, it is hard to miss the dire predictions each candidate espouses should their competitor be elected.  Economic disaster, global tensions, moral decline, and the destruction of our world ecosystem are daily fare for news media, Facebook, and twitter.  And as thoughtful believers in a world breathed through God's love, caring responses to such gloomy forecasts can be complex and murky.

Though critical political decisions may shape the general direction of our society, it is the personal day-to-day decisions that shape the direction of our lives - and those can be as mind-boggling as deciding who to elect.  Plastic versus paper, chain stores versus local vendors, or human-made chemicals versus organically-grown compounds are the stuff of fluctuating daily choices for which responses are determined by an ever-shifting ethos. 

The arts now as in centuries past stand as both reflection and at times, propellant of the world in which they are created.  Charlie Parker's seemingly chaotic post-WWII rifs in his drug-riddled pre-civil rights jazz clubs, the pre-revolution operas of Mozart that with a "wink and and a nod" elevate the middle-class above the upper-class, and Haydn's Mass in Time of War composed when the invasion of Austria by the French seemed imminent are works of art that reflected and propelled the world of the artists forward. 

Central Seminary's "Graduate Certificate in Sacred Arts" may seem counterintuitive in our particular moment in history.  As economic woes, global tensions, and concerns for the ecosystem remain the focus of today's headlines, the arts appear to have shrunk to an "extra-curricular activity".  But, "as thoughtful believers in a world breathed through God's love," the arts are the human response - the human breath - breathed through human love in response to God's love.  Artists, musicians, pastors, worship leaders, and all in church leadership share common purpose in finding and enabling human response to God's love. 

In collaboration with the Conservatory of Music at UMKC, Central's Certificate prepares spiritual leaders to do just that - find and enable human response to God's love.   Political, economic, and cultural systems may come and go, but God to Humanity to God is without end.  There is a popular piece of choral music today called "Inscription of Hope" by Z. Randall Stroope.  Based on fragments of Jewish text found on the walls of a cellar in Cologne, Germany during World War II, it is believed to have been written by a child hiding from the Nazis. Reflecting, propelling, communing with God -

 

I believe in the sun

even when it is not shining.

And I believe in love

even when there's no one there.

And I believe in God

even when He is silent

I believe through any trial

there is always a way.

 

For further reading:

http://imagejournal.org/page/journal/

Ravished by Beauty - Belden C. Lane

The Sounds of Our Offerings - Charlotte Kroeker

For The Beauty of the Church: Casting a Vision for the Arts - W. David. O. Taylor