After he spends time in an art museum, Paul R. Olsen says he sees his world differently.
“I see light. I see darkness. I see lines. I see shapes. I see textures. I see things I just didn’t see before,” he said.
The pastor was inspired to bring that experience to Glory of God Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, Colo., during Lent 2013.
Every Sunday morning during Lent, artists were invited to the adult forum, where they brought works of art and talked about their projects and passions. Then, on Wednesdays, they’d create art guided by Siri Austill, the congregation’s Lenten artist-in-resident that year.
One Wednesday as they listened to Scripture and poetry, they painted on silk whatever came to mind. The evening drew to a close with Holden Evening Prayer.
But what Olsen, who now serves Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Gillette, Wyo., wanted was for members to discover that it was all prayer, not just the final 15 minutes — the painting, eating soup, listening, and meditating on passages and poems.
“You found a way of creating something in a prayerful way. So now go out into the world and see your daily work as prayer, and in a creative way express your faith in your daily life in the world,” Olsen told them.
Art projects focused around four creation images that worked well for Lent: earth, wind, fire and water.
“Although people created their own individual pieces of art, the real work of art was when Siri put them all together to create one work of art that incorporated everyone’s efforts,” Olsen said.
A version of this story first appeared in the May 2013 Rocky Mountain Synod insert to The Lutheran.