The Art of Worship

Misc. 2013 011 One of my favorite places to visit is the Chicago Art Institute.  We usually make an annual trek to downtown Chicago as part of our anniversary celebration, and I always look forward to seeing my “friends” at the Art Institute.

These “friends” aren’t living, breathing people, but instead are a pieces of artwork found there, specifically the work of the artists known as “The Impressionists.”  Each time I visit, I receive encouragement from viewing these renowned works of art.  I’ve often jokingly referred to the Art Institute as my “church,” as I often feel a sense of peace and worship there, as well as a profound sense of the Triune God.

Perhaps this sense of the presence of God comes from the quiet atmosphere (which in turn, quiets my own heart), but after reflecting on my experience there, I think it has more to do with the works of art being a tangible expression of worship and participation in God’s creative nature.  As I take in the beauty of the artists’ use of color and see the brush strokes and texture of the paint, I witness the give and take that occurs in worship.

Far too often, we believe that worship must take the form of words – spoken or written or sung.  Sometimes it does. Unfortunately, those who lack musical or oratorical eloquence feel left out, as if they must rely on others to properly worship. But the most effective and expressive worship, I think, comes as an outpouring of God through us, utilizing our individual personalities and eccentricities.

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the source of creativity and have created us with that spark, the desire to create beauty and order and good around us.  Worship is an expression of this creative nature, and it  is not confined to church but reaches into every corner of our lives.  Whenever we create, we are participating with God and providing evidence of his goodness and love.

It’s easy to see that in great works of art or in music sung at church, but we must realize that the Triune God seeks expression in all areas of our lives, even the most mundane or seemingly secular.  Several years ago, I heard an interview of the Christian music artist Michael Card.  He recounted one summer day when he was driving somewhere, all windows down, enjoying a Doobie Brothers song on the radio.  He said he felt God’s presence with him, and his first inclination was to turn off the Doobie Brothers song out of reverence.  But the Holy Spirit convicted him that the joy he was experiencing as he took in the beautiful day with that music was a participation in the very joy of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

In Phillipians 4:8, we are to encouraged to think about:Misc. 2013 014

… whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things (NIV).

I always looked at this verse as a preventive measure – after all, if I was busy thinking about these things, I wouldn’t be so  inclined to sin.  But now I see this verse as an encouragement to notice and think about anything that is true, beautiful, and good, because that’s evidence of God’s presence and participation.  Our activity which manifests these traits is our response (worship) to God’s work in our lives.

Categorizing our lives limits our worship to only that which occurs at a church.  But much of a person’s life takes place outside church walls, and most of it seemingly has no religious significance .  I would suggest that for those who love to cook, a family meal can be an act of worship. Clean laundry and an organized home can be an expression of worship.   As we  serve others through our occupation, this can be an offering of worship and a participating with God.

We can begin to appreciate the worship and participation that occur each and every day in our own lives, and then we also can begin to recognize, just like I did at the Art Institute, how God is participating in the unique expressions of worship offered by others.

~by Nan Kuhlman 

10 comments so far

  1. Alice Scott-Ferguson on

    delightful, and so exquisitely written, Nan!

  2. Ted Johnston on

    Well said Nan. Viewing the work of the great Impressionists at the Chicago Art Institute has been a great blessing in my life as well. The play on light in those paintings makes my spirit soar.

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      My thoughts exactly, that’s why I love to return there year after year.


  3. Ben on

    Thank you for reminding me that Phil 4:8 says “whatever.” There is a lot of space to worship in the whatevers. 🙂

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      I like your phrase “a lot of space to worship in the whatevers.” Thanks for summing up that point so succinctly!


  4. Karen on

    ice blog; I never thought of it that way!

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      Thanks for taking time to comment!


  5. Carrie Smith on

    Beautifully said and shared – thank you! 🙂

    • Nan Kuhlman on


      Thanks for taking time to comment and encourage!


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