Artists In Ministry & Missions

Month: December 2015 (Page 1 of 2)

An Artful Christmas

Please welcome ACT staffer from Canada, Patty Kingsley as we close out Advent 2015. Merry Christmas everybody!

2013 Photo credit patty and santa

“Join me and Santa Claus for church this Sunday at Newcastle Town Hall.” I shared that audacious announcement with friends and family because this year, my Christmas included collaborative creating with Santa at a one of a kind Christmas art and craft sale.

I think of church as a dine-in or a take-out experience. I often live the “take-out” model — using my art as a way to connect with people. I attempt to deliver “take-out” portions of love and kindness, with a side of art.

As I go, I search for the beauty of God and affirm the image of God in each person I meet. Often these encounters happen on a Sunday. I enter into the world of folks I meet during art events, and together we create. We talk about their family, their goals, their work and how life is working for them.

That is how I met [this] Santa Claus. We had hung out before, when I led carols in public schools. In fact, we’ve been meeting up during this festive season for over six years. Santa, who had never touched a canvas before, received his first art lesson with me at an event we both attended.

He had the same angst about making creative marks that we all have. He was tentative and he did not think he could do it. But he did.

A couple weeks ago, we met up again, and without coaxing, he jumped right in and received his second art lesson. He worked alongside a young woman from a local high school the next town over, who was quietly trying her hand on a large panel called “Freedom.” 2015 Photo credit - ADJUSTED - Bea - Patty and Santa

I can barely describe the happiness that fills my heart, to share time and art and God’s love with people who might not be encountering it other places. It is the Gospel done, dine in and take out; and it is good. Merry Christmas.

Patty Kingsley is an ACT International artist who lives and paints in Ontario. Faith Today features the work of Canadian artists in our Canadian Creatives section in each issue. 


An Introduction to Ephiphany Worship

Our final seasonal entry from A.C.T. Intl’s resource site,, focuses on Epiphany. I hope you’ve enjoyed this break in our regular blog posts and I pray that this joyous time of year will be a blessing to each of you and to your families.

The commercialization of Christmas has overpowered the church’s 1,500-year-old tradition that Christmas begins, not ends, on December 25. Consequently, Epiphany has been relegated to utter obscurity, an afterthought that appears as a curious inscription on the pastor’s program planning calendar. The word epiphany means “manifestation” and refers to the manifestation of Jesus as Savior not only of the Jews, but of all the peoples of the world.

The elevation Epiphany will be best effected by a recognition of Christmas as a twelve-day celebration from December 25 to January 6. Perseverance here will work slowly to transform the context of Epiphany and thereby its identity and place in the life of the church. For instance . . .

  • Encourage the scheduling of church and family Christmas events during the twelve days of Christmas. Publicize these according to the Day of Christmas, Fourth Night Concert, Twelfth Night Party, and so forth.
  • Schedule an annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols during the twelve days. For solo pastors without pulpit relief, the First Sunday of Christmas is an opportune time. It changes the pace on what is often a “down” Sunday and is a highly participatory service that is always well-received.
  • Include a Sunday evening potluck supper following a short service that, of course, includes the Epiphany hymn “We Three Kings.” Afterward the Christmas decorations can be taken down.

Attention to the context of Epiphany will go a long way toward giving it the esteem that is properly its due.


An Introduction to Christmas Worship

As your church prepares for Christmas, I thought it appropriate to share a seasonal entry from A.C.T. Intl’s resource site, We’ll offer an entry for the season of Epiphany in my next post.

From the very beginnings of the Christmas celebration in the early fourth century, the theme of the Christmas season has always been the arrival of the Light, the Light that has come to dispel darkness. Historically, three services are celebrated on Christmas day: the midnight service, a service on Christmas morning, and another on Christmas night. The texts of these services stress the birth of Christ, but in such a way that the birth is not isolated from His sacrificial death and His coming again.

What we are called to remember as we construct Christmas services is that Christmas is clearly a celebration of redemption. The prayers, Scripture readings, and hymns should point us to the source of our redemption, namely the paschal mystery in which the Incarnation finds its ultimate meaning.

This theme is clearly announced in a popular Epistle reading for Christmas: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” Titus 2:11–14, ESV.

Decorations at Christmas should not be limited to the area around the altar. To do so creates a cumbersome stage setting. Keep this area free from distraction by limiting the floral arrangements and by placing crèche figures elsewhere. Hackneyed decorations, such as masses of poinsettias or wreaths hung on every pillar, though beautiful in themselves, can have a numbing effect. Such overkill also obscures what these decorations signify.

As for music, there are of course more songs and hymns available for Christmas than for any other time in the Christian year. Many congregations include in their worship life during the Christmas season a musical drama in which many of the children of the congregation participate. This is a wonderful tradition that allows entire congregation to be part of this joyous occasion.



An Introduction to Advent Worship

Since we are now well into the sacred season of Advent, I want to share an entry from A.C.T. Intl’s resource site,  If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit this remarkable treasury of useful and informative tools for pastors, worship leaders, Christian artists, educators, and students. Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing entries for Christmas and Epiphany. I hope you enjoy these brief samples.

Advent is the time of preparation for the birth of Christ. Historically, however, Advent was not the beginning of the Christian year, but the end. The original themes of Advent focused on the second coming of Jesus. Gradually Advent also came to mean preparing for the coming of Christ. Today we inherit both themes:

  • The end of the Christian year and the expectation of the second coming of Christ, and
  • The beginning of the Christian year and the expectancy of the birth of Christ, the Redeemer.

An Advent full of color and bursting with drama and appropriate symbols will serve the meaning of Advent and ready the people for the second coming of Christ and for the birth of the Son, which historically comes first. Among the many ways to convey the spirit of joyous anticipation, your church can . . .

  • Consider the worship environment for Advent. Many churches are “greened” this time of year. Some churches green the sanctuary at the beginning of Advent, while others wait until the third week of Advent (the traditional date for greening the church is December 17).
  • Plan special services that feature the readings appropriate to Advent as well as music written specifically for this season.
  • Consider a service of Nine Lessons and Carols.
  • Use Advent colors. The colors of Advent are royal purple or sarum blue. These deep colors express the penitential theme of Advent.
  • Use drama to bring to life narrative portions of Scripture, such as John the Baptist’s announcement of the coming Christ.
  • Sing Advent hymns, preserving Christmas hymns for the Christmas season.

Judy Felts

Today we feature the very special talent and gifting of Judy Felts. Judy is an ACT staff member as well as board member representing the best of ministry and the arts to people who need to know the love of our Lord.

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