Surfing the Movements of the Spirit
Last November I began thinking about the focus of our congregation for 2018. We adopted an image from Henry Blackaby that helps us think about finding where the Spirit of God is at work and join in to help bring about “Thy Kingdom Come.” Blackaby talks of how a surfer watches for good waves and then rides the wave. Surfers do not splash around to create waves. They ride out into the sea and sit patiently, discerning the good waves from the bad. When they find a wave they like it is game on. Every ounce of energy and focus goes into catching and riding that wave for as long as they can.
If we believe the Spirit of God is alive, well and working in our lives and world then we ought to seek out those places where God is “on the move” like a surfer seeks the perfect wave. When we see God at work it is our call to join in with every ounce of energy we have to offer.
When I knew this was going to be our focus I wanted to find a surfboard to have around and point to throughout the year. It took some hunting to find one. I finally found one while on vacation in North Carolina last Thanksgiving. Craigslist delivered and I ended up in a parking lot with a man looking to unload a surfboard. When I asked why he was getting rid of it he shared, “I moved to the beach and thought it would be neat to learn how to surf.” I asked how that worked out for him and he replied, “I am meeting you ina grocery store parking lot to sell my board.”
My nieces and I had some fun with the surfboard in Grandma’s backyard and then it made the long trek from North Carolina to Kennett Square, PA. I wanted to strap it to the roof of the car but Rayann was not a fan.
In early 2018 the surfboard made its debut in church. It was an awesome visual aid and helped us think about surfing with the Spirit.
Transformed into Art
What do you do with an old surfboard once it has helped illustrate a point? My sense was that I would not find many buyers here in Pennsylvania and I was not keen on carrying in back to North Carolina in hopes of reselling it.
At some point the idea came to have our church vision statement painted on the board. Create a visual representation of the words we speak to explain who our community strives to become as we live and move together. After a few missteps I was introduced to Neilson Carlin. Neilson is a local artist who “specializes in commissioned sacred and devotional art. After two decades in the commercial and gallery art markets, a conversion to Catholicism prompted Neilson to commit his career to working for the Church.”
We were excited to have Neilson accept the challenge of transforming our vision statement into a work of art. Neilson joined us for the unveiling today and it was amazing to listen to him share the process he took to move from words to image. Surfs Up! Let’s discern the movement of the Spirit in our lives and world, and may we join in the work of the Kingdom.
Riding the Wave with God
In 2018 First Baptist Church commissioned Neilson Carlin to capture our Vision Statement in artistic form. Throughout the year we were exploring the idea of riding the wave (movement) of the Spirit of God. Much like a surfer watches for, discerns, and then rides great waves we believe our call is to look at the world around us and discern where the Spirit of God is at work and then join in with all of who we are.
“Riding the Wave of God” captures our desire to be a community that discerns where God is working and then join in, partnering to help achieve “Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
Central to who we are is our desire to live and move as a Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-led community. The cross, palm branches, and crown all represent the centrality of Christ to our faith and the life of our community. The flame symbolizes the Holy Spirit and captures our desire to be led not by our own desires, dreams or wishes, but to follow the leading of the Spirit in all we do.
“When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
The right side expresses our desire to be a people that use our gifts to meet the needs of individuals and families. We serve others by sharing the blessings we have received with those in need. Our goal is to meet all people in their time of need and share God’s blessing with them.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
The image of the mustard tree captures our goal of Empowering people to grow into mature followers of Jesus. We believe that every person is a spiritual being, created for relationship; relationship with God and other people. Each person’s journey is different, and yet they all have a beginning. We invite you to journey with us as we pursue spiritual growth.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
The wind and the waves throughout the picture represent the active movement of the Spirit of God in our world and lives. There may be moments we do not “feel” the spirit moving in our world. We remain confident that even in those times the Spirit is moving, inviting us to join in the work of building the Kingdom of God.