Annual Service celebrating the Arts

IMG-20160710-00674Our annual service celebrating the Arts was held today at All Saints Goodmayes. A conversation between Henry Shelton and the Bishop of Barking at All Saints in 2008 led to the formation of commission4mission, with Henry as founding member. We returned to All Saints today following the commissioning of a Trinity window by Henry and Richard Paton. In today’s service Henry read from Exodus 31 and led us praying the Collect for Church Musicians & Artists:IMG-20160710-00678

O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

IMG-20160710-00676The worship group at All Saints led us in worship, our Chair, Peter Webb, led our intercessions and Anthony Hodgson shared stories, songs and poetry related to his image ‘Redemption’.

He said:

‘Once I was free of the demons that had plagued me for years, it was natural that I, a carer and teacher by profession, wanted to share with others what I’d found, so that they might have a chance to escape their own personal prisons too.

So it was that I left full-time work in July 2012 to explore this ‘calling’. Although I wasn’t sure at the time what God wanted me to do, I was putting myself in a position where I could listen and, hopefully learn more precisely what His plan for me was. For I knew He had a plan; it was just that, like someone driving down a country lane with high hedges on both sides, the whole picture wasn’t yet clear …IMG-20160710-00682

at [an] … art fair … a man came up to me. He was profoundly moved by a piece of mine called ‘Redemption’. Now, ‘Redemption’ is a overtly religious piece with the Christ at the centre of the picture clearly inviting the viewer to come to him. Yet this man, by his own admission, was an atheist. He didn’t believe in God yet was moved to be open to a conversation about the possibility … 

I had come to understand that God … wanted me to be involved in reaching out to the hurting and lost with my arts and music …

I believe art, music and poetry, can be a very powerful medium for reaching people in a way that, for example, preaching might not. As I have seen, it attracts people; it speaks to people; it moves people. At a crafts fair, an exhibition or arts evening, a person will approach a piece of art and may spend a long time contemplating what they see, whereas if that same person passed a pastor preaching in the street they might quickly hurry past. God’s Spirit can speak to a person’s heart profoundly through the arts and we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the whole of nature is God’s work of art and has spoken to people of every culture and race throughout history of the beauty and magnificence of its creator. Art is also more accessible because, like music it can operate both inside and outside of a church environment. Like music, it is a universal language that speaks to the soul.’

He sang:

‘Imagine starting your life all over again.
Imagine being reborn.
Imagine you are loved as you are.
Imagine that you accepted as you are.
Imagine that there is a plan for your future, a good plan, a plan that will see you flourish and grow and prosper.
A plan that is only for you because you are unique.
Because there is no one like you in the whole of history.’ (Colours)

Anthony has developed FreedomArts, a ministry in which he simply shares a little of his story, his art, music and poetry. To find out more, click here.