Creative Christian Moments Special Event: Imaginate
“Every time something creative happens, I believe there is a new facet of God that we see in and through one another.” – Associate Pastor John Hammer, Sonrise Chapel
The second Imaginate night at Sonrise Chapel in Everett, WA occurred on November 3rd, 2013 and as Hammer stated in the above quote, new facets of God were discovered through more creative works of local Christian artists. The revival renaissance of Christian artists continues to make eternal wakes in the Pacific Northwest, the spiritual climate, and in new genres such as cinematography, photography, and dance. Hammer opened the Imaginate art event with a compelling story about a minister, named Ray Hughes, who shared about an Irish pub experience in which a new comer sung a song who was not a regular visitor and was honored by the older man who regularly sung at the pub. The older man, in the story, honored the new comer by standing with him as a sign of respect for participating in the experience. In this same way, Hammer explained that the purpose of Imaginate was to encourage and inspire Christian artists in a celebratory manner much as the gentleman in the pub had done. Hammer states, “we choose to celebrate one another tonight. We choose to not make this a competition, but a celebration of honoring the gifts and creativity God has put inside of people.”
Imaginate offers compelling comradery to artists of all genres, talents, and levels of skills unlike some of the main stream artist events around the community. The celebratory manner of the congregation was awe inspiring and genuine seeking to celebrate the talents of art God has placed in each person sharing. “So if you feel really stirred, give people a standing ovation. Give them a round of applause! Encourage them after their done! Let them know what you thought of what they did because it takes a lot sometimes for people to get up in front of others and share what God has done in them.” Hammer then invited Yoyo artist Michael Lee (you may recall from the first Imaginate event last month) to the front of the room to MC the event. Many new artists were able to share their works during this second event and much of my coverage will focus on discussing their gifts.
The first artist of the evening was photographer Erik Hedman who had prepared a slideshow for the audience with his various works of amazing photos involving different parts of the Puget Sound area such as the railroads, flowers, bark, leaves, the Space Needle, and a portrait of his infant daughter. Hedman used this presentation to present how God reveals Himself to Hedman through photography and the arts. My amateur video does not do his works justice for the amount of beauty and professionalism they had. “As they already mentioned [in regard to God’s creativity], He spared no expense when it comes to detail and I believe in that same way that He made us in His likeness and He gives us creative abilities and sometimes it’s just things that pop into our minds.” Hedman’s work presented vibrant colors, surreal depictions of scenery, and titanic textures that made one feel the experience of the photographs. The photographs were so vivid in reality that all five senses were stimulated in the mind. Hedman demonstrated his skill as a grandmaster of photographic color balance, aperture calculations, ambient light usage, and a knack for Photoshop. Hedman concluded his presentation with his intentionality of being available for the leadings of the Holy Spirit in correlation to the arts. “You never know when the Lord is leading you to do something, who it will impact and saying hey, I’m available.”
Next, a young teenager named Natalie perform a series of gymnastic moves for the congregation which rallied them to applause. What I appreciated most about this presentation was Natalie’s boldness to go before an audience and demonstrate her talent and the congregation’s pure support and encouragement that she had the bravery to demonstrate before them.
“I write poetry. I write songs. Just anything to glorify God.” Kris Smith was next and shared a brief poem written five minutes ago under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit prompting him to call back those who have strayed from the Christian faith. Such prompting with poetry in the Christian community can be referred to as prophetic writing. Prophetic writers, many of whom are song writers, poets, and story tellers, are prompted by the Holy Spirit to share Biblical truths with their listeners or readers much like the Old and New Testament prophets. Hammer also shared a remix version of his original poem “Letter to a Predator” from Creative Christian Moments Blog Article 3. Hammer’s new version was more triumphant and declaratory in which the letter is not so much about overcoming addiction but exposing the evil that this addiction ensnared in him.
New to Imaginate were cinematographers from Kinfolk Magazine, Caleb Babcock and Sean Lowe whom shared one of their projects they had worked on depicting a group of friends sailing on a rainy Pacific Northwest day and then enjoying the beach together. Cinematography for this video was gorgeous! Given the poor conditions of light and grey whether of a typical rainy day in Washington State, Babcock and Lowe drew out the vibrant colors of beryls, emeralds, and dapples to offer the viewer a rush of emotions one would experience on a rustic sail and hike along the coast. I felt as though I were watching the beginning of some major budget Hollywood film and was moved by the emotions created through the careful camera work and positively dreary beauty the Pacific Northwest has along the coast of a rainy day. Babcock and Lowe also run a Vimeo page with more of their works you can check out at the end of this blog entry.
Swing dancing was performed next and drew great applause from the crowd much as the gymnastic performance had earlier. Dancing in church has created some controversy given the secular’s communities perversion of the art through popular media but dancing before God is quite Biblical and can move and audience when the Holy Spirit infuses Himself into the presentation. David danced before the Lord in 2nd Samuel 6:14 while the Psalms 149:3 and 150:4 command us to dance before the Lord.
Wow! If I had one word to describe the acoustic song of John Sage that would be it. Sage’s song was a powerful narrative about knowing God at a deeper level, God finding treasure in darkness, setting individuals free from personal struggles, and the impeccable love God has towards humanity. Sage’s music brings forth honest worship similar to the other acoustics of Jeremy Camp and Todd Agnew of the Christian music genre. The piercing of Sage stirred my heart with such meaningful lyrics as “you’re never along and you’re never apart”, “even in darkness, you find treasures of light”, “every saint is a treasure You hold in Your hands.”
Another poet and musician, Jessica Thomson shared multiple poetic pieces about her personal challenging journey of this year and how poetry has provided her and outlet to express her emotions and feelings about both good and bad periods in her personal life. Thomson then shared a personal acoustic guitar song about how God had been there for her in her times of struggles.
One of the many last minute additions to the night was a poet named Whitney who explained she was not going to share tonight but was inspired to share one of her works. Whitney shared an inspiring poetic narrative about enduring the personal fights and struggles of life all too familiar to the Christian. “Sometimes, to appreciate where you are, you need to remember how far you’ve come. The past is shaped and formed by character, your outlook on life in every capacity” resonates with the Luke 9:23 in which Christians continue to die daily to our own selfish needs of this life and are conformed more and more into the image of Christ. Whitney ended her work with an encouragement that that like the passage of Isaiah 40:31, our own obstacles will take us higher because it is on the thermals of turbulence that eagles can soar in the sky. “Pressing on to your next challenge is your only option left. So go, find what lies within you. Conquer, overcome, and let these obstacles take you higher.”
Last to present was prophetic painter Kevin Johnson who shared a piece he was still completing depicting the Bible in a fiery red color. Johnson stated he would be adding the Scriptures to the remaining portion of his work.
As I complete the writing of this article, the Holy Spirit prompted me to the passage John 1:47 in which Jesus Christ first meets the disciple Nathanael. I can truly say that this verse can also be applied to the congregation of Sonrise Chapel and I publically declare this passage over them as a community of believers. They are charismatic, yet encourage inclusion through interdenominational church events throughout the year. They preach the Word! They pray for their community and the other different Christian denominations in the area. They welcome partnerships with other ministries! All of these characteristics of their church identity have been passed along to their Imaginate nights and I implore other Christians to join us in the celebration of Jesus Christ expressed through the arts.
The final Imaginate event for 2013 will be on December 1st. If you would like to be a part of it, contact John Hammer through Facebook, the church website, or his poetry blog. All Christian artists are welcomed and encouraged to attend the event. As Proverbs 27:17 states let irons sharpen iron, let this passage apply to the artistic creativity of the as we continue on our Christian artistic revival renaissance in the Pacific Northwest!
John Hammer’s Poetry Blog: http://thefreedomletters.com/
Erik Hedman’s LinkedIn Profile with portfolio: http://www.linkedin.com/in/erichedman
Caleb Babcock and Sean Lowe’s Vimeo Page: http://vimeo.com/calebandshawn
Sonrise Chapel. “Home.” Sonrise Chapel. http://www.sonrisechapel.org/site/ (accessed November 5, 2013).
Imaginate. By Sonrise Chapel. Directed by John Hammer. West Entrance Lobby, Everett, WA, November 3, 2013.
Kinfolk – The Life Aquatic, Vimeo, 2:30, posted by Caleb & Shawn, October 6, 2013, http://vimeo.com/74220509 (accessed November 6, 2013).
Rhoads, Chris and Rhoads, Sarah. “The Life Aquatic.” Kinfolk Magazine, November 6, 2013. http://www.kinfolk.com/the-life-aquatic/