Creativity as a Prophetic Expression

Guest blogger, Rev Matt Chapman

 
Creativity is a divine attribute. We are image-bearers of a creative God, so when we create something, we reflect something of the nature of God.

Often creativity is misunderstood to be referring only to the work of artistic people, but we are surrounded by creative action. As new cells replace old ones, as new life comes into the world, as accountants create sense and structure around numbers, as chefs create cuisine, as a builder creates a house, as a parent creates order out of a messy bedroom, we were created to be creative beings.

Not only that, but God speaks to us through his creation and the things that we create.

Psalm 96 says:

 
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.

 
As a songwriter, I often draw on imagery from creation because of the way it bears witness to God and because it provides a tangible context that people can draw imagery from.

This was very much my approach with my album Eyes to Sea. The sea, the coast and sailing, are deeply spiritual environments and provide powerful metaphors for life. They often find their way into the imagination and language of writers to describe the experience of the soul.

Discipleship draws deeply on this imagery. Being called to leave the safety of the shallows, out into deeper and more treacherous waters where a storm or two waits, along with a miraculous catch of fish, and a voyage to the mission field Jesus is leading us to.

 

The Eyes to Sea album is available on CD, Spotify, Apple Music and other digital platforms.

I have also sought to create music that carries a word that God could use to shift someone from one place to another. The most rewarding moments are hearing when a song has helped someone through a difficult situation. I met someone in the USA in 2003 who told me that a song I had written had given her hope for reconciliation between her and her son. For me, those moments are what it is all about.

Music is powerful in so many ways. It enables us to say things we might never say in regular conversation, whether it be words of love, forgiveness, frustration or hope. A beautiful piece of music can somehow help us process grief, anxiety, and uncertainty. It can make us feel like we’re standing on solid ground again. It can give us the strength to move forward. It can communicate transformational ideas.

I grew up listening to the music of Keith Green. For many, he was an example of a prophetic voice in his generation. His words were direct, confronting, and left you feeling both convicted and inspired.

It was the combination of a powerful message with the power of music. If I had simply heard him speak, I’m not sure the message would have been as transformational for me. His prophetic word told through his passionate singing and piano playing, combined with beautifully written melodies, helped me to digest the message in a way that touched my whole being.

 

We must continue to invite and encourage creative artistic expression in the work of transformation, proclamation and prophetic expression. God is always using creative space to speak to people.

One thing to be wary of in the church is our overdependence on music as our main form of artistic expression. We ask music to do most of the heavy lifting whilst often neglecting the other arts. I often sense a growing weariness in some communities at the overuse of music.

We need to invite architects, sculptors, painters, filmmakers, photographers, dancers, writers of fiction, drama, poetry and prose, even culinary artists to create opportunities for us to engage with God through these other forms. We have been made creative beings and respond deeply when we engage with creative forms.

Remember, not everyone loves music as much as Matt Chapman. God can speak to us, and we can respond to God through a wide range of artistic expressions. We need to set a table with a wider variety of dishes.

 

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman is a singer/songwriter and Presbyterian minister. In the early 2000s, Matt was a guitarist and songwriter in the bands Detour180, and Season Pass. 

In June this year, Matt independently released an album called Eyes to Sea, which is available on CD, Spotify, Apple Music and other digital platforms. Matt currently works at Howick Presbyterian Church and lives in Clevedon with his family.