Jesus, a human being in every sense of the word. And He died for you and me! That makes me want to live my life in a way that makes His death worth it. He left a trail for us to follow, a path that leads to a peace that passes all understanding. There are signs everywhere and the Holy Spirit is most certainly present.
We were in the midst of Holy Week and it looked much different than anyone was expecting this year. Church buildings were empty but the church was in thousands of homes across the world. Which I think is awe-inspiring that God’s word echoed off the walls in which we dwell in. Soaking into the spaces where we live. The Covid-19 has caused disruption, pain and great loss in this world. It has shaken the foundations we base our very livelihoods on. We were forced to re-evaluate what is essential and what is really important in this life. The enemy would love it if this caused us all to isolate, disconnect and live in fear. But this has actually caused a ripple effect around the world connecting us even more so. God is bigger than any virus. He sent His son who died for our sins and He defeated death.
Lutheran Church of Hope purchased and is currently renovating this beautiful historic church that was built in 1889. It’s located by the Drake University campus on 25th and University in Des Moines, IA. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt spoke at Drake’s commencement held in the church in 1936 and in 1959 the N.A.A.C.P. asked the church to host a talk by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., his first appearance in Iowa. Read more about the history touch this link.
This will be the new location for the Lutheran Church of Hope-Des Moines downtown campus. Their previous church building was a 10,000-square-foot former car dealership on the western edge of downtown. This new location is about 70,000 square feet and will be home to several outreach programs. Hope (primarily Caucasian) is partnering with Elim Christian Fellowship (primarily African American). These two churches are combining congregations in this glorious historic church.
My husband and I were fortunate to be apart of the renovations thanks to my former boss who is lead of facilities for all 9 Hope locations. Thank you for reaching out to see if we wanted to be apart of this project. Absolutely!!
I remember when we were driving to the church for the first time to go take measurements and make a list of materials we would need. We were listening to the Bible In One Year with Nicky Gumbel and we were in the book of Exodus where Moses receives instructions from God to build the tabernacle. It was a lot of numbers and details overflowing of how to build it precisely. Walking into the worship center for the first time my eyes immediately were drawn up to the enormous curved beams in the sky high ceiling. Felt like I was in the belly of a whale. It is an absolutely stunning and deeply inspiring sanctuary! I felt the Holy Spirit the moment I walked into that building. As I’m following my husband around taking notes on all the measurements and all the details of what we were going to be repairing and building I felt like the scriptures were coming to life.
A week later we were driving to the church to get started and we were listening to the Pastor Mike Drop episode with Pastor Michael Hurst talking about the visions for the church by drake. I was in tears that day as I listened because I felt God working through so many people to bring this vision to life that will bless so many and it was already blessing so many.
Shortly after we got to the church to work that same day Pastor Hurst walks into the worship center while I was busy sanding oak planks. I kept feeling the this intense nudge that I should go over and tell him these things that were happening. So I went over to him and introduced myself, I started explaining to him how the scriptures had came to life and that we were just listening to the podcast on the way to work that day. I thanked him for his sharing his passion and taking action. I expressed how thankful I was to be apart of this process and how excited I was to see it come to life.
It still gives me goosebumps thinking about how God connects us and intertwines our everyday lives to something greater. We need to have our eyes, ears, mind and heart open and pay attention.
While working on the stage steps back in the beginning of March we got to meet Pastor Jon and the art director. It was exciting to hear the passion they both have for the church and how it will be a blessing to so many people in this community.
The plan was to have the church open so they could hold Easter services there. I offered to paint live for any services if it worked out. Pastor Jon mentioned possibly having some live art for Good Friday. Immediately I had visions for this painting. The art director sent me the scripture, Matthew 27:45-54, that the sermons would be based around. I was extremely excited to paint at this church for Good Friday and Easter.
As the weeks went by I was praying, planning and prepping. Meanwhile the coronavirus was spreading like wildfire throughout the world. Stores started to shut down, businesses were closing their doors, restaurants were curbside pick up only, schools have shutdown and there was no toilet paper to be found anywhere. Anything considered to be essential remained opened. A few weeks before Easter they finally announced that the church will not gather until further notice and services would be held online only.
Not being able to worship together and share this gift was pretty disappointing. But then I got an email from Jen saying they would still like us to record ourselves painting and they would share it on their website. I believe God puts messages and visions on our heart to reveal it to someone who needs it. Reading, praying then painting around scripture has been incredibly transforming for me. This is how I follow Jesus and get to know His journey. And the more I get to know the more my life keeps transforming. My perspective has changed. I see God in everything and in every living being. And I want to do everything I can to share what God has revealed to me to the world around me.
When it was time to start prepping for this painting we had already decided to self quarantine for a couple weeks to do our part to help flatten the curve of Covid-19. I didn’t have the size canvases I was hoping for but I did have 2 frames and a large roll of canvas. I had just enough staples and supplies to make it happen. Absolutely a God thing. So I stretched 2 canvases one for Good Friday and one for Easter.
After I got them stretched I primed both canvases.
Soon as they were dry I taped off the edges.
I sketched the lions head on the Good Friday piece and the Greek word Tetelestai which means “It is finished!”
I primed over the tape and entire canvas again after I cut away the silhouette of the lion.
I was inspired to paint this outside as the sun was setting. Hoping to get the effect of the sky darkening just like the day Jesus was on the cross. Being outside while the sun was setting painting the path to the cross made me really think about the pain and suffering Jesus went through. I imagined being there and seeing Jesus dragging the cross up that road. I was very emotional painting His body hanging on that cross and picturing what he endured for each and every one of us. Incredible sacrificial love!
Painting has become a time that I pray deeply, talk and listen to God. I work things out in my mind and my heart. Sometimes I’m not thinking about anything at all and the Holy Spirit is guiding my every move. I experience heaven on earth feeling at peace and present.
I did a base coat of red so when i started to paint it live the road to the cross and a lot of the sky would already be red. Red to represents the blood of Jesus, love of God, blood of lamb, atonement, salvation.
I actually painted this piece twice trying to time it just right. The first attempt was a lot colder out 40 degrees and my hands were frozen which made it super tough to pull the tape. The sun went down before I was done. It ended up being too dark to see the reveal when I ripped the tape at the end. The second attempt was a tad warmer out but my husband still built a fire next to the easel. He left a trailer of wood next to me so I could add to the fire as I painted. Still a little chilly in Iowa at the beginning of April!
I edited the video with an awesome app called Enlight Video Leap. Easy editing program that you can over lay videos and pictures. So after editing everything I needed some music. I asked a friend who knows her music if she knew some Good Friday or resurrection music. I opened a flood gate as she sent me a ton of good choices. Immediately when I heard “Ain’t No Grave” by Bethel Music & Molly Skaggs I had chills through my whole body. I knew right away this was the song.
Painting this live in the church we helped restore would’ve been such a treat. I feel deeply connected to this church after working on it for several weeks and putting a ton of love into it. When those doors do finally open up so many lives will be touched and blessed because of it and I praise God for that! But painting outside in God’s country with nature singing all around me was such an intimate moment. I prayed before, during and I am still praying for healing in this world. No matter where we find ourselves God is always right there with us.
Thank you to the ministry of the Lutheran Church of Hope and Elim Christian Fellowship for crossing the bridge together. We are better together regardless of our race, color, gender or background. We are bound together as sisters and brothers standing on the same ground before God. What a blessing to witness the power of the human race coming together to praise God and reach out to the world around us to share the everlasting love of Jesus Christ.
I invite you to check out my Easter 2020 Live Art blog…touch the link to read “Morning Glory”