I returned to Pasadena, California for a second arts weekend this Spring. Arts weekend is an annual event put on by Lake Avenue. It features an exhibition of community artists as well as a church service focused on encouraging and using art as a way of understanding and exploring faith. I realize that faith and art have not always held hands in contemporary contexts and that even the mention of church may cause some to go running—there is a great deal of hurt out there and a rather problematic history. Yet, in my life, faith has been an important element of shaping my own character, so I remain committed to finding ways to humbly, thoughtfully, gracefully forge connections between artistic communities and communities of faith.

As part of that commitment, I’ve had the privilege of speaking and sharing at this event for the past two years. Lake Avenue has between 2,000 and 3,000 attendees as well as many more who live stream their events. This year, my sermon/sharing was called “What Will it Take for You to See?” and it focused on the ways that basic experiences that one has during art education can also be tools for understanding your beliefs and finding ways to engage communities in humble, authentic ways.

The message included a challenge to see, understand, and then react to challenges you face much like a student in drawing 1 is asked first to observe, then analyze what they are seeing, and only then move towards a practice of rendering. Learning to draw is about learning to see, much like healing hurt and division is about learning to see.

Imagine a world where we didn’t start with judgement and assumption but instead tried to see one another first? That simple act could do so much good for our communities and our world.

You can see the entirety of my message which includes perhaps the most frequent use of the terms “sexuality, gender identity, and racial barriers” ever heard in a single sermon.