The following article examines the process of commissioning and creating visual art for worship from the point of view of an artist, exploring, in particular, the unique concerns of the liturgical artist.
The church building is the home for God’s people, providing identity and a place in the world. The article illustrates how the change in liturgical understanding since Vatican II has changed the understanding of what a church building wants and needs to be for God’s people.
The pervasive individualism of Western culture has broken down the sense of identity experienced through community. Nevertheless, the church in the post-World War II era has seen a resurgent interest in and recovery of community. Two promising models of community from which a strong worship is arising are the “basic communities” of South America and the small group movement.
In the exodus event, God created a people and brought them into a covenant relationship. The covenant specified that Israelite worshipers display loyalty and faithfulness both to Yahweh, the King of the covenant, and to their fellow Israelites covenanted to that same King. In a corresponding way, God has created a people through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; these people are bound together with him and with one another in a new covenant community. Jesus’ commandment for this community, or church, is that they love him with their entire being, and their covenant brothers as themselves. It is out of this relationship with God and one’s fellow believers that worship arises. Biblical worship is intended as a corporate expression of the covenant relationship.
Churches in the African-American community share a distinct worship culture that is the result of the integration of Christian worship forms with a worldview shaped by a traditional African ontology (understanding of being). In addition to the African heritage and religious perspective, the experience of blacks in American slavery has also helped to shape African-American worship patterns.
Worship is the action of a people made one body in Christ, the source of its life. Ultimately, then, worship is an act of Christ the High Priest.