A difficulty for small worshipping communities is having the resources and personnel to provide suitable enervating opportunities for reflection on the Word during worship that enriches and enlivens their community action. Research has shown that interaction with visual imagery assists contemplation and integration of text and will therefore assist those gathered to consider the Scripture of the day.
Visual imagery in art has been neglected as a source of theology and hence the vocabulary needed to ‘read’ the artworks relevant to Scripture will have to be re-learnt. This paper will provide an understanding of how visual arts can augment Scriptural understanding and the interaction within a small community. A list of symbols, attributes and emblems will be provided with visual examples so that this technique can be explored. Images are readily available through online sources and this augments the capacity of the small worshipping community to develop their resources.
Unlike large worshipping communities, the small community has the capacity to hear the voice of each person and therefore the response of each person to the visual art under consideration can deeply enrich the understanding of the Gospel in the community’s own context. As William Dryness says: “A carefully wrought and intelligent object or painting, when it is patiently observed, opens up windows on the human situation in a way that other cultural products cannot.” Such patient observance, when linked to Scripture, can beautifully augment the small community gathered in worship.
McCarthy, A. (2011). Integration of visual art for small worshipping communities. Paper presented at the Worship in Small Congregations Conference. Trinity College, University of Melbourne, Parkville, 17-20 January, 2011.