November Monthly Letter

by Geoff Hall on November 29, 2010

Mentoring support for those involved in word, image or perfomance art.

November, 2010.  “Take the old prophets as your mentors!”

Dear Mentoring Group,
When I first became a follower of the Way, I read scripture with a hungry voracity.  Nevertheless there were certain books which having read once, I didn’t want to return to!  Leviticus and James stand out foremost in my memory; the latter seemed to be a kill-joy to my youthful enthusiasm.  James was like that stern old teacher, who stood at the back of the classroom whilst you worked, tapping his cane in his hand to remind you that his displeasure could not only be sensed, but felt!

Recently, I plucked up the courage to revisit this book in ‘The Message’ and came across this wonderful section.

Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything and never once quit, all the time honouring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course!  Ch5 v10-11.

Now I thought this was a strange thing to say, as some of the ‘old prophets’ were a bit barking!  They hung around in ‘schools’ wandering the countryside, having ecstatic visions, singing and dancing as they passed by your village.  What you might call extravagant behaviour!  However, it is interesting to note that they still managed to form communities!

Whilst we attempt to nurture our calling and vocation, through much discouragement of circumstance, or perhaps due to well-meaning colleagues and friends who are not reserved in ‘encouraging’ us to give up. Their logic being, that if our gifts were truly from God, we’d have cracked it by now, broken through and been successful.  In the light of this ‘support’, we need to find mentors who have passed through this landscape and made it back to civilisation.  James tells us we can find such wise mentors in the old prophets, because they persevered, ‘put up with anything’, or ‘went through everything’ whilst still honouring God with their gifts.

So it is with those involved in the arts today.  We are much misunderstood, perceived as extravagant, maybe even egocentric; however we must press on and understand these prophets are our mentors.  Why is this?  The prophets persevered and so must we.  Not until we are ‘successful’ (whatever that means), but so that Jesus is fully formed in us, through our work. Till our creativity reflects the gaze of someone who understands that the arts and spirituality are a personal journey in a communal context.  It is this context which gives our work meaning and brings a spiritual vision to bear on reality.  Community brings cohesion, whereas the isolated individual only brings incoherence.  Community speaks of humility, of service as we endeavour to have an impact on a fragmented and fallen culture, wherein success is measured by the things we accumulate and not by the efficacy of the story we have to tell.

As we approach Christmas, let’s persevere until we see the heart of the servant fully formed within us, until the Word in our hearts becomes flesh, or pigment, or moving image, song, dance, poetry or story.  For until this happens again and again, the voice of violent dissent will not be purged from our midst and people will not see that this Word is Love.  If your friends tell you to quit, let them know that the book you read tells you to press on.  A seed planted but left un-watered, will surely die!  We wait for God to give the increase.  Stay the course!

Peace and Love to you all,

Geoffx

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