This morning, St. Patrick’s day, 3/17/2019… I was invited to do a live painting at Threshold Church. This was a surprise gift for a visitor and church planter Jon Gibson and family, friends of our pastor Jeff Gardner, as they found “The Branch” church in Ashland VA. I had planned to paint John 15 (the Vine and the branches), and the text of the day in our series was Matthew 13 (including the parable of the mustard seed). Pastor Jeff and I met that morning wrestling over which passage to use (he’s is so docile to the Lord’s leading that he was willing to switch sermon passages moments before the service began!) Then I shared, “strangely enough, as I was driving in this morning and praying for this painting, I had a vision of raising a sail up into the wind of an eternal night sky full of stars. I felt that it was about learning to pray in the Spirit… that God is already at work praying, groaning, in perfect harmony with his will for us (Romans 8), and our role in prayer is really to simply raise the sail and catch what he is doing. Perhaps that is for our church, or for today…. I’m up for whatever.” Then we looked again at the first verse of Matthew 13, where it tells that Jesus got into a boat to preach all these parables- I guess ALL of this morning is connected to the boat.
The work came together very quickly during worship, within about 40 minutes, and featured a windy sky over the waters with silver background, a hand holding a fleck of 23 ct. gold mustard seed/ yeast/ seed that fell on the fertile soil, and the boat with Jesus in the bow, Jon raising the sail, his wife at the helm, and their three children between them. The way the Holy Spirit wove together our worship, painting, sermon, Jon’s address, and the surprise presentation of the gift was nothing short of miraculous. Needless to say, everyone present was amazed to witness how lovingly coordinated the morning unfolded with the Spirit’s leading… it couldn’t have been planned, so in our humble praise we simply stepped back and said: “That just happened!”.