31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
August 25, 2019
Genesis 1:1-3, 27
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Do you consider yourself good at drawing?
Are you a good singer? Do you play an instrument well?
Do you quilt? Scrapbook? Woodwork? Paint? Cook? Take pictures?
Are you creative?
According to a 2012 study of 5,000 adults in the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Japan, 52% of US respondents “described themselves as creative”. This number seems sadly low to me, but it was actually the highest percentage of all of the countries surveyed. (https://adage.com/article/news/study-75-living-creative-potential/234302)
Notice though that these were all adults. If they had surveyed children, I know that the number would have been much, much higher, maybe even 100%. Because we are born creative. God created us in God’s own image and that image includes being creative, being creators, just like God.
Created in God’s image, we are created to be creative. Created in God’s image, every one of us is born creative. We see it in our children all of the time. Give them Legos. Give them crayons. Give them some boxes, and like Christina Katerina and her sometimes friend, Fat Watson, they will create castles and racecars, clubhouses and sailing ships. (Christina Katerina & The Box, Patricia Lee Gauch). There is no end to a child’s imagination.
Sadly, the same cannot be said about adults. Too often, when someone gives us a box, we stay right in it. We leave it exactly as it has always been. Too often, we are blind to opportunities; closed off to possibilities; forgetful that we have been created to be change agents, to take what is and improve it, transform it.
Two weeks ago, while on vacation, we visited Greenfield Village outside of Detroit. Greenfield Village is the creation of Henry Ford, who wanted all people to be able to experience history, so he moved historic houses from Scotland and New England, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to his property in Dearborn, Michigan. Henry Ford also recreated buildings for Greenfield Village – like a chapel based on the congregational church in Bradford, Massachusetts and Thomas Edison’s research facility and factory from Menlo Park, New Jersey.
I’ve been to Greenfield Village before however I was still amazed and inspired to walk through Thomas Edison’s research facility and be reminded that it took Edison and his team 1,200 experiments and 14 months to create an incandescent bulb.
What amazing persistence especially when Edison initially projected it would take them 4 months tops, and then, even when they had amazed people with their creation, still Edison and his team kept experimenting, testing 6,000 vegetable materials to find the most suitable filament material.
Edison and his team were not the only creative ones though. William Sawyer & Albon Man also created an incandescent light as did Joseph Swan in England, and then many people improved upon this initial work, creating neon lights and fluorescents, CFLs and now LEDs. Tons of creative and creating people have made the light bulb what it is today.
Sometimes, though, we think creativity belongs only to extraordinary people – people like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. Early on in life, we are taught that if our creativity is not extraordinary, then it is nothing. We listen to foolish people who tell us we cannot sing or draw. We let others limit our creativity when they tell us to stay in the lines, to stay in the box, to color the sky blue and the grass green. Where is the fun in that?!
Our world needs us to reclaim our identity as creators; our world needs us to reclaim our creativity. Global warming due to greenhouse gases is putting our world in danger, putting our own lives and health in danger. Our oceans are being polluted by items that could be recycled. Many towns are tossing their recyclables into the landfill because China won’t take them anymore.
It’s a crisis – or it’s an opportunity. Two energy companies saw an opportunity and created a competition to inspire innovators to make a profitable product out of carbon dioxide. Ten finalists are currently testing their products at a coal and a gas fired power plant. NASA has their own competition to transform carbon dioxide into something useful; however the carbon dioxide they want to convert is on Mars.
On a local level, members of the Bristol Senior Center learned how to crochet single use plastic bags into sleeping mats for those who are live outside year round. They transform a single use product into an item that insulates people from the cold or wet ground. Amazing.
Our world needs us to reclaim our identity as creators; the church needs us to reclaim our creativity. It’s no surprise that society is changing and thus the church is changing. What nurtured people’s faith in the 1800’s, in the 1900’s, does not always connect with people in 2019. Church communities have been hesitant to color outside the lines though, to step outside the box, to creatively play with worship and faith nurture.
If we could bring our creative selves to our love of God and our love of neighbor, though, imagine what new ministries we could create. Imagine how we could transform lives and the world – perhaps with a new worship service based on yoga, movement, and being open to God’s Holy Spirit. Or maybe with a twist on the old Vacation Bible School model, by creating a full day camp that nurtures young leaders to know God’s love and transform the world with Christ’s love – all while filling a gap in the summer camp schedule.
Church communities, Christians, have forgotten that we were created in God’s image, created to be creative – and that forgetfulness, that denial of our identities as creative people, called to transform the church and the world, is hurting the Church of Jesus Christ and even more important, it’s hurting our relationship with God.
We have been made by God to be creators like God, and when we deny that, we deny a part of who we are; we deny a part of who God is; and we deny a part of our connection to God.
Coloring and creating with Legos this morning is a good step. What’s next? What’s next in reclaiming your identity as a creator, as a creative being? Are you hesitant to sing out during the hymns? We all can sing, and we all need to sing. It’s an important way we praise God as a community, uniting our voices in song. If you feel shy about your singing, Bill has offered to help anyone work on their singing – and not just to get them into the choir.
What’s next in reclaiming our identities as creative people? How about going home and making a new recipe or arranging flowers? Consider dusting off your sewing machine, knitting needles, wood working tools, paintbrushes, or camera.
Who knows what might come after that. The Holy Spirit might call you to a new ministry, call our church to a new ministry. Your creativity might be the way we reach out to more people and share the amazing and transformational love of God.
You have been created by God to be creative, and it is in owning that part of us that we connect with God more fully and it is in owning that part of us that we make the world a better place – for ourselves and all of God’s creatures.