After the prayer team shared this with the church, we responded by physically getting up and painting as part of the worship, everyone adding their piece to make a beautiful picture together. The more people that came and added to the picture, the more beautiful and complete it became.
I think that God gives us time to prepare and he can lead us by his Holy Spirit through the preparations as well as guiding us on the day. It's no use saying "I'm just going to wait until the day and the Holy Spirit will do it all" and doing no preparation whatsoever...it might sound like a very Holy and faith filled approach but I think we must be careful not to 'shirk responsibility'. You might turn up on the day and realise that the work God wants you to do requires preparation which he gave you time for, but you didn't use the time properly. You may turn up and find you are not fully equipped for the job and you easily could have been if you had only listened to his guidance sooner and responded.
Equally, you must be careful that if God gives you something to do, you don't snatch it out of his hands and stop listening to him after that. If you only listen to his guiding at the start, you might go off track, making it about yourself and your own ideas, rather than following God throughout it and listening to him. If you are not careful you could stifle the Holy Spirit's work and the project may never reach it's full potential.
After weighing it up and praying, in preparation for the Sunday morning I mixed a variety of colours out of acrylic paint and put them in airtight containers ready to be used. I decided to block the background colours of the canvas in beforehand; I thought we might run out of time if we waited until the day to do it and I also felt that if people saw me painting the background it could put the focus too much on me and my role. I felt if the background was ready prepared it could also be better viewed as a garden growing out of an empty landscape rather than just a painting of a garden.
I prayed a lot throughout the painting of the background. It seems like it should have been a simple task, just pick some colours and slap them down! But I wanted to be sure it was as God wanted it to be. Since I did not know what the composition would look like it was hard to know where to place things like the horizon. I felt that leaving the background abstract with mixed shades of blue and green was appropriate because it left it flexible and open to more options later. The composition and decisions beyond that would later be revealed as the people worshipped on Sunday and the Holy Spirit continued his guiding then.
On the day, I set the canvas on a low easel with some dust sheets and various materials. We had a range of paint brushes and a basin of soapy water for people who wanted to do finger painting. As we began the time of worship I drew out a couple of trees to get it started and soon people started making their way over. Most people chose their own colours and plants but a few who were less sure stuck to dabbing shades of pink on the cherry blossom. We even had some people who wanted to add in birds and other elements! It was great to see people come forward and connect with God in a creative way. Leading the painting did not make it my work, or my picture; I simply gave people the guidelines, options and encouragement to take part. Every now and again I added in some plants or colours to bring the over all image into balance but really, it was the church that painted it together.
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with scoffers.
But they delight in doing everything the
day and night they think about his law.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season without fail.
Their leaves never wither,
and in all they do, they prosper."