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Murals on the move

Murals on the move

Stick with me.  It’s about more than art.

On my early walk this morning in a suburb of Nashville, I have come to a railroad crossing.  That familiar three-tone whistle tells me a train is approaching.  I can see it’s single light in the distance.  So, I step back and wait for it.

As it passes, car after car display colorful graffiti.  I’m not sure I can call it art – it’s technically typographic vandalism – but I’ve seen similar works in every major city I’ve visited.  I’ve just never watched it pass by.

It gets me thinking about moving art.  Stationary murals are scattered throughout this city.  Some are joyous and celebratory.  And some are, well, mildly disturbing.  (Is this a parade of wolf-bears?)

But all are destinations.  You go to them, stand before them, consider them.  They don’t come to you. Who ever heard of a moving mural?

This has me thinking about the reach of my own creative output.  And to extrapolate -- to the reach of any of our personal ministries.  (See, told you.  Not just art.)

Paul had a clear sense of the scope of his calling.  In 2 Cor. 10 :13, he writes:

(We) will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.

What a great phrase: sphere of service.  Paul knew he was called to preach to the Gentile world.  That wasn’t a limitation to him but an energizing focus.  Because he knew who he was to reach, he kept broadening the geographic scope of his ministry.  "Our hope is... that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you." (10:15-16)

Imagine if he had today’s boundary-breaking technology!

So, I’m making two, specific applications to my creative sphere of service.  The first ties into the last part of Paul’s statement above: I want to make art that “also includes you.”

The most famous mural in Nashville are these oversized wings with space for people to pose in between.  On the hot weekday morning we visit it, I’m the lone male in line.  I’m happy just to be the photographer for Grace.

But I love the concept.  The art is completed by the people interacting with it.  This is what I’m gravitating toward in personal ministry of art.  But it stands as a great model for any ministry: who should it draw in?  Who should it surround with truth and blessing?

The second ties back to the train. I want to keep sending my art out into new territory. I have been doing this.  After all, that’s how I found you!  (Or did you find me?) You all are a part of the reach of my sphere of service.  And I hope you are blessed by it.

But who else is out there, standing by some metaphorical railroad crossing, ready for what I can create?

Who else can you bless with your creative output?

Lord, send out your word of truth and life-changing grace through us to people we have yet to meet.  Widen our sphere of service for your glory!

Reader: what’s your equivalent of a moving mural?  What can you send out to bless people beyond your current reach?

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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