The Posture of Childlikeness: An Interactive Advent Art Reflection

Sometimes when we don’t have words, the Spirit prays with crayons. 

(The Spirit takes childlikeness pretty seriously.)

The lectionary this week includes the Benedictus, Zechariah’s song of praise. Luke has recorded the stories of Mary and Zechariah in a way that compares their responses to very similar announcements. Zechariah’s attempt to understand seems so adult while Mary’s openness reflects true childlikeness. And so, while Zechariah is faithful, Mary is the hero of the story. Her heart reflects readiness for the Lord. As we make our hearts ready this Advent season, this art prayer experiment creates an opportunity to walk through various postures and rediscover childlikeness, inviting us to pray for the rebirth of our world and watching rebirth of our adult selves. Sometimes when we don’t have words, the Spirit prays with crayons. Click To Tweet

This three-layered art reflection requires no artistic talent but invites us to explore, with hands and heart, three layers of our experience.


Lined or graph paper
Black marker
Colored pencils/crayons
Liquid acrylic or craft paint


Using the black marker and lined/graph paper, do the best you can to make a spreadsheet table of sorts. Without using a ruler, try to make your lines as perfect as possible, watching your own heart and how it wants to perfect and control. As you do, reflect on your own efforts and the efforts of those around you to control and understand.


We watch the powerful,
People with platforms and money and followers.
They have a habit of control.
They have words and weapons
To get their way.
They seem strong but maybe they’re desperate.
We confess that although we don’t have their power,
We, nonetheless, would like it.
We try our best to get our way,
Control the actions of others,
Change the minds of others.
We shake our virtual fists,
Use whatever is at out disposal.
Because we feel desperate.
Together, strong and weak, we say:

“This world is not how we would have it.
How can we make it right?”

spreadsheet of a birth 1

Using the colored pencils/crayons, scribble all over the middle of the “spreadsheet.” When preparing for childbirth, parents are instructed about the stages of birth and, especially for those doing it for the first time, it’s easy to think that there might be some structure or control over labor. If you’ve ever been in the presence of someone giving birth, remember the intensity of life breaking into the world.

God is making all things new, rebirthing his Creation. While we might like it to work according to a spreadsheet, it defies our understanding and control. As you scribble, enjoy any way in which it feels freeing and brings color, even though it’s chaos.


This world is a mess.
There is violence and hate and sickness and death,
Loneliness and addiction and fear and defeat.
We trust that you are making all things new.
We feel the birth pains.
We long with you.
Restore your people!
Bring hearts back to you!
Break into our efforts to control!
Disrupt our need to understand!
Give us Mary hearts,
Receptive to the Child.
Give us Child hearts
Receptive to the King.

spreadsheet of a birth 2


Along the bottom edge of the “spreadsheet” pour a line of paint. Then tilt the page to stand on its top edge and let the paint drip up the spreadsheet.

As you watch, let any tiny childlike wonder emerge. If any part of you enjoys the flow of the color or is curious to see how it spreads, let that part take over. This is the kind of posture required to watch God’s recreation taking shape. It allows us to set aside control, perfection and fear and opens our hearts to God’s kind of breaking in. We will have to set aside things that seem important—like spreadsheets—and attend to things that seem unimportant—like wonder and hope.

When the finished artwork is done, the drips of paint will drip “up.” Because something that defies gravity, something against the established order is breaking through.

Strange new life is taking shape.


As our hearts slow to the pace of paint dripping,
Let us be open to watching what is beneath the rush of this world.
As our eyes open to the wonder of rebirth,
Let us be up for anything:
For dancing,
For singing,
For hoping,
For breaking into praise at any given moment,
Even though it seems silly, pointless, out of control.
It can’t be explained.
And yet it is:
A wonder in our world, making all things new,
A wonder in our hearts, making us new.spreadsheet of a birth 3

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