The Posture of Childlikeness: An Interactive Advent Art Reflection

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tip the Author & Support Our Ministry!

Thank you for supporting this author and Missio Alliance’s ministry of online publishing! All our authors graciously volunteer their time and expertise in creating resourceful articles such as this. Your generosity makes it possible for their voices and perspectives to reach and influence Christian leaders all around the world.
From #GivingTuesday (Nov. 27) through the end of the year, half of any donation you make will go directly to this author while the other half will support Missio Alliance and our Writing Collective platform in particular. 
Donations in any amount are greatly appreciated! 
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Credit Card Info
This is a secure SSL encrypted payment.

Billing Details

Donation Total: $5

By commenting below, you agree to abide by the Missio Alliance Comment Policy.

4 responses to “Final Thoughts on Living Incarnationally: Missional Church that Resists the Suffocations of Modernity

  1. Dave – I long to hear a sequel to your post, which is by the way, an enjoyeable read. While I have nothing more to add and what litle I can say can be said over that cup of coffee we must I’m going to buy you. It’s almost Christmas for crying out loud! We are talking about Jesus and we love, adore and worship Him and bear His name togetheras the body and at times alone among the lost.

    I long to hear you write about a congregation that “owns” being sent (not by church leadership but by the Holy Spirit) not just now but every week. Living incarnationally represent Jesus and His body. May your Christ community my brothers and sisters and all other members of our Christ family receive a renewed passion and “burden ownership” for “going” and by asking the world, “What can I do for you?” And when they tell us, will we have the courage to meet that need without any alterior motives? Afterall isn’t this the question Jesus asked over and over again to people like blind Bartimaeus and also the lepers, and what about the man at the pool?” “What can I do for you?”

    Jesus came to earth on Christmas day to fulfill a mission (not a vacation) and may we who love and adore Him so much that we will gather to be charged to fulfill that mission/purpose in these closing chapters of our lives. Now that we know Him – let’s take Him to those who don’t. Now that we have gathered – let’s spread out under the leadership of God’s Holy Spirit as we ask those we meet, “What can I do for you?” If we would regularly ask the waitress or the cashier, or the person sitting next to us, or the person standing in line behind us – “What can I do for you?” – we would be amazed at how open & receptive to the concern of the Jesus we represent.

    Merry Christmas with Blessings and Peace so others may know His blessings and peace. May 2007 bring a harvest of exponential proportions. When it happens -the gathering will like nothing we’ve ever experienced.

  2. “‘…if the sum total of my communal experience of following Jesus is limited to occasional, irregular gatherings of people who have neither asked for a commitment from me nor offered any to me, something is surely missing.'”

    Reminds me of the SACRAFICE needed to give something life (uuhh…particularly in reference to Jesus and his words/actions of sacrafice) 🙂 I’ve spent my fair share of compaining time on burn-out…but…well, I like that thought a lot. Thanks.

    Of course I like what you had to say about modernity too. I turn and fart in the modern winds. Just kidding…I turn and hold a cross to the modern winds. Over the line? Oh well…back to the prima materia…

    Merry Christmas to all.


  3. Jason, I agree! In our Missional (incarnational) paradigm (fresh move of God) we meet regularly in homes and twice a month as a whole group. None-the-less we have a higher level of commitment than most. We insist that to be a true disciple – we obey all that Christ commanded and therefore all Christ followers must also be disciple multipliers.

    We need to move over the line of non-commitment and into what it truly means to take up our cross daily and follow Christ (following in Jesus day meant – stepping into his footprints as He walks before us).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *