Quality is the first norm for art, but its final norm is love and truth, the enriching of human life, the deepening of our vision.


Mattix, Christen - VM - Brian Moss

Christen Mattix and Orcas Island Community Church: The Tree with Lights in It

The Chief Artist

by Brian Moss

In this season of Pentecost we remember the power of the Holy Spirit poured out on the people of God. The Holy Spirit is the Chief Artist who empowers us to be a creative people. Two years ago our church commissioned Christen Mattix to help lead us in a collaborative effort that would result in a banner for Pentecost.

We gathered on a Saturday and Christen led a group of us, aspiring creatives both young and old, in prayer and art-making. We painted small shapes that would eventually become leaves on a tree. Some worked on the canvas itself. She took our initial work back to her studio and then finished the piece. Christen was both hospitable and generous in her approach to us.

The title of the work is called “The Tree with Lights in It.” The inspiration for this title comes from Christen’s reading of Annie Dillard. In a Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Dillard wrote, “I had been my whole life a bell and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”

Christen found a connection in Dillard’s storytelling to the account of Moses and the burning bush. Christen responds, “It's a short leap from Annie Dillard's account to Moses and the burning bush. In both stories they have an experience of God in the “wholey” ordinary. It's a warning to me to pay better attention, for it is possible to be so self-absorbed or busy that I miss God's quiet and beautiful invitations in the person, plant or rock right in front of me. And it is there that God reveals God's name, the mysterious ‘I AM’.”

The burning bush and Pentecost are not just historical events worth remembering. The Holy Spirit is active and alive within us today. Christen expresses her thoughts on the subject like this, “God wants to set us ablaze today with love, creativity, joy, energy, and effectiveness so that we can be Jesus' incarnational presence in our particular neighborhood. The Spirit isn't a one size fits all sort of Person.”

Often the things we consume end up consuming us, but that is not how it works with God. It is a holy thing to be set on fire by God and yet not consumed by the flames. 


Brian Moss is Senior Pastor at Orcas Island Community Church in Washington State, USA.  

Christen Mattix works as a painter, illustrator, and social sculptor. She lives in Washington State, USA. 

ArtWay Visual Meditation May 27, 2018