“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms,” (1 Peter 4:10).

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a series of photographs highlighting the beautiful windows here at Howard Memorial Presbyterian Church. The post — “Focus on the Stained Glass” — turned out to be hugely popular. The sanctuary, flooded with morning light, glowed with a preternatural radiance.

Today’s key image is taken from that set of pictures. It was edited by a talented young videographer who is producing a series of vlogs that focus on our 150-year history, as told by members who are deeply rooted in the story.

The reinterpretation reminds me that creative work involves not just imagination and innovation but often collaboration too: A) the original design of the sanctuary, B) My photograph and then C) the artist’s vision.

This caused me to consider the proposition that living well, and also doing faith well, can benefit from — in addition to our best creative ideas — a commitment to collaboration too.

I am talking about the principle of community: the Creator-initiated and baked-in truth that human beings are designed, first and foremost, for a collaborative life journey.

Community as experienced in a good marriage.

Working cooperatively as neighbors.

Support, encouragement and accountability in the church.

Moving forward together and building constructive consensus as towns and cities.

Bringing the best of diversity and passion and political conviction to bear on society.

Working — out of a sense of community — for the common good.

But most of all, on my mind and heart is the idea that we are our very best when we come together and share our gifts. This is how God designed us; not as individuals but as community, as God’s children, as collaborators, as — in a sense — artists with spirits wide open to the possibilities.

OK, it’s just a black-and-white photograph. But the best of art makes us think, inviting us to consider things beyond ourselves — inviting us into community.

Peace, and more peace — always.


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Derek Maul
Derek Maul has written for many news outlets, including the Tampa Tribune, The United Methodist News Service, All Pro Dad, FOCUS Magazine, Newsweek, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Presbyterians Today, Guideposts, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Read Derek Maul’s daily blog posts at www.derekmaul.wordpress.com.