December 9, 2019

God and Design

Our architecture should speak our faith.

Andwele Worrell

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was creative. And the Word created things beautiful and enjoyable. Men and women marred that creation, but God is determined to redeem and restore the beauty He made; and He’s asked us, humans, to collaborate with Him.

For me and for many, December is a celebration of this collaboration. My favorite destination for pondering the Advent is the Festival of Lessons and Carols at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., a stunning work of architecture where so much of the human experience is etched in stone and glass.

33 1 2Art has special power to evoke thought. As a student at Andrews University, the statue of the J. N. Andrews family pointing to the world from the front steps of Pioneer Memorial church was a material reminder of the mission that engages me. On many days the bravery, the commitment to mission, that it depicts caused me to consider the alignment of my life with the singular purpose of Christ’s work, winning people for His kingdom.

One doesn’t know much of Jesus’ building, carving, design, and production in Nazareth. He spent most of His time here on earth building people. Redemption illustrated. But when God chose to articulate His plan of salvation to Israel, He expressed it in a fantastic work of art known as the tabernacle.

I wish more Adventist buildings reflected the tabernacle’s dedication to beauty. Like the star over Bethlehem, the visual arts can be a powerful tool to help lead people to Christ. Church, school, and hospital buildings, gardens and landscaping, are all great opportunities to exploit the power of that much-quoted saying: a picture is worth a thousand words.

Andwele Worrell practices architecture in Washington, D.C., where he seeks to use architecture and art to bring meaning to the human experience and happiness to his wife and two children.