by Laurie Oswald Robinson

Scripture Doodles at Hope Mennonite Church, Wichita, Kan.

As the congregation engages this fall in a survey of the Old Testament, members may mediate on key verses through scripture doodles created by artist Joanna Pinkerton. Worshippers every Sunday morning are invited to color a doodling page as a way to muse upon the verse of the week.

“I believe art can help people be attentive to God in ways that provide a wonder factor about God rather than spelling it all out in black and white,” Pinkerton said. ”Some people better internalize scripture through images rather than words, and these doodles can help them better memorize the verses.”

The key-verse doodles (samples shown here and on next page) Pinkerton creates are linked with topics that include the Genesis account of creation, the patriarchs as Abraham and Noah, the journey of the people of Israel and prayers and laments found in some of the psalms, including Psalm 1:1-3. “In this one, I created a tree in the middle of the page with its roots growing down into the water,” she said. “To create these doodles, I myself am called to reflect more deeply on the biblical passage and then to re-create that reflection in images that symbolize the words in the verse.”

Pinkerton said she received some of her inspiration through Joanne Fink’s book, Zenspirations: Letters and Patterning. Samples of the coloring sheets for scripture doodles can be downloaded from Western District Conference’s Year of the Bible web site at

The Scriptures and Visual Arts at Bethel College Mennonite Church, North Newton, Kan.

Norma Johnson and Dotty Janzen recently provided a Wednesday evening tour of visual art.  Passages of scripture were placed at varying stations of art so that tour goers could connect the images with corresponding biblical accounts. “There was not a lot of conversation,” Johnson said.  “We wanted to provide a non-directed atmosphere to give people freedom to move through the art as they chose.”

After a half hour of touring, Janzen shared a prayer of blessing for creativity.  This evening was one of eight such Wednesday programs that are celebrating how the arts – including music and drama – help people to connect with the Bible.

The evening of visual art included wooden figures carved by John Gaeddert including the Nativity and the Samaritan woman at the well.  Other stations included well-known paintings including depictions of the Road to Emmaus, the calling of the first two disciples, Simon and Andrew and the prodigal son.

Other stations provided children’s books, including a playful rendering of Christ’s birth in The Nativity, illustrated by Julie Vivas.  Yet another station displayed images that are close to Johnson’s heart – photographs of the stained-glass windows in the sanctuary of her childhood congregation, Casselton (N.D.) Mennonite Church.

For example, one window depicted a pelican nipping at its breast, causing drops of blood to drip down.  “We learned that this was a symbol of the love and sacrifice of Christ,” Johnson said.  “Because of these windows, at a very early age, I learned how visual art can powerfully connect us with scripture.”

Explore the Psalms at Inman (Kan.) Mennonite Church

This congregation is providing a plan for reading through the Psalms one chapter each day from October 1 through March 8, 2014, said Pastor Eric Buller.  “When I went to the Year of the Bible Launch in August, a workshop leader shared how reading the Psalms is a good first choice because of the familiarity many people have with it,” he said.  “I personally am getting a lot out of this exercise, because it is helping me to see things I have never seen in the text before.

“For example, I am picking up in a new way how the psalms … are so personal, and how the songs of lament and crying out to God are so honest.  I am also being reassured that I can trust God in the challenges of life.  God is at work, even in the midst of David’s suffering and the paranoid feelings he experiences in being surrounded by trouble and his enemies.”

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