So the Church has a long history of celebrating creativity, using the creative arts in the worship and service of God. The inspiring surroundings of architecture, paintings, icons, carvings, sculptures, and textiles; the uplifting sounds of music and poetic liturgy; the use, in places, of dance and drama; all these things express and nourish our spiritual life. We'd be impoverished without them; and when, at various times and in various places, those of a Puritan outlook have suppressed creativity, the joy and depth of Christian faith have been severely compromised.
In the wider world, God's gift and nature of creativity is encountered through many art forms. Our society, which so frequently seems to despise or belittle faith, recognises and safeguards the presence of what is called 'culture' whether or not its form is ecclesiastical. Indeed, it was striking to learn on my recent visit to Albania that during the years when faith was strongly persecuted and suppressed in that land, faith buildings and artefacts of high cultural value were nevertheless valued and preserved. We need to feed our souls, even when we forget that we have souls to feed.
So it's both a great pleasure and a fresh opening for God to be celebrating All Saints' Arts Festival once again this weekend. I hope many of you who read this will be able to come along and enjoy it. Details can be found here. I commend it to you. And I'd like to thank those whose talents, commitment, sponsorship and goodwill have enabled it once again. Their generosity has the potential to enrich us all, and allow us fresh glimpses of the God who calls us as co-creators with him.