Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Artistic Advent Alternatives to a Sermon

About a month ago, a group of us gathered at the parsonage to talk about a different approach to Advent.  I'm lucky to have a pastor who's a creative guy and thus, is open to doing worship with creative elements--especially if one of the lay people wants to take the lead.

Our pastor had a vision of having an alternative creative activity that would take place each Sunday in Advent.  We anticipated that mainly children and youth would participate, but certainly adults would be welcome too.  I had a vision of people who learned by hands-on activities working on the creative offering and listening to the sermon.

Those of you who have worked with groups of children will laugh.  But I'm calling it a success.  Do I think that participants in the creativity project got the exact same message that they would have, had they been listening to the sermon?  No.  But do I think that they'd have gotten those messages if they had been sitting in the pews?  Not necessarily.

Our experiment turned out to be a success, so I thought it worth documenting here. 

For Advent 1, the participants made 6 banners, with the Advent themes of Joy, Hope, and Waiting.  Below you'll see a sample.

For Advent 2, with its theme of Good News, participants made paper chains out of newspaper.

I thought our plan for Advent 3 was most ambitious.  The theme for the Sunday was the message of light breaking through, so one of our team came up with the idea of turning the windows in the back of the church (windows that connect the sanctuary to the nursery and to a rehearsal space) into a stained glass look by painting on them.

Below you see the windows in the before-but-prepped stage:

Below you see the participants painting the windows.

I particularly like the shot below, with the cross in the distance.

And below, the finished windows:

For Advent 4, with its themes of promises kept and the Magnificat, I thought back to what we'd done with silk and interpretive dance at a Create in Me retreat.  I had a vision of people writing/drawing onto silk the ways that they'd seen God keeping God's promises and prayers for what they still needed/wanted God to do.

I bought 12 yards of silk from Dharma Trading Company, after a very helpful Customer Service rep helped me decide what would work best for the project.  When it arrived, I thought, well, I've bought far too much fabric--as I so often do.

 But as it turns out, we used the whole length. And then we processed up the aisle as the offering was brought forward.

If I decide to do more with silk and liturgical dance for Pentecost, we'll practice more before we process.  We didn't quite get the hang of getting the silk to drift and float through the air--and of course, the children participants were shorter than the Create in Me participants.

We put the silk at the bottom of the tree.

It's been an interesting, creative approach to Advent.  And I know that some of our participants wish that we could keep having creative activities, even after Advent ends.

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