Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pentecost Art Project

On Sunday, I volunteered to be in charge of the art project for our 9:45 Worship Together service.  That's the service that's based on Faith Inkubators material.  It's the service which recognizes that worship needs to have some Sunday School kind of elements, since our congregation's children tend to come to one event a week:  Sunday School or church, but not both.

On Sunday, we were still exploring Pentecost.  I've been watching Facebook friends, who have been creating cool tongues of flames out of fabric and coins and clothespins (which they would then attach to paper plates that children drew on to represent their faces).  I thought about doing something like that.  I thought about something even more complicated that involved masks.

In the end, I went with a simpler approach, something that the whole group could do.  I know that creative projects often work better when done in a group--it short circuits our tendency to get too focused on the end product and to get frustrated with the process.

I cut out a lot of paper flames, just in case we had lots of people:

But what to do with them?  I thought about having people write spiritual gifts that they hoped God would give them on each flame--but I didn't want to reinforce that God-as-Santa-Clause idea that lots of people have.  My pastor suggested that we have group members write spiritual gifts that they see in each other on each flame.

I liked this idea.  I suggested that as people go through the Faith Five, they be on the alert for evidence of spiritual gifts.  I reminded them that spiritual gifts aren't always flashy, like speaking in a foreign language that we didn't already know.  And then, we got to work/play.

People shared their weekly highs and lows and looked at the Bible passage to see how the passage relates to our modern life. 

And then, they started writing spiritual gifts on the flames.  Along the way, I overheard great conversations on spiritual gifts.  I thought about what a spiritual gift it is to know each  other well enough to say, "I love how you relate to the children of the congregation."  "I see your spiritual gift as one of great patience.  I've noticed it in this situation and that situation."  We usually end our Faith Five time by blessing each other with a ready-made blessing that comes with the Faith Inkubators materials, but our conversations this week were a blessing of a different type.

I had drawn simple faces on poster board, and we glued the flames to the top of the head.  And after the service was over, I gave the posters a title, "Our Spiritual Gifts," and hung them on a railing.

I like this view of the altar, the candle, and the leftover Communion elements (a sip of wine, crumbs of bread) in the background:

I like this reminder that our spiritual gifts are not about us.  They're not meant to be private.  God gives us our gifts to enrich the community.

Of course, they're also not about just our church communities.  The background mural is a picture of our green planet, held in the hands of God, against the vast blue background of the universe.  I like the way that the picture goes increasingly outward, from bottom to top, if you know what you're looking at.

When I design curriculum, whether it's in church, or for a retreat, or for an English class, I'm never sure how it will work out.  I can never be sure I've thought of all the possibilities and problems.  It's made me very good at thinking on my feet, if need be.

Sunday was a delight.  The process worked smoothly, and everyone entered in, and people seemed to have open minds and hearts.  And hopefully, it's a project that we'll ponder in the coming weeks, and a project that will make the ancient text more vivid.


Wendy said...

I'm wondering, when you do this kind of service, do you miss the more traditional sermon? My pastor is SO GOOD that I look forward to her sermon every week (in a way I never have in the past), but I was/am also one of those students who preferred hearing what the professor had to say about material than student presentations. So I'm just wondering.

Kristin said...

Because my spouse plays the violin and sings in the choir, I often go to the late service which is more traditional than post-modern, so I get to hear the sermon there. Yes, I would miss the sermon if the Worship Together service was the only one I had--but I'm lucky to have a pastor who preaches great sermons most weeks. I know that not everyone is that lucky.

I think of sermons I've heard at other churches, where I'd have rather had an art project--or a book to read.

But you do make a good point.

Wendy said...

Me too.