Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Art to Help Us Focus

Before Christmas, my pastor asked me if I'd create some sort of sanctuary decoration for the Baptism of Our Lord.  I said sure, even though I wasn't sure what I'd come up with.

Our altar has an open space, which makes it perfect for some sort of installation art.  I continue to be inspired by what our pastor did for Lent for several years:

I decided to do something similar to evoke baptism.  I had in mind flowing waters and rivers.  I thought about descending doves.  I went to JoAnns and got a great post-Christmas deal on a huge spool of light blue, sparkly ribbon that would prove to be important to my creative process.  I also collected some boxes to provide shape and layers:

I decided that trying to create a descending dove would be too complicated.  But I have a tabletop easel, and I drew something that I hoped would evoke a dove.  And then I added the words that I want us to remember when we think about baptism; God is well pleased with Jesus, and God feels the same way about us:

On Sunday, I arrived early at church and spread out my materials:

Then I went to work, draping fabric, taping ribbons, trying to evoke fluidity.  I ended up with this altarscape:

I still had ribbon left over, and so I moved to the space to the left of the altar.  I tried to create a different vibe, something that would evoke waterfalls and cascading water:

I wonder about the others who share our space.  What will they make of our decorations?

I could wonder the same thing about our parishioners.  I know that at least one of them would like to return to the more sedate decorating of our past, where an extra banner would be the only deviation from the paraments and flowers that the altar committee would set up.

I know that as a child I responded to the season of Advent and Christmas in large part because it shook up the normal worship style, which stretched so boringly across the calendar.  Suddenly we had different colors, different stuff in the sanctuary, something new each week to focus upon.

I like how my current church and pastor are willing to do the same thing throughout the liturgical year.  I remember being at Mepkin Abbey, long ago when I worshipped at a different church, and being intrigued and charmed by how the worship space changed during the four days we were there.  I yearned for a church that did something similar.

And now, I belong to one.

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