Lent is almost upon us (earlier than most years, as I’m sure you know). At Westfield, we’ll be doing altarscapes for each Sunday during the season (except the first Sunday in March on which we’ll celebrate communion and will need the Communion Table for other important bread-and-cup type things). One of the biggest advantages of creating altarscapes for the duration of a season is that they weave together the themes of that season in a visual way. It’s an artistic reminder of the way the church tells time, of the stories that we share in our faith, and of the ways that these individual scripture readings really tell a much larger story.
I find that, when putting together designs for a whole season, it’s to your advantage to use materials throughout that season. Each week in Lent, my goal with these altars is to use elements that harken back to the previous week’s altar and point toward the coming week’s altar. Those recurring elements act as threads that connect the weeks of the season.
This week’s altar is inspired by the Gospel Lection for the first Sunday in Lent for Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary. The theme: wilderness.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Luke 4: 1 – 13
Here’s what you need:
-glass vases (or hurricanes)
-bathroom tile that looks like pavers (be sure you put paper beneath the tile before putting it on the table)
-branches from the church side yard
Start with your table and add the tile. I found this in the bathroom tile section at the local Lowes. I bought both the beige and slate kinds to mix and match at will.
Rocks (part of the Ash Wednesday altar) are particularly appropriate given their role as part of Jesus’ temptation.
The hurricanes I typically use for candles will be particularly useful with our elements of nature.
Now, add your branches. Think barren.
And here’s what you get: