Last Saturday, I led worship and a workshop on visual worship at the Massachusetts Conference’s and Connecticut Conference’s Super Saturday event. I started my workshop by talking about stories–particularly the stories that our worship spaces tell.
Really, there’s one story we’ve been called to tell. And there are lots of different ways to tell it. During Lent, we tell the part of the story that calls us to self examination and reflection. At Westfield, one way we do that is by literally cutting the space down to size by suspending yards of deep purple fabric between balconies.
Since Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, today was the day to get that fabric up!
My administrator, Sue, and I hung fabric from balcony to balcony in our sanctuary this morning. Last Lent, my first at Westfield, was also the first time that I had tried this larger scale installation. I expected it to be impressive (which it was), but I didn’t realize how much it would impact the physical space.
I almost find myself ducking when I walk into our sanctuary. The fabric is still pretty high, but the canopy it creates and the space it cuts off makes a surprising sensory impression.
Installation is fairly simple. Two people, a wrap-around balcony, and some thumbtacks can make a big difference.
The fabric is one piece of our Lenten Installation, one way to tell the story, but it’s not the only one. We also use altarscapes throughout the season, and adorn our pulpit with grapevine garland.
The garland is one way that we tie the seasons together at Westfield. During Lent it looks like this:
The barren vine then begins to leaf on Palm Sunday and bloom on Easter.
Then, its greenery reminds us of the spring to come in the darkest month of the year.
Using the garland throughout the church year reminds us that we’re telling one story with many chapters. Not to mention it utilizes one of the most central features of our sanctuary: the pulpit.
The truth is that all of this craziness–altarscapes and installations–is about telling the story, the story of God’s redemptive grace and unending love. It’s a grace and a love that makes even the most barren vines bloom. So if you’re looking to explore visual worship, give it a go. But don’t lose sight of the story we’ve been called to tell.
A blessed Lent to you.