Back in January of 2013, I snagged was tearing through my fabric collection looking for just the right colored fabric to represent wine. I had red fabric and purple fabric and shiny fabric and matte fabric. But nothing that was just red and purple enough to do justice for the visual coming together in my head.
So, I went to Plan B, which in these parts stands for Plan Betty. Betty M. is our lay moderator and a local business owner and florist. Can we just take a second to acknowledge what a gift it is to have a florist at your disposal when you’re into crafting visual worship? You should go make friends with your florist. I mean right now. Don’t take them flowers. They’ve got those.
Maybe Diet Coke? I’ll wait.
Anyway, I headed over to Betty’s shop to ask for wine colored fabric and a jug. And Plan B did not disappoint! She scrounged around in the cellar of the shop and came back up the stairs lugging just what I needed. With my closet and her shop, I came up with this:
I had largely forgotten about that altarscape in the lectionary years since, until this holiday season, when Greg won Christmas by gifting me with this stunning stole based on that very altarscape.
So this year, I decided my Wedding at Cana altarscape would have a repeat engagement. So, I headed back to Betty’s shop, asked for the same fabric and jug, and found myself staring at my chancel Sunday morning thinking, “How am I going to swing this?”
You see, we celebrate communion twice a month these days–First and Third Sundays– in an effort to offer communion in a variety of styles that are meaningful to our members. Which is great, except for Rule #1 of Altarscapes: Tell one story at a time on the Table. And Communion is a story. And last Sunday was a Communion Sunday.
I tried building one in front of the table; It was too distracting. I tried across the table with room for the elements; It was too busy. “Where can I stash this damn jug?” I thought, glancing at my watch.
Then it hit me: the pulpit.
I’ve been in the habit of dividing my visual worship work into two main categories: altarscapes and installations. Altarscapes are visuals on the altar or Communion Table. Installations are a larger scope that generally linger for longer than a week. But a single-week pulpit visual? That doesn’t really fit in either of those boxes neatly, so I’d just never really considered it.
I will say that, in the area of having a pulpit that can handle a visual creation, Westfield is blessed. We’ve got an elevated, centered, and substantial pulpit–there’s plenty of room to hang and place and adorn. I rummaged in my worship closet and found a plant stand and a candlestick. And then this happened:
The upper vase was precariously balanced on a candlestick. Blue fabric (our water) flows out of it, across the pulpit and into a jug which is spilling out burgundy fabric (our wine). Right before the sermon, I prayed, “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight. And if you could keep me from knocking this jug off the pulpit, that’d be great. It was a stellar idea an hour ago. Thanks. Amen.”
And knock it off, I didn’t! Later, after the sanctuary was empty, I was looking at it and realized a deeper meaning for me. All I’ve got to offer is water, but Jesus turns it into something remarkable. What a gift!
Curious how that vase and fabric didn’t fall? Keep reading. Here’s the step-by-step creation of my Water into Wine altarscape.
Start with a candlestick with a wide top. Place it on one side of your pulpit or table. Part of the drama in this altarscape is the sweep of the fabric. To make that work, you’ve got to give the fabric a place to sweep from and to
Next, find some rocks. I’ve kept these river rocks in their netting just for times like this. I wrapped the blue fabric around the rocks.
Then, I placed the fabric wrapped rocks in the bowl of the vase where it would sit on the candlestick.
Next, add your plant stand (see if you can get one that comes close to matching the color of your pulpit or table). Place a jug on top of it!
Finally, connect the dots! Put the water into the wine jug , then let the wine spill out. The fabric comes out the side and not the front so folks can see its a jug like the one mentioned in the Gospel lesson for the day.
Did you create an altarscape for last Sunday? Share a photo of it in the comments! I’d love to see them!