Post Author: Bethany Devos
It may seem a little early for Advent, but since it takes time to create, it seemed appropriate to publish this idea well in advance. This method involves not only personal creativity in planning a way for a congregation to experience Advent visually, but also facilitating communal creativity, as members of the congregation are invited to join in the process.
The sanctuary of our historic church was intentionally redesigned in the late 1960’s to recapture the “blank slate” of a traditional, Reformed worship space. When you walk into the sanctuary, it feels like a special place of worship.
The challenge we face, however, is in capturing the imaginations of generations that are increasingly visual. We can set up LCD projectors for special occasions, but the architecture and sightlines make permanent installation of current technologies untenable. Not to mention, there are lots of folks (myself included!) who are not so convinced we want to invite this piece of culture into worship on a weekly basis.
So, what to do with the blank slate?
Several years ago, I envisioned a huge drape to dramatically mark the front of the sanctuary for Advent/Lent (purple) and Christmas/Easter (white). Fortunately, my co-pastor and husband is very handy and rigged a pulley system to raise the drape more than 30 feet to the apex of the arch over the nave and secure it. Unfortunately, that is about the extent of my personal creativity.
We have been focusing in recent years on emphasizing the seasons of the liturgical year. The drapes were a good start, but how to mark the progression of Advent in a dramatic way? Since my creative impulses often far outstrip my actual creative abilities, we approached our artists in residence with a scrap of an idea: displaying the scenes of the season as we progressively made our way to Bethlehem.
What you see in the photo is what they came up with. Figures cut from poster board, displayed on a purple backdrop. They were beautifully done and created a very dramatic effect on our blank slate. The scenes built upon one another each week. They were similar in theme to the bulletin covers and were easily incorporated into the children’s message and sermon.
The photos are the scene for Christmas Eve, with the white drape and star of Bethlehem also hung.
Through experiences like this one, we have discovered the incredible gift it is to the congregation to plan ahead and make space for creativity – both our creativity and that of others in the Body. Creative folks need opportunities to offer their particular gifts to God and the church, and the rest of the congregation is blessed with their creative perspectives and interpretations.
Rev. Bethany Devos is ordained in the Reformed Church in America. She and her husband Corstian minister together at the North and Southampton Reformed Church in Churchville, Pennsylvania.
Image by: Bethany Devos
Used with permission