Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Red Stoles: Working In a Series

Artists often work in series. They tackle one version of a particular item or theme over and over. This might bring artists like Monet to mind. For example, Monet's many paintings of the Rouen Cathedral were studies of how light were affecting the appearance of the cathedral. Interestingly the twenty paintings of the cathedral were meant to be exhibited together so that the viewer could also observe and learn from the twilight to dusk changes. 
Rouen Cathedral paintings by Claude Monet
At Carrot Top Studio we often work in a series as we are preparing for a change in the liturgical season. Thus our last ten days have been quite the combination of red fabrics, threads and yarns as we have been preparing for Pentecost and Ordinations by visually interpreting the scriptures surrounding these times in our church year. It is very stimulating to work this way as knowledge and experience amasses from contemplating one theme of the Word. For our clients we hope this means that the results of our stoles more clearly communicate telling, significant and important visual connections to those that you minister to. 

Here is a peek at what the last week or so have produced. 

To examine individual stoles please refer to this page on our website.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Visual Connections in Worship: Easter Sunday and the Season of Easter

How do you make a visual connection in worship beyond vestments, paraments and worship
This Easter joy stole
may be seen in full here.

banners during the Easter season? One way is to show that the message of Lent and Easter are interconnected. For example, if you have displayed a crown of thorns don't remove it from your worship space but simply add blossoms of white lilies as a symbol of the Resurrection. Additionally instead of removing Lent banners and cloths just add draping of white fabrics over them. Allowing some of the purple to show will remind us that Easter is the continuation of the story.

If you've used prayer stations or stations of the cross during Holy Week how can you include some of that imagery on Easter Sunday? Maybe you make the connection just by simply keeping the worship space darkened as services begin on Easter morning. A slow transition of adding light to the space will heighten the celebration of the Resurrection. This sort of "adding to" could occur with the musicians also. A musical worship team might begin with just one person in leadership and as worship is entered into the different musicians would become incorporated into their roles. The use of images on the big screen, so ever present today in many worship spaces, can also go from simple to complex, or black and white to full color to emphasize our entering into a season of joy, light and hope. 

Moreover, the expanse of lilies and other fresh flowers on Easter Sunday are often quite extraordinary and uplifting symbols of new life. But what carries the joy for the remaining fifty days until Pentecost? Maybe the choir sings from a different location than normal or there is drama incorporated into the worship because these are visual in addition to auditory components. The trick is to keep it simple so that new and different elements don't become entertainment to the point of the worshipers loosing site of why we are all gathered. Lastly, it is always wise to educate either verbally, through a children's moment or in print in the worship bulletin as to why something is new or different. Anything we can do to help the alleluias of Easter proclaim Christ's victory over sin and death will only deepen our great hope.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Visual Connections in Worship: Lent and Holy Week

As you know, last Sunday we crossed the halfway line for the season for Lent. This historically is known as Laetare Sunday. The word laetare has its roots in Latin and means "rejoice". I visited a church in Detroit, Michigan on Sunday. They were obviously observing Lent as noted by the liturgy, the music, and the pastors purple stoles. But when I looked at the flowers in the chancel I was at first unsettled because the bouquet was so bountiful and pink. This didn't seem right for a season that is supposed to be stripped down and bare. But then it dawned on me what Sunday it was and I realized the pink flowers represented the foretaste of Easter joy. It is the joy that can be found in the midst of trial. In this congregation, on this past Sunday, the message preached was based on the 23rd Psalm. The opening stanza is so familiar to us, "The Lord Is my Shepherd, I shall not want....." This passage became my mantra last month when my husband very unexpectedly lost his job. We had been feeling that God had been preparing us for change for the past year or so. But oh, my, this wasn't what we were expecting! We tried hard not to make this a "trial" but instead just a crossing of the valley. The valley that is spoken of in Psalm 23. So why were we worshiping in Detroit? Well it seems as if God has been preparing a place for us there. We are excited to see not only how God will use my husband professionally but also how we will serve in this new place and season of our life. Carrot Top Studio will hopefully not miss a beat as the studio will easily relocate. We will certainly share more about that is the days ahead.

Enough about my personal life! We now all carry on through the remainder of Lent. If you haven't done so already it is probably time to think about how you will make a visual connection in worship during Holy Week. Palms on the ground on Palm Sunday, inviting people to actually nail a prayer, confession or thought to a wood cross, or covering the Communion Table or altar with burlap cloth and a crown of thorns are a few items to consider beyond stoles and paraments. Good Friday lends itself to its own visual connections. Art work, sculpture and crosses are traditionally draped in black cloth on this somber day. Candles can be extinguished, flowers removed, and the traditional sanctuary cross might be removed and replaced with a rough tree trunk/branch cross. 

If you still need a stole for Lent the one pictured here reflecting the Palm parade would be a lovely choice going into Holy Week. It is on the website here. And if you're looking ahead to Easter and need a stole, the current in stock collection may be seen here. Next week's blog post will explore a few ideas fur the season of Easter that will make visual connections to the Word in worship.