This week we're reducing our inventory via auctions on eBay! This will allow room on the website for new clergy stole designs. See the auctions here. They all close the evening of Thursday, March 1, 2018
I was recently with a friend in a store and we stumbled upon a toy zamboni. I recalled how when we moved to Pittsburgh and for the first time ever experienced life in a "hockey town." My son quickly fell in love with watching the work of the zamboni as it resurfaced the ice. I relayed the story and was thinking my precious child was unique. But my companion exclaimed, "who doesn't love the zamboni?!"
This caused me to reflect why? Time and time again the ritual is the same as the ice is scraped and then refreshed with clean water. We know what's going to happen. We understand the importance of the task so the skating can go on. Isn't this like worship? The rhythm imprints itself on us. We work at it over and over again. It allows us to be active with God. We are cleansed. We need it to happen.
I am thankful for the rhythm and ritual that God has modeled for us and called us to participate in. And therefore we enjoy creating products that honor the liturgical calendar. Rooted in history we cycle through the ritual of recalling and celebrating Jesus' life. There is a time for every season and this allows us the structure to honor our Lord and be refreshed in the rhythm over and over again. And like the zamboni we are all able to love this! Thank goodness.
Reportedly 40-60% of people learn visually. Several Sunday's ago I saw this live out in worship. My home congregation sometimes uses fine art on the bulletin cover to connect to the liturgy of the day. We happened to sit down behind a family with two young boys. As we all got situated, I realized the mother and one son were talking about the bulletin cover art. It took everything in me for my former art educator soul not to squeal with delight. Inside the cover is a brief description of the art. This was not written for a five year old but the mother was breaking it apart and the son was pointing out components of the visual and asking questions.
Worship commenced and we all settled into the rhythm. But then the visual made a connection to the Word! The gospel was being read and the child in front of me heard the words "fig tree" and despite his wiggling and seemingly not paying attention he was making a connection and nudged his mother to affirm that he knew! I wanted to do cartwheels down he aisle! Hooray for these parents for bringing their children to church. God bless them for not dumbing the experience down and including them as best as they could. And thank you God for showing us in your Word many examples of visuals, color, and textiles being used to help teach us your story.
I have always maintained that visuals like the work we do at Carrot Top Studio aren't essential for a relationship with our Lord or for worship. But I am thankful we have them.
Using fine art, not just clip art or graphic art can add to the meaning of worship or deepen our connection to our faith outside of worship. Below is a piece for upcoming Christ the King Sunday. It could be used on it's own but would be even better for the viewer if a few guiding questions were asked to help the thought process. For example:
- are you attracted to this work?
- what is it that holds your interest?
- does it remind you of anything? (a story, a memory, an idea?)
- what is your eye first drawn to?
- how do you think it was made?
- what do you know about the culture of the time the artist made this?
- do you recognize any symbols in this art?
- can you extend the scene? what might have happened right prior or after this moment?
If you are new to Carrot Top Studio and have any question about how our stoles look after they leave the studio OR if you are needing inspiration for a stole to add to your collection to keep your visual message fresh and new here are some of our favorite "in action" images:
hanks to those who share their photos with us. It's a real treat for an online business to see how and where their art is used.
I've always enjoyed worshiping in communities and churches that were not my home base. As you may know, my family (and studio) moved from Pittsburgh to the Detroit area this summer. This has allowed a "season" of such visiting. There is much goodwill in Michigan and every single church we have worshiped in we have felt welcomed. Despite that through this process I've once again realized that sometimes you are a foreigner to the special rhythm, ritual, and even language of worship. We have experienced several things that have stood out in mind:
- a parishioner patting my hand when I did something out of order in worship. It was the type of touch that reminded me that I was welcomed.
- explanations as to how Communion elements would be served and why it was done that way.
- description of the worship music printed in the bulletin prior to the order of worship....enlightening the reader to the history, meaning of the music and words and why they were relevant to this day.
- lastly, yesterday prior to worship we experienced a verbal explanation of the music that would be included in worship. The anthem was later referred to in the sermon as to why it enhanced the meaning of the message. (BTW this is the song that was used and it was not only pleasing musically but the visual that it conjured up made it more powerful...."Stained Glass" by Joseph Martin and Heather Sorenson may be read about and heard here.).
Why do we write about this today? It makes me wonder how and when the visual messages of things like ministry stoles are included. Sometimes the message is very clear. But there are other instances when if you don't know the meaning of the symbol or for example why the sanctuary is decked in blue during Advent it's not going to help make an association to deepen our worshiping of the Lord. I encourage you to incorporate the how and why of the visual cues of worship via the written or the spoken word. May the visual connection not be foreign!