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.