Advent Booklet Excerpt

Visual Stewardship | Advent Banner

By Alyssa Berkenpas, Interim Worship Coordinator

I recently re-read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and was amazed at how he was able to take so many complicated Biblical ideas and translate them into rich metaphors and images that kids can understand. Perhaps I didn’t understand all of them when I read through them as a child, but knowing scripture a little more now, I was surprised how biblical they are. I love Lewis’ stories because they help us visualize something, perhaps invisible, in a tangible and deeper way.

Something that Pastor Steve has been pressing on us as staff is that visuals in the church matter. As Christians, we have a responsibility to take care of what we put in our minds and bodies, and visuals aren’t exempt. There are opportunities in our spaces of worship to have visuals that point towards something deeper, that can cause us to think or inspire worship.

I hope you noticed the panels that were up for this past series in James. I hope you were drawn deeper into conversation with God through them. When, as a staff, we were discussing the series, “Undivided”, the first thoughts that came to my mind were two colours, so tangled up in different points of being but slowly, through work and the grace of God, becoming one colour.

I wonder if you also noticed the background slide to Pastor Steve’s message. I like that the image was of two pieces of yarn, cut into two. Now, I’m an avid knitter so the properties of yarn are familiar to me. But I wonder if you knew that if you work at a broken piece of yarn hard and long enough, it comes back together – yarn is just a bunch of fibres spun together to make one! Here we had visual expressions for how God works in our lives. And this is just how I perceived these visuals – I wonder if you were inspired in a different way?

We are entering into a new series in John which will take us through a few different seasons. Staff has worked together to come up with our next visual at the front of the sanctuary. We are focusing on the movement of God as described in John. There are four traditional seasons of the church calendar coming up: Advent, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter. There will be banners at the front of the church depicting God’s movement, changing colours and shapes depending on the season.

During this time of Advent, notice the banners are arranged to make an arrow pointing downwards. We are waiting in anticipation for the Holy of Holies to come dwell among us. The colour we chose, a deep blue, reminds me of the night sky before the dawn. This is appropriate for Advent because it’s all about waiting and the arrival of Jesus. Of course, then, I’m drawn to Psalm 130: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope… more than watchmen wait for the morning.” He is the morning light for those living in the darkness of night. In John 1:4 we read, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

These banners also make me think of the waters we read about in the beginning of Genesis. As we look at the opening words of the Gospel of John we see John appealing to the creation story with the words “In the Beginning…” In doing so, John is linking Jesus to creation in a new way. He is signifying that Jesus is setting creation right, that Jesus is going to have cosmic implications, affecting all of creation. “All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3).

As you look at the downward arrow of the banners at the front of the church, you’re invited to consider what God might be speaking to you. The purpose of these images aren’t simply to add aesthetic to the front of church but to inspire us to participate in the conversation with God through our worship.

“We can no longer accept that the ‘appearance’ of religion is inconsequential to the ‘experience’ of religion… it is through the visible world that the invisible world becomes known and felt.”

—  Colleen McDannell, Material Christianity, p. 272