The Seasons in the Sanctuary
Over the pasts few years, our congregation has seen a change in our paraments and wall hangings. From plain white walls several years ago and traditional solid paraments to colored seasonal banners, and now, beginning in Advent, liturgical art. In August, 2010, the Worship Committee began to address the worship oriented goals of our Strategic Plan. Goal number IV objective 4 reads, “Invest in paraments and worship vessels that enhance the visual and tactile experience of worship and highlight the dynamic flow of the liturgical year and themes of the scripture readings.” To address this goal, a liturgical design team made up of Rev. Martha Wingfield, Cindy Breider, Susan Hermann and Jani Sepanik set out to create art that would visually enhance the worship experience. The desire of the liturgical design team is to create art and design that is intended to be a bridge to religious experience. Our work is a two-fold ministry of acknowledging the sanctuary as a holy place of mystery and meaning, and inviting people to encounter the living God through art and liturgical symbols.
Just as we listen to the Word through scripture and music, adding visuals to our worship experience is meant to give our congregants another avenue to feel closer to God.
There are seven liturgical seasons Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Ordinary Time. The team chose colors, fabrics and designed the paraments to symbolize the themes of the season.
Advent – is the beginning of the new church year. The term “Advent” means “coming” and is a season of expectation and hope, the time of waiting for the coming of the Messiah that is celebrated at Christmas. This time of waiting symbolizes the waiting throughout the Old Testament for the new act of God that would bring deliverance to his people. For Christians this season of expectation also symbolizes the waiting in anticipation for the Second Coming of Christ. It always contains four Sundays and ends Christmas Eve. The traditional liturgical color is purple and less often, blue. We used simple fabrics of different hues of purple to keep the chancel area subdued to invoke Advent as a time of expectant waiting.
Christmas – is the celebration of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ, the self-revelation of God to the world in human form. We celebrate this season joyfully! We used the liturgical Christmas colors of bright gold and white in our fabrics and flowers to symbolize the joy and majesty of the season. Star symbols represent the star that hung in the sky over Bethlehem and were used on the paraments and banners. Christmas lasts 12 days until Epiphany.
Epiphany – Epiphany, which means “to reveal” is when Jesus Christ is shown to be the light of the world. During Epiphany, God is made manifest (made obvious) through the flesh and blood presence of his son, Jesus, on earth. Epiphany begins the first Sunday in January and lasts until Ash Wednesday. The liturgical color is green. Our paraments, hangings and plants were simple and the colors of green symbolize God on earth with us in Jesus.
Lent – is a season of penitence. The season is marked as a time for quiet introspection and meditation. The mood is solemn and the colors are, too. The liturgical color is purple except on Good Friday when black is substituted. Lent lasts 46 days (Sundays are not counted) beginning Ash Wednesday and ending the eve of Easter. Various shades of purple cloth were draped on the wall to symbolize the garments Christ left behind when he went to the cross. The banners also depicted His crown of thorns and the nails used to bind Him to the cross.
Easter - celebrates the resurrection of Christ. It is the most joyous season of the year. We used a sunrise on the altar linen to invoke the mood of Easter morning and as a symbol of a new beginning. A butterfly was used on the lectern parament because it is an ancient resurrection symbol which we also use in our live butterfly release on Easter morning. Lent lasts for 50 days until Pentecost.
Pentecost – we commemorate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. The season after Pentecost is centered on sanctification, the work of the Holy Spirit in the day to day life of the Christian. This is reflected in the liturgical color for this season: red which recalls the tongues of fire in which the Holy Spirit descended on the first Pentecost. Both the color red and the symbol of the dove were used to invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Beginning September 4th, we will begin recognizing Ordinary Time. Rather than meaning “common” or “mundane,” this term comes from the word “ordinal,” which simply means counted time and ends with Christ the King Sunday (last Sunday before the beginning of Advent). The liturgical color is green, the color of life and growth.