What Does Art have to do With Worship? 

March 25, 2013

Scripture calls us to worship with all of our senses, with our minds, hearts, and hands.  Seeing the congregation gathered together reminds us of our membership in the whole family of God.  Seeing the cross recalls death and resurrection.  Seeing the baptismal water tells us we are made new, cleansed, refreshed and, seeing the donkey image in the sanctuary during Lent recalls Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. 

The images that accompany our worship can be significant communication tools.  Visual art in worship expands our ability to respond to the spoken word of God, pointing to that which is beyond our sight.  While decorative art has always been a part of the worship space at Plymouth, the vision of the Art Ministry Team is to create art that truly engages us and evokes new depths of experience within our spirit.  This art has been invited in and embraced by the ministerial staff.  Some of it, like the Lenten images, has been pictorial and narrative in its silence – integrated into the theology of the spoken word.  Some of the art has been more symbolic, like Advent’s weekly accumulation of purple cloth, paper and words that “ribboned” themselves into a vessel in the manger, a visual, open to questions and interpretation.

Color is an integral part of the Christian calendar and can carry a powerful message, expressing emotions and ideas that are associated with each of the seasons of the liturgical year.  The Art Ministry Team uses great care in choosing the images and colors portrayed in the worship service by studying the lectionary scripture passages and speaking with the ministerial staff.  The use of colors to differentiate liturgical seasons became a common practice in the Western church in about the fourth century. 

Acknowledging the liturgical colors associated with the Christian calendar is also a great educational tool. For example: the white steamers hanging in the sanctuary Easter Sunday and the following seven Sundays remind us that we continue in the liturgical season of Easter.  The season from Easter to Pentecost is also called the Great Fifty Days, a tradition inspired by the Jewish season of fifty days between Passover and Shavuot—the feast celebrating the giving of the Torah to Moses.

The liturgical color for this season is celebratory white or gold. When the season ends on Pentecost Sunday, May 19, white will be replaced with red. This color represents fire—the symbol of the Holy Spirit.  The first Sunday after Pentecost celebrates the Trinity, and the color again will be white or gold.

The liturgical images created for Plymouth’s sanctuary and lounge are a powerful addition to our worship experience.  If you would like to be part of this energetic group, please contact me, djacobsen@plymouthchurchseattle.org or through the church office.  The possibilities are endless!  --Diane Jacobsen

Topics: Church Life, Easter


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Read the related article: Easter Sunday at Plymouth: March 31, 2013


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