Come and See
The church I attend celebrated its fortieth anniversary a couple of years ago. The pulpit furniture—lectern, baptismal font, and Lord’s Supper table—had been there from the beginning. During those forty years, the building’s interior had been updated but the furniture had not. It was time for something new.
Earlier this year, my pastor and I discussed number of options for visuals to enhance a four-week series he was planning on the attributes of God.
His ideas were good. He gave me the sermon topics early. He checked in with me periodically—inquiring but not pushy—as one who has a job to do but is used to being at the mercy of volunteers. He did his part well.
As for me, I could not get this thing off the ground. Did I have the designer’s version of writer’s block? Was I losing my knack? Had I finally lost whatever it was that I thought I had?
My firstborn got married this summer. The setting was the church she’s attended ever since she was three months old. In these familiar and well-worn surroundings she and her new husband spoke the vows of a lifetime.
Earlier this spring, I attended a graduation open house held at a century-old church that had just been completely renovated. After the obligatory meet-and-greet, my friends and their three young daughters joined me on a self-guided tour of the sparkling new sanctuary that had been carefully fused to the original church building.
It was beautifully done—a nice blend of the fixed and flexible. Plenty of space for movement below and soaring space above for sound and light and large visuals.
In past issues, I’ve encouraged visual artists to involve themselves–because it’s unlikely that anyone is going to go out of their way to invite them–with the video projections your church may be planning for its worship services. Here are a couple of guidelines to make sure that these projections enhance worship instead of detract from it. I’ll use a series of Advent and Christmas visuals as examples.
For all of its significance in the church year, creating a visual for Ascension Day is a tough assignment. Christs work on earth was done and he returned to heaven to take his rightful place. The tricky part in representing this idea is the mix of tangible and intangible. We can imagine what it might be like to be among the disciples, but what about the part about Christ being taken into heaven and, as Mark writes, sitting at the right hand of God? Both ideas are critical to our understanding of what Christ did for us.
Picture Jesus Christ in your mind. What does he look like? A face gazing straight at you like the one in Warner Sallman's too-famous portrait? A cartoon character wearing a white robe and red sash (an image formed from years of exposure to church school papers)? A suffering body hanging on a rough wooden cross?
I love type. If youve been reading this column for any length of time, you have picked up on my infatuation with letter forms but also, no doubt, my resistance to traditional banner letters. So much can go wrong so quickly.
Lois Prahlow, one of the banner design workshop presenters at the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts, had such a clever idea that I couldnt resist passing it onand the inspiration it gave me for a Thanksgiving visual in my own church.