Drama on a Budget

Just in time for the holidays, here’s an easy one for all you sewers and weavers and other overworked “banner people.” These simple but dramatic visuals are made of lowly colored butcher paper hung from ceiling to floor. We used plain old white glue to add store-bought die-cut letters. Drama on a (time and money) budget!

Only two colors are needed: white for Ascension Day and red for Pentecost. Colored butcher paper comes in standard rolls of 18 or 24 inches wide (45 or 60 cm) by 1000 feet long (305 m). Check with your local art or teacher supply store or the Internet for a good online source. Read on to estimate what you might need, remembering that in a large space everything tends to look smaller.

The placement of the two texts is a visual cue to the perspective we’re taking for each of these important days.

Text Message

I’m usually an advocate for legible type at all cost. Here’s one exception. In this case, the position of the text is almost as important as what it says. The sans serif font, fully justified text, and capital letters accentuate the graduated line spacing and “direction.” Again, check with your local teacher supply store or online art supplier for precut letters.

Even though it means going up a tall ladder two times, I suggest you first use a length of rope to estimate the length of paper you’ll need before gluing on the letters.

Once the text has been glued down, use glue to “hem” both ends of the paper around a wooden dowel to keep the ends nice and square. Hang the paper as high as you can in your worship space and let it come gracefully down the platform steps to rest somewhere down the center isle. (As soon as you have it hung, you’ll want to test your air conditioning or heating or fans to make sure that the banners stay put during the service.)

Yes, the aisle end will get stepped on and wrinkled. Yes, you might have to rearrange the pulpit furniture. Your pastor and choirs may have to find new spots. Some might even find the whole thing distracting. But that’s the idea: to experience, in a simple way, a bit of the upset the early church experienced on the first Ascension and Pentecost days.

Dean Heetderks (info@reformedworship.org) is art director of Reformed Worship and director of Proservices for the Christian Reformed Church.