Banners. Different people have different opinions about this form of liturgical art. Some folks don't like the idea of anyone being allowed to hang "just anything" in front of the sanctuary. Others are grateful that someone took the time to change an otherwise drab setting. Some people wish the banner-maker would stick to counted-cross-stitch. Others would have liked the pink a little more mauve to go with the cushions of the chairs up front. And still others can't quite figure out what that large shape is near the smaller one that looks like a grape but that could be a loaf but could also be a…
Banner-making takes courage. Banners are, after all, usually placed near the front of the church where everyone can see them—and critique them. Following the service, the banner-maker may have a variety of opinions and interpretations to deal with. Is it worth it? We think so and are including this column in RW to offer support to those of you who regularly take the challenge and inspiration to those who as yet have not been so brave. With such humble materials as wood and wire and cloth and thread, you can make your worship more meaningful.
What follows is a brief description of the materials used for our Advent banner and some things to think about as you do your own interpretation of our idea. I encourage you to adapt this design to your own situation. You are the best judge of what works in your setting.
I hope this banner provides the same feeling of anticipation that the Advent wreath does— just on a little larger scale. Instead of lighting a candle, you "simply" add another candle to the branch. The branch and one panel would appear on the first Sunday of Advent and then, each successive Sunday, you would add another candle to the branch. On Christmas Day you would add the last and largest panel, the one with the white candle. Of course, the addition of a panel every week will require that you plan ahead a bit. Make sure that the wall or ceiling on which you are hanging this banner is easily accessible and that the nails you use are placed in such a way as to be able to hold the shifting weight of the banner (when complete, ours weighed about 10 lbs).
Use whatever materials you might have available. I like the effect of an irregular branch with the panels of varying widths, but if you'd rather, use a broomstick or dowel. We found brown burlap for the basic shape of each panel and added to this rough fabric smooth, shiny satin of purple, pink, and white for the candles. The flames are white with gold fabric trim, but shaped aluminum or copper foil can work as well. Instead of sewing the fabric pieces together, we used Stitch Witchery. Near the top of each panel we added three pieces of iron-on velcro so the panels can be added to the branch easily. The materials for this banner cost about $40.00, and it took us a little more than five hours to construct.
We'd like to see your banner creations. If you've done a banner that you think was successful, send us a photograph and brief description. In your description, please describe the materials you used, the total cost, and the time required. If appropriate, we'll publish the photograph and description in a future issue.