Visual Epiphany

In the front of the church where I worship, we have always had a beautifully proportioned cross that is mounted against a light-colored wall. This wall is lit from both sides, and where the light mixes in the middle, there is the most interesting vertical stripe of light. Because of its prominence and the lighting, I wanted to do something with the cross--something different than our usual crown of thorns and purple cloth, perfectly draped for Easter. Something for Advent.


We wanted our Advent services for this year to help people make the connection between Advent and Lent, so using the cross as part of our Advent symbol made sense. I decided that we could transform the cross into a star (and leave it that way until Epiphany Sunday). A simple idea, no? It turned out to be easier to make than to describe. The committee couldn't understand exactly what I intended to do but trusted that it would somehow be okay.

Cross Beams

First, we covered foam core (available at any artist supply store) with gold lamŽ fabric, which created a reflective surface for the beams of the star. These larger pieces of foam core were then trimmed down into long narrow pieces and then partially cut lengthwise down the middle so they could be bent lengthwise and still hold together. Each piece, then, had two angled sides that reflected light.


To make the radiating beams of the star appear to be floating, we hung white netting in front of the cross and attached the wedges, using straight pins and small pieces of wire. The netting, which we found at a local fabric store, was quite stiff, and we were easily able to hang it flat, without any folds. The effect of the beams when combined with the existing sidelighting was most striking. From a distance, you couldn't even see the fabric the beams appeared to be hanging in midair. Although someone suggested covering the cross with the gold fabric, seeing the star shape but also the wooden cross seemed like a perfect visual effect to support the rest of the worship plans.

Dean Heetderks is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Michigan, and art director of Reformed Worship. Show and tell him about your experiences at

Reformed Worship 57 © September 2000, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.