Our church meets in an elementary school, and there is little about our worship space that is visually appealing. It’s not that our space is unattractive, it’s just that it’s a school cafeteria. Many of us have a desire to incorporate visuals and art into our worship gatherings, and our sister church in Pasadena has been working for a while on a set of four worship banners for us to use for this purpose. The images on the banners are replicas of banners we noticed hanging in their sanctuary years ago and they depict a seed becoming a sprout becoming a tree with the final banner showing a tree heavy laden with fruit. These images feel especially helpful to us in thinking about our desire to see the Spirit author new life in our community, and in our desire to be a church that may, like a tree with great branches, offer shelter and rest for the vulnerable.
Last week, we were presented with the completed banners at the conclusion of our “Day in L.A.” work project with Pasadena Covenant. They are simply beautiful. And I loved that they were officially “presented” to us in a little ceremony of sorts at Chabelita’s taco stand on Western. It just seemed fitting for us to receive these gifts of beauty and worship not in some sterile, safe environment, but in the midst of the grit of life in our neighborhood.
Two days ago, both kids took naps at the same time (oh, the glory of it) and I had some time to play on the internet. I found an online publication put together by some old friends from my North Park days who have organized within my denomination around justice issues. Inside one issue I found a piece of artwork that shook me. It is a rough drawing of a face with a gaping, open mouth. Inside the darkness of the open mouth, in what looks like the tongue and throat, is an image of the globe, with the continent of Africa most visible. In fact, when I first saw it all I saw was Africa–only later did I realize it was the entire globe. The title of the piece is “Third Lament.”
I am excited to hang our new banners at Church of Redeemer. I am excited by the metaphors of life and growth they visually give and for the ways they might inform our acts of corporate worship. But I have to wonder, what would the impact on our worship be if we hung a banner of “Third Lament” in our sanctuary? How would the songs we sing, the scriptures we read, the sermons we preach change if we had an image like that in our midst?