I’m in love…

…with my visual metaphor this week. Love it!

Each week, I try to tie the worship service together with one theme, one “word” (not literally a single word) for people to take away with them. I try to have everything–the sermon of course, but also the hymns and prayers, the visuals on the altar and the pictures on the screen–all convey the same message. Sometimes the words of the sermon come first, sometimes the picture for the screen comes first. Some weeks it’s really loosely held together (in two weeks, I’m on vacation, and it’s the first week of Lent, so the best I could offer my worship leaders was a vague desert theme for the day: desert pictures, brown fabrics, songs about Lent/wilderness, and so on), and some weeks it just all clicks together, seemingly without me having done anything. If you don’t believe in the Spirit, watch me work sometime. It’s amazing to me how the more I do the more stale the worship is, and the less I ‘do’ the more the worship seems filled with something other than me.

My favorite week was when I wanted to talk about the Ten Commandments as liberating rather than confining. That was all I had. “freedom.” What could I use to represent that? I typed ‘freedom’ into a stock photo search and in between the flags and broken chains, there was this picture of a flower growing through a fence. I had it. I gathered a whole bunch of pictures of fences and trellises, and the whole theme was the difference between looking scripture as confining (a fence that keeps some people in and others out) verses supporting and liberating (a trellis that provides direction and support as we grow). It was inspired. No, literally. It’s like the idea came from the ether.

So this week is Transfiguration Sunday– you know, Jesus hikes up the mountain and then gets all shiny and weird, and the disciples, having seen this glimpse of the Holy, have no idea what to do. The Hebrew Bible passage is about Moses, who, after talking with God, was asked by the people to put a veil over his face to conceal the glory of God shining there. It was speaking to me about the safety measures we put between us and God, the ways we try to contain God to neat little hour-long segments in confined church buildings. So I was working with “lifting the veil.” I have pictures of veils (mostly of the bridal variety) and prayers about lifting the veil, and all sorts of tulle for my altar. Only problem? I’m talking about God being all messy and wild, and instead, ‘he’ is looking like a fru-fru bridesmaid. But who am I to mess with the Biblical illustration?

So then I was thinking about the children’s time–asking how else I might explain this idea of distancing ourselves from God. A jack-in-the-box (look out! God’s thinking outside the box!)? Nah. What communicates danger? How about that police line tape?

Oh Lordy. There went my whole bulletin. There’s a new metaphor in the house.

Out with the veils. In with pictures of CAUTION tape. Out with the tulle. In with the black drape and yellow accent. Out with the grayscale powerpoint. In with more black and gold. Out with the bridal veil visual. It was right about this time that one of my Trustees called. He was headed to Home Depot, for some stuff to fix a door, and wanted to know if there was anything else he might need to pick up to fix stuff at the parsonage.

“Could you get some of that caution tape, you know, like they put around holes?”

“Is there a hole at the parsonage?”

“Oh, no. It’s for the church.”

“There’s a hole at church?”

“No, no. It’s for the worship service.”

To his credit, he didn’t seem to find this odd in the least.

So I’m now in possession of hundreds of feet of CAUTION tape. I’m going to use it on the doors to the sanctuary, on the altar, and on the cross. I’m declaring our sanctuary a hazard zone. We have a containment breach. God is leaking out into the world. We have to get this situation back under control. *excited dance* I get to cover my church in ugly caution tape! What’s more, I think it’s going to be a hell of a service!

Now I’m just trying to figure out if I should invite people up to cut off the tape toward the end of the service, if they will already be way outside the comfort zone.

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