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Dreams and angels and weaving and texture

The theme for our sermon series this Advent season is Dreams & Angels, focusing on the ways God breaks into the ordinary to prepare people for Jesus. Our Sunday worship is a visceral reminder of this divine breaking-in. Changes to our space and liturgy disrupt our comfortable expectations and force us to pay attention. You probably noticed many of these changes last Sunday. And as you did, perhaps your eye was drawn to the artwork hanging from a sturdy birch branch in the corner of the sanctuary, and you were curious to know more.

This art installation is the beautiful work of Ashley Reed, who heads up our arts micro-team. But while Ashley constructed the installation, she was supported by many of you through months of meeting, praying together, brainstorming, scripture reading, and community crafting.

Ashley began the process with a call for participation back in October (perhaps you remember it from a few Sunday announcements?). Then, in homes and coffee shops around South Arlington, Ashley met with those who responded to read the Advent scriptures together and meditate on the stories, ideas, and images they conveyed. Several themes emerged from those meetings, as different people in different conversations unknowingly brought remarkably similar thoughts:

  • A theme of weaving. In the genealogies of Matthew’s gospel, many lineages are woven together in an unfolding tapestry of God’s redemption of the world. What sort of art could weave together the scarlet thread of courageous Rahab, the kingly golden thread of David, the pure white thread of grace?

  • A theme of texture. The Advent readings are full of texture and movement: the feathery beating of angel’s wings, the coarse wool of grazing sheep, the softness of worn swaddling linens, the rough wood of the manger. How might our community art evoke the textural richness of these stories?

With these themes in mind, Ashley devised a community craft using wooden embroidery hoops and various textured materials. Incredibly, someone unassociated with our church saw Ashley’s post about the project on Facebook, reached out, and generously purchased nearly everything we needed!

Then, at our November potluck, many adults and kids created various hoops, each one unique (we posted photos of this community process to our Facebook page). These hoops were then combined and a long layer of loosely woven fringe added underneath. This work will grow each week of Advent, with new layers and textures woven into the artwork just as they are woven into the story, building anticipation as we look toward Christmas.

We hope this art installation is a blessing to you this Advent, a rich and textured reminder of the redemptive story into which we all are so beautifully woven.


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