Ash Wednesday Prayer Experience
Station 3: Relate and Respond
One half of a medium sized room with medium lighting. Art inspired by the character of God or Biblical stories is placed on easels or hung on a wall. (Our display included five paintings.) If the art was inspired by a scripture passage, display the reference to that passage with the art. Chairs face the art with a Bible on each chair. Consider having some of the chairs behind tables with pen and paper available for journaling or simple art supplies for drawing/sketching.
1. As persons enter the room, they read the following: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go to meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2 NIV) The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus express the heart of God. How will you respond to a love this great? Some laugh, some cry, some worship or bow down, others paint. These paintings are responses to Jesus’ love story for us. What will your response be?
2. Persons may sit or stand for their time of reflection and prayer. Some will want to look up the Bible passages for one or more of the paintings. Some will want to journal or create a simple work of art themselves.
My eye was immediately drawn to the warm colors of the Tree of Life painting. (Revelation 22:1-6) It spoke to me of boundary breaking- the roots breaking through the dry soil, the trunk breaking open the surface of the ground, the branches breaking through the world’s box of legalistic religion and our tendencies to label who is inside and who is outside of God’s grace. It spoke to me of God’s ultimate triumph- the healing of the nations. The beauty and diversity of God’s people, fruitful and whole, one with each other and one in the Light of the Lamb.
How is God calling you to bring the healing of God’s Kingdom on earth, as it will be in heaven? What destructive boundaries need to be broken?
God first spoke to me through art. In my case it was through singing African American spirituals in school choirs. Later it was through worship music and church choirs.
After I became a pastor, I was introduced to spiritual journaling. This pattern of scripture reading and response deepened my walk with God dramatically. Journaling addressed a key problem I was having with my prayer time, staying focused. My mind wandered when I prayed. Journaling also opened me up to being more honest with God and to hearing God more clearly. I am often surprised where the conversation leads as pen touches paper. Journaling led to creative writing as a devotion practice. (liturgies, prayers, song lyrics and poetry) This blog was born so I could share it with others.
In 2010, I began to discover sacred visual art. (painting, collage, photography, mixed media, etc.) I realized how the use of color, space, and image could shape a small group or worship experience. The visual expression would often express things words alone could not. This is one of the reasons why we were so motivated to include an art related prayer station in this experience.
How does God speak to you through the arts?
A huge THANK YOU to our friends at Orange City United Methodist Church in Orange City, Florida for lending us their sacred art.
This station is the third of four prayer stations designed for use on Ash Wednesday. They could of course be used anytime when the themes for self-reflection and prayer include our mortality, our sorrow for our sin, and recommitment to living in alignment with God’s holy will.
© 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee. You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution. Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.
For more information on the scripture translation, photos and the use of this resource in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.