This Lent, the Center for Ministry invited guest blogger Anna Fleming-Jones to create a series of Lenten tablescapes to share with the Center for Ministry community. Below, you'll find Anna's reflection on her creative process, as well as pictures of her designs.
Guest Blogger: Rev. Anna Elise Fleming-Jones
My starting place for the tablescapes was the lectionary for the 5 Sundays in Lent, specifically the Old Testament and Gospel readings.
From there, I chose items that were on-hand and also touchable. Anything can be used for creator art, especially installation-style art for worship. Pottery is an important image in Scripture, even symbolizing humanity and created-ness--God is the potter, for example. McCarty and Peter's Pottery are both staples in Mississippi homes. I have a large collection that I use on a regular basis. Featuring these pieces in worship is a healthy meeting-of-worlds.
Lent 2017 tablescapes: 1) "not by bread alone, but eat the right fruit," pics 2a) and 2b) "by water and the Spirit," 3) "water from a rock?", 4) "empty bowl/fruitful bowl: Mary and Elizabeth," 5) "when Lazarus couldn't come to dinner." #artforLent #cometothetable #lectionary
Also, one of my practices for Lent is to make art. Putting together this diomrama-remiscent collection for these Sundays connects me to other times in my life where I interpreted Scripture through art. This vital spiritual practice is as valid as any other Spirit-led biblical interpretation tool. Remeber--the whole Bible is a work of art. If a writer hadn't written it, if a historian hadn't taken time to tell the stories, we would not have it!
1) "not by bread alone, but eat the right fruit"
Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Two stories of temptation are juxtaposed, featuring Eve and Jesus. Here I picked apples as a common fruit, common bread as the bread, and our traditional chalice and paten (glazed and fired clay) along with a cross that is toned-down from our usual brass one, but has intricacies upon inspection.
ANYONE can make a tablescape for worship. I used images from the Scriptures interpreted through my lens, and brought the theology full circle with our practice of Holy Communion. Art is for EVERYONE. The presence of art and creativity in worship is vital.
2) "by water and the Spirit"
Jesus and Nicodemus are talking it out, and the latter man learns a lot, especially about birth! Two overt symbols: the pitcher for water, and the shell for baptism/Spirit. Same cross included.
I let the Lot passage slide a little bit on this set-up, but it would be appropriate to add some salt in, to remind the worshiper that though Lot was getting God's blessing, and salt was a part of everyday survival (and still is!), his wife disobeyed God and became a pillar of salt. Salt and water are key ingredients for preserving food and thus life throughout the history of humanity. Salt showed up in the lectionary earlier this year.
3) "water from a rock?"
Can God bring water from a rock? If you're thirsty enough, then yes, and are wandering in the Wilderness with moses, certainly. The woman at the well found out how thirsty she was as well. Here, a rock (from my church in Kentucky, vaguely heart-shaped), and the same water pitcher from last week. Same cross included.
4) "empty bowl/fruitful bowl: Mary and Elizabeth"
The unlikely women pregnant, Mary and Elizabeth, are depicted here, both by both bowls: both had been empty, and both became full of fruit because of God. In case this imagery is too subtle, the bowl is the womb--a vessel, a thing of beauty in itself. Same cross included.
5) "when Lazarus couldn't come to dinner"
The Old Testament reading features the vision of the dry bones, a nice counterpoint to Jesus and Lazarus. What happens when your friend dies? Do you still set a place for them as you miss them? I've featured two cups, two bowls, and an empty platter, and the same cross included before. Here we dive in to the emotional experience of Jesus during the days Lazarus lay dead.
Follow Anna on Instagram @reverendsweetie.