We have been blessed over the last couple of years to be surrounded by the art installation, An Aramaic Lord’s Prayer as we worship, hold our meetings, eat together, do yoga, and practice singing. This art will return to Bethany Lutheran Church in Scottsdale on Monday, November 18. Words of deep gratitude to artist Jill Lawrence for allowing us to hold this work around us, even as we’ve discovered that it has held us over the last couple of years.
It’s hard to imagine our worship space without the vibrant Crab Nebulae behind the altar, or the elegant heron and the dancing trees on our side wall. I have to admit that when I heard that it was time for this art to move on, my first thought was, “what can we get to put on those walls?” The thought of the walls being bare was unsettling. The thought of us no longer surrounded by color and fabric and beautiful, spiritual words was a little disorienting. While I know there was a time when we worshipped without these images around us, we’ve never worshipped in our current arrangement without them. What could replace them?
As I prayed, “well now what, Lord?” it became quickly clear that there is nothing that can replace this unique collection. It came to us at a specific time, when we were reshaping our worship space. And, as it turns out, it has helped to shape us as we have worshipped together. We are not the people we were when this art came to us. In response to “well now what, Lord?” came silence, stillness, spaciousness. And so I’m wondering if we’re being invited to sit in the midst of the bare walls, live with their barrenness, their openness, until what we need to be surrounded by at this time comes to us. Just as “An Aramaic Lord’s Prayer” came to us when we needed it.
If you’re anything like me, your initial response may be to want to put something up there right away. Bare walls won’t look nearly as appealing. But what if, instead of responding to that immediate urge, we hold onto each other, encourage each other to breathe, step back from the walls, and assure each other that their barrenness is serving a purpose: it reminds us that what we need will come when we need it, not necessarily when we want it. Oh what joy it will be to see what God brings to us. We can trust that whatever it is, it will be just what we need for this next season in our life together as a community of faith.
Blessings as we wait and watch together –a pre-Advent posture of openness,