Creative Worship Arts

Creative Worship Arts

Joan McGinnis, Director of Music

Throughout the centuries, people have worshipped in many different places. These include deserts, along side rivers, in the catacombs and prisons of Rome and in great cathedrals. Each space brings something special to those who are there, whether it be the grandeur of the open sky, the quiet singing in a cave or the booming organ of a large church. At Messiah, we continue the practice of using our worship spaces in ways that share the gospel, allow for meditation and lift our hearts and minds in praise to God. The following is a short synopsis on the ways in which our sanctuary will be appointed during the important season of Lent, The Great Three Days of Holy Week, and Easter.


The paraments that have adorned the altar, pulpit, font area and worn by Pastor Norma comprise a set I created in the early 90’s for a small Methodist church I served in Clinton. I had recently started dyeing fabric, and during a trial period with the dyes, I created “mud” fabrics consisting of dull browns, purples and greys. Not my usual colors for making quilts, I wondered what I could do with such drab fabrics. The little church has a large stained glass in the front window of a cross, surrounded by roughly cut sections of colorful glass. Underneath is the altar against the wall. The chancel is the traditional split chancel with a pulpit on one side and a lectern on the other. The light from that large window inspired me to create this set for the upcoming Lenten season. I call it ερημιά (erimiá) which is the Greek word for “Wilderness.” The scene represents the city of Clinton with the mountains surrounding, as well as the city of Jerusalem surrounded by the wilderness of Judah. The light from the cross is shown streaming onto the lectern frontal (the piece laying on the basket next to the font) and onto the stole that Pastor Norma wears. The brambles and rough quilting on all of the pieces refer to the difficult terrain of the wilderness. Rough concrete blocks also speak to the city. The candles on the blocks are especially inspiring during the Wednesday night Lenten services where we sing a liturgy entitled, “Behold the Light.” Thank you for letting me share my first liturgical piece with you.

Palm Sunday

The paraments will be changed to the traditional purple set of paraments that have been used since the sanctuary and altar were constructed. We will process singing “Hosannas” and waving palm branches. The palms are from a company that harvest the frond in an ecologically sustainable manner. To further the excitement of commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the Spirit poles will wave purple ribbons overhead. On display in the sanctuary will be an art project created by our Middle School Youth showing different aspects of Lent.

Maundy Thursday

The table is set for communion with a simple white fair linen. An area will be prepared to facilitate the Foot Washing traditionally done during this service. There will also be a time for healing prayers while the foot washing is taking place. After communion, at the end of the service, the church will be stripped of all articles used in worship.

Good Friday

The altar and font are shrouded in black, there are candles on the altar, the lights are lower. The cross will be processed in and laid at the base of the altar. The church will become darker as the space is transformed into the closed tomb.

Easter Vigil

The new fire is lit in the courtyard. We enter the sanctuary with a new Paschal Candle leading into the darkness. Scripture and songs will be sung. We will remember our baptism harkening back to the early church that performed baptisms during the service that lasted from sundown until sunup Easter morning. The paraments will show the shell and water, representing baptism. Our service will end with the good news of the Resurrection. Light will fill the space as the sanctuary is transformed into the brilliance of Easter.


Flowers on the cross in the front garden will invite you in. Bring flowers to decorate. More colorful flowers, lilies and plants will be placed around the sanctuary. The beautiful gold tapestry paraments will adorn the altar and pulpit surrounded by candelabra and torches. Handbells will ring, the organ will peal, and we will celebrate the most sacred of days, the Resurrection of our Lord.

Sundays after Easter

The pomp of Easter Sunday will be changed to our traditional white paraments. Easter songs will sound throughout the fifty days of the Easter Season.

The Creative Arts Team, along with the Altar Guild, musicians and BAM (the men’s service group) will be making the changes for each service. It is our hope that those who come to worship are blessed by all of the arts


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