Restore Resurrection: Creative Liturgy for Lent

Restore Resurrection: Creative Liturgy for Lent

This reflection was included in the order of worship each week during Lent, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday at The Sanctuary along with a photo of the altar table from the week prior.

 

First Sunday of Lent

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Altar display for the First Sunday of Lent.

There is a place where old things, broken things, and things that have been cast aside accumulate. It’s a place that makes me think of Lent. Strolling through, I am reminded that like all of these things, I too will one day reach the end…the end of my usefulness, the end of my career, the end of my story, the end of my life. I am also scarred as all of these gathered things are. I’ve got dents, dings, scratches, cracks, and missing pieces. Some of them have been hard won, acquired simply by living. Some of them I’ve given to myself needlessly because of my greed, selfishness, over-ambition, fear, laziness…I have not yet reached the end, and I don’t yet feel cast aside, but I recognize in this place among the broken and battered pieces lying around a semblance of the journey I’m on, the journey we’re all on. I found these cabinet doors there among the old, broken, cast aside things and they made me think of Lent – the journey we’re all on.

 

Second Sunday of Lent

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Altar display for the Second Sunday of Lent.

This place where old things, broken things, and things that have been cast aside are accumulated, the place where I found these cabinet doors is called the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. This is where discarded items from construction sites and renovations are brought to become a part of new life. Tools, lumber, flooring, furniture, fixtures, and yes, cabinet doors are brought here in the hope that somebody might find new purpose for them. The items may be purchased at a fraction of their original value and the proceeds go toward funding programs that help those in poverty find new beginnings. The few dollars I spent purchasing the cabinet doors will go to that purpose and now the doors themselves have begun to take on a new shape, a shape that will help the congregation of The Sanctuary recognize the power of new beginnings for years to come.

 

Third Sunday of Lent

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Altar display for the Third Sunday of Lent.

Reaching now the halfway point of our Lenten journey, our journey to the cross, what were once cabinet doors, scratched, broken, discarded have begun to take on a new shape, a new life. It is important to recognize at this stage that they have not been changed in any fundamental way. Though they have changed shape and color, they are still made up of the same basic elements (namely the earth) they always were. The elements now are simply reordered, repurposed, recreated. This is our hope in this season, not that we would be made something entirely other than what we are, but that the essence of who we are, the little pieces of our humanity might be redeemed by God, reordered in the image of Christ, and repurposed for the work of redemption beyond ourselves.

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent

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Altar display for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.

We note though, that while we remain essentially the same creatures God created and called “very good” in the beginning, there are things we have accumulated that have nothing to do with this journey to the cross. We’ve dawned masks and attitudes that disguise our identity as the redeeming redeemed. Lent is a time in which we ask God to strip away all that veils us that we might be fashioned more fully in God’s image.

 

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Photo Unavailable: On the Fifth Sunday of Lent the wooden pieces pictured above had joinery cut into them and were lying unassembled on the altar table.

Drawing ever closer now to the cross we discover something new. The journey to this point has been long and required much of us – introspection, discipline, confession, self-sacrifice, penitence. All this “stripping away” has changed us, that much we knew already. What we discover now is that even as one shape passes away, another shape begins to emerge. We do not yet know what it’s final form will be and the struggle is still real, but even amid this darkness a new hope begins to dawn.

 

Good Friday

Photo Unavailable: On Good Friday the wooden pieces above were assembled into an unfinished altar cross.

Approaching now the end of the lenten season we discover the nearly completed form we’ve seen emerging along our journey. It is, perhaps, a startling discovery to note that a cross is our destination. It’s symbolism necessarily carries us to violence and death where we were hoping for redemption and new life. Whatever else it connotes, we understand in the presence of the cross that the Lenten road we travel, should we wish to complete it, will require everything of us, even our very lives.

 

Easter Sunday

Cross-Week-6EasterHaving journeyed to and now through the cross we see things differently. We set out weeks ago by searching. We searched for answers, for solutions, for destinations. We found instead mystery. We discovered the cross, which is as terrifying as it is beautiful.It signifies death, but somehow also life. It is at once a destination and a journey, an ending and a new beginning.
Some time ago a pair of battered and ruined cabinet doors met an end. They were removed from a home or an office and they were collected in a place for the broken. That end turned out to be a new beginning in a place called the ReStore. After being broken down, stripped, cut, and shaped, those doors have found new purpose as an altar cross at The Sanctuary. That’s resurrection – all of it. You see, resurrection is not a moment that happened some time ago, not a moment that will occur some time in the future, but a reality we’re all living at all times. All creation, ourselves included are in a constant state of being cut, shaped, reformed, reassembled and it is all resurrection, it’s all Easter!
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