Liturgical Banner: Transformed by God’s Grace
Posted on February 20, 2020 | Posted by Mary Stoneback
“Transformed by God’s Grace”
Upon meditation and reflection on scripture and Ascension’s own vision planning, the word transformation is strong. Which led to metamorphosis which led to the idea of a butterfly cocooning – a bold statement indeed! The design itself is a metamorphosis of several theological ideas. I found that grace and the Holy Spirit don’t like to be contained in straight lines!
Let’s begin at the top. Beginning with a swath of burgundy, there is a strong feeling of warmth and brightness coming from the heavens – the freely given grace and love of God. It is mighty, bold, grace-filled, and bright, illustrated with not only red, but also several shades of deep gold and orange.
This sense of warm love becomes also a cocoon-like holding place of a transformative, metamorphic, enfolding Spirit where one can both rest and find movement as well. Here there is peace and change. There is a rising portion of translucent organza fabric which gives an impression of the remains of cocoon. The whites and bright, squiggly, outward moving colours are meant to show the pure and holy, transformative, transfigurative, divine Spirit at work in this place and in us- glowing and overflowing in its love and grace – gift upon gift, blessing upon blessing.
The cocoon-like, metamorphic design also has a sense of forming and dispersing red petal-like shapes. These shapes descend outward from the cocoon. These petal-like shapes are meant to remind us of a perfect red rose, a symbol of perfect love. They show the love of God being carried forward into our world. Jesus is that perfect love, dispersing in the world as the Holy Spirit and through us. As the design descends, these petal-like shapes multiply, ripple and disseminate into the world. The Holy Spirit is frequently illustrated by red.
This portion of the design has interplay with the wall cross. There are three small petal-like shapes that are more like drops of red blood, meant to connect with the passion of Jesus on the cross. This side of the design directs you to the cross.
The boldest part of the design is the blue, purple and black of a cocooning butterfly. This could be a Colorado Hairstreak butterfly. While two wings stretch out long toward the bottom, the top portion flings out in unfinished form. This vivid part of the design symbolizes all the transformation which we seek and which finds us unbidden and undeserved as we live in Christ. By God’s grace we are transformed. By God’s grace we transform – through a living faith – as we take this bold light and love out into the world shining fearlessly with God’s purpose.
The cocoon-like shape in the upper right and the butterfly reaching out to the lower left tie in the diagonal lines of the sanctuary. They frame the cross. They show a giving in grace from God, an accepting of that grace, a responding to it, a giving back in reciprocity, and a going out in light as the bright colours at the bottom of the butterfly mirror the bright ones from the top right of the design.
The broader scene given in this design is reminiscent of the mountain view outside the church. The mountains here with the light blue sky and grassy field, birds and lilies put the rest of the ideas into a scenic context: we don’t exist solely in an ethereal, impressionistic world. We live with reality and all that makes us human – both the mountain tops and valley bottoms. We can take courage from Luke’s (12:22-31) reminder that if God provides for all the needs of grass, flowers and birds, we can trust that so too will our needs be met, again by love and grace freely given. Like the grasses, we can lean in to the power and paradox of the cross.
Thanks be to God.
– Karen Brodie