The banners hanging in our sanctuary every Sunday during Ordinary Time–the liturgical season that spans from Pentecost to Advent–were specially created for us by a former member of All Saints, artist Phaedra Taylor. We hope that her artist’s statement below will help you enter more fully into visual worship!
Ordinary Time is not a time where the church focuses on the ordinary or common per se, but rather on a time where the days are ordered. The use of the term ordinary comes from ordinal, which simply means “counted time.” In this counted time the church imagines itself journeying alongside Christ, day to day. Green is the color of this season and is traditionally used to symbolize new life and growth, specifically the new life of the church following Pentecost, in the light of Christ’s resurrection. It is a time spent focusing on mission and the faithfulness of those who have engaged in mission in the past.
The purpose of these banners, then, is to invite you to sit inside a clouded landscape, which allusively evokes the pilgrimage nature of our lives. What is around us feels real, but there is (at least for me) always this nagging sense that things are not quite whole or solid enough, and not quite as beautiful as they were meant to be. We see now through a glass, darkly. The space that I have created across these banners is empty, devoid of roads and people and buildings. There are no overt signs of life. Yet it is not lifeless landscape. Greens, blues, and yellows, along with drips and scratches, all speak to the life that is teeming below the surface, barely seen perhaps, but very much real.
Over the top of, and breaking into, this landscape are two symbolic images found in the thin,almost translucent fabric strips: 1) bright gold squares, 2) and gray wings. These images are my attempt to place the triune God as an active presence within this landscape. The glory of the Father emerges around the action of Christ’s cross and resurrection, and the work of the resurrection irradiates out into a world which God so loves. His glory is embodied here in the gold squares and shining ribbons. This presence of the Father is now glimpsed in faith and waits to reveal itself in all its splendor at the end of this age. We see now only bright flashes of hope, flickers of what is to come. Yet this glory is very much solid.
The Holy Spirit in this landscape is everywhere present, symbolized by wings which rise up through the earth, dissecting the composition unnaturally, and rain down from the heavens, entering from beyond the scope of the scene. While not manipulable, the Spirit remains intimately bound to the faithful as helper and guide. Here the wings are quite literally bound to the scene – sewn onto it along with the ribbons. The Spirit here hovers over the activities of the pilgrim traveler, ever with us as we live our normal and often unexciting days, weeks, years of life.
While all visual metaphors at some point break down, my hope is that this work will help you to know something about the presence of the triune God in your world: your city and your home, your public spaces and the spaces in which you work and play, the places which are easily seen and those which are hidden to human eyes. My hope is that as you sit with these banners through Ordinary Time, you will be able to discover some part of your story at play here as well as something of the activities of God in your day to day, “counted life,” and, perhaps too, a place where those stories, if only in quiet, mysterious ways, where few trumpets sound, come together to make something new and hopeful.