Story Stick Paraments

Church #28. Meet Rachel Holston. She is the Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries at Diamond Lake Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis, MN. With an average worship attendance of 200 people on a given Sunday, Diamond Lake is a church that embraces a love for all people.

Once a month on Wednesday nights, Holsten gathers families for a service night. Together, they coordinate care packages, tie blankets, and make sandwiches. But the Wednesday before Lent, she decided to take a risk on a collaborative art project centered on the theme, “forgiveness.” I was invited into the process as a storyteller and artist, and the result is what I call “story stick” paraments.

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We learned that God gives the Ten Commandments (God’s word to us) and the Lord’s prayer (our words to God) so that we know how to be in relationship with God and each other. With the two, we discovered “what” we are to forgive (broken commandments) and “how” we ask for forgiveness (in prayer with God and each other).

The collaborative art piece then started with looking at ourselves and our stories. Using the Visual Faith Project, we swapped stories of what it is like to forgive and be forgiven. Afterwards, each participate was invited to take a stick.

The sticks provided were collected as driftwood on the banks of Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River. These sticks represent us as God’s people – people who are drifting and trying to understand life. Just like the sticks, our lives are less than perfect, knobby, and broken.

People used sharpies and paint pens to write or color their stories on the sticks about their lives, their families, and their faith. They noted the names of loved ones, of their pets, and of their friends. One child drew a giant sun. She shared a story of how the sun brightens her day.

With hues of Lenten purple, participants wrapped yarn tightly around their story stick. The yarn signifies God’s love. It’s God’s love that holds us and weaves us closely together as the forgiven body of Christ. Once finished, the individual story sticks were woven together into Lenten paraments for the lectern and pulpit.

Why does these story stick paraments matter? It matters because of what it says in Ephesians 4:32:

“…and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Through sharing our stories and in creating a collaborative art piece together, people discovered what it means to be the body of Christ. Broken, drifted, and knobby, we come together each week to be fed and forgiven at Christ’s table, and then to share that same love and forgiveness with those we meet.

For more information on this story, please Rachel Holston at Rachel.holsten@dllc.org or 612.866.2579.

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