Today is Ash Wednesday and it marks the beginning of Lent, the forty days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter.

It's been a little less than two years since posting here and it's high time we start up again. I don't know if anyone will see these posts, but let's get going at least for this Lenten season.

Some communities, especially non-denominational churches, don't celebrate Lent. If you're a part of a church that doesn't utilize this season, I would encourage you to start. It's a rich time for Christians and it's not just for Catholics.

So stay tuned...

Sky Lanterns

One of the most beautiful finales to a worship gathering you can experience is the launching of sky lanterns.

Sky lanterns have been used in Asian cultures for centuries. They were created around the 3rd century and are said to be the first hot air balloon.

They really are something that can work for so many different situations. You can use them silently in mourning after a funeral or memorial service. They can be used in celebration after a wedding. I think I'm most excited about the idea of using it after a Pentecost service!

If you get plain white lanterns, you can even have participants paint them as a response to the message of the gathering.

Before using them, make sure you understand local laws about them. Also make sure it's not too windy and that you are launching them in an open area free of trees. Most of the time they are completely safe, but we are dealing with fire after all.

There are many places to purchase sky lanterns on the net, but make sure you purchase some that are safe as well as biodegradable. Choices abound at Amazon, but this one seems to be the most popular. You may also want to check out

Watch this video by Jonny Baker, our friend (and great source for inspiration!) from across the pond.

World Communion Sunday

The first Sunday of  October is World Communion Sunday, the Sunday when churches across denominational lines are encouraged to recognize their individual part in the Body of Christ by taking communion together and making communion a focal point of worship.

Some churches partake in communion every week, others do it on the first Sunday of each month. Sadly, for others, World Communion Sunday may be the only time their members get to experience Holy Communion.

For those of us who regularly "do" communion, World Communion Sunday is an opportunity to celebrate the richness of the Holy Communion experience.

Here are some ideas for your World Communion Sunday experience:
  • Decorate the altar table with...
    • Many different colored fabrics representing cultures from around the world - an African kente cloth for instance
    • Multiple breads - Artificial breads will work, but why not get some unsold breads at the end of the day from local bakeries or Panera?
    • Grapes on the vine - Artificial grapes are suggested because you can use them again
    • Wheat stalks - Represents the bread, but is also a nice reminder that we're starting the autumn season.
    • A globe or maps
    • What else? Leave comments with ideas.
  • The sense of smell is the sense that is probably least used these days in worship. We can change that!
    • Bake breads in the sanctuary the day before or early that morning. Here's an easy bake oven recipe.
    • Place grape scented candles or bread scented candles around the room and burn them Sunday morning. Grape candles from Yankee Candles are great if you can find some because the scent is so strong. Soy candles are usually a safe bet. Check these out!
    Here's a great idea from the 2011 Summer Church Music Workshop from the Florida Chapter of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. They used multicolored paper dolls to represent the Body of Christ!

      There's so much more to be done... Leave your comments with more ideas!

      Below is a video from St. John United Church of Christ in Freeport, IL that you can download at Vimeo to show on Sunday if you'd like.

        Decorating the Sanctuary

        Why is it that the only time we decorate the sanctuary is for...
        • Advent/Christmas
        • Lent/Palm Sunday/Easter
        • Weddings
        What if the worship space was actually worshipful? What if it was beautiful?

        Check out what Reedville Church in Aloha, OR has done in the past at their Picasa page.