Creating the Family Table
This past Sunday, we had our series-ending discussion for our summer “Practice” sermon series. The discussion made me think of my favorite sermon from the series – Creating. And that made me think of something I created. And then that made me think of one of the two things that keep us from creating – procrastination (the other is fear). And then I realized I’ve been procrastinating on telling a creation story. #convicted
So here it goes.
Making stuff is hard. Like really, really hard.
When I set out to make the Family Table (that’s what I’m unofficially calling it) for Sojourn Grace Collective’s communion elements, I didn’t even know I was making a table. All I knew was what media I wanted to use, and that I wanted handwritten words from the Collective community and that it’d probably be easier said than done. Kate Martin asked me what I was doing with the words I’d collected from people on the last of our house church days.
“I don’t know. A hanging wall piece? Maybe a table?” I offered.
“Oooh. A table!” she replied.
And my making stuff just got interesting.
Here’s what I knew: the table needed to be portable, it had to be durable, it should showcase the words from our adults and Little Sojourners and the media needed to mean something. I came up with an idea in my head and set out to make it a reality.
One trip to IKEA, a few trips to Lowe’s (NOTE: owning woodworking tools and/or a workshop are ideal when doing wood projects) and countless trips to Michael’s and I was on my way!
Long story short, the Family Table you see at Sojourn Grace is not what I was intending to create. The truth is, the materials and finish didn’t translate quite right from my imagination to the real world. The result is the artisan (translation: unintentionally homely and imperfect) table we have now.
So what was I intending?
Well, I chose to paint the table white because it reminded me of the brightness of house church and has traditional Christian symbolism (i.e. purity, dove, holiness, etc.), plus it matches the design on www.sojourngrace.com. The color of the background came from the first iteration of our Sojourn Grace Collective logo and I think it has a brightness and appeal that just makes people smile. The iridescent glass marbles were to symbolize droplets of water – as in we are droplets of water refracting and shining rainbows of God’s love promise to the world around us. Remember that from the “What the Flood?” Noah series. Aaaaahhhhh! Now it all makes sense! The words answering the prompts “Home is…” and “Sojourn Grace Collective is…” were intended to capture a moment in our church history – the transition from house church to not-house-church. But the beauty of it is that every single thing people wrote was applicable to a home or Sojourn Grace Collective. SGC is home. And the glossy lacquered finish was meant to protect our words so we could be reminded of what we have at SGC every time we take communion.
Well, the lacquer made the words run a bit. Different-sized glass marbles meant an uneven surface. And that meant the lacquer didn’t cover all of them and left a nice water ripple-like effect on part of the surface. And not having my own saws and sanders meant the shape, angles and finish of the table were no bueno. I wasn’t thrilled.
But guess what? Creation doesn’t end. It’s a process.
And sometimes that process means reimagining and re-assigning meaning to symbols. And that’s just what I did.
So now, the running words means things are dynamic. Our thoughts, our views, our feelings about things change. And that’s a good thing. The different-sized marbles just serve to show a beauty in diversity of each of God’s children and the unique ways we can reflect God’s love. The rippled top now means water. It means movement and cleansing. All of the symbolism behind Baptism that we discussed during our “Practice” series made me think of the beauty and power of how we use water in practicing our faith. So now the Family Table isn’t an experience in time, but it’s about love and mercy and grace always flowing from our Creator. And the shape, angles and finish mean…well, I need to get me some tools!
So yeah, making stuff is hard. But if you could hear just a snippet of the encouraging, uplifting, pat-on-the-back words I got from the SGC family, you’d be making stuff every day. And you’d be sharing it with the family. Where I saw failures, they saw creativity. Imperfections were the artist’s touch. Frustrations were labors of love. And the gap between imagination and reality was filled with appreciation. So create things. Give it your best shot. And learn and grow from the process. It’ll bring you closer to God. I promise.
I daylight as an award-winning university communications and marketing nerd. On Wednesday nights you can find me enjoying Yog-art’s Double Stamp Wednesdays with the hubs and other Sojourn peeps. I’m also lobbying to adopt a chinchilla, but would settle for a squirrel.