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Updated: Nov 5, 2018

A Lenten Study in Trees

This Lent at Park Ave. we are focusing on the image of the tree. This imagery is rich with lessons for this liturgical season. This is a guide to utilizing and exploring this deep theme during this important time of the year.

The Cross and the Lynching Tree written by Dr. James Cone provides deep insights into what our primary Christian symbol - the cross -really means and how the paradox of the cross informs our faith and contemporary experience. Dr. Cone states, “Unfortunately, during the course of 2,000 years of Christian history, this symbol of salvation [the cross] has been detached from any reference to the ongoing suffering and oppression of human beings…..” (2)

Informed by this work and the ripe theme of trees found throughout the bible we embark on our Lenten journey at Park Ave. In this season we will be looking inward to identify ways we can grow in spiritual practice. This can be achieved by pruning our limbs, as in a tree metaphor.

Worship Landscape Elements

During Lent we have transformed the sanctuary to represent this changing time of year. Here are three elements described with questions to help us to look inward during this important liturgical season.

Purple Lenten Liturgical Banners measure 24"x90" and have the theme of trees with the leaves falling down. These banners feature trees shedding their leaves in the act of dying that results in only the remaining branches. But in this act of shedding the tree survives the cold winter to bloom again.

What ways can we use this Lenten season to shed what is not serving us?

Shadow Screens of a tree were created by Art in the Image using grey nylon fabric with black paper attached to the back. Screens range in height from 7’ to 5’ and are all 3’ wide. Cone states in the Cross and the Lynching Tree that “the crucifixion was clearly a 1st century lynching.” (30)

What if we look at this image of a tree during Lent as a way to visualize and identify how we have been complicit in systems of injustice or benefited from other’s oppression?

Tree Installation sculpture: Branches are attached to the front of the stage in place of the altar table. This sculpture created by the Creative Team shows the intertwining branches of trees. The trees scavenged to create this piece were found among scraps that were pruned off of peach and plum trees.

What do you need to prune from your practices in order to produce fruit?

All of these worship elements come together to form a picture of a study of trees for this season of Lent.


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