Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Worship Wednesday: He Opened His Arms to All

Holy, mighty, and merciful Lord, heaven and earth are full of your glory. In great love you sent to us Jesus, your Son, who reached out to heal the sick and suffering, who preached good news to the poor, and who, on the cross, opened his arms to all. 

I love dragonflies and their close relative, damsel flies. The difference between the two is only discernible as they land on a flower or shrub or rock. The damselfly presses her wings together, parallel to her thorax. Like arms folded in prayer, she rests in this streamlined position. Dragonflies, on the other hand, land with their wings stretched out, exposed, reaching for whatever might come next. Both are equally lovely. . . but the dragonfly captures my attention because it reminds me of this familiar Eucharistic prayer: on the cross, he opened his arms to all. 

I love this Eucharistic prayer.

To think of Jesus opening his arms wide in a hug is one thing. He always had his arms open and ready for children to scurry into. He always opened his embrace to gather the sinners and unclean and outcasts to him. And on the cross. . . he had no choice but to spread those loving arms the full length of the wood beams as he was nailed to that torture device of his execution. In love his arms were open wide to receive all people. In death his last bodily position was arms outstretched. Amazing and wonderful, isn't it?

I like to use butterflies in the sanctuary at Easter to help people (especially children) connect something tangible with the miracle of Christ's resurrection. In the past I have used card stock butterflies and attached them to the back wall of the chancel like they were flying up and away from a wooden box that was perched there. Visually it creates quite an image for worshippers. But this year I want to use dragonflies. During Lent, imagine it, dragonflies here and there adorning the nave and the chancel, reminding us of Jesus' loving arms outstretched in life and in death FOR ALL! 

What do you think of this image? Do you think it might work? What ideas do you have to help worshippers connect to the metaphors and images we use in our faith?

(By the way, I drew the image above and if you like it, you are welcome to use it.) 


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