The leadership team at CMBC asked me to come up with a project that met this criteria:
- include people of all ages and skill levels in a large art project
- correlate with the sermon series on the life of Abraham
- illustrate and encourage community
- fill a large empty wall over the sanctuary doors
I offered them several ideas for a community project and they decided on this tapestry weaving project. Everyone of any age or skill level can weave. The colors represent the night sky and the stars that Abraham saw when God told him that his descendants would be like the stars. The entire piece would be approximately 40 feet wide (including the white spaces between) and 25-30 feet long.
I sketched a design for 20ft by 10 ft looms on a napkin and asked Larry Haggin if he could build three. He answered with the most magical word, the word that opens doors and gives wings to ideas, he said, "Sure!"
I mixed white acrylic paint, pearl interference paint and fiber medium in a squeeze bottle and wrote out the story of Abraham from the book of Genesis onto 1500 feet of fabric. God's story in God's words would become the warp for each loom.
We invited the congregation to participate by sharing their answers to any of the following questions:
- Describe a moment of revelation.
- Describe a time when you felt strong even though you were clearly weak.
- Describe an experience that made you feel like part of something larger.
- Describe a time when you knew you were in the right place.
- Describe a time when you felt called to something other people considered strange or silly
- Describe a time you gained or lost someone or something important to you.
We received 244 submissions and we wrote them on the fabric that would become the weft. There were stories about miraculous healings and the mighty power of God, stories about long suffering with no end in sight and the carrying presence of God, stories that asked where is God in this?
Olivia and Larry devised a warp tightening mechanism for the looms based on a Navajo-style loom, and then she, Nick and I warped them:
When we warped the looms, we didn’t worry about keeping the story in order. God is outside of time. However, we saved out the first and last line to use as binding. The first tapestry binding furthest to the left is the first line of Abraham’s story: “Terah set out with his son Abram from Ur of the Chaldees…” The last binding, the one furthest to the right is the last line of Abraham’s story: “And Abraham breathed his last…”
I sorted the stories submitted by the congregation into baskets that went with the parts of Abraham's story. I started doing this because I noticed how relevant Abraham's life and experiences were to today and saw some similarities in our stories. ALL of the stories submitted fit into the Genesis story! We rolled the weft pieces into manageable rolls and set the baskets by the correct looms and we were ready for Kid Friendly Summer Sundays!