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The Stories of our Advent Banners

The Advent banners this year are painted on silk.  The Liturgical Arts Committee hopes you will find something to reflect upon as you are in this sacred space during this wondrous time of the year.  

The process of painting on silk is multi faceted.  I use French liquid dyes on white Habitoi silk yardage.  Paint sits on top of a surface, but dyes penetrate the fibers.  Thus, the image can be seen from both sides.  (You’re welcome, choir!)  The silk is hand hemmed, then stretched on a frame.  In this case the banners and frame are 4’ x 10’.  I freehand draw on the silk, approximating my 2” x 4” sketch, using a water based clear resist.  The resist creates white lines.  The dyes are painted in between the lines.  I am very grateful for the help of Joan Murchison and Cindy Nelson who helped with the painting.  In theory, the dyes should stay in the cells created by the resist, but in reality the color frequently “jumps” over the line, resulting in beautiful blendings and mixtures.  I love that!  Silk by nature is strong, but gentle and free flowing, and when the art is that way too, it is cohesive.  When the silk is removed from the frame, it is sandwiched between clear newsprint and rolled into a tight ball, then steamed on top of the stove for about an hour and 15 minutes to set the dyes.  Next it is unwrapped and held under cool running water to remove the resist and any excess dye.  I let it “rest” overnight, then it is ready to be ironed and hung.
— Mary Ellen Porter

The first banner represents the wounded, scattered flock and the tender, loving shepherd.  It reminds us that the shepherds and other “ordinary” people were among the first to know of the coming of Jesus.  We are His people and the sheep of his flock.  We anticipate the goodness of coming home to be with Him.  The sky could be sunrise or sunset.  Sunrise could be interpreted as the dawn of new things to come, sunset as anticipation of that Holy Christmas Eve.  

“Make Straight in the Desert a Highway”
Isaiah reminds us that life is not always easy; he knows we will encounter rough places. But with our loving God, there is always hope.  Hope that our rough places will be made plain, that the winding roads before us will become straight, and that we will be led out of the darkness and into the light.

This silk piece, seen from the vantage point of a crooked rocky road, looks toward a straighter path across the desert and into the light.  Jesus is our Light and our Salvation and we look forward to His promise of comfort.  

“O Little Town of Asheville”
God didn’t send His only son, our Lord Jesus to Bethlehem, to be Lord of only those people and only in that time.  He sent Him to be Lord of each of us for all times and in all places.  I believe Jesus wants to be in our little town of Asheville too.  In our church, in our homes, in our hearts, today and always.  This banner represents Asheville, and perhaps you will find a few landmarks that look familiar.  Look for our mountains, City Hall, First Presbyterian Church, the new apartments on the back side of the Aloft Hotel, and various other office and hotel buildings.  Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.

The Holy Family in the Stable
Come quietly now. Stand with me behind Mary and Joseph in this crude stable strewn with hay. Peeking over their shoulders we see the baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in the same manger from which the cattle usually eat. He’s sleeping, warm, content and already full of love. The light from a magnificent star floods the space where he rests, and the night sky beyond the door holds other wonders unseen. Be near us Lord Jesus, we ask you to stay.

Earlier Event: December 13
Moravian Love Feast