Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Chancel Installation, Lent 2018, Sheer, Organza
It’s an old tradition to veil the cross during Lent or for the two weeks before Easter. Covering the cross with a purple veil was intended to focus the church on the saving work of Christ. The current installation in the chancel echoes that Lenten experience but takes us one step further. It invites us to ask what we see and don’t see during these days of Lent. What is hidden? What do we need to see or understand in order to deepen our trust in the resurrection and to be more faithful in our response to God’s grace.
The veil may also echo the curtain in the temple that was torn in two at Jesus’ death on Good Friday, uniting heaven and earth. Or perhaps it represents the grave cloths. The purple in the center of the cruciform hanging may represent those things we carry to the cross so that they can be buried in the soil of God’s love, only to give birth to some new life yet to come. Each Sunday in Lent, our sins and burdens will be carried into the chancel and placed in this “cross.”
Particularly, the veil covers the painting of Jesus, inviting us to ask ourselves how we portray the living Christ. Increasingly, we have become aware of the challenge of portraying Christ in white skin. How do our images shape us? What do they help us to see, and what do they keep us from seeing? Perhaps in Lent, we listen carefully to voices that see behind the veil in different ways than our own tradition. We all long for the day when the veil is pulled back and we see Christ face to face, no longer knowing him in part, but realizing that all along we have been fully known.