Flowing River of Life
For our church’s annual Stewardship campaign, we chose a theme of “Flowing from the Throne of God,” from Revelation 22:1-5:
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
This is a rich passage, filled with rich images that invited us to play with it in worship in a variety of ways. And so we did! Here are a few ways that we played with the image of the river of the water of life in worship.
- Our Stewardship campaign ran over 5 weeks. For each of these five weeks we sang the famous old All Saints’ hymn, “Shall We Gather at the River,” which includes the line “flowing from the throne of God. This repetition of an old hymn gave us a musical theme that helped tie the campaign together over the course of 5 weeks. To keep it fresh, we sang it in different places, included different verses, sometimes sang it as a response rather than as a whole hymn, etc. from week to week.
- All Saints’ Sunday fell before the final Sunday our our campaign which we call “Consecration Sunday” (where we invite the congregation to offer estimates of giving for the following year). On this Sunday we took a long piece of blue fabric (pictured above), covered the altar with it and rolled it down the chancel, and under the Communion table. During our call to worship, we unrolled the fabric down the central aisle of our sanctuary, turning it into the “river of the water of life.”
- On Consecration Sunday, we maintained the presence of the blue fabric/river down the center aisle. This time, though we added blue ribbon segments (about 6 inches long). As people came forward to place their offerings and/or estimates of giving, we invited them to take one of the ribbon segments that were laying in baskets on a table we had put out to collect the offerings. The ribbon represented the river of the water of life and our congregation was encouraged to take them as token reminders, to “flow in their lives with the flow of God.”
So that’s what we did. Repeating hymns and using fabric to enhance our theme, to connect worship across weeks, and to connect the congregation with the altar could be used and adapted in a variety of ways and seasons. Create!
© Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2016