Advent will be upon us in a few short weeks. As many of us in the USA prepare for Thanksgiving, we must keep Advent in the back of our minds, because it will follow shortly on the heels of this scrumptious holiday.
1Roberts, Carrie. Green With White & Red Flowers. November 5th, 2016. Personal Collection, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Minnesota, 2016.
Advent, being a season of preparation, gives our church life a time to pause and reflect on all things leading up to the blessed season of Christmas. As a contemplative time, it is good to look back at the past—the Old Testament—and remind ourselves of the history that led to the shoot that came from the stump of Jesse (Isiah 11:1, indirect quote).
2 Marriot, W. B. Jewish High Priest. 1869. The Vestments of the Church: An Illustrated Lecture. London, Oxford, and Cambridge: Rivingtons, 1869.
While perusing the Old Testament, the pre-Christ worship life comes alive. The ancient Israelites worshiped in the Tabernacle and later in the first Temple, which was the stationary building that replaced the Tabernacle. God instructed Moses exactly how to build the richly ornate Tabernacle and the Israelites used this mobile worship space for many years. In the reign of King Solomon, no expense was spared in the construction of the first Temple. This Temple was then sacked and many years later it was rebuilt as recorded in Ezra. Finally King Herod renovated and added onto the second Temple, which was then destroyed in 70 A.D.
Something fascinating about the history of the Tabernacle and the Temple is that God prescribes exactly what a priest shall wear. God even addresses the material and colors—see Exodus chapter 28. The high priest wore a breast-plate, an ephod, a robe, a coat (checkered or embroidered, depending on your translation), a turban (a mitre), and a sash (girdle)—verse 4. And these were to be made for beauty and for glory—verse 2. The specific colors and material are also a direct command.
No expense was spared in the creation of the Temple and the vestments. All were constructed with taste and care. As Christians, we want to be careful and budget our gifts and talents. Waste and excess are careless; but stinginess also shows a lack of care. Tithing and first fruits, however, should always go back to the Lord, even if the first fruits are the amount of a widow’s mite.
3 Marriot, W. B. Levitical Priest Of The Second Order. 1869. The Vestments of the Church: An Illustrated Lecture. London, Oxford, and Cambridge: Rivingtons, 1869.
If your church can only afford fabric from JoAnn Fabrics, then by all means, use your time to create something beautiful from that gift. But if your church is affluent, make a portion of the budget dedicated to costly liturgical vestments. So no matter your spending amount, start with one season at a time; replace your outdated and shabby vestments; and create new vestments as a first fruits offering. Perhaps you are in the middle and can only afford one new set. There are three ways to go about choosing which set to replace. Number one, replace the shabbiest and oldest set. Number two, replace the set that gets used most often (is it the green set for you as well?). Or number three, replace and create a special set for a very special Holy Day: e.g. Christmas or Easter.
The Tabernacle and the Temples are very important as the forbearers of ecclesiastical sewing and church art. Our modern churches are the places where we go to worship and they deserve as much or more respect, care, and thought as the ancient Israelites put into their buildings. Think about how you can care for your church in this pre time leading up to Advent. And as always, thanks for reading along.
~Nihil Sine Deo~
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