Celebrating Holy Week outside church walls

SEELEY LAKE – Sunday morning, April 5 those driving Highway 83 through Seeley Lake were greeted with Burma-Shave-type signs on pastel-colored crosses with a palm branch mounted to every light pole between Riverview Drive and Cedar Lane. While most were humorous asking motorist "How do you make Holy Water?" "Boil the hell out of it," and saying "Tweet others as," "You would like," "To be Tweeted," they all had a message that Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church hoped permeated the community in this time of uncertainty and physical distancing.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church Worship Ministry Team planned the Lenten services and scheduled an entire Holy Week program starting with Palm Sunday. Part of this was going to be an art installation of the Stations of the Cross Graphic Art Series at the church on Good Friday with an invite to the entire community.

The Stations of the Cross includes 12 black and white graphic art renditions created by artist and Reverend Lauren Wright Pittman, founding creative partner with A Sanctified Art, LLC. The Stations of the Cross is an ancient meditative pilgrimage inviting the spiritually hungry to walk the "Way of Sorrows" with Jesus to his death on Calvary hill. Traditionally depicted in fourteen visuals, the Stations highlight pivotal moments in Jesus' final hours. This graphic art rendition of the Stations by Pittman nods to tradition while imagining Jesus' journey toward crucifixion through a modern lens. In twelve black and white images, this series condenses the version Pope John Paul II introduced on Good Friday in 1991. Stripped down and textured, these visuals highlight the metaphorical and emotional layers of Jesus' journey toward his last breaths. Each image includes an accompanying scripture, artist statement and prayer.

"When the virus shut things down, we questioned what we could do to engage the community in appropriate activity," said member of the Worship Ministry Team Cheri Thompson.

To celebrate Palm Sunday, the traditional start of Holy Week for the Christian Faith, the group came up with the idea for the Burma-Shave type signs along Highway 83.

Burma-Shave was an American brand of brushless shaving cream. From the 1920s to the 1960s, Burma-Shave spaced their advertising signs along roadsides. Each advertisement included four line rhymes. Motorists pieced the rhymes together, one phrase at a time, as they traveled, finally reaching the wry, witty punch line.

Thompson said the team struggled to find four-line sayings that fit Holy Week that were not overly religious. They worked out several two to five-line sayings that were fun, humorous and brought attention to Christ living among us. The intent was to engage the entire community.

As members of the Worship Ministry Team hung the signs Saturday night, it didn't take long for motorists to be slowing down and reading them as they went.

Mountain Lakes Pastor Reverend Carrie Benton and the Worship Ministry Team reached out to other churches to see if they would be willing to collaborate with them. Instead of displaying the artwork solely at Mountain Lakes Church, they asked that one or more images could be posted on their property. This would allow the community the opportunity for a driving contemplative art tour of the last moments of Jesus life. Four churches and eight businesses along Highway 83 agreed to have the artwork posted.

"We wanted to invite people to participate in some kind of action in Holy Week and at the same time follow social distancing guidelines," said Benton. "The intent is for people to do this and not congregate. We want people to be smart and responsible."

The art will be hung Thursday night and will be taken down on Saturday. Mountain Lakes member Kris Gullikson helped enlarge the text so people can read it from their car along with viewing the art. There is no set time, to limit the chance that people may do this together. The art pieces are intended to be viewed chronologically: 1. Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church; 2. Faith Chapel; 3. ReMarkable Floral; 4. Parts Plus; 5. Blue River Station; 6. Filling Station; 7. NAPA; 8. Mission Bible Fellowship; 9. Glen's Automotive; 10. Seeley Lake Baptist Church, 11. Gallery 83, Lazy Pine Mall; 12. Cory's Valley Market

"The whole point of what we are doing is so you can drive to it in a car and do something," added Thompson. "We are trying to offer something for people to get out and enjoy when we can't come together."

Benton said while it was a challenging to revamp their plans for Holy Week, she is really excited and encouraged about the churches and the businesses collaborating in this display and offering it to the community.

"Whatever the new normal is, I hope that the collaboration between churches, churches and businesses and collaboration in general continues and people set aside their agendas and realize that we are all human," said Benton. "We are trying to reach out the best that we can to love one another, take care of one another and do our best."

For more information visit https://mountainlakespreschurch.us


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