At St Andrew’s this autumn, we will be exploring the last twelve books of the Old Testament, often referred to as the Minor Prophets (minor in length, not significance). These Prophetic Voices reveal different facets of God’s character, which we are invited and challenged to share.
One of the things we would like to do is to offer a creative response to each facet, including something physical we can take away as a reminder which helps to bring what we consider on Sunday into our Monday-Saturday.
Steve Taylor calls such things ‘spiritual souvenirs’ – things that not only keep a memory alive but sustain the hope of return or even relocation to that place. For Amsterdam or Tenerife, substitute Justice or Mercy – where ‘return’ is to further explore the theme, and ‘relocation’ is to live it out in our daily lives where we are: say to live justly at a personal and corporate level, as if we lived in a just world...and in this way, to make the world more just.
Such souvenirs carry the word we have heard God speak to our hearts out into the world, so that others might hear too.
On October 31, we will be looking at Joel, and our souvenirs will be origami grasshoppers. Why am I trailing this now? Most of the people who visit my blog are not members of St Andrew’s, and so it doesn’t matter. But there are a few members of St Andrew’s who follow along, and I would really like there to be, seeded through the congregation, a handful of people who understand what we are trying to do, and who can take a lead in helping others join in.
Joel: Restoration / Holy Spirit
The harvest has been devoured by a swarm of locusts of...well, biblical proportions. Joel calls on the devastated and disoriented community to return to God, and to call on him, for he longs to not only restore what has been lost but – in the very context of disaster – to go further in pouring out blessing.
I found this simple template online. It is simple enough that, with a little guidance, my nine-year-old daughter made one. The idea is this:
On a square of paper, write down those things you identify as having been devoured – hopes, dreams, necessities of life (think of the economy).
As you make/having made your locust, bring these things to God in prayer, confessing our own part in having forgotten him in the day-to-day going about our lives, and asking him to restore what has been lost...and for his Spirit to be outpoured on the community.
Take your grasshopper with you when you go. Place it somewhere where it will regularly prompt you to continue to pray until you see an answer to your prayers.
If you are feeling brave, place it somewhere where others will see it, inviting comment and the possibility of a conversation where you explain what it symbolises and why it is there.
Origami paper from a craft shop is best – square, finer than trimmed-down copier paper, often white on one side and coloured on the other.
It is hard to fold paper on your lap, so I’m planning on setting up a number of tables around the church, with a couple of copies of instructions taped to each table. This also means that the paper is there when needed – as opposed to giving it out at the start of the service, which is risky...
Taking things further
You might want to make more than one grasshopper – perhaps using different sizes or colours of paper – to represent things that have been devoured
at a personal level (what did you hope for that you haven’t seen?);
at a corporate church level (we don’t have any children/young adults/etc.);
at a community level (in my context, jobs/health);
at a national or an international level.
If you are feeling adventurous, you might like to try a more advanced origami grasshopper – don’t attempt this in a corporate setting, as complexity will work against the desired impact.