BANNERS AND PARAMENTS MINISTRY
by Ann Goodwin
Banners and paraments (hangings) have been hanging in
churches for centuries. They are usually made by nuns. In past times, the color
of vestments and paraments changed to mark seasons of the liturgical year to
inform those who couldn’t read, and the tradition continues: red indicates
Pentecost and martyrs feasts, green is for the ordinary time after Pentecost,
white for holy days, purple or blue for Advent, purple for Lent.
Banners are messages. They tell the story, through symbols
and words. Many Christian symbols date back to the first centuries after Christ
while Old Testament symbols are older than the writings of the Scripture.
Religious symbols are simple forms, not realistic pictures of objects. Many are
actually letters from the Greek alphabet.
MAKING A BANNER
Banners can be made by gluing designs cut from felt to a
background of felt or they can be finely embroidered on velvet or silk. It is
the skill of the maker and availability of materials that decides what the
banner will be made of.
Advent we anticipate Christ's coming to earth as an infant and as
Savior, his coming into the believer's waiting heart today, his coming
again in power and glory. Advent marks the beginning of a new church
year, awakening hearts to a new cycle of worship and celebration.
Traditionally purple--also the color of Lent--adorned
church furniture during Advent. But since the characters of the seasons
of Advent and Lent are quite different, blue has been specified as an
Advent color. By placing blue fabrics on the altar and lectern during
Advent, and purple fabrics during Lent. we have an opportunity to define
each season with special colors and symbols.
We think of blue as best, as precious. Blue ribbons are
best; blue chips, expensive; blue diamonds, rate. For centuries, blue
fabrics were cherished and saved for special events. Nature provides
very little in the way of permanent dyes for coloring fabrics blue, so
weavers of fabrics purchased the expensive indigo plant from the Indies
to dye their best cloths with the rich, deep, and durable color. Today
we have an abundance of blue dyes synthesized from hydrocarbons, but
early churches deemed blue fabrics very precious.
"As we begin the church year, we have
"prepared the way" in the sanctuary. We have cleared out all visual elements
and started a fresh look, making the altar the focal point toward which we
direct all other visual elements".
paraments on the altar and lectern match the Banner. I hope the congregation
will feel the anticipation when they see the four-piece paraments. The
excitement of the season builds as a section is added each Sunday in Advent,
just as we add a lighted candle to the Advent wreath. The stars of the heavens
remain symbols for us today, just as they did in ancient times. The Star came
forth two thousand years ago, His light stretching from the past into the
future, leading us from Bethlehem to our time and beyond.
The Advent Banner follows the theme and color of the paraments.
Using the quote from Isaiah 35:1-2:
"The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them;
and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and
singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel
and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the Excellency of our
I have used the Messianic Rose in groups of three in golds and
silvers. Advent I has only one group. Advent II will have two groups added, so
there are now three groups. Advent III will have three groups added making a
total of six. Advent IIII will have four more groups added making a total of
ten groups. This portrays the desert starting to bloom as we near Christmas
time the date set as the birth of Christ.
As a whole, this might be titled "The
Light coming into the world". What looks like a 'P' and an 'X' are
called Chi Rho (pronounced kai-roh), the Greek letters for CHR, the
abbreviation for Christ. In this instance the 'X' form looks almost like
beams of light.
The brown manger underneath is the crib
where the baby Jesus lay in the stable.
The Halo with rays over the crib
signifies the presence of the Christ Child.
The Crown is the coming of the King.
The Star is the Star of Bethlehem.
Lights are the stars in the nighttime sky.
This is a very simple theme for a very
The three crowns superimposed on the
Christ symbol of a Latin gold cross, signifying sacrifice, God's love, and
salvation. Each crown stands for one of the Magi, who were very rich
Zoroastrian priests. They brought very precious gifts for a King, not
knowing that He was a newborn baby. I have used color and jewels to
Black: The total absence of colour
or light. Lent a period where we
mourn our sins. In Luke 23:44-45 It
says: "And it was about the sixth
hour, and there was a darkness over
all the earth until the ninth hour.
And the sun was darkened, and the
veil of the temple was rent in the
Red: Three separate bands signify
the 3 days in the ground. Also
signifies the blood which our Dear
Lord lost, the blood running down
the cross and onto the hill called
Golgotha, 'The Place of the Skull'.
If you look closely you can see the
red beads stitched on the hill.
Count them and say them as a Rosary,
as you ponder on them. Could you let
your blood run freely so that others
Gold: The Crown of Thorns. Who
braided the crown? It was probably
a Roman. One source says that it
was made of reeds with thorns from
another plant inserted into the
braid. As you walk to St. Andrew's
church near the gate, have you
noticed the cactus beside the
sidewalk? This is called the Crown
of Thorns cactus. Do you pull over
so that you do not get your clothes
snagged? Jesus was not lucky enough
to have a choice. None of us would
choose to suffer as He did. Every
time you work in the garden you
usually put on gloves to save
yourself from suffering. We wear
shoes lest we step on a scorpion or
other things that may hurt us. Go
up close to the banner and see the
drops of blood on the crown.
Contemplate this, and see His Life
Blood leaving him.
There are legends surrounding the
Cross. One is that a little brown
robin flew up to the Dear Lord's
head and tried to pull out the
thorns from that Face and then His
Blood dropped on the breast of the
robin and now all robins have red
breasts. Another version is that
the robin was pierced in his breast
with a thorn. In North American
robins, it is only the male whose
breast is red. In the European
robin, both male and female have red
breasts. The robin is not native to
Israel, but of late robins have been
seen there. Another legend says
that the one garment that could not
be parted and shared, at the foot of
the cross, was knitted by Mary, in
the round without seams, and
therefore the soldiers cast lots for
it. Many Renaissance painters
depict Mary knitting on 4 or 5
The gold cross was knitted on 2mm needles
with 8 strands of fine gold thread. It was knitted in Linen Stitch which looks
more like fabric. It took about 40 days to construct it. On the lower part of
the cross you can see five red dots which signify the blood of Christ. These are
red glass beads sewn in a spiral. On the lower part of the cross is a silver
cross over an orb meaning victory over the sins of the world. In the upper left
quadrant you see the Crown of Glory, signifying Christ the King. In the upper
right is the Rising Sun signifying the Resurrection. In the lower left is a
butterfly to represent new birth and renewal. Pure silk is the fabric of her
wings. She is also beaded. The lower right quadrant holds the Pascal Lamb
carrying the flag of Victory. Victory over the grave. The Lamb (with blue
eyes) was knitted from pure undyed mohair. The design on her coat is called
Trinity Stitch. (Three stitches in one and one in three). I have a personal
attachment in that I knew the flock in Canada that that Angora Goat belonged
to. The blue beaded flowers symbolize peace and love. The Alleluia is dancing
with joy. The 'A' is illuminated with gold and blue and green beads to
alphabetize the first letter.
"And there appeared to
them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they
were all filled with the Holy Spirit" Acts 2:3-4
The Day of Pentecost, the
birthday of the church, spurs Christ's followers into action, the fire of the
Holy Spirit lighting the spirit of love, enthusiasm, and dedication to the
spreading of the Gospel. We celebrate the festival with bright red. Red
suggests love, the passion of the heart, and the zeal inspired by Pentecost.
The descending dove, still the most easily recognized symbol for the Spirit of
the Lord, hovers above the flame. We are reminded that the Holy Spirit breathes
life into the church of Christ, giving workers in the church purpose and
This banner was made to
look like a stained glass window in a church. The beige cotton is overlaid with
cream bias tape to imitate blocks of stone. The turquoise window, red and
orange fire with the white dove are all individual pieces of felt joined
together with black bias tape which imitates the leading joining pieces of
coloured glass together. In the centre of the flames is a Latin cross as a
symbol of Christ, beside a star of David to indicate Christ's royal lineage.
long season after Pentecost is the Time of the Church - a time to respond to
God's grace, to look toward spiritual growth, and to explore the teachings of
Christ. The Gifts of the Spirit are, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Some of the most well-known
Pentecost symbols are vines, branches bearing fruit, wheat, grapes, birds, fish,
water, bread, and wine. We see ourselves as branches bearing fruit, birds
feeding upon the food of the scriptures, participants in the sacraments, workers
in the field, and messengers of the gospel. Some of these symbols have been
used in this banner.
Green depicts life and rebirth. Matching this banner are
the paraments (altar hangings), you will see that they are reversible, the dark
green brocade matching the banner and on the reverse is leaf green silk.
Under the cross is a plaid effect, which, upon close inspection you will see is
made of various shades and widths of satin ribbon giving us all the colors