Rising Prayers of Gratitude

Visuals for a Thanksgiving or Prayer Service

At Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Denver, Colorado, Pastor Michelle VanDenBerg, Debra Komodore, Lu Lofe, and the worship visuals team explored the idea of using rich liturgical visual images as an expression of thanksgiving.

Rather than celebrating just a day of Thanksgiving, we chose to spend several weeks focusing on prayers of gratitude. To help visually represent this theme, our creative team studied the approach of both the Old and New Testament to giving thanks and offering prayers to God. In the Old Testament, the Israelites’ place of worship was the Tabernacle, where outside the Holy of Holies a golden bowl held burning incense.

The rising scent represented the joint prayers of the people. In Revelation 5:8 we read about the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders who were “holding golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” Taking cues from both of these texts, we created a visual interpretation of the rising, commingling prayers of praise and gratitude.

Denver artist Elaine St. Louis created an original painting that visually represents the golden bowl of incense and the “holy smoke” of the prayers of the people rising to God. Elaine used gold leaf and incorporated deep purple, yellows, golds, and white into the original creation (canvas prints are available at etsy.me/2JcRIVr), which we hung like a parament in front of the pulpit.

Our team also created a visual that flanked either side of the cross at the front of the sanctuary. It attached prayers our people had written on incense-shaped paper to sheer strips of fabric, which were woven together and lit from below as a visual reminder of the prayers of praise and thanksgiving we offer both in this season of gratitude and in all times seasons of our lives.

The gold side-banners remind us in this season of gratitude of our hope that our prayers will overflow with words of thanks, praise, and blessing to our God. The banners display the English words thanks and praise as well as the Greek word for praise, εὐλογέω, and the familiar word hallelujah, which in Hebrew can also be translated as praise, היָוּללְ הַּ .

Debra Komodore is part of a volunteer worship planning team at Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Denver, Colorado.

Rev. Michelle VanDenBerg is pastor of congregational life at Hope Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Denver, Colorado.

Reformed Worship 132 © June 2019, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.