for Advent: Community-Made Icon

During Advent 2012, the community of Light of the World Lutheran Church worked together to craft an icon, made of cut-up Christmas ads.  The idea came from House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver:

HFASS Advent Icon

“This is the icon we created during liturgy over the 4 weeks of Advent. Every piece of this is from ‘Christmas’ ads: circulars, catalogs and all that junk that comes in the mail and the newspaper. We created 1/4 of it each week. An Artist in the community traced the image onto poster board indicating what color should go in each shape. People ages 6-65 cut out the right color from the ads and glued it in the space. Easy and subversive.” (Nadia Bolz-Weber, Sarcastic Lutheran, December 29, 2008)

During the Christmas season, we are bombarded with the idea that we don’t have enough.  This activity is meant to call us to remember what we’ve already been given.

Appropriate for:
* Sundays in Advent
* Midweek Advent services
* Christmas services

Supplies needed:
– outline of icon, labeled like a “paint by numbers” image
– Christmas advertisements from newspapers and magazines
– scissors
– glue sticks
– plastic covering for tables

Key people:
– Artist or other “icon coordinator”
– Pastor

1. Decide when icon will be crafted.  Some options are:
– during worship;
– beginning at the gospel reading, the children’s sermon, the passing of the Peace
– ending at the Prayers of the People, the end of communion, the end of worship
– before worship, as people gather
– after worship, during coffee hour
– during Sunday School or other educational time
– between services if two or more exist

Light of the World worked on their icon during worship, starting just after the gospel reading and ending during the Prayers of the People.

Clarify with all involved parties:  artist, pastor, Sunday School teachers, ushers, whoever else will be affected.

2. Design icon, or trace one from an existing icon or image.

3.  Use to convert the image into a multipage PDF.

Label each portion of the icon with its desired color, like a “paint by numbers” image.

4.  Invite worship attendees to bring Christmas ads with them to worship.

5.  On the first day of icon crafting, prepare the space.
– Lay down a plastic tablecloth to prevent glue from getting on table.
– Set out icon pieces, scissors, glue sticks.

Crafting the icon:

Leaders at Light of the World distributed four pieces of the icon each week.  They were handed out to kids after the reading of the gospel lesson, and the children (and a number of adults) gathered at a plastic-covered long table at the back of worship.  The backs of each icon piece were numbered, so that they could be glued into their place each week.

The icon on Advent 1 The icon on Advent 2 The icon on Advent 3 The icon on Advent 4

The finished icon was assembled on Advent 4, at the end of the Prayers of the People:

Completed icon on door

Printable PDF

3 thoughts on “for Advent: Community-Made Icon

  1. We did something like this at my internship site a couple of years ago. I think you had shared this idea, Emmy, and it was amazing. I think I might use this idea again this year at my new church. I think we were talking about consumerism so we used ads for colors and changed something “ugly” into something beautiful.


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