Paper-Making and Jeremiah

11 I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29.11)

Me, Beth Mueller, Rob Mueller, Ben Johnston-Krase, Corey Nelson, Miriam Nelson

Me, Beth Mueller, Rob Mueller, Ben Johnston-Krase, Corey Nelson, Miriam Nelson

Some dear friends of mine and I planned and led worship for Synod School in Storm Lake, IA. It’s a Presbyterian Church (USA) denominational conference. It is a conference that is multi-generational – something for every age.

The theme of the conference came from Jeremiah 29.11, a Future with Hope. Throughout the week the theme was broken into a hope and a struggle.

Day one: LOVE into Hope . . . Exiled from COMMUNITY

Day two: LEAN into Hope . . . Exiled from SECURITY

Day three: LAUGH into Hope . . . Exiled from JOY

Day four: LEAD into Hope . . . Exiled from COURAGE

Day five: A Future with Hope

During each worship, we did a ritual that involved paper-making. This ritual can apply to different themes and scripture, but here is how we processed the theme.

LOVE into Hope . . . Exiled from COMMUNITY

IMG_5295Each participant was given a piece of colored paper and a pen. During worship, they were invited to reflect on their own sense of community and answer any of the questions – “How does God call you to be in community?” “Write a name(s) of someone who is community for you.” “What ingredients are essential for you in your own community?”

The colored paper was collected as their offering to the response of God’s word and message. Baptismal water was poured on the paper as a sign that we are all created as God’s children and united in baptism.

LEAN into Hope . . . Exiled from SECURITY

In preparation for this worship service, we made paper using the colored pieces of paper.

We used inexpensive canvas frames and cut out the canvas material.

We used inexpensive canvas frames and cut out the canvas material.

To make a deckle, we stapled a mesh screen to the frame.

To make a deckle, we stapled a mesh screen to the frame.

We presoaked brown wrapping paper to be used as the base of the paper.

We presoaked brown wrapping paper to be used as the base of the paper.

Here are the basic tools needed to make paper.

Here are the basic tools needed to make paper.

We blended the paper with water to make a slurry.

We blended the paper with water to make a slurry.

We mixed the colored slurry into the paper pulp.

We mixed the colored slurry into the paper pulp. We also mixed in wildflower seeds.

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Using our homemade deckle, we collected the mixed pulp.

Using our homemade deckle, we collected the mixed pulp. You can google more detailed instructions on how to do this part.

The deckle is flipped over and the excess water is gently pressed out using a sponge.

The deckle is flipped over and the excess water is gently pressed out using a sponge.

The newly made paper is left out to dry.

The newly made seed paper is left out to dry.

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Each participant was invited to sprinkle seeds on the wet paper as an act of leaning into hope.

LAUGH into Hope . . . Exiled from JOY

The seeded paper is fully dried.

The seeded paper is fully dried.

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Each participant was invited to playfully color the paper as a joyful act of hope. The paint is water and food coloring.

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LEAD into Hope . . . Exiled from COURAGE

The colored paper is cut into squares.

The colored paper is cut into squares.

Each participant was invited to write a message of hope and courage as their act of leading into hope.

Then, their messages of hope were collected as their offering of response to God’s word and message.

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A Future with Hope

Each participant was invited to choose a piece of seeded colored paper. They were instructed to take this message of hope written by someone else and plant it in their yard. As the seeds begin to grow into plants, let it be a reminder that as a community, God calls us to love, lean, laugh, and lead into hope.

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