Gift of stars: New Advent paraments at St. Paul's, Dedham herald "solemn joy"

New Advent paraments at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Dedham Courtesy photo New Advent paraments at St. Paul's Church in Dedham feature stars of silver and gold thread and crystals symbolizing "hope in God's glimmering parament of the night sky."

The night sky and its heralding signs in this season are captured in new Advent paraments now in use at St. Paul's Church in Dedham.

"It has been many years since a new set of paraments has been commissioned and the aim was to celebrate our love of tradition with a more contemporary feel," reports the Rev. Melanie McCarley, the rector of St. Paul's.

The new set, given by the Lamb, Cracknell and Gilman families in memory of late parishioner John Lamb, is the result of design collaboration between a parish committee and liturgical fabric artist Christina Laberge of Braintree who handcrafted the hangings. 

"This work of collaboration between the St. Paul's Paraments Committee and Christina Laberge was a joy," McCarley said.

She described the striking "Sarum" blue of the paraments' dupioni silk background as "somewhere between a deep midnight blue and electric blue which invites you to ponder the mystery of the incarnation--it speaks of solemn joy.  It is a blue conveying wonderment, peace and stillness in the midst of the frenetic activity surrounding us this time of year."

Many Scripture readings for the season of Advent reference signs in the heavens, McCarley noted, and the stars adorning the paraments--crafted from silver and gold thread and tiny Swarovski crystals--twinkle with symbolism. 

"As lights shining forth in the darkness, stars are perfect symbols of Christ, the light of the world, the Bright Morning Star, promised to a world in travail," she said, noting in particular the large star on the new altar frontal representing the Star of Bethlehem. "What's more, stars give direction.  They lead us where we need to go.  Stars symbolize hope in God's glimmering parament of the night sky."

Read more in McCarley's Nov. 28 sermon here.