"Breaking the Jar - Women's Prophetic Voices"

Worship Service Theme based on the hymn "A Prophet Woman Broke a Jar," by Brian Wren

Design by Becky Bane & Beverly Howard, D.M.A., Organist/Arts Associate at Calvary Presbyterian Church

Exhibit by Becky Bane

The display pictured below may look like a simple arrangement found in any church education building. To assume this would be a mistake. Embedded in this display are multiple layers of meaning, stemming from:

  • Creation of masks by women selected from the congregation where the service took place
  • Thematic weaving together of hymns, poetry, Scripture and liturgy, movement and visual elements
  • Educational information on the Biblical women who are represented by the masks

A worship service and display celebrating women of faith;

"A ProphetWoman Broke a Jar," commissioned by St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Ontario Canada, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Presbyterian Church of Canada's acceptance of women in ordained ministry.


The title and theme were taken from the New Testament story of Jesus' anointing at Bethany. In the spirit of celebrating one woman's prophetic action, stories of other Biblical women were included in the service as acknowledgment of their significance to our faith tradition. In order to highlight their contributions and give a sense of reality to the lives of women like Deborah and Priscilla, women in the congregation where this service took place were asked to "give" their faces to the Biblical women. By doing so, a very concrete visual and personal connection could be made. The familiar "faces" of female congregational leaders became the "faces" of famous Biblical women. The same women were also asked to participate in the service by processing in, carrying their masks forward to a central display in the sanctuary. Music, poetry and Scripture passages were selected according to the theme of celebrating the prophetic voices of women in the faith community. Elements of the service included:

  • a litany identifying each woman and the nature of her prophetic gift
  • the hymn and poetry by Brian Wren, "A Prophet Woman Broke a Jar"
  • dramatic movements of procession and a symbolic breaking of a ceramic jar (the pieces are visible in the basket as part of the display pictured above)
  • two sets of masks, one for use in the service and the other for an informational display in the church entrance

There was an additional level of meaning resulting from this worship service and the preparation for it. The women from the congregation who were selected to represent the Biblical women were brought together for the process of mask - making and decoration. The creative process employed can have great spiritual meaning and be educationally informative for those who participate in it. For more on the mask - making process, click here.