Monday, January 04, 2016

Arriving early at church

If you get to church a little early and walk into the sanctuary, perhaps to reflect and pray, what is the first thing you see that helps you focus?
1.  Architectural details (stained glass windows, walls or ceiling d├ęcor, texture, design, colors).  For instance, at Faith Lutheran where I attended as a child, the 19th century windows tell wonderful Bible stories, but also have the names (German) of the donors as I recall. I can go down rabbit holes thinking back to the people who sacrificed to build that little church.  Our current church sanctuary at Lytham (LR) has architectural details rich in Biblical symbolism, but is somewhat dark and needs artificial lighting. The lighting (now changed) used to create images on the walls. At Mill Run (MR), the windows are clear and look out over a city park and you can see joggers, dogs, and sun, before they drop the shades. MR has sloping floors with stadium seating, and LR has pews.  I prefer the pews.

 2.  Altar (also called communion table in some churches).  For instance, at our church the paraments on the altar and vestments for the pastor are usually coordinated for the liturgical season, of which there may be 5. Our altar is on the chancel (elevated platform in front of the church), in the center focus at Lytham, and at Mill Run.
This photo taken at Lytham at a special ordination of 3 pastors has a little of everything--altar, vestments, architectural details.
3.  Colors.  See above.  May have home made banners hung around the sanctuary covering architectural details, especially at Easter and Christmas. Because I have an artistic eye, if something is off, I start to focus on that instead of Jesus. We once made a trip to Columbus, IN to see a famous 20th century church, but the interior features for which the congregations had paid a major architect to design were covered with various home made banners.

4. Pulpit and lectern.  If a liturgical church, and if there are two, traditionally one was for Bible reading, and one for the pastor's message/sermon.  At Lytham, both the scripture and message are given from the left (lectern) as viewed by congregation, but I don't know why. Probably for microphone hook up. Some pastors' style makes the lectern unnecessary. May be color coordinated with vestments or paraments,

5.  Someone is sitting in “your” pew. Darn, now the whole congregation will get confused.

6.  Pipe organ.  We don’t see that in our church locations, but in many churches it has pride of place. At Trinity Lutheran in Mt. Morris, IL, the pipes are visible from the pews.


7.  Choir is having a last minute rehearsal and sound check; hmm, no prayer time today.

8.  Women’s group is preparing things like communion or pew inserts.  Busy like little quiet ants whispering.

9.  Set up for the band or small group of singers--speakers, guitars, drums, music stands.  May be on a platform elevated to height of altar, but closer to pews and to the side. At MR band is floor level, singers on platforms; at LR sanctuary they all are elevated.  There are services at both locations in the fellowship halls, but no one would come there early to reflect and pray.  Too many distractions and the rooms were designed for church dinners and basketball, not worship.

Image result for church at Lytham upper arlington

10.  Dangling overhead screen for projecting words/hymns.  Nothing on it to help with personal reflection--for that, if your church still has a pew hymnal, use that. Hymnals are spiritual treasures.

1 comment:

Dan Nieman said...

That was beautiful.