Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Reading" St. Barnabas III

This is the third in a series of post looking at the symbolism in the worship space of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.
Circular Seating
The seating is circular reminding us that God calls us into community where we are bound to one another. The pew design – open at the ends – underscores our mutual connection. We sit together such that we see one another even as we direct our attention toward the altar. Thus, we hope to discern the body of Christ both in the bread and wine of Eucharist and in the members of the gathered body of Christ.
This arrangement reinforces the fact that Christian worship is inherently communal. It is neither entertainment nor the activity primarily of the clergy. It is performed by everyone gathered. Liturgy means the work of and for the people.  The word is Greek, a compound of the word for people (laos)
and the word for work (ergon). It was not originally associated with worship, but with any work undertaken or paid for by private citizens for the benefit of the people.  In the New Testament, Christ is said to perform a liturgy:  “Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry [the Greek word here is litourgia], and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6). Christ’s life of obedience, death on the cross, and resurrection is the Christian liturgy. It is public work done for the benefit of the people. Our service of worship is a “making present” and participation – together – in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. In worship, we appropriate Christ’s liturgy as our own and are shaped by it. Our worship space encourages that shaping.

The pulpit mirrors the design of the altar rail, reminding us that the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist are fundamentally one liturgy. The pulpit repeats the theme of the eighth day and new creation. Of necessity, the pulpit is only half of an octagon, but it suggests the whole. It was designed by Fr. Matt Gunter in consultation with the Saint Barnabas Liturgy Commission.

The design of the pulpit reflects the importance of scripture in our common life. Attached to the front of the pulpit is a stand for the Gospel book, which is left open during the sermon, showing our intention to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. The two candles on the pulpit symbolize the light of Christ and our hope that his Word will illuminate our hearts.

"Reading"St. Barnabas IV

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