Did you know that in the long history and tradition of the church most every item used in worship and every area used in worship has a specific name and purpose?
For example, we refer to the space where we worship as a "sanctuary." Its original meaning referred to a sacred space where one could find safety and is derived from the Latin word "sanctuarium," and pertains to an area or container to hold holy things or even holy people.
In church architecture the area where the people gather/congregate (therefor called the congregation) is called the "nave," and the space in front is called the "chancel" where a chancel choir would reside and where the pastor and worship leaders sit, and traditionally the chancel will be located in the east end of a Christian church building.
The most visual component in the chancel area is the "altar" which serves as a structure upon which offerings, such as sacrifices, are made for religious purposes. Many of the world's religions have an altar where gifts to God are offered. An altar is a sacred space for the Bible and candles (the candle flames symbolizes the presence of God's Holy Spirit), a cross, offering plates/baskets, and other elements which enhance the visual worship experience.
The chancel area may also include visual elements to enhance the worship experience. Some churches have baptismal pools and fountains, plants and greenery, and others may have elaborate works of religious art and stained-glass windows. Through the gift of a generous church family we now have some beautiful greenery to adorn the chancel area and visually enhance the chancel space.
A space off the chancel area is usually designated as a "sacristy" which holds the items and elements used in sacred worship such as communion items, vestments worn by clergy, candles, crosses, and paraments (the materials draped over the altar.) We have recently designated the room to the right of the chancel area as a sacristy, and thanks to the hard work of Terry VanDyke we now have a space dedicated to storing our sacred worship items.
We have a beautiful sanctuary and we are all invited to experience it as a sacred and holy space where we may encounter God's holy presence in a more profound and meaningful way. And now you know!
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
August 30, 2018
Slogans seem to fascinate many of us. Perhaps you remember some of these:
"Let Your Fingers Do the Walking!"
"How Do You Spell Relief?"
"Where's the Beef?"
"It's Finger Lickin' Good!"
Several years ago The United Methodist Church created a slogan many of us may remember which stated, "Open hearts, open minds, open doors...we are the people of The United Methodist Church." Since those days this phrase seems to have fallen by the wayside, but nonetheless it is still a valid statement reflecting who we aspire to be as a Christian denomination.
Open hearts mean we will love others just as Christ loves us. Open minds mean we will use our human reasoning, life experience and Christian traditions to inform our understanding of scripture and God's desire for our lives. Open doors mean we will maintain an equal balance between being inwardly focused on ourselves and our needs while also focusing on the world/community and the needs of others.
I also believe open doors offers an example of radical hospitality. When we open our doors for worship we intentionally invite all people to come and worship God. So you may have noticed the past few weeks that we have opened all the doors leading to our sanctuary and we have left them open during worship. We do this so if any guest arrives at the opening of worship or even during worship she or he will find a warm and welcoming worship environment with no impediments or barriers...no closed doors. We have also removed several rows of chairs in the entrance area to allow more space for anyone who needs it...whether a person uses a walker or wheelchair or just needs more leg space.
As I said, slogans seem to fascinate many of us. So, perhaps our church slogan could be, "God loves you...no matter what!"
By the way, the answers to the slogans above: The Yellow Pages, Rolaids, Wendy's and KFC.