Tag Archives: lord’s supper

The Lackluster Hall Tree

Over the years, we’ve inherited several pieces of antique furniture, which are proudly displayed in various places in our home. These pieces of furniture are not only beautiful, but also quite sentimental. One piece in particular is a hand-carved hall tree from the 19th century that came from my great grandmother’s house in Enterprise. When she passed away in 1996, she willed the piece to me because every time I’d visit her, I’d comment on how beautiful and practical the hall tree was—especially the umbrella stand! Once my wife and I got married, the hall tree made its way to our first home and has been a part of every home we’ve owned since. Unfortunately, over the years the mirror has lost MUCH of its luster. Many days I’ve passed by it to check out my hair or adjust my clothes in the hall tree mirror only to discover later than I missed several pieces of lint on my shirt. Obviously that mirror didn’t provide a clear image for me!

Four years ago I had a similar experience when I went for lasik eye surgery. I’d worn contacts and/or glasses since I was 10 and I was finally going to “see” again clearly. Without corrective lenses I couldn’t read a book unless it was about level with my nose—Yeah, I was that blind. Right after the surgery I noticed that even though I couldn’t see perfectly immediately, I could see better—and day after day during the healing process, I developed better vision than I had before. I really noticed a difference when driving at night; I had no idea how bad my astigmatism had gotten until after the surgery. I had gotten to where the halos on headlight made me not want to drive at night—but finally things were clear.

As I’ve thought about how blind I was, I became keenly aware that before I trusted Christ as my Savior, I was just as blind. Just like my view through the lackluster mirror or haloed headlights, I had a blurry, myopic understanding of who I was and what Christ has done for me. What I needed was to place my faith in Christ (lasik for the soul!). Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.”

This being Holy Week, believers everywhere recall and celebrate the hope we have in Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus reminded his followers of His purpose as Messiah, but their perspective/sight was blurry. They kept missing the point that Jesus’ death was not the end even though Christ was clear about what would happen next. Even though we have the Bible that clearly outlines what’s to come, believers today still struggle with “blurry” faith. Thanks be to God this will not be the case forever. In 1 Cor. 13:12 Paul writes, “now we see but a dim reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” Then in 2 Corinthians 5:7 Paul writes, “while we are limited in our perspective here on earth, God has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight.” Our faith requires that we believe even when we have a myopic perspective.

So this week as we remember and celebrate: TAKE HEART! Even though we see blurry today, one day we will live forever face to face with our Savior with clarity of sight!

Worship Spaces Communicate What We Value

What does your church worship space communicate to others about what’s most important in your church? Is the church set up so participation and movement of the congregation is easy or is the seating and flow limiting and restrictive? Are the baptismal, pulpits, and altar tables prominent revealing the importance of these acts of worship? In this post I’ll briefly discuss a historical journey of worship spaces from Ancient to Post-Modern time frames. When you visualize and think of your own church, what elements, or which period in worship history would you say your own church context most reflects?

Ancient Period
*Usually met in homes of well to do members and highly personal with lots of movement and no fixed seating
*A meal was served which allowed communication and fellowship
*Communion served every time

Medieval Period
*Church buildings erected. Very ornate and focused on transcendence of God. Fixed seating appears
*Priests were far from congregation so hearing/seeing was an issue
*Congregation was silent—low participation
*Priests in charge of reading the Word…low literacy of congregation. Polyphonic singing (low congregational participation).
* Communion and Baptism were the focus of worship

*Greater emphasis on preaching of the Word
*Congregation has access to Bible after printing press invented
*Congregational song less polyphonic, which allowed for greater participation

Baroque Period
*Access to priests is increased
*Acoustics improved to hear Word easier
*Dominant theme became altar-table, pulpit, and baptismal font near the front.

Frontier/Revivalism (18th century-today)
*Focal point is pulpit or lectern
*An altar near the front (mourner’s bench)
*Highly evangelical and large emphasis on congregational singing
*Pragmatic approach to sermons rather than biblical
*Architecture that was inside was very pragmatic and utilitarian

Auditorium Style Churches of the Late 18th century to today
*Auditorium approach to hearing/seeing
*Circular in shape with excellent acoustics
*Platform raised so all could see, balconies as well
*Comfortable seats

Modern Period
*Neutral Architecture, Contemporary look, clean lines
*Cleanliness important as well as comfort for seating
*While emphasis on preaching still there, less demonstrative pulpits (maybe Plexiglas lecterns)
*Any visual art (stained glass, paintings, sculptures) serve didactic or symbolic purposes

Postmodern Churches
*Geared for movement…seating is not fixed
*Focus on community so seating arranged that way
*House Churches appear again as well as revisiting Ancient worship practices
*Candles, visuals, fabrics, lighting all used to create a holy atmosphere (immanence of Christ)
*Storytelling is used for proclamation and preaching
*Communication is through participation rather than just listening to the Word preached

It’s easy to see which period most reflects the type of church in your own context. If you’re like me, you hate that participation is limited by your worship space. In what ways can we utilize our current space to maximize participation? I leave you with a few questions that I think should guide decisions we make about our worship space:

  1. What does your room (worship space) say is important to you? What do you value?
  2. Does your room aesthetic naturally draw your congregation to the transcendence of God ( lighting, artwork, architecture, etc.)?
  3. Is your room more intimate and make the congregation feel God is near and present?
  4. Does the worship space create community among the people gathered? OR is the room engineered to make one feel like they are worshiping God alone even among a large congregation?
  5. Do the acoustics of your room promote healthy congregational singing or is the room engineered to maximize the sound for the worship leaders (specifically the instrumentalists)?
  6. What role does the seating play in how we demonstrate horizontal worship? OR is the seating placed in such a way to focus only on vertical expressions of worship?

For more detailed information and selected bibliography of sources used, check out this link:

Worship Space as Communication