Have you ever considered the furniture that we have in our churches?
Close your eyes and think what your own sitting room looks like and the furniture you have chosen to go in there. Most of us will have chairs, a sofa, one or more tables of different sizes, a fireplace and a television. Which way are the chairs facing? What’s the focal point?
Churches are no different in that they have most fixtures and fittings in common, and in set places.
In an Anglican church the focal item is the altar at the centre, with the lectern – from where the Bible is read out loud during services – on the right-hand side as you look at it, and a pulpit on the left-hand side.
In a Methodist church the pulpit is often behind, but built higher than the altar, and probably with a mobile lectern to be placed as chosen.
This demonstrates a key difference between the two denominations. The former holds the bread and wine in greater importance whilst the latter gives that status to the preaching and the Word of God.
Such variations reveal the way in which we ‘reflect our faith’ through our buildings.
The word ‘lectern’ derives from ‘to collect, gather’, and again, ‘to speak’, so together it means ‘to gather words, to pick out words.’
The words in church which we read from the lectern have been certainly carefully chosen and then written down. There have been centuries, indeed millennia, of time, thought, prayer and energy going into preparing the Bibles that we read today!
It is a privilege to be asked to read from the Bible during a service, as that will form the basis for the sermon, the hymns and indeed the whole theme for that day or even that week.
The Revd Dr Jo White
The feature image for this post is of the Bible on the Lectern in Welshampton Church, looking out towards the pews.