A WELCOME CHANGE
The church renovations that are before us include changes to our worship space, both the main worship area and the chapel. In the chapel the sanctuary will be enlarged so that the altar can be pulled out from the wall, permitting the priest to face the people during a celebration of the Eucharist.
In the main church the existing altar will be affixed to its original position on the east wall and a new holy table will be commissioned, one that can more easily be moved to one of several locations in the existing chancel area or right down in the nave for smaller gatherings. In both the chapel and main church the pews will be replaced by chairs.
These changes follow several guiding principles in modern liturgy: (1) God is in the midst of us, not set apart by steps and railings; this is symbolized by the priest facing us rather than having his or her back to us; (2) the altar is, by Jesus’ intention, a table, a place where God’s people gather to be spiritually fed; it is not a sacrificial surface where, symbolically, Jesus offers his life once again; (3) to accommodate not only flexibility in worship, but also other uses of our worship space, moveable chairs permit us a range of possibilities not available with fixed pews (plus, they are more comfortable!).
Understandably, change is rarely welcome among church people. But these changes will enliven our worship and widen the use of our sacred space.