TWO DIFFERENT CHURCHES: ONE COMMON PURPOSE
It was good to see some people come into the United Reformed Church during a coffee morning, armed with last month’s issue of ICN, hunting for some of the features listed in my article.
Celia Miller and I enjoyed the visits of three classes from Breakspear School in June. They had seen St. Giles’ Church the previous week, and were particularly looking for similarities and differences. So I thought I would write about some significant furniture at the front of the buildings.
The central item at the front of the URC is the Communion Table. For services of Holy Communion the table is covered with a cloth and set with plates of bread and special cups of wine. We recall the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples, when he said, “This is my body. This is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.”
The equivalent table in St. Giles’ Church is referred to as both an altar and a communion table. The term ‘altar’ is associated with sacrifice, recalling Christ’s death on the cross as sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin, whilst ‘communion table’ symbolises a future time when all Christians will be united with God at a heavenly ‘banquet’.
Around the altar in St. Giles’ there is a rail. People come to kneel or stand at the altar rail to receive communion. In the URC there is no rail. Instead, the elders, who sit beside the minister at the Communion service, take the plates of bread and the trays of small cups of wine, to serve people who all stay in their seats in the congregation.
Both churches have pulpits where the preacher stands to preach the sermon. The pulpits are raised platforms, so that the preacher can be clearly seen and heard. Both churches have lecterns, on which the Bible rests when a person stands to read a passage to the congregation.
Both churches have organs. In the URC it is a pipe organ, in St. Giles’ electronic. The URC also has a grand piano. Both churches have choir stalls, which are seats with book rests for the choir, who lead the singing. Both churches have places for the people leading worship to sit and have their books.
While many of the windows in St. Giles’ have pictures in stained glass, the URC windows are plain. The Reformers in the sixteenth century were keen to focus on God’s word coming through the Bible, and not have pictures, symbols or statues. The United Reformed Church is in that tradition, but in recent years there has been a willingness to have decorations illustrating our faith and life together. So around the walls we have some striking banners made by the Banner Group as well as the flags of young people’s groups. Some of the St Giles’ windows were made by Charles Emar Kempe, a very famous Victorian stained glass artist.
Many will be coming for the Holiday Club this month, one of the huge range of joint activities of the two churches. See how we use the place then!
DROP-IN FOR THE BEREAVED. Third Monday of each month. St Giles’ Church Hall, 2pm to 3.30pm. A friendly, informal opportunity for a chat, over a cup of tea, with other bereaved people and pastoral visitors. The next meeting is on Monday 20th July (then Monday 17th August). Just come along, or ring the Rectory (622970) if you would like to talk to someone first.