28 August 2023 |
Dear Aunt Sevvy,
Have you noticed that pulpits—the high-built “sacred desks” that preachers once preached from—have in recent years been replaced by little satanic book stands? There is essential symbolism in the preaching of God’s Word from the grand elevated pulpit. Now many preachers speak from a tiny lectern, so we have to see the preacher’s body and clothing, rather than seeing him behind the “high altar” that symbolizes God speaking through him.
Signed, Respecting the Word
Aunty confesses that you have alerted her to a problem that has never occurred to her until now. She thought that the furniture in a church was largely a matter of tradition. Now you have suggested that small lecterns are “satanic” and only large, grand pulpits must be used for sermons!
I wonder: how did Jesus get a massive elevated pulpit to those places along the lakeshore where he preached to thousands? Do you suppose his disciples hauled it for him in their fishing boats? Did Paul have a large pulpit brought to him when he met with a handful of people next to the river in Philippi?
Aunty asked a preacher of her acquaintance why he speaks from a small lectern, and sometimes even picks up his Bible and walks around with it. He explained that he feels it makes for clearer communication when there is only minimal obstruction between him and the congregation. It seems to work: people are blessed by his ministry.
As you ponder this, perhaps you might consider that a purpose-built church building with purpose-built furniture is never described in the New Testament. However, quite early on the Catholic church began to emphasize grand architecture and furnishings—sometimes even taking over extravagant places of worship built by other religions. Some Catholic traditions about furniture, clothing, and buildings were passed down to Protestants, including us.
These trappings may be nice—but are they necessary? Aunty has heard wonderful sermons delivered from large pulpits, small lecterns, and without any furniture at all; in posh sanctuaries, run-down little old church buildings, living rooms, and even outdoors; from pastors dressed in suits, pulpit robes, or tee-shirt and jeans.
Aunty thinks you’ll get a greater blessing if you attend to the read and spoken Word rather than judging sermons by the furnishings surrounding the preacher.
You can write to Aunt Sevvy at DearAuntSevvy@gmail.com. Please keep questions or comments short. What you send us at this address won’t necessarily be, but could be, published—without identifying the writer. Aunt Sevvy writes her own column, and her opinions are not necessarily those of Adventist Today’s editors.