Friday, September 29, 2006

Water works

I woke this morning from dreaming about being somewhere where the meeting was going to shift from a meeting as in "business meeting" to the meeting (synaxis) of the baptized to worship God in a service of Word and Table. My struggle in the dream was getting the room set up. It was my responsibility to improvise the movement of chairs and furniture into an arrangement for the assembly. (My dreams are often struggles like trying to find my sermon notes or vestments and get to worship on time.)

Well, why set up the space like a “court room” where the judge is at the front, with table for counsel and a jury box (choir)? Why not create a space that invites the assembly to be around the strong central things? But where and how would they be placed? In the dream, the people’s seats would be around the central things: on one side, lectern with the Bible and presider’s chair just behind it, and the Table on the other side. The seating of the people would be “choir” style facing each other across and open middle. The table was a little distance from the seating so that at the Eucharistic rite the assembly can gather around it.

But what about the font? Would we need the reminder of the water of our baptism at a jury-rigged service? In my dream (and in my waking conviction), “Yes, we would.” The church is always born in baptism and sustained in the baptismal covenant by water and the Spirit.

So, where to put the font or bowl of water? Well, maybe at the entrance to the room where people can touch the water as they enter and make the sign of the cross, one by one as they enter. Or, in the case, since the group was already in the room, in the center of the worship space (as above).

If worship is primarily actions (gathering, proclaiming, eating, sending) around public symbols (assembly, font, lectern, table) supported by words, then what would we do with the font? What are the water works. Maybe there would be words. Maybe not.

I imagine the presider moving to the font, inviting the assembly to stand, and turning while lifting water three times in cupped hands and letting it fall back into the font without words in gestures that say, “Remember who you are…Remember who you are…Remember who you are….” Indeed, then we were gathered and ready for the opening dialogue, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you./And also with you.”

Where would you put the font? Or, in your dream, is it superfluous?

More on water works to come.

Daniel Benedict

1 comment:

Joe Stobaugh said...

An excellent question! I agree with you that the font is vital for so many reasons. Putting the font in the middle seems like an excellent choice as it would allow it be both literally (and symbolically) in the very center of all that would occur in the space.
A beautiful thing it would be indeed!
Thank you for your posts, I am enjoying reading them and reflecting on them!