Recently I have had a few experiences of worshiping in ‘the round’ with chairs in circle or oval round an altar. It completely changed my experience of the Eucharist. I could see more of what was going on at the altar. I could see faces of people and not the backs of heads. I could see musicians and not just hear them. It was a big change for me and I liked it.
This Lent I thought that I might do the same in my church. Each Sunday we have to set out the chairs in rows because during the week the building is used from morning to night by community groups. But the church is rectangular and there is plenty space to create a circle of chairs round an altar so that’s what I did. It wasn’t perfect the first week but I think we got it right last week. Two semi-circles of two rows of chairs facing inwards, with a small table to be our altar.
Oh how I wish I’d had a camera to capture the looks on faces as my little flock arrived. Mouths dropped. Frowns settled in. Eyes narrowed. Oh what is she doing now, I could see them think. Where’s MY chair, I could see them think. Enthusiastically I ushered them in. We’re just trying it for Lent, I exclaimed. Let’s try something new to give us a different perspective on things. Look, you can see the altar closely. Look, you can see one another’s faces not the back of their heads. Look, how different it can be. Look!
It’s just for Lent, they asked hopefully. How many more weeks?
Is change always good for us? Are you someone who likes new things, is excited by something different? Or do you like the same old same old? Do you prefer things to stay just the way they’ve aye been?
Sometimes Lent can be a good time to make changes. We are asked to give up things which take us away from God, to take on things which bring us closer to God. Lent is a time for new things, new ways of being, new ways of seeing, new ways of doing. Change can bring growth.